Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters by Jennifer Chiaverini

lincoln
source: free ARC via NetGalleyHarper Collins
title: Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters
author: Jennifer Chiaverini
genre: historical fiction
published: June 2, 2020
pages: 352
first line: A whimsical breeze rustled the paper beneath Elizabeth’s pen as she wrote in the garden, but she held the sheet firmly against the table with her left hand and it was not carried aloft.
rated: 5 out of 5 stars
starstarstarstarstar

blurb:
The New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker returns to her most famous heroine, Mary Todd Lincoln, in this compelling story of love, loss, and sisterhood rich with history and suspense.

In May 1875, Elizabeth Todd Edwards reels from news that her younger sister Mary, former First Lady and widow of President Abraham Lincoln, has attempted suicide.

Mary’s shocking act followed legal proceedings arranged by her eldest and only surviving son that declared her legally insane. Although they have long been estranged, Elizabeth knows Mary’s tenuous mental health has deteriorated through decades of trauma and loss. Yet is her suicide attempt truly the impulse of a deranged mind, or the desperate act of a sane woman terrified to be committed to an asylum? And—if her sisters can put past grievances aside—is their love powerful enough to save her?

Maternal Elizabeth, peacemaker Frances, envious Ann, and much adored Emilie had always turned to one another in times of joy and heartache, first as children, and later as young wives and mothers. But when Civil War erupted, the conflict that divided a nation shattered their family. The Todd sisters’s fates were bound to their husbands’ choices as some joined the Lincoln administration, others the Confederate Army.

Now, though discord and tragedy have strained their bonds, Elizabeth knows they must come together as sisters to help Mary in her most desperate hour.

my thoughts:
I loved Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters by Jennifer Chiaverini and found myself immersed in the story-line while reading.

As Mrs. Lincoln’s Sisters begins, Elizabeth Todd Edwards receives the news that her estranged sister Mary Todd Lincoln has been declared legally insane and is being committed to a mental institution after attempting suicide.

Continue reading

In Places Hidden by Tracie Peterson

hidden
source: free ARC via Bethany House (Twitter)
title: In Places Hidden
author: Tracie Peterson
published: Bethany House Publishers (March 6, 2018)
pages: 316
genre: Christian fiction/historical mystery/romance
first line: San…Fran…cisco!
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
1blustar1blustar1blustar1blustar

blurb:

The search for her missing brother leads to the most dangerous part of the city . . .

Camrianne Coulter’s brother Caleb is a successful San Francisco attorney. But when three months go by without a word from the usually communicative Caleb, Camri boards a train to the booming West Coast city to find out for herself why he hasn’t written. When she arrives at his home, nobody seems to know where he is, or what has become of him.

Camri’s search for her brother leads her deep into the political corruption of the city–and into the acquaintance of Patrick Murdock, who Caleb successfully defended from a false murder charge. Getting to know this handsome Irish contractor challenges all of Camri’s privileged beliefs, but Patrick is unshakably loyal to her brother, and he seems to know more about what happened to Caleb than anyone else. As the two edge closer to the truth behind Caleb’s disappearance, they risk angering the powerful forces that control the city. Can Camri trust Patrick to protect her from the dangers that lie hidden in San Francisco’s backstreets?

my thoughts:
As In Places Hidden (Golden Gate Secrets) starts off Camrianne Coulter is on her way to her brother’s home in San Fransisco. Caleb Coulter has been missing for months and Camri is trying to see if she can find out what happened to him. She is fearing the worst since her brother always keeps some form of contact. On the train ride to San Fran, she meets Judith and Kenzie and the three ladies quickly become friends. Camri invites them to stay with her at Caleb’s house while they get their own affairs in order. The three ladies find work at a local candy factory as Camri continues the search for Caleb.

Camri is well-educated and she is a suffragette and as soon as she meets Judith and Kenzie on the train she wants to help them if she can. Once in San Fransisco she also meets Patrick Murdock and his sister Ophelia who are friends of her brother’s.

Continue reading

Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner

star

source: free ARC via AmazonVine
title: Stars Over Sunset Boulevard
author: Susan Meissner/Twitter
pages: 383
genre: fiction/historical fiction
published: January 5, 2016
first line: Christine unfolds the tissue paper inside the pink striped hatbox and the odor of lost years floats upward.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
1blustar1blustar1blustar1blustar

Blurb:
In this new novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life, two women working in Hollywood during its Golden Age discover the joy and heartbreak of true friendship.

