Showing posts with label historical romance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label historical romance. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Hepburn's Necklace: Jan Moran's Beautiful, Enthralling Romantic Saga

My husband and I recently listened to the audiobook of Hepburn’s Necklace by bestselling author Jan Moran. It is a 20th-century historical romance novel that weaves together a captivating, multigenerational story of love lost and found. It effortlessly blends history, mystery, the glamour of old Hollywood, the hardships of rural Texas farming life, and the gorgeous, scenic Italian coast. We loved every minute of it, so much that I also purchased the Kindle version. Here is my book review.

Hepburns Necklace

Hepburns Necklace
Escape to the shores of beautiful Lake Como in Italy for this multigenerational historical romance
that combines the magic of the Italian coast with the glamour of Hollywood in its heyday


When costume designer Ariana Ricci discovers that her controlling bridegroom has been unfaithful, she leaves him at the altar. Her rigid, ambitious, and workaholic mother, Mari, refused to take time off to attend the wedding. Fortunately, the desolate bride finds solace with her great-aunt, glamorous Hollywood legend Ruby Raines, who whisks Ariana away from the church and off to Italy for some much-needed healing time.

Ruby has strong emotional ties to Italy, where she traveled as a teenager to work as an extra in the 1952 film Roman Holiday starring Audrey Hepburn. It’s also where she fell deeply and irrevocably in love with Niccolò, an Italian extra in the iconic movie, and was befriended by Hepburn who gifted her with the necklace that gives this novel its name. Ruby and Niccolò had pledged themselves to each other faithfully, but his sudden silence soon after Ariana’s forced return to Hollywood remains a mystery. Ruby can only assume that he must have died, the only reason she can accept that would have kept him from her. During the filming of Roman Holiday, she and Niccolò had spent a magical few days on beautiful Lago di Como (Lake Como). Now, roughly half a century later, Ruby decides to purchase Villa Fiori, a rundown but historic villa there. Lago di Como holds precious memories for the aging Ruby, and she engages Ariana’s design expertise to refurbish the villa and restore it to its former glory.

As Ariana is looking for fabrics for Villa Fiori’s makeover, she is introduced to Alesandro, the handsome, savvy, and charming owner of the silk factory that provides textiles for all the top designer fashion houses, such as Versace, Missoni, Armani, Prada, and Ferragamo. Ruby encourages her grand-niece to accept Alessandro’s invitation to go out socially. However, Ariana is a bit gun-shy after her recent, narrow escape from her untrustworthy fiancé. While redecorating the villa, as Ariana combs through some of her famous great-aunt’s keepsakes she comes across some old letters with Italian postmarks from the 1950s. However, the famous and normally effusive Ruby is surprisingly closed-mouthed when asked about their contents, and we slowly learn more of her long-held secrets as the book progresses.

The relationship between Ariana and Alessandro gradually blooms, and Ruby relives her romantic past vicariously through them, musing on the secret love of her youth and the betrayal of a trusted relative that dramatically transformed the trajectory of her life.

The more we learn about Hollywood legend Ruby Raines as the book unfolds, the more questions we have.

  • What happened to the letter in Ruby’s empty envelope that Ariana found?
  • What were Ruby’s sister’s dying wishes?
  • What is behind the estrangement between Mari and Ariana?
  • Why do Ruby and her great-niece have such a special bond?
  • Why was Ruby’s aunt Vivienne jealous of her?
  • What really happened to Ruby’s beloved Niccolò?
  • Will Ariana, Ruby, or both get a second chance at love and, if so, will they have the courage to take it?

Jan Moran’s writing is elegant and immersive, characterized by detailed descriptions and a keen sense of pacing. The dual timelines are seamlessly integrated, allowing us to move fluidly between Ruby’s present-day experiences and the historical context of her teenage and subsequent years in Hollywood. The Italian coast is depicted with lush, evocative descriptions that transport readers to the sun-drenched landscapes and quaint villages. The setting serves as a perfect backdrop for the romantic and historical elements of the story. 

Hepburn’s Necklace is a beautifully crafted novel that blends romance, history, and self-discovery into a compelling narrative. Jan Moran’s ability to evoke the magic of old Hollywood and the charm of the Italian coast makes this book a standout in contemporary romance.

This novel takes us on a long (356 pages) and winding journey that is well worth the trip. My husband and I loved it and, despite the satisfying conclusion, we were sorry to see it end. I highly recommend the audiobook, which provides nearly 13 hours of listening pleasure and is skillfully narrated by Erin Bennett. I also purchased the Kindle version as I look forward to rereading it.

The formats listed below are (in order) Kindle, audiobook, and paperback. Enjoy the ride!

Hepburn's Necklace: Jan Moran's Beautiful, Enthralling Romantic Saga by Margaret Schindel

Read More Book Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Review of Harrison Investigations

 Book Series by Heather Graham

Image of a dark forest at night

“Harrison Investigations specializes in the bizarre ~ the unexplained ~ the things that go bump in the night.:

There are those who walk among us who are no longer alive, but not yet crossed over.  They stay to seek retribution or to help or watch over and protect those they love.

Among the living, few sense their presence ~ but some can!

The Harrison Investigations Series

Adam Harrison began Harrison Investigations after his son, Josh, died. Adam started putting together a team of people to look into cases with a paranormal angle because, although he didn't have the ability, Josh did, and Adam is able to recognizes it in others who can see and talk to ghosts. 

Harrison Investigation Series book covers
Available on Amazon

Throughout this series of ten books, we meet many people, all trained as Private Investigators, who are able to see what exists in a slightly different dimension.

