Embracing Amelia by Elaine Violette

Embracing Amelia by Elaine Violette
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, Romance, Holiday
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Chamomile

Lady Amelia Pierce has a forbidden dream: riding in equestrian competitions. When she loses a family ring in the stable, her brother finds her foraging for it in the hay with Lucas Grey, a duke’s bastard son. Amelia’s outraged father sends her to London to salvage her reputation and find a suitable match.

Despite his ignoble birth and rakish reputation, Lucas is much admired for his management of Winston Equestrian Stables. He and Amelia are fascinated by each other. But the missing emerald ring and a viscount’s greed lead to disaster and imprisonment for Lucas. Will scandal and secrets keep him from Amelia forever?

The blurb on this one intrigued me, but it wasn’t until I started reading that I realized how much I was going to enjoy this one! Embracing Amelia by Elaine Violette is a lovely British regency tale that had all the swoon of a regency read, with some added twists that made this one fun and unique! Amelia isn’t your typical heroine, sure she is excited to fulfill her role in planning for the upcoming winter holiday parties, but she also has a secret. She aspires to compete at the horse jumping arena she’s so fond of!

Lucas has a reputation, one he’s quite proud of. At least, in part, but is there more to this broody bachelor than a notorious reputation that follows his every step? When he ends up in the middle of yet another scandal, and this one quite by accident he finds his life and the Lady Pierce’s suddenly become both intriguingly complicated.

Will Amelia be able to salvage her reputation and earn her father’s forgiveness in time to finish the holiday planning? And how will she ever explain the away the fact the Lucan Grey seems to find a way into her already messy life at every turn?

There’s so much I enjoyed about this one, the delightful twists and swoony romance were spot-on! This is a sweet romance that was overall clean. As for language, there were a few minor curse words and a instance or two with innuendos, mostly about past events. There is also one place where Amelia has to run away from an unwelcome advance from another character, but it is vague and dealt with quickly. This is a quick read, and once I started I couldn’t stop reading! I was pulled into their story immediately, and am so glad I got to read their story!

I loved meeting Amelia and Lucas, but also really liked her banter with her Aunt Libby, and meeting Georgette as well! The characters were wonderful and fit so well into this wintery tale! Amelia’s love for horses and Lucas’s devotion to Mr. Winston gave the story a deeper tone that also played beautifully into their story. Such a good read, I definitely recommend this one!

The Little Things by M. Jean Pike

The Little Things by M. Jean Pike
Publisher: White Rose Publishing, Pelican Book Group
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Inspirational
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Chamomile

A decade ago, Rochelle Delany made a decision that changed her life forever.
Wanting more than just football games and potluck suppers, she boarded a bus for California and didn’t look back. But instead of a glamorous life, she became trapped in a nightmare of labor trafficking. Now, she’s made a daring escape and returns home to Ohio.

Sandy Fairbrother has a problem with trust.
Twice betrayed, he now puts his faith only in God. He’ s a single dad doing his best to grow his construction business and raise his young son. But haunted by an impulsive kiss Rochelle gave him fifteen years ago, her unexpected return has him rethinking things. He’ s been given a second chance to win her heart. And this time, he plans to succeed.

Rochelle barely remembers Sandy, but she’s drawn to his goodness. But just when she thinks she’s found peace, her past catches up with her, and she finds herself in danger of losing the only safe haven she’ s ever known.

Returning home to a small down in Ohio isn’t Rochelle’s first choice, and things quickly take a surprise turn!

I loved reading Ro and Sandy’s story! They live in a small town, giving the story that fun small-town charm, while keeping me glued to the pages with plenty of surprises! Sandy is a great character, and a wonderful father. I adored seeing him with Jace his young son, and seeing Jace with Gus! Gus is a bulldog and the bond Jace shares with him in this story is precious!

While this is a fun small town read, it does deal with the tough topics, include labor trafficking and broken families. I enjoyed seeing how the author wove these difficult yet daily issues into the story. It worked well in this one, and as Ro’s story unfolds I found myself drawn into the story more with each new twist! Author M. Jean Pike does a good job of talking about difficult issues with finesse and tact, keeping it subtle and with minimal detail will still alerting readers to the situation. I appreciated her efforts to both bring awareness to these issues while still providing readers with a clean and delightful read!

The romance was also wholesome and heartwarming in this one! It isn’t easy for either of them to trust after the bad hand life has dealt them, so seeing Sandy and Rochelle both overcome there past mistakes and betrayals, learning to work together. Their relationship is sort of a second chance romance, paired with the ‘girl-who-got-away’, so I enjoyed seeing them reunite early on the the story, and loved getting Sandy’s side of things, and especially loved seeing how he regarded his feelings for Jace when considering pursuing a relationship, wanting to be sure Jace has a good life as well. The blooming relationship in the story is a sweet one, and I enjoyed getting to meet these characters!

