Storm & Shelter by Bluestocking Belles

Storm & ShelterStorm & Shelter by Bluestocking Belles
Barbara’s rating: 4.3 of 5 stars

Series: Author’s Collaboration
Publication Date: 4/13/21
Number of Pages: 697
** Overall Rating is 4.3 **

“When a storm blows off the North Sea and slams into the village of Fenwick on Sea, the villagers prepare for the inevitable: shipwreck, flood, land slips, and stranded travelers. The Queen’s Barque Inn quickly fills with the injured, the devious, and the lonely—lords, ladies, and simple folk; spies, pirates, and smugglers all trapped together. Intrigue crackles through the village, and passion lights up the hotel.”

I believe this is the longest review I have ever written – simply because it covers 8 novellas. I will say one thing that relates to all of the stories I read in this book – they are all remarkably well filled out and that is a difficult thing to do in so few pages.

An Improbable Hero by Mary Lancaster – 4.5 STARS

This is the first time I’ve read Mary Lancaster’s work, and I’m so glad to have given it a try. The writing is excellent and I felt I really connected with the characters. That connection is something that is really hard for an author to do with such a short word count. I will definitely look for more of her books.

Simon Jarvis and Letty Lovell are an unlikely pair. Letty is young and innocent – and running away from an abusive guardian who is trying to force her into a marriage she doesn’t want. Simon is seasoned and jaded with a soul as black as the night. Yet, they are drawn together and Simon can’t do anything other than save her when her guardian shows up – and in the company of a Frenchman no less. Not a good thing while England isn’t through with Napoleon yet.

Lord Stanton’s Shocking Seaside Honeymoon – Cerise Deland – 4.5 STARS

I absolutely adored this wonderful love story between Josephine Meadows and Russell Downey, the sixth Earl of Stanton. They are absolutely made for each other even though he’s an aristocrat and she’s the daughter of a very rich merchant. Even with that disparity, they both work together for the good of England against Napoleon. She has a huge network of informants throughout Europe thanks to their business ventures and he is responsible for assuring the supply chain of men and materials for the war effort. They’ve worked together for years – each has loved the other for years, but neither would ever let the other know. This delightful tale is about their wedding – and the adventures of their non-honeymoon while they try to save one of Josephine’s informants.

The Tender Flood – Caroline Warfield – 4.5 STARS

This is a lovely tale of two lonely people who don’t realize how lonely they are until they see what is missing in their lives. Zachary (Zach) Newell was invalided out of the army when he lost his leg. Now, he acts as a coachman for his uncle’s coaching company. He has dreams for his life and his current position allows him to save toward making that dream a reality. He is a really good man – kind, caring, and honorable. His biggest love is books – he loves having them, reading them, sharing them, discussing them. Patience Abney is the daughter of an impoverished vicar – and the granddaughter and cousin of an Earl. Therein lies the rub – at least as far as Zach is concerned. He well learned his ‘place’ while he was in the army and he knows Patience is far beyond his reach. However, he’ll do all he can to help her and her students while they are stranded at the inn during this raging storm. All he has to do is keep his hands off her and remember she is by far his better. We all know how well that is going to work out for him, don’t we? Their journey to their HEA was a lovely thing and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Before I Found You – Sherry Ewing – 3.5 STARS

Captain Jasper Rousseau is wealthy, handsome, confident, honorable, untitled, and not in any particular hurry to marry – even though his mother is constantly urging him to do so. His shipping business is flourishing – especially with the purchase of their new ship, the Legacy. To appease his mother, he is attending a Valentine’s Day ball and he’s not happy about it – until he sees – across the room …

Miranda de Courtenay is simply a ‘Miss’ and she doesn’t like that one bit. She wants a title above all else and the way to get one is to marry one. She is bold and independent and that usually keeps her in trouble of one sort or another, so her suitors aren’t exactly lining up at her door. When she meets a handsome, intriguing man at the Valentine’s Day ball, her hopes soar. Can this man be her ‘title’ and be attractive too?

Once Miranda discovers Jasper has no title, she immediately, sadly, tells him they have no future. He is very disappointed in her but assumes he’ll never see her again. Besides, he has a saboteur to deal with – someone keeps damaging his new ship. He’s sure it is his longtime enemy, Hugo Danville, but has no proof.

It is interesting to see Miranda come to terms with her jealousy over her siblings having titles while she doesn’t. I never came to care much for Miranda, but it was nice to see her learn that the heart wants what the heart wants.

This was another new-to-me author.

The Comtesse of Midnight – Alina K. Field – 3.0 Stars

Malcolm Comyn, Earl of Menteith, is frantically searching for … himself. A cousin is challenging his right to be the earl and Malcolm has to find the proof – one way or the other. He has to find the Comtesse de Fontenay because she will have the answers he needs. On his way to find her, he gets waylaid by an awful storm – and ends up rescuing a woman. Except the woman, dressed as a man, doesn’t welcome his ‘rescue’. But, OMGoodness – she is a beautiful sight.

Marielle Plessiers is the Comtesse de Fontenay, but not the one for whom Malcolm is looking. She knows of Malcolm and his story, and she’ll have to share what she knows with him. But, can she trust him? He knows she is a smuggler. She also knows she has to trust him and hopefully he can help her with the man who keeps turning up to threaten her.

