Tag Archives: inheritance

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

We all know there are self centered, egotistical, SOB’s out there in the world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we want to spend time with them, even if it is only amongst the pages of a book.

Seems that’s one of the problems of At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen. Ellis Hyde and his pal Hank are privileged, silver-spoons-in-their-mouths, sons of wealthy gentlemen who spend their time in frivolous pursuits, going to parties, drinking too much, and cavalcading throughout high society, annoying the patrons and getting into trouble. The two best friends have a cohort, Madeline, a woman who enjoys their company and madcap adventures. Despite her wealthy father, Maddie has a black mark against her due to the antics of her now deceased mother, so that when she marries Ellis her welcome is anything but friendly. Then on New Years Eve in 1944, the trio are especially obnoxious, and Ellis’ parents are, shall we say, not amused with the resulting gossip, so when Ellis insults his father they are ejected from the family estate and left to fend for themselves.

Ellis, whose father (the Colonel) can’t forgive him for being rejected from the military due to a case of color blindness, decides to go to Scotland and find the Loch Ness Monster, an adventure that tainted his father’s reputation several years earlier. If Ellis could just prove the monster exists, then his now proud papa would welcome him back with open arms and reinstate his allowance.

Unfortunately there is a war going on, so they must travel overseas bunked down like commoners in a military convoy and to make matters worse, once they arrive in Scotland their welcome is less than cordial. The search for the monster is a lot more difficult than expected, and the two friend’s behavior gets more and more outrageous fueled by alcohol and the little pills prescribed to Maddie for her “nervous condition”. Maddie soon distances herself from her husband and Hank, finding more in common with the humble folks who live and work at the inn. The true personalities of each of the characters are revealed as they deal with their struggles and Maddie comes to terms with her choices in life making a decision which totally alters the fate of everyone involved leading to a twisted resolution.

While the story takes place towards the end of WWII, the war is more of a backdrop than an integral part of the story although there are black out curtains, ration books, gas masks, and several air raids. Scotland, complete with castle, is the main focus of the narrative as the inhabitants try to eke out a living in difficult times.

This was a hard book to get into, not grabbing ones’ interest until almost half way through, probably because of the despicable characters. I did borrow the audiobook, dramatically read by Justine Eyre, to get me over the hump, then finished with the written word.

I’m not sure if I buy this tale, it’s a little far fetched and I question the shift in Ellis from a spoiled brat into an evil man. Although I usually look for the good in people (in life as well as in literature), by the end of the book he had no redeeming qualities left to discuss. There was also a romance which seemed to come out of nowhere, even though there were some subtle hints of this possibility along the way.

Three stars and a thank you to Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This review also appears on Goodreads.

Potent Charms by Peggy Waide

If Phoebe Rafferty wants to gain her inheritance and not be at the mercy of her bitter Aunt Hildegard, she has six weeks to find a husband. With the promise of a title and an estate, the lovely American born “heiress” should have her pick of suitors, but she wants love, not convenience. Luckily, while trying to avoid the dictates of British society, she slips away from yet another country dance finding herself in the same room as fellow slacker Stephen Lambert, Duke of Badrick, with their amusing repartee leading to a relationship which teases the reader with possibilities. Phoebe finds herself attracted to the rogue, but no matter how attractive he finds the damsel, he can only offer the role of mistress, not wife, due to a family curse. Five women have died over the past three generations of Badricks and two were his former wives. Determined to be the one to stop the curse, Stephen vows to be the heir who never weds and put an end to this nightmare in the book Potent Charms by Peggy Waide

All Phoebe knows is that as their passion grows her resistance weakens. His desires are also strong and he stubbornly sticks to a plan to seduce her into acquiescence while she’s convinced that her allures will lead to a more favorable sort of proposal. Their back and forth banter through numerous events brings them closer to fulfilling their need for one another so when Phoebe proclaims her love Stephen assumes that she has agreed to be his in all but name. Wrong. Despite her loss of innocence and the various scandals associated with her dalliances, there is a decent gentleman in London society who is more than willing to make her his wife. Now the question is: Can Phoebe settle for comfort over love? And will Stephen allow another man to bed her?

The dialogue is clever, the characters dynamic, the plot moves along with detours to a hidden room in a secret passage, a gypsy camp, a fox hunt, a house party, a museum tour, and numerous other social events, all with opportunities for the two lovebirds to hook up, each time moving their romance a little closer to consummation. Yet the plot is a little too busy, with too many unfulfilling sex scenes, and too much whining over a seemingly stagnant situation. In other words, those six weeks seem an eternity. The supporting characters have some bite, but their matchmaking motivations are also repetitive. My advice is to tighten up the plot, and save some of the extra drama for another novel. Stephen’s selfishness along with a quick temper and a tendency to use his fists to resolve his anger issues, does not help us root for a successful outcome. Phoebe could have done better. Luckily the story moves along quickly. Readers who want their Regency Romances to be accurate in details containing somewhat plausible actions and behaviors should definitely skip this one. Three and a half stars.

Miriam’s Secret by Jerry Eicher

What would happen if you unexpectedly won two million dollars? Haven’t we all dreamed about how our lives would change and thought about the things we’d buy with our new found money? Now imagine that you are Amish from a proud, poor family that doesn’t even believe in selling their wares to the “Englisha” to improve their daily life. Just think how it is to be so poor that you eat potato soup for dinner with a full meal a once a week treat. Or imagine that your oldest daughter must go to work to help support a large family with ten children and one on the way. As sister Shirley exclaims, “The Yoder family is poor, really, really poor and Daett seems to like it that way.” That is the premise for the novel Miriam’s Secret by Jerry Eicher.

Miriam Yoder, a sweet, kind-hearted girl rooted in the Amish way, has a good paying job helping care for the elderly Mr Bland. The two form a loving father-daughter-like bond so that when the old man dies unexpectedly, Miriam stands to inherit his entire farm which is free and clear from debt. This makes her a wealthy heiress, so that suddenly her plain looks don’t matter to potential suitors. Nobody knows, not even her parents, about the additional two million dollars from her inheritance which her lawyer is managing.

Welcome to the mindset of the Amish. What we Englisha would think of as a joy, is only a hurtle to overcome for these god-fearing people who believe in a simple, hardworking lifestyle. Miriam worries over her new found fortune and decides to move from Possum Valley in Holmes County (the busiest Amish tourism center in America), to the quieter Coalgate Community in Oklahoma where her Aunt Fannie is expecting her first child. The Amish in this new homestead welcome Miriam with open arms and her Uncle William’s nephew, Wayne Yutsy, seems to appreciate her finer qualities. If only she could be certain that he isn’t more interested in her farm than in her personality.

This novel is a quick read and the author is knowledgable about the Amish way of life since he was also raised in an Amish Community. Although the beginning of the book caught my interest, as the plot progressed there was too much repetition of the main character’s thoughts surrounding their angsts. While details of life in an Amish community were fascinating, at times the plot dragged. Also, there was no resolution to the major problem addressed, so the story was never completed. Since this is Part One in the Land of Promise series, the reader must wait for the second book to discover what happens next. I’m not a fan of series where each novel can’t be read as a stand-alone, so the ending was a disappointment. In essence – Miriam’s Secret started with a bang, but petered out to a whimper. However, I am curious enough to want to read the second book to see what the author has in store for Miriam and her family. Three stars due to the above mentioned disappointments.

I would like to thank Netgalley and Harvest House for allowing me to download a free preview of this book in exchange for an honest review.