Her One in a Million by Rachelle Paige Campbell

Her One in a Million by Rachelle Paige Campbell
Publisher: Anaiah Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Chamomile

While renovating the MacKinnon mansion, Samantha Holt discovers three prized ceramics in a wall. The one in a million find could provide much needed funds for the restoration—and her family’s struggling auction business. She calls a Chicago expert for a second opinion.

Zachary Reynolds arrives with his five-year-old daughter in tow, intending to leave with the vases immediately. Partly because the pottery won’t reach its six-figure potential in a small-town sale, but mostly because the ceramics will secure his job in an impending merger with a larger firm—and he needs that guaranteed stability for his daughter.

Sam and Zach both need the pottery for very personal reasons, but only one can emerge victorious. As they research the history of the pieces and the mansion, however, the best choice isn’t clear-cut. Add in romantic feelings neither of them expected and things become even more complicated. With the odds stacked against them, can they both achieve the financial and personal success they crave?

I love Rachelle Paige Campbell’s writing style and was thrilled to read this one! Her way with words makes the pages fly by and really brings the characters to life! Her One in a Million is no different, and I found it to be such a fun read!

Sam and Zach begin their story in an interesting way. After finding some highly valuable ceramic pots in the wall of a renovation project, both Samantha and Zachary think they know exactly what to do with them… Only, their ideas are on different sides of the spectrum, and only one can have their way.

I loved seeing them work through their issues as the story processes, and really liked the inclusion of the pottery history and a bit about home renovation that the author wove into the story. The details make the story stand out and made it an interesting and educational read in a way, which I found super cool! The story was a quick read and would be a great weekend read or something to take in vacation but is a great anytime read as well!

Travel For As Long As You Wish: The Blueprint For Budget Travel, Backpacking And Escaping The Rat Race by Mark James Murphy

Travel For As Long As You Wish: The Blueprint For Budget Travel, Backpacking And Escaping The Rat Race by Mark James Murphy
Publisher: Amazon KDP
Genre: Non-fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Chamomile

Learn how to escape the 9 to 5 and live your dream life, without delaying any longer!

What if you could say goodbye to the daily grind and fill every day with adventure and experiences, packed with true value and meaning right now?

From humble North-East roots, in the industrial city of Sunderland, U.K to becoming an artist, adventurer and teacher, Mark James Murphy did exactly that and wants to show how it’s possible for everyone.

This book gives you the ultimate tools and knowledge to get unstuck from the rut of the rat race once and for all and travel for as long as you wish. Whether you are young and inexperienced in travel or a seasoned globetrotter or you have retired and have more time on your hands to explore the world, this book will give you the very latest travel advice and explore the following topics:
How to prepare for your trip, what and how to pack
The latest digital devices for travelling and useful apps
Insightful personal experiences from my own adventures
Reasons why we want to travel and what meaningful travel is
Why you can travel with very little money
How to find your own value and generate finances from this as you travel
Avoid scams while in a new country
Great tips and discount information for senior travelers

Travel For As Long As You Wish is a great resource and is good for both first time travelers as well as those who haven’t traveled in some time and would like to get back into the habit! I loved the detailed tips and suggestions. I also appreciated that the author used many of his own personal experiences and lessons he’s learned along the way as examples of how to get the most out of your journey.

While this one focuses quite a bit on the Middle East and similar destinations, since that is the author’s preferred travel region, many of these tips are things that can easily be modified to fit other travel locations as well. He also mentioned teaching classes online or other similar jobs as a great way to make traveling possible. This is also a wonderful way to both practice skills to avoid getting rusty and gain useful connections. This option makes it possible to work and afford to live anywhere you want without being limited on job options based on location as there are countless things that can be taught, and good teachers are always in demand.

This was a wonderful read for those looking to fit more into their travel plans, would love to travel, but don’t know where to start, or those who are just looking for ways to up their travel game. This book is sure to have a little for everyone and is both a quick and entertaining read!

The Artist’s Page by Debra Rufini

The Artist’s Page by Debra Rufini
Publisher: Paragon Publishing
Genre: Inspirational, Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Chamomile

What would your response be to a group of small people, overlooking you,

to look at the masterpiece you’d lovingly made for them?

How would you feel by their admiration of your magnificent creation,

as they ignore your wonderfully creative hands?

Would you feel sad? Frustrated? Angry?

Imagine your relief when they leave your invisible side.

Picture your joy and gratitude with their replacement –

and appreciative group marvelling at your masterpiece,

undoubtedly produced by your love.

Would you feel glad,

grateful, relieved, believed,

like the Artist in this story felt?

The Artist’s Page by Debra Rufini is a wonderful children’s picture book that can be enjoyed with readers both young and old! Beautifully illustrated by Dina Kalo, this story tells of God’s love and His incredible gift. Rufini takes readers on a journey of looking at how different people might see of respond to this magnificent gift, and how sometimes they also choose to reject it.

