Christmas Bliss by A.S. Fenichel-a 4/5 Star Review!

John is a very serious Earl of Compton, who tirelessly spends his days arguing in the House of Lords.   Women seem to only be after his status and fortune rather than his intelligence and determination.  Until he meets Emma.

Emma is on the run from her abusive uncle, Drake, who is hell-bent on taking away her much younger brother Oliver’s inheritance.  Protective of her young brother, she runs away with him while he is sleeping yet only makes it across the street to the Earl of Compton’s residence before she is struggling to carry her brother’s sleeping body.  That short distance is enough to change both of their entire lives.

Where I live, we have been fortunate to have a fairly warm winter.  Then we hit a cold snap around the same time that I had just finished Foolish Bride, also by A. S. Fenichel.  I loved Foolish Bride and was aching to read another one of A.S. Fenichel’s books.  It so happened that I came across Christmas Bliss and, despite it being mid-March, it was a fun book to curl up with on a cold night.  The holiday is only briefly mentioned a time or two and I found myself wishing there was more of the holiday spirit.

The story is brief in length yet deep in complexity.  Both John and Emma have spent their days fighting others.  John arguing in the House of Lords and Emma fighting her uncle to protect her brother.  Both John and Emma had missed out on seasons in the ton and even each other.  They were practically strangers to each other despite living across the street.

Very quickly, John and Emma are taken with one another yet hesitant to go all in.  John proposes a solution to Emma’s situation of protecting her brother and his inheritance from her greedy uncle: marriage.  What I enjoyed most was the focus on the trepidation before deciding to go forward with the engagement.  It helped the brief romance because both of their doubts were explained thoroughly.

Little Oliver was my favorite character.  He was enthusiastic, well-mannered, and optimistic for one who has endured so much in his youth.  I liked that the villain was very present rather than a concept that loomed around.  I also liked how selfless John became when it came to Emma and Oliver.

I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy romance and brief engagements.  However, I would not recommend this book for readers uncomfortable with graphic violence.  I do not recall reading any foul language.  The romantic interactions are not sexually explicit, in my opinion.

Enchantment by Orson Scott Card- a 4/5 Star Review!

Ivan’s childhood was full of changes. His family had to change religions which brought Ivan and his father Piotr to the painful decision of post-infancy circumcision. Then they had to move from Russia to America. Through all of these changes, what brought Ivan peace and stability was running. One run through the forest on his uncle’s farm brought him to a magical chasm where the leaves danced away as Ivan approached for a closer look at a woman sleeping on a bed of rock. Ivan did what he did best: he ran.

Years later, Ivan never could shake off the feeling that he should have looked closer at the woman and tried to help her. Through a series of seemingly coincidental events, Ivan finds himself back at his uncle’s farm. One curious run into the forest and Ivan finds the same woman buried under the leaves. This time, he doesn’t run.

This was a selection for a book club that I have recently joined, otherwise I might not have picked it up. This is the first book that I have read by Orson Scott Card as fantasy books are not really my preferred genre. However, fairy tales are one of my favorites, and this came across as a clever retelling of Sleeping Beauty mixed with the folk tales of Baba Yaga and other deities. Orson Scott Card’s Enchantment, although fantasy, surprised me in this combination of the three. I was further surprised that there were a few points where I lost interest yet it was quickly regained. This is not the sort of book that I could read in one sitting, as it was rather long and at some points long-winded. However, it is the sort of book that I could quickly pick up again the next day or even a few hours later. That is to say that I found it neither repulsive nor gripping.

I enjoyed the storyline for the most part and I also enjoyed the alternating perspectives between Ivan, Katerina, and Baba Yaga. I thought Baba Yaga was the character written the strongest as she was despicable yet entertaining. I also enjoyed the minor details earlier in the book that became major details later. For example: a vague note from a deceased neighbor in the beginning of the book played a major factor in one of the final action sequences. Although I love fairy tales, I do enjoy the struggle that Katerina and Ivan had in their relationship. They did not love each other immediately, rather they fell for each other at different paces.

I would recommend this book for any reader looking for an enchanting fantasy read with a leading female character and a bit of historical fiction.

On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for readers who do not enjoy foul language, violence, revenge, murder, and sexually suggestive scenarios.

Sunset In Central Park (From Manhattan With Love #2) by Sarah Morgan- A 5/5 Star Review!

Just a few months ago, I was fortunate to have been able to read my first book by Sarah Morgan: Midnight At Tiffany’s. I loved the book and the band of friends within the story. I was delighted to find that it was actually the third book in the From Manhattan With Love series as it easily read as a standalone novel. Immediately, I was on the search for the rest of the series. Then I read the first book in the series , Sleepless In Manhattan, and fell in love with the characters all over again. Now, having just finished the second book, Sunset In Central Park, it feels like a trifecta!

Frankie Cole has made it out of her hometown on Puffin Island to The Big Apple. She made the move with her best friends and has never looked back. Shamed by her parents’ divorce and her mother’s resulting promiscuity, Frankie has felt as though the entire island knew about it and judged her for it by association. In New York City, with the support of her group of friends, she feels confident in her field of garden design and floral arrangements.

Matt Walker has known Frankie her whole life. His sister is one of her closest friends and he likes to think he is a close friend too. One encounter leaves him realizing he has only scratched the surface of Frankie’s true personality. What is she hiding under the persona that she wears every day?

I loved the slow unveiling of what Frankie has been hiding and I felt the mask was justified given the shame and guilt that she felt from her parents’ divorce. Furthermore, I enjoyed how patient Matt was with Frankie’s insecurities, yet he was still able to push her to be stronger and face her fears. Frankie has a great supporting group of friends that the reader is able to see their interactions as the narration switches between Frankie and Matt. Lastly, I loved that Frankie was the hero at the end of the day!

I will be reading more of Sarah Morgan’s books and I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy reading romance. Also, for readers who enjoy reading about New York City as the setting is described beautifully. It makes me want to take another trip out there!

On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for readers who do not enjoy explicitly sexual scenarios, brief violence, or foul language (which was only a few times).