This series fits into several genres – mystery & thriller, suspense, fantasy, paranormal, Historical Romance and romantic suspense. Each story takes place in a different place and, quite often, we are given a history lesson from earlier times. You learn a bit about the history of the place going back to Civil War times and other events that occurred in the 1700s and 1800s. The current story is taking place in modern times, but the ghost(s) will be from the past. The ghost has stayed around to help or have a wrong righted.

Books in the Series 

Haunted - book cover
Haunted - Book 1

The series begins with Haunted, which takes place in an historic Virginia estate that dates back to the Revolutionary War. Suspecting that the house is haunted, owner Matt Stone finally allows Harrison Investigations in the form of paranormal investigator Darcy Tremayne to try and discover the truth about some strange happenings at the house.

Book #3 (Ghost Walk) finds us in New Orleans where Nikki DuMonde manages a successful haunted-tour company. Nikki doesn't scare easily until she wakes up at 4 a.m. to see her newest employee standing at the end of her bed begging for help. The next day she discovers that the employee had been killed. Nikki doesn't believe in ghosts, and no one believes her until Brent Blackhawk, a paranormal investigator able to communicate with the dead, arrives to help. 

Unhallowed Ground (Harrison Investigations Book #7) takes place in Florida where Sarah McKinley has bought an historic mansion that she has always loved.  While the house is being renovated, remains of dozens of bodies – some dating back over a century – are discovered in a wall.

Meanwhile Caleb Anderson, a P.I. With Harrison Investigations, is in town investigating several missing-person cases. He soon comes to believe that his cases are linked to Sarah's house and its dark past. Sarah and Caleb are compelled to research the history of the house to discover the truth.

For all ten books in the Harrison Investigation series, click here.


Harrison Investigation Series Volume 2

The characters in each book are always interesting and the ghosts are delightful.  There is usually a romantic interest between the main male & female characters, of course. And the historic background of each area and place is fascinating.

An interesting fact is that the Harrison Investigation Series pre-dates the Krewe of Hunters series reviewed earlier here on ReviewThisReviews. From being private investigators for Adam Harrison, the group's crime solve-rate is so good that eventually the FBI becomes interested and the Krewe of Hunters become a group of unusual FBI agents who are called upon when something complex (and usually paranormal) is going on.

I have now read my way through both series and really enjoyed them. Therefore, I recommend them to anyone interested in this type of genre. Classic paranormal romantic suspense by Heather Graham.

*Harrison Investigations Book Series reviewed by Wednesday Elf

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Reviewing The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook

Today I'm reviewing The Forgotten Village, a novel by Lorna Cook, if you're thinking that you haven't heard from this author before then I'm not surprised as this is her first novel, but she has a new novel that will be released in March 2020.

Book Review of The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook
The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook

I picked up this book as it is set in Dorset, England where I grew up and I was intrigued by the snippet on the back as it is set in the village of Tyneham where I was never able to visit, but my mother finally got to see it last year. 

This novel has two stories interweaved throughout: that of Lady Veronica in 1943 and that of Melissa set in 2018.   Tyneham is actually the 'forgotten village' mentioned in the title - although it is apparently titled The Forgotten Wife in Canada and the US which isn't as compelling a title in my opinion.

Tyneham - Real World History

Post Office Row, Tyneham, Dorset - the forgotten village requisitioned by the MoD during the second World War
Photo © David Dixon (cc-by-sa/2.0)
In 1943 the villagers of Tyneham were given a month to pack up and leave their village.   The 225 residents at the time were led to believe that they would be able to return after the war had ended.   Being a village on the coast the Ministry of Defence wanted to use the village in it's war efforts and the villagers left as patriots.

When the war ended, however, the requisitioned village was not returned to the original owners and is in fact still owned by the Ministry of Defence.   It has now been made accessible on some weekends when the Ministry of Defence isn't using it for training purposes.

Surprisingly there are several villages in the UK that suffered similar fates (I had always believed Tyneham was the only one).

Fictional Tyneham

In the book Melissa is on holiday in Dorset when she sees that the forgotten village of Tyneham is having it's grand re-opening (this never actually happened).   She visits and comes across a photograph of Lady Veronica and Sir Albert Standish (this family and the people are all fictional) which intrigues her.   She also meets a television historian (yes there is a romantic angle to the book) and they both try and find out what happened to the Standish couple as they appear to have disappeared.

The Two Stories in the Novel The Forgotten Village

This book weaves through Lady Veronica's life in 1943 as they prepare to leave the village as well as Melissa's life as she tries to find out what happened to Lady Veronica (and falls in love at the same time).

If you enjoy a little romance, glimpses of Dorset and historical novels then you will enjoy this book.   I found that although I put it down to go to bed I was lying awake wondering what had happened so much I ended up getting up again and finishing the book before going back to bed at some ungodly hour!

The only bit that I didn't really enjoy was when Melissa refers to her parent's relationship which I feel was an unnecessary aspect to the book, although I can see why the author thought it needed to be there.   Personally I got aggravated by her contemplating her parent's relationship especially as they weren't actual characters in the book.

I would definitely recommend reading this and I can't wait to see what the new book is about.

The author says this about her book -

"The Forgotten Village doesn’t attempt to delve too deeply into the intricacies of the requisition of Tyneham. I’m not sure I wanted to give readers a history lesson. Instead I hope I’ve written a well-paced story of love both lost and found, great sacrifice and how all is not forgotten even though it often appears to be. "

Meanwhile before heading to your local library or bookstore be sure to check out all of our book reviews (we do love to read on Review This Reviews!).

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”

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