This story is suitable, but the focus of the story might be slightly lost on younger children, and will have more meaning for those who read it more than once and over time.

I loved reading this story, and really felt it brought the story and lessons to life in a unique and beautiful way! Filled with creative imagery and enticing colors, The Artist’s Page is a pleasure to read!

Cabbages & Kings by Morgan Sheppard

Cabbages & Kings by Morgan Sheppard
Publisher: Elemental Publishing
Genre: Historical, Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Chamomile

A Hero. Honourable Thief. Lovable Rogue. Scoundrel. Blackguard.

Everyone’s heard of Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men, with big, bad Sheriff of Nottingham and evil Prince John trying their best to thwart Robin at every turn. But what if things were different to what you’ve been told? What if Robin wasn’t as altruistic as history portrayed?

In the late spring of 1198, the hamlet of Girton is razed to the ground. Newly married eighteen-year-old Will Scathlock and sixteen-year-old Alana move to the larger village of Blidworth to start their lives anew. In his new job as a forester for the Royal Palace of Clipstone, known to the locals as King’s Houses, Will hears tales of a good thief, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. But in her role as seamstress for the Manor House, Alana hears a different story.

Find out what it was like for the peasant folk Robin was supposed to be helping, before his well-known adventures in Nottingham. Do you want to know the truth? Meet Alana Dale and read her story of what it was really like, and how it all began.

Cabbages & Kings takes the Robin Hood story to new horizons with this laugh-out-loud hilarious new reimagining!

I’ve always enjoyed a good retelling, especially about Robin Hood, a childhood favorite! Cabbages & Kings is just that, and so much more! A sweet coming-of-age story willed with humor and unexpected antics as Alana (a teen) leans to stand up for herself despite that not being done in her time!

Needless to say, not everyone is happy with this young lady learning to speak her mind, and she ends up in all kinds of delightful situations as she learns her limits and finds new allies along the way! I loved getting a more humorous take on the Robin Hood story while still getting a story with strong storytelling and enjoyable characters!

This one is truly unlike any other retelling I’ve found so far, and I loved Morgan Sheppard’s style and tone in this one! Enjoyable to YA readers and even perhaps for teens a little younger, this one’s sure to please!

To Court A Queen by H. L. Burke

To Court A Queen by H. L. Burke
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Chamomile

Devin doesn’t want to get married, but he wants to be a frog even less.

Knight errant Devin takes a shortcut through the woods, only to be captured by fairy forces. The fairy queen has run out of breathing males to fight for her hand, and Devin, while not ideal fairy stock, is breathing—for now.

Telling a vain fairy queen you’d rather not be her one true love is a ticket to life on a lilypad, so the knight agrees to face three challenges to win Queen Agalea’s hand. When a clever servant girl offers to help him navigate the trials in order to stop the constant bloodshed of the courtship ritual, Devin jumps at the chance.

Cat-Elf Sevaine’s only goal in life is to stop Agalea from killing off every male she gets her hands on. When cocky but quick-on-his-feet Devin stumbles into her world, she may finally have a champion who can beat Agalea’s cruel games—if she can resist falling in love with him herself.

With Sevaine’s help, Devin balances “flirting” with his “beloved” and overcoming tasks specifically designed to kill him. But even if he defeats Agalea’s challenges, will happily ever after be possible if he’s fallen for his new partner in survival?

To Court a Queen is a quick read and I loved the original take on Fae and Faeries in this fun story!

I read this one in only a couple sittings and found it to be quite an enjoyable read and a humorous romance! A sweet and lighthearted read, I loved reading the adventures (and misadventures!) of Devin the Knight as he finds himself in quite the conundrum! He finds himself promised to be married to a Fae Queen!

Not at all the ‘short-cut’ he had planned, but it leads into this delightful story and one I found myself actually laughing aloud at more than once! Cute and endearing, I’m glad I got the chance to read this one! I look forward to reading more of H. L. Burke’s stories soon!

The Rogue and the Peasant by Amberley Martin

The Rogue and the Peasant by Amberley Martin
Publisher: Caveline Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Chamomile

Everyone knows a girl locked in a tower is supposed to wait for a prince—but that isn’t the destiny this girl has in mind.

Esme’s life has been filled with secrets. Her mother says she’s destined to be a queen, but she won’t say when. Or how. Or who Esme’s father is.

When Esme’s imprisoned by the evil fairy godmother, she only has more questions. Who is the young man guarding her? Why is he so interested in her father’s identity? And can she convince him to help her escape before she’s forced to marry whichever self-absorbed prince with a hero complex turns up to rescue her?

