New Read: Indiana Belle

Back in 2014, I read nostalgic romance The Mine from John A. Heldt’s Northwest Passage series. Being at the end of a long, tiring term, I was in the mood for another cosy, easy read, so I picked up Heldt’s Indiana Belle; a novel from his American Journey series.

In this book we meet a doctoral student Cameron Coelho, from Rhode Island, just as he opens a life-changing package from Indiana. Within he finds more than the private papers of society editor Candice Bell, that he hoped would help him with his dissertation on the roaring twenties, but he also finds enclosed a photograph of the beautiful Candice and clues to a century-old mystery. With the help of Geoffrey Bell, the “time-travel professor,” Cameron steps back to 1925 to the age of Prohibition, flappers, and jazz in search of love and answers.

Unlike Joel from The Mine, Cameron is an instantly likeable character as he is a kind, honest and down-to-earth chap (although he perhaps chuckles a little too much). However he is also a lonely soul. He has a few friends but no close family, after being orphaned very young and the recent deaths of his grandparents who raised him. This leaves him free of responsibility and ties to travel back in time on a mission of importance for Professor Bell, as well as a taking chance to meet the bewitching figure in the photograph. So charmed is Cameron with Candice that he desperately grapples with his conscience on whether to right a terrible wrong, when it could have dire implications for the future.

Back in 1925, Cameron travels to the rural town of Evansville, Indiana. Candice’s hometown where she is the well-known editor of the society column in the Evansville Post; she has ambitions for the crime desk though. I thought Heldt brought alive the time (one of my favourite periods) and place well – I liked the addition of the cloche hats and beaded dresses; the local drugstore selling ‘special elixirs’ and just over the river a thriving ‘speakeasy’. Under the friendly veneer though there is some tension brewing with Klan marches and an impending murder. I found myself very easily lost in it all.

Overall, I thought Indiana Belle was a highly readable, nostalgic mystery, that has nice touches of time travel and romance. In fact, I think it had all the elements I enjoyed about The Mine and none of the niggles. I look forward to reading more of Heldt’s novels. Good read.

Thank you to the author for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Any recommendations of other books set in the 1920s?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Literary Couples


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. If you love books and making lists, this is the meme for you! This week’s topic is:

All About Romance Tropes/Types

I am not a huge romance fan as a genre in its own right, but there are a fair few romances I have enjoyed within other genres. So here are my top ten favourite literary couples (listed alphabetically):

~ 1 ~

Bathsheba and Gabriel
Far From the Madding Crowd

I had to pick poor Gabriel who faithfully loves Bathsheba through out this harrowing tale and finally she wises up.

~ 2 ~

Daenerys and Drogo
A Song of Ice and Fire

In this bloody, fantasy epic these two show that even in an arranged marriage real affection can grow.

~ 4 ~

Eowyn and Faramir
The Lord of the Rings

I could have picked another more well known couple from this epic, however I have particular soft spot for these two and their overlooked romance.

~ 5 ~

Emma and Knightly

I had so many couples from Austen’s wonderful books to choose from – I went for these two as it is so funny and sweet when they finally realise they have loved each other all along!

~ 5 ~

Dracula and Mina

How could I not choose these two when their love has outlasted hundreds of years and even death?!

~ 6 ~

Katniss and Peeta
The Hunger Games

While I am not all that keen on the love triangle in this series – I am of the firm belief it should always have been these two together.

~ 7 ~

Lupin and Tonks
Harry Potter

There are also many couples I could have picked from this long series, however I have a soft spot for these two as they had to overcome a lot to get together and then it all has such a bittersweet ending.

~ 8 ~

Roland and Susan
The Dark Tower

A young, innocent love affair that has heart breaking and lasting consequences. Roland would never have been the same without her.

~ 9 ~

Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet

No literary couples list would be complete without Shakespeare’s infamous and ill-fated star-crossed lovers of Verona.

~ 10 ~

Tris and Four

Refreshingly this young adult series doesn’t have a love triangle and these two are sweet together, even when they disagree.

Who are your favourite literary couples? Also, please link your post in the comments if you have taken part in this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic too.

New Read: The Mine

The Mine

The days are dull and cold, and the nights are dark and frosty. Once my day of Christmas carols, buying presents, and cooking hot dinners is over. I am ready to tuck myself in bed with a comforting read. With this in mind I picked up The Mine by John A Heldt hoping for a cosy mystery.

