Editor’s Note: We would love to welcome Julie as our newest contributor of book reviews. We are excited to hear her insights and recommendations.
Welcome to Book Chat with Julie! I’m so excited to be with you and talk about my favorite subject—books! Today, we are highlighting some new historical romances that take place in the English countryside. All of them will have you wishing you could walk the garden paths of beautiful estates or attend a country ball.
Let’s start with Tiffany Odekirk’s new book, Summerhaven. This book was so hard to put down, I nearly read it in one sitting! Hannah’s childhood love, Ollie, promised to come for her and, after waiting for years, the invitation to his family’s estate, Summerhaven, has finally arrived. She can’t wait to go, but hopes Ollie’s older brother Damon won’t be there. He was always pulling pranks on her as a child, and her memories don’t paint him in the best light. Once Hannah arrives at Summerhaven, however, things haven’t stayed the way she remembered them. Ollie’s head has been turned by another woman and Damon is no longer the boy who once put frogs in her drink, but is now a man whose father is pressuring him to marry. So, in order to help both of their situations, Damon proposes a scheme to pretend they are courting. The plan is that once Ollie sees them together, he will realize he truly loves Hannah, and Damon will be temporarily free from his father’s demands that he find a woman to wed. Hannah agrees, and that decision changes everything.
I loved the way the characters were portrayed as people that are dealing with real-life issues regarding parents, societal obligations, love and loss, and wondering where they belong in the world. It is easy for readers to relate with them and see themselves in the characters. This book touches on some themes and emotions that include how we form attachments in childhood and how those attachments can shape us as adults. The love story is tender and sweet and includes all the emotions as each character tries to figure out their feelings. There are laugh out loud moments and a swoony hero that will have readers cheering for him to find his happily-ever-after. The setting is well-done and gives the book a realistic feel and the secondary characters truly add a depth to the story. This is a book that will touch your heart, give you butterflies, and make you want to read it all over again.
Behind the Scenes—An Interview with Author Tiffany Odekirk
I loved the opportunity I had to interview Tiffany! You can hear her entire interview on my Book Chat with Julie podcast and she will also be the featured guest at my Book Chat book club on March 15th. If you would like to join us, you can click here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1055727957843897
Here is a little bit of our chat:
Julie: Where did you get the idea for Summerhaven?
Tiffany Odekirk: Summerhaven was a passion project! To be honest, I started writing this story just for me and had no plans of ever publishing it; I just wanted to play with words and practice my craft. The idea for Summerhaven came to me over the course of many years. I think the first time I wrote some version of this story, I was eleven years old and on vacation! I’ve always loved reading historical romance, but I was a bit intimidated to try my hand at writing it. I began with Hannah’s character and explored the love she felt for Summerhaven, then considered her relationships with Ollie and Damon. One thing that really intrigued me was this idea of young love and how it grows and changes over time.
Julie: Your descriptions of the English countryside were so vivid. Have you traveled there?
Tiffany Odekirk: Funny story, my husband and I have tried four times now to take a trip to England, but sadly, we have been unable for various reasons. In order to write Summerhaven authentically, I immersed myself in documentaries and books, combed through Google Maps, and interviewed and took classes from others who have been there. I have a feeling that when I finally make it to the English countryside, I won’t want to leave.
Julie: What are you working on now?
Tiffany Odekirk: Right now, I’m pre-writing Ollie’s story because how can I not? He had some rough moments in Summerhaven and needs a little redemption. I’m excited about the premise as well as the setting. It’s different from Summerhaven and takes place at the estate Ollie inherits from his mother (Winterset), but it will have the same witty banter, similar swoony moments, and of course, the same romantic feel.
And romance fans will definitely love the romantic feel of Summerhaven!
The second book I’d like to chat about with you today is a Timeless Romance collection of three novellas from the Georgian era called Her Country Gentleman featuring authors Sian Ann Bessey, Sarah Eden, and Rebecca Connolly. It will be released on March 8th and you won’t want to miss it! All three stories feature ladies who meet a country gentleman and their journey to love.