Since his father’s murder, Rory’s life has depended on keeping his identity secret. Working for the fairy godmother seems like a fair trade for his safety, until he’s sent to kidnap a girl who wears his family ring, a girl his father’s ghost is suspiciously quiet about.

Unraveling their connection might do more than save them both from the fairy godmother. It might save the fate of an entire queendom.

But can Esme achieve her destiny when Rory’s trying to avoid his own?

The Rogue and the Peasant is a fun, fairytale adventure that blends Hamlet with Rapunzel to make something completely new.

A fantastic debut from Amberley Martin, The Rogue and the Peasant is a wonderful story of hope, redemption, and growing up!

Neither Rory nor Esme have been dealt the life they would have liked, but despite that, both are determined to make something of it! I loved the positive messages and themes in this one! It’s a wonderful story and blends the beloved Hamlet and Rapunzel stories into something both familiar and completely new in a way I absolutely adored!

I did have a bit of trouble with how to place this one, as some places seem to mark it ‘Adult’ but with its slightly more simplistic style it’s more of a YA/NA crossover, which I loved but feel it’s hard to judge what to expect with a story when it’s listed in both groups. That said, after reading it I’d likely place it more YA-Upper YA and can see readers of both enjoying this one!

I loved meeting Esme and Rory and seeing the fun tributes to the original stories while also remaining original in its own right in this one, and felt the story was well written!

The Mountain by Matthew C. Lucas

The Mountain by Matthew C. Lucas
Publisher: Montag Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Chamomile

In the mountain…

Lillia Tanner’s dream of becoming a commissar has turned into a nightmare. Voices in the darkness whisper rebellion against the Commonwealth she is sworn to serve. And Lillia feels compelled to heed their call.

King Elon has found a new faith for his dying people. But the old gods are still cherished. The cult of his heretic goddess is beckoning him to a crusade in the dark of the Mountain and a civil war in his realm.

Judge Jonathan Acacia keeps a semblance of order in the workers’ quarter. Caught between his family’s political intrigues, the cruel laws he must administer, and a demon of addiction, the darkness he contends against will either embrace Jonathan or devour him.

The dark is coming to life. War is coming with it.

And there is nowhere to hide in the Mountain.

Rich in detail, filled with intriguing lore and world-building, The Mountain by Matthew C. Lucas is an unforgettable and imaginative Fantasy lover’s dream!

This is one of those that remind me of the classics while still bringing something unique and original to the fantasy world. The Mountain has a wonderful balance of complex and morally grey characters who all have their own hopes and desires that get wonderfully messy as things begin to tangle and unravel in unexpected ways!

From the start, we see the depth of detail that makes this genre really come to life, and I loved how easy this one was to picture and how delightfully dark the theme was while still maintaining a good sense of purpose and plot throughout.

Definitely an unforgettable read and one I highly recommend! I loved meeting these characters and seeing out things turned out in this incredible story!

Queen of Shadows by Britt Cooper & Erin Dulin

Queen of Shadows by Britt Cooper & Erin Dulin
The Chronicles of Faybl, #1
Publisher: Finch Books
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Romance
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Chamomile

Why be a princess when you can rule the shadows?

Rejecting the senseless demands of her wicked stepmother, Ella of Locksley shares her family’s abundance with the people of her land. Yet, the desperation of her community has only begun.

When the nation of Llundyn is brutally attacked, Princes Ric and Johan begin to fight for their right to rule, leaving the kingdom’s very heart to hang in the balance as subversive forces emerge. Taxation drives the citizenry toward hopelessness, with the absence of leadership taking its toll.

Striking out on her own, Ella takes up the nation’s cause, making a name for herself as the infamous Hood, and leads her cunning crew, stealing from the rich to provide for the poor. But the return of the rightful heir, along with a forbidden romance, changes everything—with artifice and betrayal leading to an unlikely alliance that unites prince and thieves.

The passion and true love of a king leave Ella torn between duty and loyalty when, at the stroke of midnight, her identity is exposed. She’ll face the ultimate choice—enduring as the Hood or sacrificing it all for the ones she loves.

This epic debut by co-authors Britt Cooper & Erin Dulin will leave readers wanting more!

Queen of Shadows is a steamy Fantasy Romance story that pairs Robin Hood with Cinderella in an unforgettable whirlwind of excitement! The chemistry between these two was immediate and I loved finding the fun easter eggs along the way paying homage to their original tales while enjoying this amazing retelling!

This one definitely sets a dark tone from the start, and I loved it! Ella is the Queen of Shadows, and it shows in this brilliant blending of everything I love about this genre! Strong character types, sizzling chemistry, a reluctant hero, a good balance of action and romance, and a tantalizing slow-burn!

From the start, I was hooked! I loved getting to know this remarkable cast, and absolutely cannot wait to read more! I couldn’t put this one down and eagerly await the next installment of this extraordinary series!