The Mine introduces us to Joel Smith who in mere weeks from graduation takes a short road trip to Montana with a college friend. Curiosity gets the better of Joel while there and ignoring his friend’s protests Joel enters a deserted, old mine. After an encounter with a snake and a bump on the head Joel manages to find his way out of the mine only to find it is not 2000 anymore but instead he has been taken back to 1941. I must admit I was not expecting time travel when I started this but it was a pleasant surprise. Joel must now find a place within this strange time, handle the knowledge of the looming war and try to not alter the future.

Joel the protagonist of The Mine is not an instantly likeable character. He comes across as cocky and spoilt. The travel back in time does him some good though. As he encounters the simpler and more innocent 1940s his character softens. To reveal a kind and humble side to him. In the 1940s Joel is taken in by a kind couple and makes good friends with a group of college students. I liked meeting all these characters. My only issue would be that Joel seemed to come to terms with his situation and blend into his new life a little too easily. There was very little upset over the loss of his old life, friends and family which I thought would be a more natural reaction.

The Mine is the first novel I have read by John A Heldt. I was contacted by the author about this novel and decided to take a punt on it. I went into reading this thinking it was a mystery. While there is the mystery of how Joel time travels the novel felt more like a historical romance; albeit more recent history. I liked the setting though. Heldt has created a nostalgic and charming setting inhabited by interesting characters. The Mine might not have been a mystery but it was a cosy and slow paced read which was easy on a tired mind.

The Mine is a nostalgic romance with a pinch of mystery and time travel. You may enjoy this if you have an interest in 1940s America. Since finishing this I realised it is part of a series. I am not sure I will read more. Okay read.

Thank you to the author for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Recommendations for other 1940s literature?

The Classics Club: Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey

Mid-August brought cooler temperatures and showers to the UK. The sort of weather that is more typically associated with the British Summer. To go with the traditional weather I needed a traditional read. What could be more traditional than Jane Austen? Northanger Abbey awaited on my bookshelf as did Behind Jane Austen’s Door by Jennifer Forest on my Kindle. I thought they would be great accompanying reads.

Northanger Abbey follows the coming-of-age of Catherine Morland the daughter of a country clergyman. Catherine isn’t beautiful but she has grown fair, she is tolerable well-read and skilled in her needlework but what she really adores is to read Gothic novels! Catherine’s neighbours Mr and Mrs Allen are wealthy and without children so when Catherine turns seventeen they ask her to join them for the season in Bath. Catherine has never left the country before and is wildly excited by it all. Bath offers the promise of nights at the theatre, balls, shopping, and new friends. Catherine quickly becomes attached to a Miss Thorpe and siblings Henry and Eleanor Tilney. The two friendships are to clash though and make her time in Bath difficult. Then she is offered the perfect escape. A visit to Northanger Abbey a Gothic pile in the countryside home to the Tilneys. Catherine foresees ruins, ghosts, and mysteries galore!

The protagonist of Northanger Abbey Catherine Morland is a likeable but flawed character. With her honest heart, inexperience, and vivid imagination Catherine has a lot to learn about society and friendship. I enjoyed experiencing how Catherine grows during the story through the experiences of her two friendships. I really loved Henry and Eleanor Tilney. Eleanor is just delightful while Henry is a bit of an eccentric country gentleman but I loved him for it. There is a very amusing scene where he is spinning Catherine a tale on their journey down to the Abbey worthy of any Gothic novel. In stark contrast we have Isabella and John Thorpe who I thoroughly disliked. They are both pretentious, vain, and scheming from day one sadly naïve Catherine seems to be oblivious to it all. This is perhaps the first Austen novel where I have met characters I have truly disliked and would want nothing to do with.

Northanger Abbey is the fifth novel of Jane Austen’s I have read. I love Austen’s work. All the novels I’ve read of Austen’s have been a beautiful glimpse into a by-gone age through the eyes of young women, and Northanger Abbey was no exception. What was different though was all the references to the  Gothic romance novels of the time. Not that a young lady would wish to be caught reading one! I loved all these references and that the heroine herself was unashamedly in love with them. The other main difference I found was the rather abrupt ending. Don’t get me wrong I liked the ending but we are told in hindsight about it like a report rather than viewing it for ourselves. I can perhaps now see why Northanger Abbey was not published in Austen’s lifetime. I imagine it was not what publishers thought the public were looking for from Austen which could still ring true today. This is not a novel I would recommend you reading if you are new to Austen’s writing but well worth a go if you are already a die-hard fan.

Northanger Abbey is an enjoyable coming-of-age tale in the Regency period with a Gothic romance twist! I highly recommend to existing fans of Jane Austen. This is the 16th read off my Classics Club list. Now the only Austen novel I have left to read is Mansfield Park.

Have you read this? Are you a fan of Jane Austen?