The French Encounter ~ Window to the Heart Saga by Jenna Brandt (A Book Review)

About the Book:

While fleeing from danger and searching for her long-lost brother, Lady Margaret encounters new love. Despite her past, can Lady Margaret discover hope for the future? Deeply passionate and intensely gripping, The French Encounter weighs the struggle between giving in to temptation and sacrificing for refuge.

The French Encounter (Book 2).

Ruined by a night she will never forget, Lady Margaret, Countess of Renwick must flee from England with her infant son to hide from the man who destroyed her life and from the sister-in-law who hates her. Relentlessly, the Duke and Viscountess hunt for them, planning to take the child to whom they both feel entitled. Margaret turns to God, believing he will protect her family and help her find her long-lost twin brother, Randall. While searching for Randall in France, Margaret is pursued by two enticing men: Pierre, the alluring Vidame of Demoulin, and Michel, the powerful Marquis de Badour. One man promises passion while the other offers security. Will Margaret surrender the chance for love to secure her safety?

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Between turning the pages as quickly as possible to keep up with the intense pace of the story, drinking copious cups of tea to keep warm, and depleting an entire box of tissues … I have read and thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful book.

Once again, the plot structure and character development are superb. Again, I felt every moment and each emotion, often guessing what may happen, and pleading with the book that it would turn out differently. That’s a problem with us writers, we almost always try to guess what happens next.

I found myself asking the age-old question, ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’  Sometimes the words ‘It is all part of His plan to strengthen us’ are rather difficult to swallow. However, throughout this book we learn both the importance of love and trust, and the fact that once lost, they can both be restored through time, at great cost, but with patience, understanding, perseverance, and faith, anything is possible.

The timeline of the story slots in neatly at the end of book one (The English Proposal). This second book in the saga could be read as a standalone as there is sufficient back story, however, I wouldn’t recommend it. After all, who wants to read just part of a story?

Ms. Brandt did it again. Jenna captivated my senses, got my undivided attention until the final sentence. But alas, I did not get my happily-ever-after ending. I am assuming this is because there is still one more book to be read to complete this intriguing saga.

The theme throughout this book while distressing and just so damn heartbreaking, is a good one. It makes you think. It makes us realize that we are not perfect in our human form. We make mistakes which mostly we regret over time. Even when we have what one would consider a strong faith, there will always be moments of doubt. We are after all, only human … don’t you think?

Throughout The French Encounter, happiness was constantly overshadowed by tragedy and immense sadness, with a glimmer of hope, shining towards the end.

The third and final book in this saga is entitled The American Conquest. You may and should pre-order it here

I am looking forward to reading the final installment in this saga of unrequited love, betrayal, trust, grief, happiness, and healing, and I am hoping with all my heart that there will be a happy ending, or at least a satisfying one.

Lord knows, Margaret deserves to be content, just as we the readers do, and I have faith that Ms. Brandt won’t let us be disappointed. “No pressure, Jenna.”

So, if you have purchased one or both gorgeous books, you should consider owning all three. And if you haven’t read any of them yet, why not go for broke and buy all three now?

The English Proposal

 

 

 

 

 

The French Encounter

 

 

 

 

 

The American Conquest

 

I do hope you enjoy reading the stories Jenna writes as much as I enjoy reading and reviewing them.

The author kindly provided me with a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

About the Author:

Jenna Brandt is an on-going contributor for The Mighty website and had her blog published on YahooParenting as well as being featured on the ABC News, The Grief Toolbox and Good Morning America websites. Jenna started writing stories as a little girl and has been published in several newspapers and magazines as well as edited for multiple papers. She graduated with her BA in English from Bethany College and was Editor-in-Chief of her college paper. Writing is her passion but she also enjoys reading, cooking, social media, being active in her local church including leading a grief support group and spending time with her three young daughters and husband. Discover more about Jenna and her lovely books right here

 

