Review of A Tale of Two Hearts

(All links are my Amazon Affiliate links.)

About the Book:

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

  A Tale of Two Hearts  cover, Victorian couple walking in snow, One Upon a Dickens Christmas book 2

A Tale of Two Hearts cover, Victorian couple walking in snow, One Upon a Dickens Christmas book 2

Innkeeper’s daughter Mina Scott will do anything to escape the drudgery of her life. She saves every penny to attend a finishing school, dreaming of the day she’ll become a real lady—and catch the eye of William Barlow, a frequent guest at the inn.

William is a gentleman’s son, a charming rogue but penniless. However, his bachelor uncle will soon name an heir—either him or his puritanical cousin. In an effort to secure the inheritance, William gives his uncle the impression he’s married, which works until he’s invited to bring his wife for a visit.

William asks Mina to be his pretend bride, only until his uncle names an heir on Christmas Day. Mina is flattered and frustrated by the offer, for she wants a true relationship with William. Yet, she agrees... then wishes she hadn’t as she comes to love the old man. And when the truth is finally discovered, more than just money is lost.

Can two hearts survive such a deception?

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

 Michelle Griep, author

Michelle Griep, author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Guest Post from Michelle

VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS FOODS

So, it’s September, and you know what that means? It’s back to school. Pumpkin spiced everything is just around the corner. And it’s nearly time for cardigans and colored leaves. But besides all these autumn staples, it’s also time to start thinking about Christmas, because it will be here before you know it. How about this year you plan ahead to serve some traditional Victorian food?

In my newest release, A Tale of Two Hearts, the heroine’s father is known for his annual oyster stew that he serves on Christmas Eve. Here’s a bit of the background on that tasty soup.

Victorian Oyster Stew

Oysters have been savored in Britain since the days of the Romans. By Victorian times, industrialization cheapened oysters to the point of them becoming a staple of the poor man’s diet and were a frequent fare served in public houses. This, however, depleted their abundance, and by the mid-1800’s, the natural oyster beds became exhausted, making it harder to find good oysters. While other foods were served as well on Christmas Eve, oyster stew was as common as goose or turkey.

Another Victorian favorite that goes great on a crisp evening is good ol’ hot chocolate, though in Dickens’ England, it would’ve been called something else.

Drinking Chocolate

What we now call cocoa or hot chocolate was called drinking chocolate in the mid-1800s. This beverage was a favorite among Victorian ladies. You can find recipes for it even from the Regency era (early 1800s) and here is one for you to make at home.

And last, but not least, who hasn’t heard of Christmas pudding? To our American ears, that sounds like a tasty dish that you’d eat with a spoon and slap a little whipped cream on top. Actually, it’s more like a fruitcake.

Christmas Pudding

Christmas pudding is quite a production, one that begins well before Christmas Day. In fact, it begins on Stir-Up Sunday, the last Sunday before Advent (which is five weeks before Christmas). This is why when Mina, the heroine in A Tale of Two Hearts, returns home from dinner at Uncle Barlow’s, and though it’s not yet Christmas, she sees the pudding molds on the kitchen table.

If these tastes and the accompanying smells still aren’t quite enough to get you in the Christmas spirit, then snatch yourself up a copy of the second book in the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series. A Tale of Two Hearts is sure to get you in the mood.

Blog Stops

Be sure to follow the rest of the blog tours for more chances to win the giveaway below!

  A Tale of Two Hearts  blog tour banner

A Tale of Two Hearts blog tour banner

Kat’s Corner Books, October 2

Creating Romance, October 2

Just the Write Escape, October 2

The Avid Reader, October 2

Genesis 5020, October 3

The Power of Words, October 3

Just Commonly, October 3

Baker Kella, October 3

Among the Reads, October 4

Fiction Aficionado, October 4

Godly Book Reviews, October 4

Inklings and Notions , October 4

Captive Dreams Window, October 5

Christian Author, J.E. Grace, October 5

Proud to Be an Autism Mom, October 5

Multifarious, October 6

Reading Is My SuperPower, October 6

The Christian Fiction Girl, October 6

Texas Book-aholic, October 6

Remembrancy, October 7

Splashes of Joy, October 7

Blossoms and Blessings, October 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 7

Back Porch Reads, October 8

A Reader’s Brain, October 8

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, October 8

Janice’s Book Reviews, October 8

Simple Harvest Reads, October 9 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)

