I love Carolyn Miller’s books so much – and if you haven’t yet discovered one of her Regency Brides series, then you are missing out. Today, my main purpose is to review her newest book Miss Serena’s Secret but before I do, I am sadly delinquent in my review of the first book in this series – Winning Miss Winthrop – so let’s start there!
SERIES: Regency Brides – A Promise of Hope #1
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romance
RELEASE DATE: March 27, 2018
Years ago, the man who stole Catherine Winthrop’s heart rejected her–and she’s never recovered from the grief. Now tragedy has brought him back into her life. This time it isn’t her heart he’s taking, it’s her home and her family’s good name.
Jonathan Carlew’s serious demeanor and connection to trade, not to mention the rumors surrounding his birth, have kept him from being a favorite of the ladies, or their parents. Now, suddenly landed and titled, he finds himself with plenty of prospects. But his demanding society responsibilities keep pressing him into service to the one woman who captured his heart long ago–and then ran off with it.
These two broken hearts must decide whether their painful past and bitter present will be all they can share, or if forgiveness can provide a path to freedom for the future.
Set in the sumptuous salons of Bath, Regency England’s royal breeding ground for gossip, Winning Miss Winthrop is the first volume in the Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope series. Fans of the wholesome and richly drawn first series won’t want to miss this new set of characters–or appearances by their old favorites.
Bottom Line: Blissful sigh. Can that be enough of a bottom line? Because that’s all I wanted to do after I closed the book. Stare dreamily off into the distance and sigh blissfully at the delightful Persuasion-esque romance I’d just read. Catherine and Jonathan are both steady of character and strong in faith, yet societal expectations and hurt feelings keep them from having the one conversation that would have made this a very short story indeed. Which is fine with me, because that means I got to enjoy a deliciously written (full length) novel that brims with wit and swoony moments. I also love how Miller gives us both perspectives – Catherine’s and Jonathan’s – as suppressed emotions run high and hearts are laid on the line. Along with the sweet-swoon factor, there is just enough humor, flirtation, and cheekiness to keep a smile on your face from cover to cover! A must-read for fans of Austen, Heyer, Klassen, and Ladd!
And now for the main event… lol
SERIES: Regency Brides – A Promise of Hope #2
GENRE: Inspirational Historical Romance
RELEASE DATE: July 24, 2018
How can a wounded young woman ever trust a too-flirtatious earl with her heart?
With devastating scars in her past, Serena Winthrop is sure no man can be trusted—especially not a man like the too-smooth Viscount Carmichael. His reputation as a flirt and a gambler is everything she despises. And the young artist makes sure that this disreputable heir to an earldom knows of her deep disapproval whenever they encounter one another.
Henry, Lord Carmichael, is perfectly aware of his charms. He’s gambled with plenty of ladies’ hearts as easily as he has with their husbands’ money. But lately he’s wondered if there’s more to life—and if his actions might prove unworthy of an admirable wife such as his friends have found.
When Serena’s guardian asks his best friend to protect his young ward, Henry promises to be on his best behavior and not woo her. But the more he learns of her, the more he realizes she might be his best reason for changing his character.
Then the lady’s art leads her to London infamy. Now Henry must choose between the life mapped out for him as the earl apparent and the love of his life. And Serena’s secret may mean the end of his titled family line.
This second novel in a new series by internationally popular author Carolyn Miller is full of the rich historical detail and evocative writing her readers enjoy, and familiar characters make appearances here. The witty banter will continue to draw in fans of Jane Austen, Sarah Ladd, and Julie Klassen.
Can I just sit and blissfully sigh again? Because this seems to be the effect that Carolyn Miller’s books have on me. I’m immediately immersed into the setting, the characters, and their stories. And the romance, of course 😉
Miller’s characters feel as though they’ve been plucked from the background of an Austen novel and given their own chance to shine in a smart, layered and delightfully-rendered story. The people on the pages of Miss Serena’s Secret are no exception. There is Serena, who may come across as distant at first (with good reason) but in reality has a heart of gold, a heart falling for a man all kinds of wrong for her. There is Henry, a rake by reputation (some of it well-deserved) whose promise to look after Serena without wooing her is sorely tested the more he spends time with her. Henry’s sister Melanie and their grandmother are refreshing spots of light amid a society (including Henry’s parents) who are entirely too reticent, and Serena’s sister and her husband (whom we meet in Winning Miss Winthrop) add further light to the shadows. Let’s not forget the dowager Lady Winthrop, Serena and Catherine’s mother who could give Mrs. Bennet a run for her money and will be sure to have you stifling giggles more than once. And of course I cannot forget to mention Monsieur Despard, Serena’s new art master, whom I could easily imagine scurrying around his studio. Miller has done such a brilliant job drawing these characters, giving them distinct personalities, wit, heart, and sincerity.
The internal journey that Serena and Henry both find themselves on is honest and layered, the integration of faith, grace and redemption organic and heartfelt without feeling preachy or forced. Readers from all walks of life and experience will be able to relate to the hero and the heroine, for if we haven’t been exactly in their shoes we’ve felt the same anxieties and inadequacies on one level or another. As part of this internal journey they are on, their romance fits right in. Not only is it swoonworthy, with sizzles and sparks of electric chemistry and deep attraction, but the emotions behind it are complex and uncertain. This leads to some deliciously held, don’t-dare-breathe gazes and deeply felt emotions.
Bottom Line: Reading a book by Carolyn Miller is truly an immersive experience for me. The verbiage, the setting, the characters, the romance, the faith – it all draws me in until I’m lost somewhere in the Gloucestershire countryside, ear to the door while I eavesdrop on the lords and ladies in the next room. Miller gets even better with each book, and with the ending of this one I’m waiting impatiently for The Making of Mrs. Hale!
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4.5 stars / Love it!
KissingBook Level: 4 / Read from the safety of your fainting couch!
Carolyn Miller lives in New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn’s novels have won a number of RWA and ACFW contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers.
Other Books by Carolyn Miller
What about you? Which character (if you’ve already read these books) is your favorite OR which one do you most want to meet on the page?