Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of , having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquried about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. I am unsure how many books I’ll review for them as most are offered digitally rather than in print but this happily marks one of the blog tours where I could receive a print book for review purposes. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors.
This particular review is slightly different from my regular blog tours and hosting features for Prism Book Tours – as an opportunity came along this Summer to secure a spot on a ‘review tour’ rather than a ‘blog tour’ for a five-book series from Harlequin Heartwarming entitled “Return of the Blackwell Brothers”. This differs as each of the reviewers and book bloggers who are committing to this review tour are posting at different intervals as each of the five novels release which is also co-dependent on the format we are signed on to review.
My reviews will be showcased from August 2018 through January 2019 beginning with the first novel by Carol Ross. Only the first and second novel will showcase the book synopsis, author photograph and her biography as the rest of the tour will only feature the serial information which is also seen on this post. Each of us had the flexibility to choose when we are posting our reviews which was another added bonus to this particular review tour. I elected to post mine on Saturdays, as for the past four years Saturdays have been happily focused on Romances (previously strictly by ChocLit) and I am going to continue to expand this featured part of the week encompassing more Romances by both ChocLit and different publishers. Except for when I needed to post during the week in lieu of Saturday due to health issues or life in general.
I received a complimentary copy of “The Rancher’s Homecoming” direct from the author Anna J. Stewart in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Why I continue to feel attached & connected to the Blackwell Brothers:
I love the direction Vastine took to alight us back into the towne shortly after we left The Rancher’s Redemption as she re-aligned us immediately by having Tyler & Hadley have a bit of a run-in with Judge Edwards and Zoe! This was a brilliant move as it shows the shortness of time between the two installments whilst it also helps us understand the larger timeline of the series.
The more they played at faking their engagement the more entangled they became with each other and left them with little wiggle room. It was was a great way to set-up the angst before a real relationship, too. Their play-acting brought out a lot of the left-over issues Tyler hadn’t faced from his past whilst with Hadley, it also brought out her insecurities and her ethics. She was questioning her motives whilst she was at the ranch yet more to the point, she was also discovering a part about herself she wasn’t expecting to find. She really could settle into the slower pace and the quiet stillness of the Rocky mountains. It held an appeal to her which felt as if the ties to this particular place were actually stronger than their passion for the city they had left.
This is why I loved this installment: it brought back to centre the entire back-history of the Blackwell family. This series is anchoured on its living histories – even Big E for all his glory and issues, he held his family close in his heart. Evident moreso by the time you reached the final chapter of this story but more to the point, the Blackwells were a family who held a resilience in them that gave them a bit of an edge on others. They didn’t back down easily and they knew when to fight for something important. The joy of reading the series, of course, is watching how all these entangled issues start to unravel and how the family itself learns to ‘heal’.
This installment felt a bit more seamless in transition as it echoed more of the original groundwork in the series. Each of the writers has their own unique style, voice and spin on the Blackwell Brothers – however, of the three I’ve read before this one, this one felt closer to the first narrative voice where we first learnt who the Blackwell Brothers are and why this series is centred round their second chance at brotherhood.
Vastine also nails how to bridge all the characters back into the narrative – where she gives ample time to each of the characters we’ve come to appreciate in the series to a level of rotation I was clapping in joy to read. I really felt she understood how to re-centre the series – by creating this bridge between the first three installments and the fourth, whilst giving us a proper refresher on everyone’s quirks before we moved into the fifth and final installment. I truly applaud how she managed to do this as it was fastly become my favourite novel in the series outside of the first!
The setting is dearly appealling as the ranch the Blackwell Brothers own is in Montana – nestled with a backdrop of the Rockies, the brothers surely have a lovely sky to look out over everyday. Outside of the continuity she maintained, she put her own spin on the brothers and she enlarged our view of the large ensemble cast this series has become to include. I love larger casts in novels but sometimes, you find some of the characters get forsaken for others or sometimes, the ones you want to come back into sight yield to the current ones being focused upon. I give Ms Vastine full credit for giving us a chance to catch-up with everyone we’ve met thus far along but also, allowing us to feel as if we’ve maintained a connection to them from start to finish.
