Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Review: Saving Grace / Loving Helen / Marrying Christopher



From #2 Amazon Bestselling Historical Romance Author and Whitney Award Winner, Michele Paige Holmes, comes a new regency romance series.

SAVING GRACE, Book 1 of the Hearthfire Romance series:

After the death of her grandfather, the Duke of Salisbury, Grace Thatcher wants nothing more than to live quietly in the country with her younger siblings. Her father’s debts thwart those plans, and to protect her sister, Helen, Grace must marry a man of her father’s choosing.

As each suitor proves less than desirable, Grace comes up with clever schemes, causing each to reject her. While staying at the mysterious Sutherland Hall, a middle-of-the-night mishap sends Grace into the arms of a stranger, Nicholas Sutherland—and provides inspiration for her grandest plan yet—one that will leave her reputation in tatters yet free both her and Helen from all possibility of marriage.

Too late Grace regrets her rash actions when her father’s last choice, Mr. Samuel Preston, proves to be a gentleman and a friend. But Samuel is the sworn enemy of Nicholas Sutherland, the man responsible for her “ruin.” Now instead of being free, Grace is caught between two men—each with his own agenda.

LOVING HELEN, Book 2 of the Hearthfire Romance series:

Revisit the characters from Saving Grace in this story of Grace’s shy, younger sister.  Eighteen-year-old Helen Thatcher grew up under the protection of her older siblings, Grace and Christopher. Living in their shadows and keeping to herself suited Helen just fine—until she met widower Samuel Preston. Watching Mr. Preston care for his young daughter and seeing his concern extend to her own family, Helen felt her reserve slipping away, as she learned first to trust him and then realized she had fallen in love with him. But instead of returning—or even noticing her affection—Mr. Preston developed his own tender, and unrequited feelings, for Grace.

In the midst of each silently nursing their broken hearts, Helen and Samuel are faced with a daunting task—reuniting Grace with her fiancĂ©, Nicholas Sutherland. Now it is Helen who must look out for her sister and sacrifice her own fragile heart, as she and Samuel pretend to be engaged. Helen finds the role surprisingly easy to play, allowing herself to imagine that Samuel’s loving remarks are sincere. As the time for their charade to end draws near Helen must summon her courage and tell Samuel the truth of her feelings, or risk losing him forever.

MARRYING CHRISTOPHER, Book 3 of the Hearthfire Romance series:

Having seen both his sisters Grace and Helen happily married, Christopher Thatcher is free to pursue his dream of life in America. With adventure in his heart and mind, he boards one of the first steamships set to cross the Atlantic in the record breaking time of only twenty-five days. Within the first two of those, his resolve—to avoid women and the complications they often bring to a man’s life—falters when he meets Marsali Abbott, a young woman with a past even more troubling than his own. Whether from years of habit protecting his sisters, or simply because he feels drawn to Marsali, Christopher chooses to help her and becomes her friend. As the truth about what awaits Marsali in America becomes evident, he is faced with a more difficult choice, one that will impact their lives far beyond four weeks together at sea.


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MY REVIEW

I enjoyed this clean regency romance series about two sisters and a brother. The first one is about the oldest, Grace, and her schemes to avoid marriage to the men her scoundrel father is trying to marry her off to in order to pay his debts and support his degenerate lifestyle. Grace is feisty, hard working, and very loyal to her siblings. The story kind of has a Beauty and the Beast vibe going on. While escaping her latest suitor by leaving in the middle of the night, Grace's carriage has a mishap that essentially leaves her at the mercy of the brooding Lord Sutherland. With a little bit of a love triangle with Lord Sutherland's neighbor, Samuel Preston, you get a good dose of regency romance.

I didn't enjoy the second book as much as the first one. The story of Helen starts out parallel to Grace's story so you kind of get the same details just from Helen's point of view. It just didn't flow smoothly for me and I didn't enjoy it a whole lot. The part I did enjoy was getting to know Samuel's daughter. She's a precocious little girl who helps unite the families.

I enjoyed the third book the most. (This one can be read as a stand alone.) The story of Christopher leaving to make his own way after seeing his sisters happily married is fun, adventurous, and romantic. He's determined to avoid women but ends up befriending Marsali almost from the start. I liked Marsali's character a lot. She's had a hard life and is headed for more hardship but she tries to keep a positive attitude and is always kind and helpful. I was pleasantly surprised with the secondary character of the other young lady on board the ship. I liked that she wasn't a spoiled brat and that she becomes friends with Marsali. This story takes some unexpected twists and turns that have you wondering if you are going to get a happy ending but all's well that ends well! :)

*I received a complimentary copy of all three of these books for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are my own.*


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About the author:

Michele Paige Holmes spent her childhood and youth in Arizona and northern California, often curled up with a good book instead of out enjoying the sunshine. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Elementary Education, and found it an excellent major in which to indulge her love of children’s literature.
Her first novel, Counting Stars (Covenant Communications 2007), won the 2007 Whitney Award for best romance. Her companion novel, a romantic suspense titled, All the Stars in Heaven (Covenant 2009), was a Whitney finalist, as was her first historical romance, Captive Heart (Covenant 2011). My Lucky Stars (Covenant 2012) completed the Stars series.
After having a novella published in A Timeless Romance Anthology European Collection (Mirror Press, 2013), Michele decided to focus on historical romance and began Hearthfire Historicals, with the debut novel Saving Grace. A companion novella, Loving Helen was released February 2015.
Michele has been a member of the same critique group for over fourteen years and feels privileged to meet with fellow authors Annette Lyon, Heather B. Moore, LuAnn Staheli, Sarah M. Eden, J. Scott Savage, and Robison Wells. She has been a member of RWA and URWA, LDStorymakers, and The League of Utah Writers. Michele enjoys both attending and teaching at conferences.
When not reading or writing romance, Michele is busy with her full time job as a wife and mother. She and her husband live in Utah with their five high maintenance children and a Shitzu that resembles a teddy bear, in a house with a wonderful view of the mountains. You can find Michele on the web at michelepaigeholmes.com and on Facebook and twitter .

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