Book Review | A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting by Sophie Irwin

Title: A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting
Author: Sophie Irwin
Genre: Adult Historical Romance / Fiction
Publication Date: July 12th, 2022
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Rating: 4.5 stars

“Kitty Talbot needs a fortune. Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. Left with her father’s massive debts, she has only twelve weeks to save her family from ruin.
Kitty has never been one to back down from a challenge, so she leaves home and heads toward the most dangerous battleground in all of England: the London season.
Kitty may be neither accomplished nor especially genteel—but she is utterly single-minded; imbued with cunning and ingenuity, she knows that risk is just part of the game.
The only thing she doesn’t anticipate is Lord Radcliffe. The worldly Radcliffe sees Kitty for the mercenary fortune-hunter that she really is and is determined to scotch her plans at all costs, until their parrying takes a completely different turn…
This is a frothy pleasure, full of brilliant repartee and enticing wit—one that readers will find an irresistible delight.” (Goodreads)

I’ve had this one on my tbr. My sister had asked me for some recs and I figured why not have her read some on my tbr to tell me if it’s worth it or not. 😂 She loved this one so I figured it was time to give it a go!

The book is told from two point-of-views and they come from Kitty Talbot and Lord Radcliffe. They both come from different backgrounds and it does come into play a lot during the book as it has to do with social class. I liked reading about Kitty’s struggles with class and how her and her family dealt with it. Scandal is not for from their name!

Both characters were not what I was expecting but in a good way. They are both stubborn and will play a mean game of chicken, haha. They get under each other’s skin and it’s hard not to see the chemistry brewing. I definitely got a lot of The Viscount Who Loved Me vibes. I think that is why I liked it so much.

The plot was a bit slow in the beginning but when it takes off I flew through the audiobook. I could have finished it in one day if I had wanted but life got in the way, haha. There were a lot of plot twists and they kept me engaged throughout. Some had me dying from the hilariousness of them. Kitty is something else!

Overall, this was a fun read and I really enjoyed the audiobook. I would highly recommend this one, especially if you love Julia Quinn’s novels.


Arc Review: A Dreadful Splendor by B.R. Myer

Title: A Dreadful Splendor
Author: B.R. Myer
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction / Gothic / Mystery
Publication Date: August 23rd, 2022
Publisher: William Morrow
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

Be careful what you conjure…
In Victorian London, Genevieve Timmons poses as a spiritualist to swindle wealthy mourners–until one misstep lands her in a jail cell awaiting the noose. Then a stranger arrives to make her a peculiar offer. The Lord he serves, Mr. Pemberton, has been inconsolable since the tragic death of his beautiful bride-to-be. If Genevieve can perform a séance persuasive enough to bring the young Lord peace, she will win her freedom.
Soothing a grieving nobleman should be easy for someone of Genevieve’s skill, but when she arrives at the grand Somerset Park estate, Mr. Pemberton is not the heartbroken lover she expected. The surly–yet exceedingly handsome–gentleman is certain that his fiancée was murdered, even though there is no evidence. Only a confession can bring justice now, and Mr. Pemberton decides Genevieve will help him get it. With his knowledge of the household and her talent for illusion, they can stage a haunting so convincing it will coax the killer into the light. However, when frightful incidents befall the manor, Genevieve realizes her tricks aren’t required after all. She may be a fake, but Somerset’s ghost could be all too real…” (Goodreads)

I wasn’t sure what I would be getting out of this book since I hadn’t realized this was an author I had read before (her YA sci-fi) and didn’t like much, but I’m also glad I requested before knowing because I liked this one a lot! So much so, I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish because I needed to know what would happen!

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Genevieve Timmons. If you ask some they would say that she is a con-artist, a murderer, and a thief. Those things made her that much more interesting because I needed to know the background of those accusations. Two of them come rather quickly as we are thrown into her games, a séance.

