Book Review: A Gilded Lady

A Gilded Lady
Hope & Glory #2
by Elizabeth Camden

My rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: Historical Christian romance

Spoiler notice: The following review will contain some spoilers for the first book in the trilogy, The Spice King.

Caroline Delacroix’s job isn’t an easy one, as secretary to a difficult first lady, but it’s an important one. Being at Ida McKinley’s beck and call is the least Caroline can do if it means she might be able to secure a presidential pardon for her twin brother. Luke is in prison in Cuba, charged with treason, and Caroline will do anything she can to help him. Unfortunately, this puts her at odds with the newly appointed head of security for the president, Nathaniel Trask. Though he’s taken by Caroline’s wit and beauty, he can’t trust the sister of a traitor to the country.

I liked both of the main characters in this book, and I really liked reading the fictionalized history of President and Mrs. McKinley at this time of his presidency. It was interesting to go along on their cross-country train tour. I also enjoyed the continuation of the story of Luke in prison in Cuba that began in the first book in this series. The story overall was good, but I didn’t find it as engaging as the first book in the series. I also had some issues along the way that brought the rating down for me.

The first thing that bothered me was that certain events in this story didn’t seem to match up well with the previous book. There’s some overlap in time, though it’s a bit difficult to follow, because time passes in jumps now and then in this book. Still, there’s a scene in the previous book that involves both MCs in this book, and the timing of how things are discovered in this book just don’t mesh with that scene. I kept trying to figure out how the two stories lined up, timing-wise, and it was distracting. I also noticed some inconsistencies in Luke’s behavior later in the book that I can’t explain without spoiling things.

The dialog continues to be fairly modern in this series, but I’m not personally bothered by it. After reading the first book, I thought the story of Luke that began there would encompass the entire series, the third then focusing on him, but just from the synopsis of the third book, one can see that’s not the case. My initial desire to read this entire trilogy is a little diminished by the way his story arc played out in this book, but I still want to read his story. This book may have been a little bit of a let-down to me after how much I loved the first one, but I have a feeling most of it is personal preference and that other fans of Christian or historical romance will still enjoy it.

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Book Review: The Spice King

The Spice King
Hope & Glory #1
by Elizabeth Camden

My rating: 4.5 / 5
Genre: Historical Christian romance

When Annabelle Larkin is tasked with getting access to the plant collection of the Delacroix spice company, she is rebuffed by the man in charge, Gray Delacroix. Success in this endeavor is the only way that Annabelle can assure a long-term position at the Smithsonian, though, which is crucial to her own future, as well as the future of her family back in Kansas. She won’t give up easily. But neither will Gray, who is determined to keep his secrets under lock and key. He has his own family to worry about–a brother who seems to only want to float through life doing nothing productive and a sister who knows how to spend money. Enemies are everywhere, but Gray is ready to trust someone. He’s just not sure if Annabelle is that person.

This is my favorite kind of romance book–one that’s not just about the romance. There’s so much more going on than the synopsis shows. It seemed at first that Annabelle would be more of the focal point of the story, but really it was Gray. His family, his empire, his desire to stop traveling and settle down, and the way that so much of that gets thwarted, I really got caught up in his story. But that doesn’t leave Annabelle on the sidelines. She’s in Washington with her blind sister, helping her navigate the streets and life, and I loved how that side of the story went too.

This is the first book of 3 in the series, and it sets up what appears to be a plot running through all three when a scandal in Gray’s family is exposed. While that could have been a downfall for the story, this grand plot that isn’t very connected to or even resolved in this book, that’s not the case at all. It works, and rather than leaving me disappointed at the lack of resolution, it made me look forward to seeing it all play out.

While at times, the dialog was a bit too modern, it didn’t bother me much. My biggest issue is with a small spot of theology that could imply that one must work to earn salvation. However, I couldn’t quite tell if that was the message there, or if it was more that the person in question was working toward the surrender needed in order to accept the gift of salvation from Jesus, but hadn’t taken the final step yet. It was brief and vaguely expressed. I’ll have to keep an eye out for that as I continue this series, because I do not endorse a works-based salvation. With that in mind, I do recommend this book for all fans of Christian or historical romance.

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