The English Proposal ~ Window to the Heart Saga by Jenna Brandt (A Book Review)

 

The English ProposalAbout the Book:

The English Proposal (Book 1). Sheltered on her family’s country estate, Lady Margaret, the daughter of an English Earl, is betrothed due to a family promise. Although Henry, the Viscount Rolantry, has been her best friend since childhood and she is expected to marry him, she never felt butterflies until she meets the Duke of Witherton. Against her father’s wishes, Margaret finds herself captivated by the forbidden duke. Caught between family loyalty and her own wishes, Margaret searches for a way to satisfy both her responsibilities and her longings. When tragedy strikes, Margaret finds herself seeking answers at church. But when she finally makes her choice, through her newfound faith, will she be able to live with the repercussions of her decision?

My Thoughts:

“Inspiring Stories: Feel Every Moment”

Only in recent times have I immersed my senses so deeply into historical fiction, especially historical, suspenseful, romance. I loved reading Jenna’s debut novel which is the first of three books in the Window to the Heart Saga series.

I just, could not … put this book down!  You may purchase your own copy right here

The all-consuming theme of love and trust flows beautifully throughout this book, as does the curse of hatred and betrayal.  Fortunately, the love that wins over is not our typical and often superficial human love, but a love most divine.

💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕🌼💕

Margaret and Henry’s story also brought to mind the fact that even when we do our very best in life, or what we sincerely consider to be the best, God still has His own agenda. We are often left lonely and confused as to why our circumstances have turned out the way they have. We question our faith, but hopefully, eventually, we do learn to trust His purpose.

The plot for The English Proposal has been well thought out, allowing for the adventures and surprises which are yet to come.  Jenna’s scenes are expertly crafted throughout, and the characterisation is splendid. You can visualise each character, and it is as though you are there, inside the story. You will be able to feel each moment and emotion as it passes.

“Margaret found herself sitting at the windowsill again. It was the only thing that brought her comfort. She would stare out, searching for something – anything that would ease the pain.”

“The tears came down quickly and harshly, one on top of the other, leaving streaks and trails behind.”

The English Proposal Teaser 2 

I cried a bit while reading this book … actually, I cried a lot. Why?  Well, I think everyone knows by now that I love happy endings. This sweet book didn’t have that usual happily-ever-after, however, it does instil hope and a promise of a more joyful future.

 

The French Encounter by Jenna BrandtIf you’d like to join me in following Margaret’s journey, you’ll need to read the other two books in the series. Book Two: The French Encounter will be released at Amazon on Monday, 12 June 2017 as well as Amazon Australia, and other eBook sellers.

And there’s no need to wait, you can preorder your copy  here

I do hope you enjoy reading the stories Jenna writes as much as I enjoy reading and reviewing them.

The author provided me with a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

 

Jenna BrandtAbout the Author:

Jenna Brandt is an on-going contributor for The Mighty website and had her blog published on YahooParenting as well as being featured on the ABC News, The Grief Toolbox and Good Morning America websites. Jenna started writing stories as a little girl and has been published in several newspapers and magazines as well as edited for multiple papers. She graduated with her BA in English from Bethany College and was Editor-in-Chief of her college paper. Writing is her passion but she also enjoys reading, cooking, social media, being active in her local church including leading a grief support group and spending time with her three young daughters and husband.

Love Among the Lilacs (Book Review, Blog Tour and Giveaway)

Love-Among-the-Lilacs-216x300About the Book

Book title: Love Among the Lilacs

Author: Jenna Victoria

Release date: April 4, 2017

Genre: Sweet Romance

Bookkeeper Mollie Wright knows about living on the streets, and her purchase of sweet Lilac Cottage is a dream come true. She is determined to stay and fight when a legal error puts her ownership at risk. Attorney Sean Grady never wanted his great-aunts to sell their cottage in Westchester County, New York, so when a paperwork snafu puts the deal on hold, he moves swiftly to evict the pretty, feisty squatter. Mollie finds unexpected allies in Grady Cove neighbors and a member of Sean’s own family but knows the clock is ticking. Will a theft and her past secrets force a showdown to heartache, or will Mollie and Sean discover home is truly where your heart is?