I think that Genevieve got a bad rep that wasn’t entirely warranted. She was just trying to survive and using what she learned from her mother to stay afloat. It was fun to see her work and use what she learned from others through body language to continue on with the charade. She also becomes a detective later on in the book when things get quite sketchy at the Somerset Park estate.

Before some chapters start there are journal entries written by Lady Audra, the dead bride-to-be. They were very enlightening while trying to figure out who the culprit was. There were a lot of secrets she knew and they just kept coming the farther you get in the book!

My favorite part of this book was definitely the mystery. It was thrilling and definitely kept me reading as new things came to light. The séances were an added bonus and added to the gothic feel the book was going for. My least favorite would have to be the romance. It wasn’t terrible and does fit the genre, but it just didn’t give me enough for my taste.

Overall, this was a fun and exciting read. I liked getting to know the characters and the secrets that they kept. The mystery was good and had me guessing all the way up until the end.

Arc Review: Kit McBride Gets a Wife by Amy Barry

Title: Kit McBride Gets a Wife
Author: Amy Barry
Genre: Adult Romance / Historical Fiction
Publication Date: August 23rd, 2022
Publisher: Berkley Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

The four McBride brothers have their worlds turned upside down when their precocious younger sister secretly places an advertisement for a mail-order bride.

Kit McBride knows that Buck’s Creek, Montana, is no place to find a wife. Between him and his three brothers–plus little Junebug–they manage all right on their own, thank you very much. But unbeknownst to Kit, his sister is sick to death of cleaning, cooking, and mending for her big brothers, so she places an ad in The Matrimonial News to get them hitched.
After Maddy Mooney emigrated from Ireland, she found employment with an eccentric but poor widow. When her mistress decides to answer an ad for a mail-order bride, Madd​y is dragged along for the ride to Montana. But en route to the West, Maddy is suddenly abandoned and left to assume the widow’s name, position, and matrimonial prospects….
With no other recourse in the wilderness, Maddy must convince Kit not only is she who she says she is, but she’s the wife he never knew he needed.” (Goodreads)

This isn’t my usual romance read as it is historical fiction, but I am always trying to branch out and find more books that I enjoy. Although this had a few hiccups for me, it was a light-hearted read that did have me laughing every once and awhile.

The book is told from two point-of-views and they come from Maddy and Kit. They have both grown up very differently and even now they are opposites. I liked getting to know each one before they had any interaction together, but it did take half the book for that to happen which felt too long!

I have read a book before with the mail-order bride trope so I am familiar with it. I did like this one, but it always seems that it involves mistaken identity so I did know what would eventually happen. Other than that, it was fun and Maddy had time to get to know all of the McBrides and finally felt like she belonged somewhere.

As previously mentioned, it does take awhile for Kit and Maddy to have scenes together and so it was hard to actually feel their romance. It did have some insta-love tendencies and although I do like a slow-burn, this was way too slow which is really what wrecked the book for me.

Overall, this was a nice historical romance but I do wish that there was more romance involved. I did like the setting and would definitely check out another book by this author, especially if there were more books for the brothers.

Audiobook Review: Bronze Drum by Phong Nguyen

Title: Bronze Drum
Author: Phong Nguyen
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Publication Date: August 9th, 2022
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc! All opinions are my own.

“Gather around, children of Chu Dien, and be brave.
For even to listen to the story of the Trung Sisters is,
in these troubled times, a dangerous act.

In 40 CE, in the Au Lac region of ancient Vietnam, two daughters of a Vietnamese Lord fill their days training, studying, and trying to stay true to Vietnamese traditions. While Trung Trac is disciplined and wise, always excelling in her duty, Trung Nhi is fierce and free spirited, more concerned with spending time in the gardens and with lovers.

But these sister’s lives—and the lives of their people—are shadowed by the oppressive rule of the Han Chinese. They are forced to adopt Confucian teachings, secure marriages, and pay ever‑increasing taxes. As the peoples’ frustration boils over, the country comes ever closer to the edge of war.” (Goodreads)

This isn’t my usual read since it is historical fiction with no fantasy aspects, but I am glad I went out of my comfort zone because I enjoyed this audiobook and thought about it when I didn’t have it on.