In the first novella, Spring at Tribbley Hall by Sian Ann Bessey, we are treated to a little suspense with the romance. Charlotte is visiting Lord Cheston and his family, when it comes to light that someone is stealing Lord Cheston’s sheep. As Charlotte and Lord Cheston grow closer, so does the danger, especially when Charlotte figures out who the thief is! A fun and witty romance with just enough suspense to keep a reader on the edge of their seat!
In the second novella, Love of My Heart by Sarah Eden, Cordelia’s family has been forced into reduced circumstances and must live on a small estate near Teviotbrae, Scotland. Cordelia wants to make the best of her new life and tries to make friends and get to know her new surroundings. Sebastian, the man who manages the nearby castle’s home farm, is easy to like and fun to be around, but he’s hiding a secret that could change everything if Cordelia ever found out. A sweet romance that has a surprising depth as it also deals with how loss and the need for approval can affect us.
The third novella, Miss Smith Goes to Wiltshire, is a cute story of how Martha gets sent to her country cousins so she can see that marrying for love is just too great of a risk. But when she meets Benjamin Steele, who is working hard to make his run-down estate into something he can be proud of, marrying for love seems worth every risk. This was a tender story that brings home the hope that love really can conquer all.
The entire collection is easy to get lost in, with vivid descriptions of the English countryside and characters that feel like real people who are reaching for love and happiness.
Behind the Scenes—An Interview with Author Sian Ann Bessey
I had the opportunity to interview Sian Ann Bessey, an author from this collection, and she was a delight! Here is a little bit of our chat:
Julie: Where did you get the idea for your story in the collection?
Sian Ann Bessey: Sarah, Rebecca, and I talked through lots of ideas. We knew we wanted to set the novellas in the Georgian era, and we all thought it might be fun to do a story set in the countryside. To give our novellas some continuity, we decided to have each one be about a character from the city meeting someone in the country. I chose to set mine by the sea because I used to live by the sea, and I know what a captivating place it can be.
Julie: Did you have to do a lot of research into lambing and sheep?
Sian Ann Bessey: Many members of my family are farmers in Wales. I’ve been to their farms. Years ago, I watched my mother’s cousin revive a lamb by the fire and I’ve always wanted to incorporate that experience into a story. I did have to research the bubby pot because I didn’t know what was used to feed infants or lambs before the bottles we now use were invented.
Julie: Do you love the Georgian era? If you could live in an historical era, which one would you choose?
Sian Ann Bessey: I do love writing about the Georgian era. The clothes and hairstyles/wigs were so extravagant and propriety was so important. I love discovering little-known people and events from this era and bringing them to life in the pages of my books. I love history in general. I think we can learn so much from studying the past. Many eras would be fascinating to visit, but I’m not sure that there’s one I would truly want to live in long-term. I really love running water, central heating, and electricity. I think I’d miss them rather a lot.
Julie: What are you working on now?
Sian Ann Bessey: I have several projects on the go right now. My next release will be “An Unfamiliar Duke,” which is the fourth book in my Georgian Gentlemen series. It comes out in May. I’m currently working on the final proofs of “The Danger with Diamonds” with Traci Hunter Abramson. (It’s an “Heirs of Falcon Point” spin-off book.) I also have another medieval book coming out at the end of the year. It’s been a busy writing year!
And we are so glad to hear when our favorite writers are having busy years, don’t you think? Thank you for joining me on Book Chat today. I hope you get a chance to read these books!
Summerhaven published by Covenant Communications, Inc. soft cover 274 pages, $16.99 available in ebook and audio.
Her Country Gentleman (Timeless Georgian Collection), published by Mirror Press, softcover 300 pages, $13.99, also available in audio and ebook.
**Here are three of the books on my to-read list for April. Which one would you like to see in a review? Hit the Comment button and let me know!
So Not My Thing by Melanie Jacobson
Bargaining for the Barrister by Anneka Walker
The new Prosperity Ranch novel by Heather B. Moore
Julie Coulter Bellon
After winning $10 in a second grade writing contest, Julie Coulter Bellon knew she wanted to be a published author someday. That dream came true and she is now the author of over two dozen romantic suspense novels. She is also a podcast host for Authors Off the Page and Book Chat with Julie.