Purchase ‘Love Among the Lilacs’

 

 profile-photo-jpg-50My Thoughts:

“Mollie’s merry-go-round had chipped wooden horses that inflicted splinters and a calliope organ that played only unhappy tunes.”

 I love happily-ever-afters. I really do!

Both Molly and Sean have good reason to be mistrusting of other people and relationships. To expect that those they get close to will eventually betray them. Jenna Victoria writes beautifully, adding just the right amount of conflict and suspense, with a healthy dose of humor. I love the lilac theme, which wafts its way throughout the entire book. In fact, I found myself ‘googling’ and researching the various types of lilacs. Wasn’t I pleasantly surprised – so gorgeous. I am hoping they will grow where I live.

All of the characters are well developed and rounded, even Alma who isn’t physically around for long. I love Emily Rogers and Maria but absolutely adore Aunt Genevieve. She is full of wisdom but at the same time such a hoot. As I read Jenna’s lovely story I was frequently in stitches of laughter. It is sad that we weren’t able to know Aunt Alma better, however, Ms. Victoria gives us many hints and clues, from which we can only deduce, she was a beautiful soul. Quite often the true heart of a person isn’t fully revealed until after they have passed away. Jenna Victoria portrays this well. The analogies throughout were perfectly done.

“Life did not often go in Mollie’s favor, yet the entire real estate closing process had unfolded as seamlessly as a bolt of well-made silk”.

“Never look back”.  “For the first time, her mantra represented a flower unfolding in the sunlight, rather than one cut off at the root.”

I found myself just about unable to put this sweet book down, reading it over two sessions. I’d have read it in one go if chores and other commitments hadn’t taken priority. Yes, the ending was perfectly beautiful (not apologizing for ‘unnecessary’ use of adverbs). Mollie and Sean’s relationship came to a satisfying conclusion after so many bumps in the road. All of the loose ends, for all characters, were neatly and fragrantly tied together by the end of the book.

My only misgiving about this book is that it had to end. A sequel would be nice *hint hint*.  Would I read ‘Love Among the Lilacs’ again sometime? That’s a resounding ‘yes!’.

This is the first book penned by Jenna Victoria that I have read, but I guarantee I will be looking out for more. What a gem!

For its portrayal of human weaknesses, the assumptions we often make about others, and the importance of anticipation and forgiveness, all married together by fragrant love, I have given this book 5 stars.

I received this book as an ARC from the author via CelebrateLit at no cost. I was under no obligation to give a positive review, just an honest one. All thoughts are entirely my own.

Please feel free to jump on board and read the other blog stops along the way. It is always a wonderful opportunity to discover the sites of other writers and bloggers, and of course, offer invaluable support to the author.

Past Blog Stops

May 25: Pause for Tales

May 25: Avid Reader Book Review

May 26: Carpe Diem

May 27: Ashley’s Bookshelf

May 28: Live.Love.Read.