The book is told from third person narrative and mostly follows the two daughters of a Vietnamese Lord. Trung Trac and Trung Nhi are very different from one another but when they are not arguing with each other they really work well together through each of their strengths and weaknesses. Their lives are not always easy when they are younger as they are told what they can and cannot do. Through that, they find themselves on a path of war to free them from the constraints that the Han Chinese bind them with.

This was a heartbreaking read and one that I felt invested in. I couldn’t help but feel for the sisters as they lose freedom and even people as their story progresses. The other women in this book are just as powerful as well even if they don’t get as much page time. They were strengthened together and took down those who were thought to be stronger. Many of the Han Chinese didn’t believe in these women’s strength and found out firsthand what they could do, even while pregnant for one!

I had never heard of these sisters before but through this book I am keen on looking up more about them because I do find them to be quite fascinating.

The audiobook was well done and I enjoyed the narrator. I feel that if I had read this book it may have been on the dryer side, especially at the beginning of the book when everything is being laid out. If you are like me in this way then definitely go for the audiobook.

Overall, this was an enjoyable and powerful read. I’m glad I gave it a chance.

Arc Review: The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Title: The Hacienda
Author: Isabel Cañas
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction / Mystery / Horror
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2022
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“In the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father is executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost.

But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.

When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark its doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano?

Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will help her.

Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to fight off the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda and protect the woman for whom he feels a powerful, forbidden attraction. But even he might not be enough to battle the darkness.

Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom.” (Goodreads)

In the blurb it was being compared to Rebecca and Mexican Gothic. I had enjoyed both of those books and couldn’t wait to dive into another atmospheric setting involving a house. And besides, how can you say no to that cover?

The book is told from two point-of-views, Beatriz and Andrés. I didn’t feel like I connected to either one which is a shame. They are both trying to find out what is going on at the hacienda and they won’t stop at nothing, especially Andrés who has been a frequent visitor before Beatriz’s arrival. I do think that it was good to have both point-of-views since one had more history there than the other. It added more context which I liked.

The side characters felt like just that, side characters. They were kind of one dimensional and from the beginning I had my suspicion which ended up being right.

The author does a great job at creating a new setting and making it her own. There are similarities to the other books it is compared to but she adds her own spin to the ghostly tale. I personally didn’t find it as appealing as the others but I liked the originality.

For me, the mystery felt a bit flat and I’m not sure if it was the writing or me.

Overall, even though I had some issues with it I still liked what I read.

Goodreads Monday: The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas 

Hello Readers!

Goodreads Monday is hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners. To participate, choose a random book from your TBR and show it off.

Title: The Hacienda
Author: Isabel Cañas 
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction / Gothic / Horror
Publication Date: May 10th, 2022
Publisher:  Berkley

Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca in this debut supernatural suspense novel, set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, about a remote house, a sinister haunting, and the woman pulled into their clutches…

In the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father is executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost.

But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.

When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark its doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano?

Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will help her.

Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to battle the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda.

Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom.” (Goodreads)

I love the cover. I love the blurb! Need I say more for this one? haha

Does this one sound like something you would read?

Find me on Instagram / Goodreads

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Book Review: The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

Title: The Lost Apothecary
Author: Sarah Penner
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction / Mystery / Contemporary
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Park Row
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course.Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman.
Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.

One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.

In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.” (Goodreads)

I have seen this one floating around the bookish community but honestly didn’t give much though into reading it as something that is labeled as historical fiction isn’t really my forte. Since someone did ask if I would buddy read this I figured why not! If I ended up not liking it then it’s not a big deal. This book surprised me in many ways I found myself really enjoying the journey.

The book is told from three different point-of-views as well as two different timelines. Nella is from 1791 and dabbles in the art of apothecary. I do wish more books talked about this profession as I always seem to enjoy the ones that talk about it although there are very few books that do. Nella is different from her mother when it comes to running the business that she inherited. She does still help those she can but in a very different way than one would expect. I honestly hadn’t read the blurb recently before starting and so it surprised me with what Nella did. I do understand her reasoning since she was scorned by a previous relationship and who wouldn’t want to get revenge and have other women do the same?

