2018 Book 203: BECOMING THE TALBOT SISTERS by Rachel Linden

Becoming The Talbot Sisters by Rachel Linden
ISBN: 9780718095765 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780718095772 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780718095789 (Audiobook)
ASIN: B072TPB44G (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Release Date: May 1, 2018


Twin sisters Waverly and Charlie Talbot have drifted far apart as they pursue opposite dreams of stardom and service to the poor. On an astonishing journey across Central Europe, they must come together to face their fears, find their courage and fight for what they love.

Celebrity chef Waverly Ross has built a successful career with her home-entertaining show Simply Perfect. Yet she and her husband, Andrew, have never been able to realize the true desire of Waverly’s heart: to become a mother. Meanwhile Waverly’s twin sister, Charlie Talbot, buries her bitter disappointment and shattered idealism beneath a life spent serving others as an international aid worked in Budapest, Hungary.

When the beloved aunt who raised them passes away, Waverly and Charlie come together in their grief after living years on separate continents. Struck by a fierce desire to bridge the distance between them, Charlie offers Waverly and her husband the selfless gift of surrogacy.

But soon the sisters find they are each in danger of losing their jobs, seemingly putting their dreams on hold once again. When Waverly shows up unannounced in Budapest with a plan to rescue Simply Perfect, the sisters embark on an adventure across Central Europe that could save them both from occupational hazards. Though the twins haven’t had to rely on each other since childhood, an unforeseen dangerous turn in their journey across Europe forces them to stand together to save their careers, the baby, and each other. 



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Waverly and Charlotte “Charlie” Talbot had their lives turned upside down just before their thirteenth birthdays when their parents died in a plane crash on their way to South Africa. These twin sisters went from living a life of affluence on the East coast to a modest life with an aunt in Ohio. Now their beloved aunt has died and it seems their lives are coming apart once again. The sisters have grown apart over the years and made lives for themselves on separate continents. Waverly seems to have it all, a popular cooking show on the Food Network, a loving husband, and a wonderful home. She’s been likened to the next Martha Stewart. The only thing Waverly doesn’t have is something she can never have, a child. Waverly has just had her sixth miscarriage and has been told she can’t try to get pregnant again. Charlie travels to central Europe for an NGO teaching sex education. She had left the US with the thought of returning after only a few weeks but found her calling in South Africa. She was even determined to set up a clinic for women there only to have that dream stolen when all of her monies were embezzled by her business manager and then she was attacked and brutally raped. She’s not sure what she wants from life, but she is sure that she can help her sister achieve her dream and offers to be a surrogate. Little do either Waverly or Charlie realize that this offer will send their lives spiraling down paths neither one saw coming. Will they be able to survive the future alone or finally come together as sisters once again?


I found Becoming the Talbot Sisters to be a fast-paced read and one that offered a little bit of everything, family drama, hints of romance, international intrigue, and more. Both Waverly and Charlie do a lot of soul searching and find out what they want from themselves and each other. It was interesting reading about them redeveloping their relationship as adults and revealing the secrets they had tried so hard to keep hidden for so many years. This became not just a story of sisterhood but about women empowering one another in so many ways (trust me, once you read the story you’ll understand), as well as a story about hope, courage, love, and family. Throughout their journeys, Waverly and Charlie find that life is neither “simple” nor “perfect” but together it can be just right. For those of you that enjoy reading inspirational fiction then I heartily recommend you grab a copy of Becoming the Talbot Sisters to read. For those of you that aren’t quite sure about inspirational fiction, then I say this book will surprise you and go ahead and grab a copy to read, you can thank me later. The only problem I had with this book is that it made me incredibly hungry to try out all of the foods being described and I wish there were a few recipes included to try out (and I don’t even cook). I look forward to reading more from Ms. Linden in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, as well as a free print review copy. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



Meet the author

Rachel Linden is a novelist and international aid worker whose adventures living and traveling in fifty countries around the world provide excellent grist for her stories. She holds an MA in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College, a BA in Literature from Huntington University, and studied creative writing at Oxford University. Rachel lives in Seattle, Washington, with her husband and two children. She enjoys creating stories about hope and courage with a hint of romance and a touch of whimsy. 