May 29: Lane Hill House

May 29: Christian Bookaholic

May 30: Moments Dipped in Ink

May 30: Karen Sue Hadley

You are here May 31: Josephine-AnneWrites

Blog Stops Still to Come

June 1: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

June 2: Have A Wonderful Day

June 3: Inklings and Notions

June 4: A Baker’s Perspective

June 5: Caffeinated Reads

June 6: His Grace is Sufficient

June 7: my site/autism mom

beth-head-shot-smaller-300x300About the Author

Ever since her grandfather co-created Twinkies, Snowballs & Hostess cupcakes for Intercontinental Baking Company, circa 1955, Jenna has yet to taste a cake she hasn’t liked.
Jenna writes books for readers who enjoy sweet & compelling romances, and also for those who look for her “fiction that feeds your faith” titles – happily-ever-after romance & romantic suspense stories with a Christian worldview. Her stories emulate those she enjoys reading…with a heroine who is in grave danger & a hero who is smart enough to get out of her way as she kicks butt and takes down names… and those that feature satisfying fairy-tale-endings.
Her clean romances won’t put you into a diabetic coma, and her faith-based romances aren’t preachy or unrealistic. It is her glad purpose to glorify God and His sacrificial love through His Son, Jesus Christ through books that illustrate hope & peace in unbearable situations. Her first triple negative breast cancer diagnosis in 2012 has led to surgeries, radiation, reoccurrences and incurable metastasis. Still, Jenna continues to praise God and trust His oversight in her life; and continues to write more books.

ebdbd602-34f2-4074-bfbf-e106d8206271-300x157Don’t forget to enter the giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jenna is giving away a grand prize of an authentic, new in unopened gift box Coach zipper accordion leather wallet – from their Disney X Collection (Value $140.00)!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! enter Jenna’s Giveaway here

Guest Post from Jenna Victoria

I am thrilled you will be introducing my newest novel, Love Among the Lilacs, to your readers and visitors through CelebrateLit. I am excited to share this sweet love story with quirky characters who hijacked the plot mid-stream, and took me places I did not anticipate!
So – Why Love Among the Lilacs? I chose the title and a subplot regarding lilacs for one reason – I absolutely adore the scent! The fact that a lilac’s bloom is so fleeting, makes their fragrance that much more memorable and anticipated.

jenna pic 1Mollie Wright anticipates something too – finally buying her own home, Lilac Cottage, after a childhood of homelessness. Genevieve Carter, one of the two elderly sellers, leaves her a note of welcome next to a small bouquet of lilacs in Mollie’s new bedroom, after the closing. This helps readers experience Genevieve’s spirit of generosity. Isn’t the bedroom phone antique? The sisters lived in the cottage for more than 50 years and changed little of its amenities.
How did I choose to write about Mollie? What if a character dreamed and saved and finally bought a house after a childhood of homelessness? Then, due to a real estate closing error and interference by the seller’s great-nephew, her sweet cottage ownership is in real peril. Dare she hope for a positive outcome?

 

Jenna pic 2Attorney Sean Grady didn’t want his maternal great-aunts, who lovingly raised him and his younger brother Mark, to sell Lilac Cottage. After a rookie mistake led to a tragedy when he was an associate at his family law firm, Sean decided to concentrate on elder law. He’s seen plenty of abuse of the elderly in his ten-year career, and something about Mollie Write doesn’t sit well with him.

Mollie finds support from her neighbors – including long retired Emily Rogers (Genevieve’s BFF) who often visits Lilac Cottage’s back garden through this connecting gate. It’s so beautiful! She reveals her profession which is perfectly suited to Mollie’s needs. We see selfless giving and stalwart friendship in Emily’s character.

 

Jenna pic 3Mollie has secrets to hide, and a far away half-brother and Mother who aren’t exactly upstanding members of society.

When her half-brother unexpectedly surfaces, bringing a mountain of trouble with him, the budding love between Sean and Mollie takes a hard tumble.

 

The theft of an antique necklace, Sean’s renewed lack of trust and Mollie’s shame at her past – not to mention the final outcome of legal decisions – pull them further apart.

 

Jenna pic 4The intervention of others gives Mollie and Sean a chance at reconciliation – but is it too late? Can they finally unpack and empty baggage from their past?

 

I hope you enjoy Love Among the Lilacs as much as I did writing it!

 

Happy Reading!

 

p.s. my selected giveaway, an authentic Coach Disney X Mickey Mouse accordion zip wallet in glove-tanned leather was chosen to represent the transformation of Mollie’s negative childhood experiences into memories of acceptance and joy among the trials.