Mary Hake, October 9

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, October 9

Carpe Diem, October 9

Stories Where Hope and Quirky Meet, October 10

Britt Reads Fiction, October 10

Luv’N Lambert Life, October 10

A Baker’s Perspective, October 10

By The Book, October 11

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 11

Book by Book, October 11

Bigreadersite, October 11

More Of Him, October 12

Pause for Tales, October 12

With a Joyful Noise, October 12

Have A Wonderful Day, October 12

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 13

Bibliophile Reviews, October 13

Tell Tale Book Reviews, October 13

Vicky Sluiter, October 14

Daysong Reflections, October 14

To Everything A Season, October 14

Henry Happens, October 15

All-of-a-kind Mom, October 15

Reader’s Cozy Corner, October 15

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, October 15

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d4ef/a-tale-of-two-hearts-celebration-tour-giveaway

  Giveaway  - Barnes & Noble Gift card

Giveaway - Barnes & Noble Gift card

Lila’s Opinions:

Though this is #2 and I hadn't read #1, it didn't matter. I had no problem following the story (I suspect they are stand-alones).

The setting was obviously well-researched. London, 1853, at the time when Charles Dickens was writing, came alive for me. I even learned what a reticule was by the author's description.

The quality of the writing is excellent! This was my first from Michelle Griep, and I loved it. The editing was excellent, the few ungrammatical dialogue lines authentic.

Characters are most important to me in a story, and Michelle Griep does not disappoint. From the first line, we get a sense of Mina's character and the second paragraph pulls us directly into her life, the setting, the dreariness of her current existence. Masterful storytelling and likable, relatable characters! My kind of book! I read 11 chapters in one setting, because I kept wanting to know the character's reactions.

Mina is a poor innkeeper's daughter who dreams of her crush, William Barlow. When William asks her to help him by pretending to be his new bride for an afternoon, she can't say no. But her heart is more than just an infatuated youth. She is compassionate for not only his rich Uncle Barlow but also for the less fortunate sick whom she sacrifices to help. Mina is also an intelligent girl, always trying to read the latest Dickens novel, her penchant for reading landing her in Uncle Barlow's good graces, as well as bonding her to my heart as a friend who understands my own hobby.

Mina journeys from working for her father and escaping through books to living out a real adventure beginning with deception, fear, and pining, ending with integrity, courage, and romance.

William Barlow, on the other hand, is not quite so likable. It's a good thing the author mentioned his care for his sick mother early on, or I might have been inclined to think of William as a cad, a flirt. He doesn't have the squeakiest past. But he does seem to have changed.

Uncle Barlow was the supporting character that caught my interest the most, of course, because he is a merry, intelligent, merciful man, who gave William a second chance and took an instant liking to Mina. He also reads, quoting Dickens as much as Mina, which of course warms my heart, too.

The mentions of God and religion are light. However, William does credit God, along with Uncle Barlow, for his reformation. Whether that was a true conversion or not is finally revealed in chapter 27. Also, the theme of truth and deception is summed up in this great quote: “Maybe—perhaps—true meaning in life had nothing to do with outward trappings but with inward genuineness.”

I recommend this book for anyone who loves literature, especially Dickens, because they will enjoy his quotes throughout, not only at the beginning of each chapter, but also woven into the dialogue and thoughts of the characters themselves. I also recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a delightful read, suspenseful but light on the mystery, a quick but satisfying read.

The only thing I didn't like about this book was very minor. I was disappointed that we didn't get any closure about Mina leaving the Secret Society and her friends.

I don't know how anyone could not love this book! I finished the rest in one sitting, as well. I loved it so much that I will be adding this book to my favorites to re-read every Christmas!

Some of my favorite quotes:

  • “'Oh, pardon me. Did I say that out loud?'”

  • “Uncle Barlow's shoulders shook with a great chuckle. 'Ahh, but you do a heart good.'”

  • “A heroine would've given him some kind of explanation instead of running off like a coward. Oh, what a humbling truth.”

  • “Reading about such intrigues was far different from living it—and she wasn't sure she liked it. At all.”

  • “'My mother—God rest her—always told me to think of eternity, then live backward from that. Such a view has a way o' whittlin' down our current troubles to a size we can crumple up into a ball and toss aside.'”

    (I received this book for free from the publisher through CelebrateLit. The decision to write a review, as well as the opinions expressed in it, are all my own. I was not compensated for this review.)