Connect with her via her website at RachelLinden.com and Facebook: AuthorRachelLinden 


This review and tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours



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Becoming the Talbot Sisters: A Novel of Two Sisters and the Courage that Unites Them

Becoming the Talbot Sisters: A Novel of Two Sisters and the Courage that Unites Them

Becoming the Talbot Sisters: A Novel of Two Sisters and the Courage that Unites Them

Becoming the Talbot Sisters :  A Novel of Two Sisters and the Courage That Unites Them

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Becoming the Talbot Sisters

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Becoming the Talbot Sisters : A Novel of Two Sisters and the Courage That Unites Them

Becoming the Talbot Sisters: A Novel of Two Sisters and the Courage that Unites Them

2018 Book 50: THE LOST CASTLE by Kristy Cambron

The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron
ISBN: 9780718095468 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780718095475 (ebook)
ASIN: B072TK73MQ (Kindle edition)
Publication date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishing

Launching a brand-new series, Kristy Cambron explores the collision of past and present as she discovers the ruins of a French castle, long lost to history.


A thirteenth century castle, Chateau de Doux Reves, has been forgotten for generations, left to ruin in a storybook forest nestled deep in France’s picturesque Loire Valley. It survived a sacking in the French Revolution, was brought back to life and fashioned into a storybook chateau in the Gilded Age, and was eventually felled and deserted after a disastrous fire in the 1930s.

As Ellie Carver sits by her grandmother’s bedside, she hears stories of a castle . . . of lost love and a hidden chapel that played host to a secret fight in the World War II French resistance. But her grandmother is quickly slipping into the locked-down world of Alzheimer’s, and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history.

Sparked by the discovery of a long forgotten family heirloom, Ellie embarks on a journey to French wine country to uncover the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty–the castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale–and unearth its secrets before they’re finally silenced by time.

Set in three different time periods–the French Revolution, World War II, and present day–The Lost Castle is a story of loves won and lost, of battles waged, and an enchanted castle that inspired the epic fairy tales time left behind.


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In 1789 Aveline was all set to marry the Duc et Viyant’s eldest son as arranged by her parents, but her engagement ball was interrupted by the French Revolution and she escaped with a little help. She is now living on the Viyant’s estate and recuperating from severe burns, being attended to by a former maidservant and none other than Robert, the youngest Viyant son. He’s disappointed in his father and brother as they fled from the attack scene, leaving family and guests to fend for themselves. Aveline is unused to hard labor but wants to be of assistance, but Robert is afraid she may be outed and attacked by participants in the Revolution. His goals are to preserve the Viyant’s vineyards, help as many people as possible, and protect Aveline. In 1943/1944, Viola is attempting to escape the Nazis in France. She is a British citizen and had been sent to France to spy on the Nazis. She and several other women were slated for execution but she was able to escape into the French countryside before she is “rescued” by Julian and the French Resistance. Present day France and Viola’s granddaughter Ellie is trying to unravel the mysterious past her grandmother presented to her. She’s not sure what she’ll find at the lost castle, but she’s determined to go there anyway and has a local guide helping her out. Three different women in three different times but only one thing ties them together, the lost castle. Their lives have been changed forever yet all find love in the same place. Is it the castle or something more that ties them all together?

The Lost Castle is three intertwined stories set in one rural French locale. All three stories are told in flashback mode and that took me awhile to get used to, because we might be in Viola’s story in 1944 in one chapter and then back to 1941 in another. The contemporary storyline is the only one that has a linear presentation. As a result of the constantly changing storyline (three different stories remember) and the changing timelines within those storylines, I found this to be a bit of a slower read than normal for me. Of course, that might also have been the gradually increasing migraine headache… I actually enjoyed reading The Lost Castle once I got used to the shifting storylines and all of the characters. There’s a lot of action going on in this story, the build-up to the French Revolution, the Revolution itself, and then the aftermath in Aveline’s storyline. In Viola’s storyline we have World War II from 1941 through 1944 in both England and France. The contemporary storyline with Ellie presents her storyline and brings all three lines together (no, I’m not going to tell you how, read the book). For those of you that enjoy reading historical fiction blended with contemporary fiction, I recommend you read The Lost Castle. For those of you that simply enjoy reading complex romance stories, then again I recommend you read The Lost Castle.