The Rancher’s Twins by Carol Ross → August 1st The Rancher’s Rescue by Cari Lynn Webb → September 1st The Rancher’s Redemption by Melinda Curtis → October 1st The Rancher’s Fake Fiancée by Amy Vastine → November 1st The Rancher’s Homecoming by Anna J. Stewart → December 1st
Acquired Digital Audiobook by: I am blog tour hostess with Audiobookworm Promotions wherein I have the opportunity to receive audiobooks for review or adoption (reviews outside of organised blog tours) and host guest features on behalf of authors and narrators alike. I started hosting for Audiobookworm Promotions at the end of  during “The Cryptic Lines” tour wherein I became quite happily surprised how much I am now keen on listening to books in lieu of reading them in print. My journey into audiobooks was prompted by a return of my chronic migraines wherein I want to offset my readings with listening to the audio versions.
I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “Lost in the Light” via the publicist at Audiobookworm Promotions in exchange for an honest review. This complimentary copy I received is part of the ‘Adopt an Audiobook’ programme where reviewers are given a 90 day window to listen and review the book. I received this audiobook in December, 2018 wherein I had planned to listen to this before the close of the year, however, with a five week virus I had to wait til I recovered my energies to hear the story this January, 2019. This differs from a blog tour which has a more set schedule of posting. The audiobooks are offered to ‘adopt’ for review consideration and are given to readers to gauge their opinions, impressions and insight into how the audiobook is resonating with listeners. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
What drew me to listening to this particular audiobook:
I’ve been seeking out different kinds of Mysteries for most of  – including at tailend of the year, wherein I scouted out such lovelies as Joy Avon’s In Peppermint Peril; David Rosenfelt’s Deck the Hounds; Maia Chance’s Naughty on Ice; as well as the latest Claire Chase Thriller Death on the River, M.B. Shaw’s Murder at the Mill and Vivian Conroy’s The Butterfly Conspiracy – of which I am still continuing to listen and/or read as I lost the hours to enjoy them fully due to being ill before, during and after Christmas!
I love Mysteries, Thrillers and novels of Suspense but what made each of these quite uniquely lovely is how uniquely individual they are as ‘stories within their own series’. I had hoped by January I could dig back inside my beloved #LoveINSPIRED Suspense novels – those lovely page-turners I share a passion of reading with my Mum but suffice it to say, most of January was either spent recovering my energy and stamina lost during the virus to end all viruses; transitioning through two migraines (blessedly one low grade and one slightly supernova) and at least three severe allergy attacks – to the brink that January just felt muddled.
I had such a lovely outline of what I wanted to accomplish via LibraryThing and I was adding to that revolving list of #nextreads with what I wanted to be listening too throughout the month as I am still attempting to offset what I read in print with what I listen to as an #AudioReads as I’m striving towards a spilt of 70/40 between both formats. I finally had to realise somewhere along the route of the month, resting and being offline was just a better course of action for my own self-care than to attempt to read the stories which were keenly interesting me to seek out. Thereby, it became one of the least read months I’ve had as a book blogger but the stories I was able to listen to or read were rather enjoyable.
Which brings me to this adopted audiobook – I was dearly curious about what I would inside as I do have a particular eye on serial fiction – especially when it comes to Crime Fiction as there is something intriguing about getting to re-visit a series vs reading a one-off. Since this one is a merger of the Paranormal with the Investigative – it was a story I was curiously happy to finally get a chance to settle inside and soak in the story-line!
When it comes to ‘Jane Eyre’ – one could say I’ve had a unique connection to both the original novel & the  adaptation; being that the version of the story I knew best all of these years was the film adaptation rather than the novel! I started reading the novel in  as there was a readathon which was really quite cleverly assembled whilst I also found the Books of Eyre reading challenge shortly thereafter. The only trouble of course, is the fact I was pulled in and out of the context of the story multiple times – the most of what I shared ended being the first half of my readings of Eyre.