Caroline is from the present time and she is on her way to same the area as the other timeline, London. It was cool to see how each timeline came together and how the women’s stories connected with similar issues in their romantic relationships. I did feel bad for Caroline as her husband was very much a dillweed. It was nice to see Caroline do some soul searching ad realize what she wanted out of life and to chase her own dreams.

My favorite part of the plot was obviously the mystery surrounding the vial that Caroline found and what was happening to Nella and her clients way back when. It had it’s intense moments which made it hard to put down the book. Each women, including a young one named Eliza, had their own journeys they had to work through and I’m glad it all worked out in the end. The ending was very satisfactory.

Overall, this wouldn’t be a usual book I picked up but I’m glad I gave it a chance!

Book Review: Tiger Unbound by Evangeline Rain

Title: Tiger Unbound
Author: Evangeline Rain
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction / Romance
Publication Date: June 13th, 2020
Publisher: Indie Published
Rating: 2 stars

(Found on Kindle Unlimited)

“An action-packed romance set in ancient China.

The Zhao Kingdom was about to be invaded by the approaching army of the Wei Kingdom.

Rather than suffer the insult of a defeat, the King of Zhao chose to hang himself. Princess Zhao Xuan woke up to find that she was the only one left out of her family’s suicide plans. Refusing to abandon her people, the headstrong princess decided to pick up the mantle and meet Prince Wei Xing in the battlefield.

A duel for the fate of her kingdom.

An unexpected proposal.

A strained marriage to the prince of the enemy kingdom.

Could love help the unconventional princess survive the oppressive social structures which she had rebelled against her whole life?

Warning: This book depicts scenes of suicide and violence.” (Goodreads)

I saw the cover on Kindle Unlimited and immediately added it to my tbr. The blurb also had my attention too.

When I started reading it, it reminded me of Mulan and how she became a soldier. Xuan does it for different reasons but still resembles Mulan in the way she carries herself and what she likes to do.

Even though this had the makings for a great story, it fell short for a couple reasons.

The first reason it fell short was that the romance and start of the relationship happens very quickly. There is not enough time to get to know Xuan or the prince. He also seems too good to be true and I just didn’t like him that much.

The second reason is that the plot moves so quickly because it is a short book. I wish the author would have made the book longer so that there would have been more from the characters, romance, and world-building.

Overall, it was okay. I just needed more from it.

E-Arc Review: The Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill

Title: The Bright and Breaking Sea
Author: Chloe Neill
Genre: Adult Fantasy / Historical Fiction
Publication Date: November 17th, 2020
Publisher: Berkley

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an e-copy to review! All opinions are my own.

“Kit Brightling, rescued as a foundling and raised in a home for talented girls, has worked hard to rise through the ranks of the Isles’ Crown Command and become one of the few female captains in Queen Charlotte’s fleet. Her ship is small, but she’s fast–in part because of Kit’s magical affinity to the sea. But the waters become perilous when the queen sends Kit on a special mission with a partner she never asked for.

Rian Grant, Viscount Queenscliffe, may be a veteran of the Continental war, but Kit doesn’t know him or his motives–and she’s dealt with one too many members of the Beau Monde. But Kit has her orders, and the queen has commanded they journey to a dangerous pirate quay and rescue a spy who’s been gathering intelligence on the exiled emperor of Gallia.

Kit can lead her ship and clever crew on her own, but with the fate of queen and country at stake, Kit and Rian must learn to trust each other, or else the Isles will fall….”(Goodreads)

I’m going to start this off by saying that this is a case of “it’s me, not you.” and although there were good parts to this book, it just wasn’t a book I overly enjoyed.

At the beginning, a man named Gerard is introduced. There isn’t much context given but it was enough to entice me. From there, Kit is introduced and she is a pretty interesting character.

