Review: The Duke is But a Dream by Anna Bennett

NET GALLEY – July 30, 2019 (Debutante Diaries #2)

Rating: 5*

First of all I really loved this book.  It wasn’t unusual in nature as I have read others that have the same type if scenario where one of the protagonists gets bumped in the head and has amnesia – not knowing who they are!  Yes it is definitely a very effective storyline used in so many ways.  But author, Anna Bennett, did a masterful job of keeping the story fresh, sensual and totally endearing.

Not only had Miss Lily Hartley lost her memory and didn’t remember that what she did on the side; being a published author of an advice column for debutantes that was quite scandalous; her reputation would be ruined.   

Dressed as a lad her savior didn’t realize she was a woman till her hat got knocked off.  But seeing the hands of lady he saw no other choice than to bring her home where he and his sister could care for her.  Although whether she was a gentlewoman or simply a vagrant he couldn’t discern, but what he felt when she was washed up and clean was attraction; something he, the Duke of Stonebridge , hadn’t felt in some years.  

Naturally, not knowing whether Lily had family, a beau, or even a husband wasn’t the main concern.  Discovering who she was would be the primary problem to overcome, but the closer they came to uncovering her identity, the realization that he didn’t want to let her go was a problem they would both have to deal with.

Great fleshed out characters, scenarios, and sensuality.  The only problem I had with the book – it ended too soon!    If I had seen the gorgeous cover before hand, I would have picked it up just for the cover!!    Highly recommended!

Marilyn Rondeau 

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Review: Death By Design by Paula Darnell

Laurel McMillan has been teaching her class how to make perfect pillows in her community center’s DIY class. While all of her students have made progress, she’s had a couple stand out and encourages them to participate in some local contests. Not surprisingly, Jennifer wins with her stunning beaded peacock pillow. Unfortunately, Jennifer’s husband is murdered soon afterwards, and it appears the pillow is the weapon. Can Laurel help uncover who the murderer is?

What a fun cozy mystery! Paula Darnell pulls the reader in quickly, introducing us both to the community and many of the characters. I love the idea of a homeowners’ association having crafting classes that members of the community can enjoy. The mystery itself is clever, with several red herrings thrown into the mix to keep the reader guessing.

DEATH BY DESIGN is the second book in the DIY Diva Mystery series but can easily be read as a standalone. I haven’t read the first book, but it’s on my stack to read as Paula Darnell writes an intriguing and entertaining cozy mystery. I love the crafting aspect, especially considering the students’ pillow projects vary from the very intricate work of Jennifer’s pillow to the more practical ones finished by Bud. I look forward to reading future books in the series!

Review: Bethlehem by Karen Kelly

Hardcover, 304 pages                 Published July 9th 2019 by St. Martin’s Press

ISBN13: 9781250201492      Setting:  Bethlehem, Pennsylvania(United States) 

Rating: 4*

Set during the gilded, glory days of Bethlehem, PA two women come together, not realizing that in a short time, the secrets of betrayal and temptations they’ve held and kept will one day bind them together in a way that neither could have ever expected.

Arriving at the grand ancestral home of her husband’s family, Joanna is hoping to fortify her cracking marriage. But what she finds is not what she expected: tragedy haunts the hallways, whispering of heartache and a past she never knew existed. And her mother-in-law Susannah, is not someone who makes Joanna feel welcome.  Too many women in a house that has seen too much tragedy and heartache and kept too many secrets.

It was touted as a historical based on the titans of the steel-boom era, namely Bethlehem Steel, but it turned out to be more than that in what I would describe as women’s fiction.  Joanna has had to give up the house and home she had lived in with her husband and two children to move into the families humongous ancestral home.  Living with her husband’s grandmother and mother who had held the title of mistress of that home.  It made Joanna feel somewhat non-essential.  Everything was taken care of by numerous family retainers who Joanna felt had more claim to the home than she would ever have.  

Feeling somewhat neglected Joanna fell into the habit of spending her time in the nearby cemetery  where she made friends with the quirky cemetery keepers and their enigmatic grandson.  She also discovered the tiny gravestone of baby “Hayes” whom she wanted to uncover the mystery of who he was and why no one had claimed it to give him a name.

*** The book started slowly and to be honest, it was something I struggled with, but slowly the story started to make more sense as the author kept up the past and present theme of Susannah’s and Joanna’s life.  Both would discover that their lives were similar but different.  The characters were well defined, the pace did pick up, and it was a pretty good summer read.   

Thanks to Net Galley for providing me the ARC of this book for an honest review.

Marilyn Rondeau