My main takeaways were the following from that initial reading of JANE EYRE:
In walked Jane Eyre, as calm as a willow bending in the wind,…
or should I say, that attribution belongs to another, a Ms. (Helen) Burns, of whom, Ms. Eyre draws a readily acquaintance and confidence as she’s removed from Gateshead and placed into custody of Lowood Institution for Oprhans! No, pray give leave, to express that Ms. Eyre is a firecracker of unrequited internal rage and admonition for her plight as thus handed down to her in life, as her parents are long since dead; her last surviving relation put to rest in the grave prematurely, and she is left to the dealings of her Aunt, [Sarah Reed, of the late Uncle Reed, her direct relation] of whom, is presented rather apt to reflect Angelica Houston’s character in “Ever After”, as she presides such blatant disregard for her niece, Eyre! It’s only in the reflections of Jane, as an older self, that we find a disconnect between the younger Eyre’s presumption of what was occurring and the wiser Eyre’s imparted understanding, that not all was as first known when the story starts to unfold!
The edgings of the story are wantonly haunting, as the world around Ms. Eyre is draped in grey tones, rain sodden exteriors, and the atmosphere of Gothic underpinnings, as there is rumours of a potential haunting of her Uncle, whilst alive was tender and kind towards Jane, but in whose death, wrecked a miserable state of affairs to unfold and befell her! I was quite appalled at her nephew’s extensive violence towards her, [in this regard, young Harry Potter lived comparatively comfortably!] and her Aunt’s diffidence not to correct the improper and unkind behaviour! Such grievances I can only try to attempt to tolerate, as I know the resolution of the story in-full, but that does not make it any easier to read or rather, observe her humble and caustic beginnings! If anything, it sets up in my mind how far Ms. Eyre had to transmorph into the resolute and strong adult she became!
As Brontë, deftly brings to life the under kernels of Eyre’s hardening and the porticoes of her knowledge that if she were to embark down certain pathways, she might not soon return! Much less, would she want to be such a creature!? To walk through this world, fully hardened and affaced to all the goodness that surely must still be present!? I can sympathise with her on this level, as when your day-to-day existence is presented in a continuous imprisonment of harsh punishment [solitary confined to the nursery, never allowed outside or downstairs, always finding reprimand rather than nurturing, and an absence of time being measured by usual perimeters!], I can understand her reasonings and her deepest of questions regarding not only the state of her personal affairs, but her state and place in the world itself! How angst ridden we should all feel, to have no Hope, no Light, and no perceivable exodus of our allotted circumstance!?
What staid with me throughout the entirety of the opening chapters, is the elucidation of Ms. Brontë, who thus effused her fictional work with counterparts of reality at each turn! She mastered the ability to absolve and absorb what weighed heavily on her heart, pouring out her grief and emotional keenings into the breath she gave Jane Eyre! She took the tragedies of her own life [her elder siblings died as a result of a school similar to Lowood!] and gave them a proper tomb to cleanse herself of feelings she most likely could not dissipate otherwise. I believe, its through her pen, she tapped into a greater purpose that gave her life meaning and worth, than anything she could readily achieve in her everyday life. She suffered greatly by her own experiences, as I read she and her sisters [Anne and Emily] were afflicted by anxiety disorders, but with her pen, she cast aside all of this, in order to cast into the world a tome of her intellect and wisdom.
Noting a juxtaposition from an after canon to the original within “Keeping Kate”:
From the first moment Kate Evans walks across the page, I felt a tightening in my heart towards her, as her spirit of self-awareness and of place within the folds of her life were very true to course! Kate is the kind of character I am oft-times in search of uncovering; not merely in Classical Lit but within the Contemporary realms as well! She has a captivating way of giving you just enough of a pause of thought on what is happening to her as to ground you within her scope of the story itself. She hasn’t had the easiest of lives but she’s not despondent about it either! No! She’s as bold and direct about her circumstances fate has dealt her as Eyre with the moxie of her predecessor for digging deep into her faith and placing a firm foothold into a future that surely must lead to something not quite as darkening as her childhood!