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



About Kristy Cambron

Kristy Cambron has a background in art and design, but she fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. She is the bestselling author of The Ringmaster’s Wife, named to Publishers Weekly Spring 2016 Religion & Spirituality TOP 10. Her novels have been named to Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books and RT Book Reviewers’ Choice Awards Best lists for 2014 & 2015, and received 2015 & 2017 INSPY Award nominations. Kristy’s first Bible studies, THE VERSE MAPPING SERIES, will release in 2018.

Kristy holds a degree in Art History/Research Writing, and has 15 years of experience in education and leadership development from a Fortune-100 Corporation. Kristy lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons, and could probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read.

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This review and blog tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours

2017 Book 383: THE AUSTEN ESCAPE by Katherine Reay

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay
ISBN: 9780718078096 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780718077945 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781543637472 (audiobook – CD)
ASIN: B06XFKKFLQ (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 7, 2017 
Publisher: Thomas Nelson


After years of following her best friend’s lead, Mary Davies finds a whimsical trip back to Austen’s Regency England paves the way towards a new future.

Mary Davies lives and works in Austin, Texas, as an industrial engineer. She has an orderly and productive life, a job and colleagues that she enjoys—particularly a certain adorable, intelligent, and hilarious consultant. But something is missing for Mary. When her estranged and emotionally fragile childhood friend Isabel Dwyer offers Mary a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in Bath, Mary reluctantly agrees to come along, in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways. But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes that she lives in Regency England. Mary becomes dependent on a household of strangers to take care of Isabel until she wakes up.

With Mary in charge and surrounded by new friends, Isabel rests and enjoys the leisure of a Regency lady. But life gets even more complicated when Mary makes the discovery that her life and Isabel’s have intersected in more ways that she knew, and she finds herself caught between who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who stands between them. Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this triangle works out their lives and hearts among a company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.  



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Mary Davies is a project engineer, thanks to the influence of her father, but all is not well at her small tech company. Her current project has been sidelined as too costly with little possible return on the company’s investment. The consultant hired to help the company, Nathan Hillam, seems to appreciate Mary’s work and tries to befriend her, but Mary is too focused on work. Now that she thinks she’s about to be fired and knows that Nathan is leaving, she has regrets that she never tried to take their relationship to the next step. Enter Isobel Dwyer, Mary’s best friend since childhood. Isobel is, for all intents and purposes, Mary’s surrogate sister, since they were truly raised by Mary’s parents. Isobel’s father was an absentee parent and she latched onto the Davies family with both hands. Now she’s an English doctoral student focusing on Jane Austen, Mary’s mother’s favorite author, and her absentee father has financed a trip for Isobel and a friend to Bath, England. Of course, Isobel can only think of taking Mary and it takes some coercing for her to agree, but agree she does. They arrive in England without any problems and hope to enjoy their stay in a refurbished Regency era home while pretending to be Austen characters and wearing Regency clothing. Unfortunately, it appears Isobel has taken pretend a bit literally and she truly becomes her chosen character, Emma, causing quite a bit of concern for Mary. Unsure of how to proceed, Mary turns to her father and finds that Isobel has suffered from this type of “disassociative state” once in their childhood. She’s advised to allow nature to take its course for a few days before seeking medical assistance. Then, Nathan arrives in England and Mary is disconcerted to learn that he not only knows Isobel but dated her. Can things get any worse for Mary and this situation?

