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I often hear the complaint that LDS romantic novels are all the same, mostly from people who don’t read much or the ones who indulge in erotica. These three novels are definitely different, clean, and a lot of fun. Waking Beauty by Brittlyn Galacher Doyle is a fractured fairytale or perhaps more accurately a continuation of a fairytale. Lies and Letters by Ashtyn Newbold breaks all the rules of the usual Regency with a thoroughly obnoxious heroine. Mormon Girl: Incognito by Kari Iroz adds comedy to romance and suspense. Surprisingly it works. All three writers are just beginning their writing careers and all three novels are unusual and a delight to read.
WAKING BEAUTY by Brittlyn Galacher Doyle
Getting to the “happily ever after” part isn’t as easy as Princess Aurora Claire expects after she is awakened from the hundred-year sleep by the handsome prince. Prince Damian is “oh so handsome”, but is convinced his way is the only way to consider doing anything. His loyal knight/companion, Sir James, is kept busy protecting and waiting on him without any consideration in return. The princess is delighted to discover her parents, servants and everyone in the castle also slept for a hundred years with the castle and its inhabitants protected by a thick covering of thorns so she doesn’t have to start over mourning her loved ones and surrounded by new people. A short time after awaking people slowly start falling asleep again. Damian, James, and Claire set out to find the fairy who cast the spell that changed it from a death spell to a sleeping spell to gain her cooperation in stopping the spell. Along the way, they have many adventures and Claire finds herself falling in love with James instead of Damian. Could it be Damian’s desire to marry her is based more on the financial and social disarray of his father’s kingdom than on his feelings for her? She discovers life isn’t a series of pre-programmed events, individual will matters, kindness matters too, and love is not a magic spell, but is based on mutual respect, shared values, and similar goals.
The characters in this story are fun. Claire is a bit naive and gullible, but her heart is in the right place. Damian is arrogant and indifferent to anyone’s needs but his own. James is physically strong and well trained in the military arts and skills, but is imprisoned by the threats of harm to those he loves should he not be totally obedient to Damian’s orders and expectations. He works hard to conceal his anger and bitterness. His growing feelings for Claire cause him a great deal of stress. Though the story is based on a children’s favorite fairytale, the author has continued the story as a modern cautionary tale teens and adults will enjoy.
The challenges the trio face are out of the ordinary. The growth Claire goes through as she faces the outside world is realistic. The plot arc is well done. Readers looking for a change of pace novel will enjoy this one as will those who like a touch of fantasy or a lot of action.
Brittlyn Gallacher Doyle is married and the mother of four children. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University.
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WAKING BEAUTY by Brittlyn Galacher Doyle, published by Cedar Fort, Inc., 224 pages, soft cover $15.99. Also available for eReaders.
LIES AND LETTERS by Ashtyn Newbold
Ashtyn Newbold takes an unusual approach to her Regency period novel, Lies and Letters. Her leading lady, Charlotte Lyons, is not like other Regency heroines. Yes, she’s beautiful and talented, but she’s also vain, superior, and considers herself entitled to whatever she wants. She’s mean to her younger sister and disdainful of anyone who isn’t rich and titled. Frankly, she’s a spoiled brat. Disaster strikes when her playboy father gambles away his entire fortune, leaving his family penniless. Her scheming mother makes arrangements for her two daughters to travel to a northern coastal village to escape the scandal. It would never do for rich suitors to discover Charlotte doesn’t even have a dowry. Arrangements are made for them to live in a small cottage where Charlotte is to woo a rich widower who lives nearby. Marriage to him would bring a title and restore mother and daughter to a life of wealth and prestige. Meanwhile the mother moves in with a wealthy cousin.
With no servants and only a tiny amount of money the sisters are hard pressed to care for themselves. When their few coins are stolen by a purse snatcher, a fisherman who attempts to recover Charlotte’s purse receives harsh words and insults for his efforts. Their meeting begins a series of challenges between the two. One results in a terrible accident that leaves Charlotte permanently handicapped. Between her physical limitations and the lack of a maid to do her hair, Charlotte no longer believes she is beautiful and she can no longer play the piano. Discouraged, she believes her life is over. Her only hope seems to be the growing friendship between her younger sister and the man she herself had hoped to entice into marriage. Then there’s the pesky fisherman who keeps intruding into her thoughts. And mother has one more scheme up her sleeve.
Readers who are tired of Regencies will love this one and Regency readers will find it amusing too. The author, though young, shows a great deal of promise. She lives in Lehi, Utah, and is currently a student at Utah Valley University.
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LIES AND LETTERS by Ashtyn Newbold, published by Cedar Fort, Inc., 247 pages, soft cover $17.97. Also available for eReaders.
MORMON GIRL: INCOGNITO by Kari Iroz
Few LDS novels are set on the Las Vegas Strip and few Suspense novels, romantic or not, are full of silly comedy. Mormon Girl: Incognito by Kari Iroz does both. This novel is written in first person and only has one point of view.
Jacklyn Wyatt, better known as “Jack”, has always been an ordinary Mormon girl except for having more than the usual number of insecurities. She’s never been “popular” or had a serious boyfriend, and she’s stuck in a dead end job, but now she’s in love with a handsome FBI agent, Damon Wade. They met during her accidental involvement in a prior incident. They’ve been dating for eight months, but he has never mentioned the L word. Finally he invites her to meet his mother and sister who live near Las Vegas and she gets her hopes up that a declaration and proposal will follow. He tells her he has to work a couple of days in Las Vegas before going to his mother’s home, so he’ll fly out early and she’ll meet him there a couple days later. She’s adamant about paying her own way, but when she discovers she lacks the money to pay her monthly bills and her airfare too, she tells him she can’t go. When her father comes to her rescue by insisting she go and giving her the money she needs, she decides to surprise Damon by showing up unannounced at his hotel.
The surprise is on Jack when she walks in on Damon and a man she learns later is a big time crime boss and Damon introduces her as a gun runner. She plays along and soon finds herself involved in a high level operation involving Russian criminals and more danger than she bargained for.
The beginning of this novel is a little slow, but once Jack reaches Las Vegas the action heats up. The romance portion of the story is often on the silly side, definitely Mormon modern, but has some serious, tender moments. The suspense portion builds slowly, then takes off at a gallop, leaving the reader wanting to yell at Jack for the stupid chances she takes. Readers looking for a change-of-pace novel will find it in this one.
Kari Iroz is married and the mother of two little girls. She’s passionate about reading and writing romance.
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MORMON GIRL: INCOGNITO by Kari Iroz, published by Covenant Communication, Inc., 263 pages, soft cover $16.99. Also available for eReaders.