Rather than being taken to a Gothic estate set far away from active society, Kate is led to a small mountain towne in Utah, where the community she felt she would uncover would be quite ordinary turnt into an extraordinary settled development where estates were more regular than cabins! Tucked away from most conveniences, her new dwelling was a far cry of being the center of modern life and had a more natural bent towards embracing the natural world of which surrounded the ranch where she was accepting employment.
Thornfield Hall is turnt into ‘Thorne Field Ranch’, where Adele becomes Addie, and Mrs. Fairfaxes name receives a change of ‘firsts’. The ambiance of the place remains intact, to where opulence and finery outweigh sensible style and pleasure. Rochester has surely met his match in Mr. Thorne! I never thought you could quite elicit out a duality of whom Rochester was in both origin and spirit, but Tyler Thorne has nailed him in such a justifiable way as to honour him through reincarnation!
The main difference of course, is that instead of a dark secret in the attic that causes the most angst in the climax of Jane Eyre, in Keeping Kate Tyler Thorne is betwixt knowing how to shift forward in life after his wife abandoned him, claimed infidelity, and straddled him with a child of whom she insisted was not his own. Yet dealing with the reality of this situation and the layers in which are knitted into the in-between moments where Kate and Tyler find themselves quite bemuseful of each other’s company, therein lies the best choices Farnsworth gave the novel!
She doesn’t allow this to be a ‘quick fix’ nor does she make the situation feel ‘contrite or predictable’. She took the harder road — to show realistic choices, raw human emotion, and levelled it with honesty about the depth of the human heart. The pace of the story is the most beautiful aspect of Keeping Kate because it allows you to let the tides of the narrative wash over you, lull you into the shoes of the main characters, and take a reprieve from your own affairs.
Whilst I peered into the darker corners of ‘Bertha’ through poetic verse:
| Vintage Bertha Triptych : The Gothic Grotesque |
Segmented into three equally telling installments of Bertha’s psychological state, Martinez taps inside Bertha as she had lived and how her actions were precipitated by her awareness of how despairingly dire her need to free herself from her imprisoned state (as she saw it). For her, the only solution was to transcend the physical world and opt-out of this existence that was taking out her will to survive – she was shut-off from everything and everyone, completely isolated and left undone. Bertha could no longer conceptionalise reality much less equate out a living she could conceive that would stand her back on solid ground. Her choices were set in motion by the loss of her life long before she died – she was an empty husk of a woman who was no longer the girl of her younger years.
In this poem, her desolation is perceptively acute and her state of unwellness is keenly portrayed by a woman whose unravelled her mind to where nothing else matters but the release of the pain which has become her living hours. It’s a sobering snippet of a woman’s life whose lost the battle to gain wellness in the face of an obstacle she could not surmount. I felt Martinez expertly gave Bertha a voice in this poem, and granted a bit of new insight into her state of mental health at the time of the fire itself.
All of this was preparing me in many regards to seeking out “The Other Wife” and uniquely towards a passage back into “Jane Eyre” itself. On Friday, the day and night before #SatBookChat, I re-entered the realm of JANE EYRE through the audiobook adaptation by Naxos Audiobooks with the narrator Amanda Root. It was through this listening period I started to shift into the darker corners of Rochester’s life with Bertha as previously I hadn’t reached the point in the novel where her presence was more pronounced, explored & brought to the foreground of Jane’s own journey at Thornfield Hall.