This story left me feeling a bit unsatisfied because it didn’t feel finished. In the author’s notes at the end, the author tells us that we can find the answers if we read another book she has written. That is all well and good if I wanted to read another book – but – it doesn’t do a thing for making this story feel finished to me. This is another new-to-me author.

Wait For Me – Rue Allyn – 4.7 STARS

Irish Red/Eugenia/Miss Fynlock/Esme (a lady of many names) has been a privateer all of her life and the English would love to get a rope around her lovely neck. Although she was legally acting as a privateer for the Americans, the English wanted her as a pirate. Now, here she is, on English soil, on a personal mission. The trouble is, there has been a horrendous storm and she’s finding it almost impossible to get to the small seaside village of Fenwick On Sea to complete that mission. It seems she’s been slogging through the mud for days when she trips over a lump of some sort that is lying in her path. When she stoops down to do a closer examination of that lump, it turns out it is a British naval officer with whom she has a history. She knows he’d like nothing better than to get her under lock and key – but she cannot leave him out in this weather to die.

Brandon Gilroy is on a mission for the crown. A shipment of munitions, meant for the English troops fighting against the French, has gone missing and it is Brandon’s job to find it, get it to the right place, and see that the culprits are caught. When he is rescued by a pirate who could certainly be involved in the plot, he can hardly believe it because he thought she had more honor than that. Then, at the inn, he discovers even more possible culprits. How will he manage to get the information he needs to find who has the munitions?

Even though this is my favorite of the stories, it is also the one that left me with so many unanswered questions. I loved the characters – and I know they had a HEA – but I have no clue how they got there. The author’s notes said I could read an as yet unwritten book to find out the answers. That did not please me.

A Dream Come True – Jude Knight – 4.7 Stars

OH! This was the sweetest, loveliest story. I loved ALL of the characters. I loved that the village busybody/bully got her comeuppance – but I wish it had been more. I absolutely adore Daniel and the way both Barnaby and Theo deal with him. BTW – this was another new-to-me author.

Barnaby Somerville was just called to be a vicar. He loves it and can’t imagine his life doing anything else. He also loves the small seaside village in which he serves as curate for his father. The people, for the most part, are wonderful giving souls who care about each other. The exception is Mrs. Fullerton who is the self-appointed morality police of the parish. At the moment, her focus is on Barnaby’s wards, particularly his nephew Daniel who happens to be part black. According to Mrs. Fullerton, Daniel is an abomination and should be removed from the village and sent off to an orphanage so he doesn’t taint the residents. Unfortunately, Barnaby’s father feels the same way and will surely remove Barnaby from being the vicar when he learns Barnaby has taken in his deceased, disowned sister’s children. Barnaby’s income is small – very small – and he can barely stretch it to cover his own living expenses much less the addition of the two children. However, he’ll do whatever it takes to keep them.

Barnaby has a small amount of skill as a healer and is quickly called upon to treat all of the injured travelers who are washing ashore from all of the raging storm wrecked ships. Although she isn’t injured, one of those rescued from a ship is Theodora (Theo) Conroy. Theo is a lovely, quiet young woman who is the lady’s maid to Lady Felicity who is also rescued. While Theo wasn’t injured from the shipwreck, she is quite ill because of travel sickness – she doesn’t just suffer from seasickness – it is any travel that sickens her. So, when she is brought off the ship, she is really quite ill. She’s also quite intrigued by the handsome, competent, caring vicar who is giving excellent care to her and all of the other passengers.

I enjoyed watching quiet, unpretentious, unassuming Theo come into her own and vociferously defend both Daniel and Barnaby. I also enjoyed watching them grow to love each other – even knowing their hearts would be broken when Theo had to leave with her mistress. It is a lovely, lovely, heartwarming read and I am sure you’ll enjoy this story.

A Kiss By The Sea – Grace Burrowes – 5 STARS

There are some really good stories in here, but this was my absolute favorite. I love the characters and felt I could fully relate to them and their situations The descriptions of village life were absolutely delightful and made me want to live in just such a place.

The Fenwick on Sea blacksmith is so much more than that, but he doesn’t want anyone to know how much more. So, Thaddeus Pennrith uses the name Thad Penn with all of his friends and neighbors there. He’s handsome, well mannered, intelligent, caring, and has an elegance about him that few have ever seen before. He’s been there for five years now and knows he’ll soon have to give it up and leave, but he is dreading that day when he has to return to his real life and responsibilities.

Lady Sarah Weatherby has finally screwed up her courage and fled a n’er do well betrothed and a manipulative, dishonest uncle. Were it not for a horrendous storm, she’d have reached her aunt’s home already. Instead, she is stranded in a seaside village with blocked roads and a coach in need of repair. Sarah is traveling incognito in hopes of preventing a scandal and to keep her uncle from finding her and taking her back to London. In this small village, she sees a life she’d never known existed. The people have real conversations, they actually like and have affection for each other, they are all productive and useful, they are all just kind, caring individuals. Sarah comes to admire them and to learn a lot more about herself as a person. And – that fine blacksmith is certainly worth admiring.

It was a delight to see Thad bolster Sarah’s self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence. As they came to know each other and love each other, each of them was fearful that the other might not want them if their true identities were exposed. In the end, the family confrontations only make them stronger together and makes their love burn brighter. I definitely enjoyed this read!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

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