Kit is the captain of a ship that is employed to the queen. It’s a pretty nifty job and can be quite dangerous when the sea is filled with sea dragons and there are swashbuckling pirates. She is courageous and doesn’t let her gender get in the way. I also liked the bits with her sister, Jane, because it shows that family is important to her. Jane is also pretty wild with those explosives!

I will say that some of the characters felt flat and it was hard to connect with them.

After the initial prologue, the book was a bit slow and took me awhile to get into again. I think for me the problem was that I was expecting more fantasy whereas I would say this is more historical fiction with just a hint of magic. Maybe the magic will play a bigger role in the next book.

I also seem to hit a wall with my interest when it comes to seafaring books. I don’t know why and I keep trying to make them work for me but it’s just not a favorite setting of mine.

Overall, this book was good but it just wasn’t really a book for me. I think many will like this one especially if they enjoy historical fiction, strong female characters, and seafaring adventures.

E-Arc Review: The Garden of Promises and Lies (Found Things #3) by Paula Brackston

49127440Title: The Garden of Promises and Lies (Found Things #3)
Author: Paula Brackston
Genre: Historical Fiction / Fantasy / Time-Travel
Publication Date: November 3rd, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an ecopy to review!

synopsis header
The third installment of a bewitching series “brimming with charm and charisma” that will make “fans of Outlander rejoice!” (Woman’s World Magazine).

New York Times 
bestselling author Paula Brackston’s second novel in the Found Things series, Secrets of the Chocolate House, was called a “time-swapping romance [that] will please fans of Alice Hoffman” (Publishers Weekly). Now, Brackston returns to the Found Things series with a third book, The Garden of Promises and Lies.

As the bustle of the winter holidays in the Little Shop of Found Things gives way to spring, Xanthe is left to reflect on the strange events of the past year. While she’s tried to keep her time-traveling talents a secret from those close to her, she is forced to take responsibility for having inadvertently transported the dangerous Benedict Fairfax to her own time. Xanthe comes to see that she must use her skills as a spinner if she and Flora are ever to be safe, and turns to the Spinners book for help.

It is then that a beautiful antique wedding dress sings to her. Realizing the dress and her adversary are connected in some way, she answers the call. She finds herself in Bradford-on-Avon in 1815, as if she has stepped into a Jane Austen story.

Now in Xanthe’s time, Fairfax is threatening Xanthe into helping him with his evil doings, and demonstrates all too clearly how much damage he is capable of causing. With Fairfax growing ever more powerful, Xanthe enlists the help of her boyfriend Liam, taking him back in time with her. It is a decision that might just ensure she prevails over her foe, but only by putting her life—and his—on the line.” (Goodreads)

When I requested this I didn’t realize it was a series so off I went to get the audiobooks from the library! Although the first book didn’t truly grasp my attention, the series gets better as it goes on and this book was hard to put down!

I am not usually one for historical fiction but what draws me to this series is the time-traveling. It adds that bit of fantasy I need and the author does a great job of mixing it into the plots of each book.

This book starts off where the second left off. It’s a series that needs to be read in order otherwise the issues between Fairfax and Xanthe will not make sense.

Xanthe is still very brave in her endeavors and will do anything to make sure Fairfax doesn’t gain the power he seeks. She definitely puts herself in harms way but luckily this time she has Liam to help out. I was a little hesitant about her and Liam but there relationship grows stronger as he learns more about her gift and wants to be there for her when she tries to help make things right in the past.

I really liked the plot for this one and it has been my favorite out of the three books. It is packed with action that kept me turning the pages (obviously digitally 😂). It was interesting to see how everything would play out with Fairfax and I do enjoy him as a villain. He reminds me of the boiler hat guy in Meet the Robinsons.


That ending though! Why do authors have to make such wild cliffhangers that I will need answers for! It’s just not fair. 😢

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. If you are into Historical Fiction and like time-travel then this would be perfect for you! I will now wait impatiently for the next book and contemplate what will happen, ha.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)