I knew JANE EYRE was a darker tale – somewhere in the back of my mind, however, the film adaptation painted the portrait of this being a darkly lit romantic tale with unknown suspenseful elements that worked well with the Gothic undertones. If anything, for me, having come through the film adaptation first – it felt more like a Dark Romantic Suspense rather than what it truer is shaping up towards being which is a keenly insightful & dark work of Women’s Fiction. The difference was only seen as I started to shift forward past what is known (to me) and what was yet unknown – where the layers are being peeled back a bit further – to where Rochester is being seen slightly differently than I remembered him in the film – where you took pity on his character for his plight and how it seemed to be unravelling into a grimly dark romance with a spark of hope at the end of the dark tunnel.
I also knew THE OTHER WIFE would be equally as dark – as not just owning to the canon, as this is a tale “inspired by” rather than strict re-telling, sequel or re-imagining of the original – I wanted to explore the components of what made this Contemporary tale uniquely different before broaching into a book discussion with its co-authors: Ms Alison May & Ms Janet Gover.
I wanted to develop a unique interview with them as the writing team of “Juliet Bell” as a precursor to the discussion which would arise through #SatBookChat – thus giving everyone who wanted to attend the chat a solid idea about what THE OTHER WIFE involves and what kinds of inter-related topics could be broached during the chat itself. I decided to keep their responses intact as they gave them to me – as I wanted this to be a bit of a round robin interview – where I would pitch the same questions to each of the authors & they in turn would respond. You’ll find this is one of the more interesting conversations I’ve shared – as it has a duel perspective attached to it whilst it gives you a keen insight into collaborative writing styles & the inspirations to telling the stories which motivate our writerly hearts to write.
You’ll also note I left this informal rather than formal – as I never actually have an interview where I don’t mention an author’s last name in the response lines – however, this was organically knitted out by the authors themselves and I liked how it flowed through the conversation. I decided to keep it authentically honest as it developed & share the conversation as it moved into the harder hitting aspects of JANE EYRE whilst it also talks about what separates THE OTHER WIFE from the canon.
Kindly brew your favourite cuppa & grab something to eat as you settle into the convo!
Be sure to follow our chat’s tag #SatBookChat | use it to contribute to the discussion
Starting @ 11a NYC | 4p UK – follow @SatBookChat for updates!
On my connection to the authors:
From approx. January 2014 – June 2018, I was a reviewer for ChocLitUK whilst I hosted a bookish chat featuring ChocLit novels & their authors entitled #ChocLitSaturday (@ChocLitSaturday). The chat was renamed @SatBookChat in January, 2018. During this period of time, my path crossed with a lot of authors publishing with ChocLit and I had the grace of being able to read nearly all of the Coorah Creek novels during that experience, however, I did not have the chance to read “Little Girl Lost” which is the latest Coorah Creek novel outside of the Christmas novella (a Digital First release) which correlates with the series itself. Coorah Creek was the series penned by Ms Gover whereas in regards to the works by Ms May – I was able to feature a spotlight on her Christmas novellas which were re-released into an anthology in print – an edition I had sought to read and review but didn’t get the proper chance to do so. I also was keenly intrigued by her after canons for Shakespeare as I love the Bard & the original stories he gave us to enjoy. These stories are part of my TBR of ChocLit novels, novellas & pocket stories which I look forward to one day being able to read properly (either in print or audiobook).
I am disclosing this connection to you as I have maintained an active connection of communication with the authors I’ve read through ChocLit whilst being a conversationalist on Twitter – either for the chat I hosted and/or outside of it. Even if I have a connection to an author, I am still able to feature their current stories, their backlist titles or any other projects their developing hereafter as I approach each story separately from the ones I’ve read or experienced in the past. I go into each new story with an open mind and thus can give my honest impressions on its behalf.
The Other Wife Subtitle: Beautiful places hide terrible secrets by Juliet Bell
Outback Australia, 1981
After a terrible childhood, Jane comes to Thornfield as nanny to the adorable Adele, watched over by the handsome and enigmatic Edward. Plain and inexperienced, Jane would never dream of being more than his hired help. But swept up in the dramatic beauty of the Outback, she finds herself drawn to Edward. And, to her surprise, he seems to return her feelings.
But Jane is not the first woman Edward has pledged to make mistress of Thornfield.
