Our mini book reviews for July include genres such as contemporary romance, literary romance fiction, urban fantasy, and historical mystery.

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning we may earn a commission if you choose to buy through our links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read our disclosure for more information. The Silver Petticoat Review owners chose every item.


To share more book recommendations and reviews, we’ve decided to start writing mini-reviews for the books we’re reading. The same goes for film and television. We’ll still write and share standalone reviews, but these monthly features allow us to write reviews and share recommendations we usually wouldn’t have the time to do! We hope you’ll find this Silver Petticoat feature useful.

To read the book reviews, you can scroll down the page, read them all, or click on the title that interests you.

A Curious Beginning (Mystery & Suspense, Romance, Historical Fiction)

A Perfect Cornish Escape (Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy, Small Town)

Clean Sweep – The Innkeeper Chronicles (Paranormal Vampire Romance, Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi)

Truly Madly Royally (YA Romance, Romantic Comedy, Clean Romance)

The Vanishing Half (Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Romance Literary Fiction)


JULY 2020 MINI BOOK REVIEWS


REVIEW ONE

A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1) By Deanna Raybourn

A Curious Beginning book cover (mini book reviews)
Amazon.com

Genres: Mystery & Suspense, Historical Fiction, Victorian Romance

Official synopsis:

The New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries returns once more to Victorian England and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell…. 

London, 1887. After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

Review (By Autumn):

Can’t get enough mystery, adventure, and slow-burn Victorian romances full of intense chemistry? A Curious Beginning is an entertaining novel with a nonstop adventure from the beginning right up to the fiery end. Not to mention, several swoony moments with excellent romantic tension. I mean, you can feel the chemistry just dripping. It’s that good.

In A Curious Beginning, it’s 1887, and Veronica Speedwell’s last known relative has died all before divulging a vital family secret. Ready to move on to her next adventure, the independent Veronica has no idea of the dangers surrounding her. That is until a brutish man attempts to kidnap her.

Thankfully, a mysterious baron saves her and takes her to London. He knew her mother and an important secret. But before he can reveal the truth, he’s murdered. And Veronica may be next. With the help of the baron’s handsome friend Stoker, Veronica sets out to find his killer. But the danger is present at every turn, and they can only trust each other.

RELATED: A MODEST INDEPENDENCE: WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS ROMANTIC VICTORIAN ADVENTURE

Occasionally, Veronica is too independent and unfeeling (particularly towards the women who raised her). Then there’s Stoker’s scientific career in Victorian taxidermy. Sometimes, it can be hard to read about him stuffing a deceased elephant. If you love animals like me, I just gloss over a couple of scenes. Still, overall, this is an addictive read full of witty banter and an immersive mystery. The Victorian setting is the cherry on top!

Adaptation Recommendation: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery Series would be perfection! There are several books in the series to adapt, a slow burn romance ideal for a long-running TV Show, and mysteries that would work seamlessly every week.

Content Note: There’s tension, innuendo, and a little violence. Nothing explicit.

OVERALL RATING

“Hello, Gorgeous.”

ROMANCE RATING

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My

feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me

to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

REVIEW TWO

A Perfect Cornish Escape (Porthmellow Harbour Series) Book Review

A Perfect Cornish Escape Cover
Amazon.com

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy, Small Town

Official synopsis:

Summer in Cornwall is the perfect time for a fresh start…

Seven years ago, Marina Hudson’s husband was lost at sea. She vowed to love him forever – but when kind-hearted Lachlan arrives in Porthmellow, should she deny herself another chance at happiness?

Tiff Trescott was living life to the full as a journalist in London – until her boyfriend’s betrayal brought it all crashing down. Fleeing to her cousin Marina’s cottage, Tiff feels like a fish out of water. And when brooding local Dirk wins a day with her in a charity auction, she’s thrown headfirst into Cornish life.

This summer promises new beginnings for both Tiff and Marina. But are they too good to be true?

Escape to Cornwall with this emotional, uplifting read from the bestselling author of A Perfect Cornish Summer and A Perfect Cornish Christmas. Perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan and Trisha Ashley.

Review (By Amber):

With all the stress in the world right now, I wanted a good, escapist read. While helping research the best books coming out in June, I discovered A Perfect Cornish Escape. Drawn to the gorgeous book cover, and the appealing title, I knew this was the book for me. Well, I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a light-hearted, engaging read full of happily-ever-afters.

The female characters and their friendship stands out as do the appealing romances. Plus, a mystery surrounding the disappearance of Marina’s husband keeps you captivated throughout. (The final third of the novel kept me reading all night until I finished.) The romance was good, playing out like an appealing romantic dramedy. My only complaint is a personal thing. Characters thinking about their lust doesn’t appeal to me, but it’s not over the top. I also think the second half is better than the first.

If you love small-town love stories, miss Poldark (a Poldark-clone set in contemporary day graces the pages of this fun read), and love stories where everyone gets what they deserve (good or bad), then you’ll probably enjoy this fluffy but emotional read. It really is the perfect escape.

Adaptation Recommendation: Porthmellow Harbour would be a fantastic limited series (A Perfect Cornish Escape comes from a book series with standalone stories) with each episode a different story. Think Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings. For this “episode,” no one other than Aidan Turner should play Dirk n Stormy. As for the rest of the cast, a variety of talented British actors would work just fine.

Content Note: This is not a clean read – two characters frequently sleep together in the book. However, it’s more fade to black than explicit. It’s a relatively straightforward PG-13-like read with some language and sensuality.

OVERALL RATING

“Hello, Gorgeous.”

ROMANCE RATING

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My

feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me

to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

REVIEW THREE

Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #1) By Ilona Andrews

Clean Sweep Book Cover (mini book reviews)
Amazon.com

Genres: Paranormal Vampire Romance, Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi

Official synopsis:

On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself.

Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina.

And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night…Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.

Review (By Autumn):

Do you love supernatural romances or urban fantasies with werewolves and vampires? Add in a galactic twist, and Clean Sweep is sure to sweep you off your feet. The writing team of Ilona Andrews (a husband and wife) are one of the best urban fantasy teams around because they know how to interweave a little romance, a whole lot of humor, mystery, and fully developed mythologies.

In Clean Sweep, Dina is a seemingly ordinary innkeeper in a small Texas town. She mostly keeps to herself. That is until mysterious killings reach her little neighborhood, and Dina wants to fight back. Of course, all with the help of the neighborhood’s new resident and handsome Steve McGarrett like werewolf.

You see, Dina is more than she seems. She’s an innkeeper with a magic broom and a powerful inn that works to protect her galactic guests. And Dina will protect them no matter what. Of course, that includes fighting mysterious beasts and helping a galactic and handsome vampire. Then there’s the ongoing mystery of what happened to her parents. They disappeared, and so did their inn. And, one day, Dina will discover the truth.

RELATED: MOONLIGHT (2007) 10TH ANNIVERSARY REVIEW – THE MOST ROMANTIC VAMPIRE SERIES OF ALL TIME?

Overall, Clean Sweep is perfect for fans of the ‘Sookie Stackhouse’ books. Plus, you can binge the four already available sequels! I’ve already finished book two. On a quick side note, I am also pleasantly surprised to root for the werewolf for the first time. That takes skills because I love vampires!

Adaptation Recommendation: I would LOVE to see The Innkeeper Chronicles get the Discovery of Witches treatment. The mythology is amazingly well developed with sweeping romance, galactic trading reminiscent of the best Sci-fi fantasy shows, and a ton of action well-suited for the small screen.

Content Note: There are a few moments of language, tension, and intense violence. (Note: I am currently in the middle of book three, and there still hasn’t been an explicit romance scene).

OVERALL RATING

“The stuff that dreams are made of.”

ROMANCE RATING

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My

feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me

to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

REVIEW FOUR

Truly Madly Royally By Debbie Rigaud

Truly Madly Royally book cover (mini book reviews)
Amazon.com

Genres: YA Romance, Romantic Comedy, Clean Romance

Official synopsis:

Zora Emerson is not here to play. She’s enrolled in a prestigious summer program, and is ready to use what she’s learning to change the world (or at least her corner of New Jersey, for now).

Zora’s not expecting to vibe with any of her super-privileged classmates. So she’s shocked to find she’s got chemistry with Owen Whittelsey, who is charming, funny, undeniably cute…and turns out to literally be a prince. As in, his parents are the king and queen of a small European country. What?

Suddenly, Zora’s summer is looking a lot more complicated — especially when Owen asks her to be his date at his older brother’s wedding. Can her feelings for Owen, not to mention her sense of self, survive the royal chaos?

Debbie Rigaud brings sparkling humor and insight to this empowering romantic comedy that’s all about ruling your own destiny.

Review (By Autumn):

Truly Madly Royally is a sweet YA romance with light, romantic, and fun moments for readers who can’t get enough Hallmark-style royal love stories. The story follows Zora, a black teenager from New Jersey who is attending a predominantly white (and prestigious) university during the summer. It’s there she accidentally meets a Prince.

After an adorable meet-cute, the two take off with each other’s phones. Of course, his security freaks out and ends up at her door. The two begin to fall in love from there.

Overall, Truly Madly Royally is a sweet book with memorable and diverse characters. Plus, this is more than just a royal romance. It’s a romance where the main character fights for herself and the underrepresented kids in her town.

While Owen, the Prince, maybe needed just a tad more development, he was still adorable if slightly dull. It’s a hopeful and uplifting book that is perfect for readers who need a break from everything serious. An excellent choice for anyone who likes The Princess Diaries and the Netflix hit, The Christmas Prince (although Truly Madly Royally is not as good as either). It’s also a fabulous choice for anyone who needs wholesome royal fluff to take to the beach!

Adaptation Recommendation: I can feel Hallmark or Netflix calling…

Content Note: Squeaky clean.

OVERALL RATING

“I think this is the beginning of a beautiful

friendship.”

ROMANCE RATING

“Happiness in marriage is entirely a

matter of chance.”

REVIEW FIVE

The Vanishing Half Book Review

The Vanishing Half Book Cover
Amazon.com

Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher via Edelweiss. All opinions are my own.

Genres: Historical Fiction, Literary Romance Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Official Synopsis:

From The New York Times-bestselling author of The Mothers, a stunning new novel about twin sisters, inseparable as children, who ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities.

Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passingLooking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise.

Mini Review (By Amber):

As an identical twin myself, I knew this was a book I had to read. And I was not disappointed. The Vanishing Half is a real page-turner about identity, racism, love, family relationships, and the secrets we keep.

Typically, it’s hard to find authentic reads about twins as people usually get twins wrong. However, the relationship between “the twins” rings true and is a rather devastating and heartbreaking book to read. However, I can’t recommend it enough. Overall, fans of American novels, historical fiction, and authors like Toni Morrison should enjoy this incredible new book by Brit Bennet.

Adaptation Recommendation: This would work best as a limited series for a streaming platform. It could also work as a feature film, premiering near award season.

Content Note: The book has some references to abuse and includes mature content and strong language sometimes. While more literary than explicit in style, just be aware.

OVERALL RATING

“The stuff that dreams are made of.”

ROMANCE RATING

“Happiness in marriage is entirely a

matter of chance.”

What books from our mini reviews interest you? Have you read any of them? Let us know in the comments!


*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning we may earn a commission if you choose to buy through our links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read our disclosure for more information. The Silver Petticoat Review owners chose every item.

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