I found The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay to be a fast-paced and highly enjoyable read. (FYI, I’ve enjoyed all of her previous stories and The Austen Escape comes in a close second to Dear Mr. Knightley.) Ms. Reay provides believable and realistic characters with contemporary Austen-inspired situations. Yes, there’s romance but that takes a backseat at times to self-discovery and a coming-of-age awareness for both Mary and Isobel. There’s tons of drama (interpersonal and intrapersonal), a few misunderstandings, more drama, hints of romance, more misunderstandings, more drama, romance, and resolution. (Hey, this is a romance so it has to have a Happy-Ever-After!) If you’re a Jane Austen fan or have read anything by Katherine Reay in the past, I encourage you to grab a copy of The Austen Escape to read. If you haven’t read anything by Katherine Reay in the past, then start with The Austen Escape and work your way through her backlist. You can thank me later.

Disclaimer: I received a free print review copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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The Austen Escape

The Austen Escape

The Austen Escape

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The Austen Escape

The Austen Escape

2015 Book 336: THE BRONTE PLOT by Katherine Reay

The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay 
ISBN: 9781401689759 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781401689766 (ebook)
ASIN: B00XPV60IW (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 3, 2015 
Publisher: Thomas Nelson


Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious measures to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy’s secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt, and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.

In a sudden turn of events, James’s wealthy grandmother Helen hires Lucy as a consultant for a London literary and antiques excursion. Lucy reluctantly agrees and soon discovers Helen holds secrets of her own. In fact, Helen understands Lucy’s predicament better than anyone else.

As the two travel across England, Lucy benefits from Helen’s wisdom, as Helen confronts the ghosts of her own past. Everything comes to a head at Haworth, home of the Brontë sisters, where Lucy is reminded of the sisters’ beloved heroines, who, with tenacity and resolution, endured—even in the midst of change.

Now Lucy must go back into her past in order to move forward. And while it may hold mistakes and regrets, she will prevail—if only she can step into the life that’s been waiting for her all along.



Lucy Alling has a good job working with an interior decorator and selling collectible books. She also has a family and personal secret that might mean the loss of friends and her job. Lucy’s father was a con man and she’s picked up his skills of persuasion and pushing the boundaries of right and wrong in order to acquire and sell items. It’s only after her relationship with her boyfriend James is destroyed by her questionable talents that she begins to question her behavior and seek to change in The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay.

Lucy knows the difference between right and wrong, but she feels that sometimes the good outweighs the bad when it comes to acquiring books, upselling books, or even making dinner reservations. Her dubious bookselling skills are found out when her boyfriend realizes she’s added handwritten dedications to books in order to get more money for them. Having suffered numerous moves over the course of her childhood because of her father’s grifting skills, Lucy knows that she has no one to blame but herself. When James’s grandmother provides her with the opportunity to travel to England, Lucy looks upon this as a sign. She hopes to reunite with her father and make peace with her past in order to move forward. Will she be able to make amends to James, his family, and her employer without destroying her ties to these beloved people?

You know you’re reading a good book when time slips away from you while reading. I swore I had only sat down and started reading The Brontë Plot when I looked up and noticed that several hours had passed and it was no longer afternoon. I found this to be totally engrossing and fast-paced read, as well as one I didn’t want to end. I enjoyed the journey Lucy and Helen make in order to come to grips with their past, made more poignant as Helen was at the end of her life while Lucy is just starting out. The romance between Lucy and James was tender and reminiscent of the tumultuous relationships found in Brontë and Austen books. Ms. Reay provides characters that are wholly realistic, fully developed, and immensely likable. Lucy and James are both searching for their career niches in life and are trying to come to grips with family dynamics in their quest for doing what is right. The Brontë Plot is just as much about romance as it is about being true to oneself and doing the right thing no matter what. Ms. Reay grabbed me with Dear Mr. Knightley, continued to hold my attention with Lizzy & Jane, and has made me a devoted follower with The Brontë Plot. If you enjoy reading a story filled with soul-searching and a hint of romance (not to mention touches of Brontë and Austen), then you’ll definitely want to read The Brontë Plot. I look forward to reading many more books by Ms. Reay in the future.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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