As a child, Betty was taken from her English home and sent for adoption in Australia. At first, no-one wanted her, deeming her hair too curly, and her skin too dark. Until the scheming Mr Mason sees a chance to use Betty to cement a relationship with the rich and powerful Rochester dynasty…
When Jane discovers Betty’s fate, will she still want to be the next Mrs Rochester?
#Classics Retold OR Stories Inspired by #ClassicLit; #CharlotteBronte or #Bronte200 & #Brontes
As you have re-imagined two Classical stories thus far along “Wuthering Heights” and “Jane Eyre” – how do you select the stories you’re going to re-tell and re-imagine? Is there a process to it or is it a bit more serendipitous? What pulled you in the direction of co-writing these kinds of stories as well?
Janet says :Wuthering Heights was my choice. It has always fascinated me. It’s a dark and violent book – not a romance at all, despite what some people would say. I always wanted to explore the how passions and emotions of the characters would evolve in a different, but equally tumultuous time.
Alison says :Wuthering Heights was the easier choice of the two – Janet suggested it and I felt very connected to the setting and the time period we chose for our adaptation. Jane Eyre was trickier. In some ways it’s the obvious follow on from Wuthering Heights, but it’s a subtler, less in your face, book in a lot of ways. What drew me to it though was still that question of ‘is this a romance?’ And if not, what makes people think that it is? Read More
I am wicked thrilled to bring to you this riveting conversation I had with Ms Garriston – whose written an engaging Historical narrative set during war where the women who were codebreakers truly impacted all of our lives & redirected History one code at a time. I was instantly keen to read this lovely due to my love of the new series #BletchleyCircle which is rooted in the original series which laid down the foundation of the new serial via BritBox which takes place in San Francisco after the war has ended.
The actresses who portray the women bring history to life in such a way as to prove how difficult it was to be a woman who had an intellectual mind in a day & age where using your mind to fuell your career was not acceptable nor understood by men. Or, in many regards by fellow women who felt a woman’s place was in the home and not in the workforce. This series also highlights how hard it was for these women who were on the cutting edge of breaking codes during the war who had to step back into civilian life as if their work during the war years *never happened* and how that impacted their spirits and minds after they tried to resume life as if nothing had happened at all.
Having seen the first few episodes of #BletchleyCircle and one of the original episodes – I knew I was keen to enter into the world of spies, codes and the Historical backdrop Gerriston was going to give us in her story “All Is Fair”. As the tour only had ecopies available for review (as you know as a migraineur I can only read print or listen to audio) I opted instead to host a conversation with her as I wanted to tuck into her writerly process, the components of the story itself and how Historical Fiction illuminates such an enriched knowledge of humanity’s past, present and future.
Lady Mina Tretheway knows she’s destined for greater things than her fancy boarding school, where she’s being taught to be a proper English lady. It’s 1918, and war is raging across Europe. Unlike her father and brother, who are able to assist in the war effort, Mina is stuck sorting out which fork should be used with which dinner course.
When Mina receives a telegram that’s written in code, she finally has her chance to do something big. She returns to her childhood home of Hallington Manor, joined by a family friend, Lord Andrew Graham, and a dashing and mysterious young American, Lucas. The three of them must band together to work on a dangerous project that could turn the tide of the war.
Thrilled that she gets to contribute to the war effort at least, Mina jumps headfirst into the world of cryptic messages, spycraft, and international intrigue. She, Lucas, and Andrew have to work quickly, because if they don’t succeed, more soldiers will disappear into the darkness of war.
Converse on Twitter via: #YALit & #HistoricalFiction; #CodeBreakers
as well as #HistFic & #HistNov or for readers who love #BletchleyCircle
About Dee Garretson
Dee writes contemporary, science fiction and historical adventure stories for a wide range of ages. Her books have been chosen as Junior Library Guild selections, the Scholastic Book Club, and have been nominated for numerous state awards lists. In addition to books published under her own name, she also writes for the Boxcar Children series.