Los Angeles, Present Day. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie…

Los Angeles, 1938. Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Hollywood after her dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, and lands a job on the film-set of Gone With the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman’s deepest desires collide. What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future.

My Thoughts:
When I read the 1930’s LA and Gone With the Wind film set setting of Stars Over Sunset Boulevard I was immediately sold on this one. Gone With the Wind is one of my all time favorite films and novels, so I was excited to see how it would be woven into the storyline here.

The story starts off in 1938 when Violet Mayfield leaves Alabama and comes to LA to find secretarial work in the big city. Audrey Duvall is an aspiring actress working as a secretary at Selznick International studios, which is currently filming GWTW. Audrey has been working for several years in LA and is still waiting for her big break. She lives in a beautiful home she inherited from her aunt. Audrey and Violet become roommates and good friends when Violet gets a secretarial job at the studio. A young man named Bert works there as a wardrobe assistant and is friends with both ladies.

Continue reading

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

marriage
source: free review copy via AmazonVine
title: The Marriage of Opposites
auhtor: Alice Hoffman
genre: Magical Realism
pages: 365
published: Simon and Schuster (August 4, 2015)
first line: I always left my window open at night, despite the warnings I’d been given.
rated: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
writewritewrite1blustarhalf

Blurb:
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things: a forbidden love story set on the tropical island of St. Thomas about the extraordinary woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro—the Father of Impressionism.

Growing up on idyllic St. Thomas in the early 1800s, Rachel dreams of life in faraway Paris. Rachel’s mother, a pillar of their small refugee community of Jews who escaped the Inquisition, has never forgiven her daughter for being a difficult girl who refuses to live by the rules. Growing up, Rachel’s salvation is their maid Adelle’s belief in her strengths, and her deep, life-long friendship with Jestine, Adelle’s daughter. But Rachel’s life is not her own. She is married off to a widower with three children to save her father’s business. When her husband dies suddenly and his handsome, much younger nephew, Frédérick, arrives from France to settle the estate, Rachel seizes her own life story, beginning a defiant, passionate love affair that sparks a scandal that affects all of her family, including her favorite son, who will become one of the greatest artists of France.

Building on the triumphs of The Dovekeepers and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, set in a world of almost unimaginable beauty, The Marriage of Opposites showcases the beloved, bestselling Alice Hoffman at the height of her considerable powers. Once forgotten to history, the marriage of Rachel and Frédérick is a story that is as unforgettable as it is remarkable.

My thoughts:
After having read several of her books, I am a fan of Alice Hoffman’s. She has penned gems like Practical Magic and The Ice Queen, that became instant favorites when I read them. Then again, I wasn’t too crazy about Incantation and while Here on Earth had an engrossing storyline and was inspired by Brone’s Wuthering Heights but I really disliked the main characters.
I was curious to see what I would find upon reading The Marriage of Opposites.

Continue reading

Letters to the Lost by Iona Grey

letters
source: free review copy via AmazonVine
title: Letters to the Lost
author: Iona Grey
pages: 376
published: 2015
first line: The house is at its most beautiful in the mornings.
rated: 5 out of 5
1heartred1heartred1heartred1heartred1heartred

Blurb:
1943, in the ruins of Blitzed London…Stella Thorne and Dan Rosinski meet by chance and fall in love by accident. Theirs is a reluctant, unstoppable affair in which all the odds are stacked against them: she is newly married, and he is an American bomber pilot whose chance of survival is just one in five…He promised to love her forever. Seventy years later Dan makes one final attempt to find the girl he has never forgotten, and sends a letter to the house where they shared a brief yet perfect happiness. But Stella has gone, and the letter is opened by Jess, a young girl hiding from problems of her own. And as Jess reads Dan’s words, she is captivated by the story of a love affair that burned so bright and dimmed too soon. Can she help Dan find Stella before it is too late? Now forever is finally running out.

My Thoughts:
Letters to the Lost was a well written romance that had me engrossed from page one. Author Iona Grey weaves this engaging storyline and takes the reader from past to present effortlessly.

The plot goes from 1940’s to 2011 where an unfortunate Jess breaks into an old abandoned house and finds an urgent letter addressed to Mrs. Thorne. She swears to try to find this Mrs. Thorne and deliver her letter, which is from an old love whose dying wish is to see her again. Swoon, I know. Jess has nowhere to live so she stays in the house for some time.

Will works as a probate researcher and has been assigned to find any last will and testament of a Miss Price.
His and Jess’s paths cross and as the story flows the plot alternates between these two and between Stella and Dan.

Continue reading