High tea at the Ritz-Carlton isn’t an everyday occurrence for me, as you can probably imagine. And yet, my dear friend Kit felt it was important to treat me for my birthday. She was such a sweet lady, always thinking of others and always giving of herself.
Having tea in such a posh environment was quite a delightful experience, especially with the beautiful Southern California coast just outside. However, I don’t really recollect much about the actual food served and can’t really even picture the inside of the tea room. My memories are more about the time spent with delightful company. . .
A Tale of Two Hearts
by Michelle Griep
Series: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas #2
Published by Shiloh Run Press
Publication Date August 15, 2018
Genres: Christmas, Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Clean Romance
Setting: England Victorian Era – UK – 1837 – 1901
Written for: Adults
London, 1853: Innkeeper’s daughter Mina Scott will do anything to escape the drudgery of her life, for there’s nothing more mundane than serving customers day after day. Every minute she can, she reads and dreams of someday becoming a real lady—and catch the eye of William Barlow, a frequent guest at the inn.
William is a gentleman’s son, a charming but penniless rogue. However, his bachelor uncle will soon name an heir—either him or his scheming cousin. In an effort to secure the inheritance, William gives his uncle the impression he’s married, which works until he’s invited to bring his wife for a visit.
William asks Mina to be his pretend bride, only until his uncle names an heir on Christmas Day. Mina is flattered and frustrated by the offer, for she wants a true relationship with William. Yet, she agrees. . .then wishes she hadn’t. So does William. Deceiving the old man breaks both their hearts. When the truth is finally discovered, more than just money is lost.
Can two hearts survive such deception?
I would like to thank Celebrate Lit, Netgalley for giving me this copy of the book. This gift did not influence my opinion or review.
Mina had such big dreams and had only ever imagined what it would be like to experience treats in a posh tea room. She had read plenty of books and so she was able to picture it, however, she never expected to actually experience such luxuries herself.
Though he was no longer the rogue he had been, a simple misdirection with his words had his uncle believing he had married – and now he needed to produce a wife in order to be considered as the man’s heir.
I appreciated that while neither Mina nor Will felt lying was something acceptable to do, they both got caught up in the lie to his uncle. Will’s desire to benefit from his uncle’s estate was more selfless than it would seem. His reason was actually quite noble. Convinced it would only be a one-time occurrence, they rationalized the deception. That was before they stumbled upon a devious plot that compelled them to perpetuate the ruse. Oh no!
This lovely story had fun twists and turns and had a surprise ending. There were several delightfully despicable characters to add an appropriate amount of interest. It was not the adventure/mystery that The Innkeeper’s Daughter or The Captured Bride were, but it was still quite enjoyable. The lesson learned was not as much about the importance of telling the truth as it was about being content in whatever state you find yourself.
I loved reading about the small secret society Mina was a part of (they had been unfortunate in their choice to make it for single women as their numbers continued to dwindle as the ladies married!) Learning a bit about the deplorable conditions in the health facilities was not necessarily new yet it was something I had forgotten about.
Perhaps I was influenced by the previous books I’ve read by this author, but it seemed like I was immersed in Dickens’ London from the very first line of the story. Mina loved Dickens’ writing and was constantly absorbed by one of his works.
Victorian Christmas Foods
by Michelle Griep
So, it’s September, and you know what that means? It’s back to school. Pumpkin spiced everything is just around the corner. And it’s nearly time for cardigans and colored leaves. But besides all these autumn staples, it’s also time to start thinking about Christmas, because it will be here before you know it. How about this year you plan ahead to serve some traditional Victorian food?
In my newest release, A Tale of Two Hearts, the heroine’s father is known for his annual oyster stew that he serves on Christmas Eve. Here’s a bit of the background on that tasty soup.
Victorian Oyster Stew
Oysters have been savored in Britain since the days of the Romans. By Victorian times, industrialization cheapened oysters to the point of them becoming a staple of the poor man’s diet and were a frequent fare served in public houses. This, however, depleted their abundance, and by the mid 1800’s, the natural oyster beds became exhausted, making it harder to find good oysters. While other foods were served as well on Christmas Eve, oyster stew was as common as goose or turkey.
Another Victorian favorite that goes great on a crisp evening is good ol’ hot chocolate, though in Dickens’ England, it would’ve been called something else.
What we now call cocoa or hot chocolate was called drinking chocolate in the mid 1800s. This beverage was a favorite among Victorian ladies. You can find recipes for it even from the Regency era (early 1800s) and here is one for you to make at home.
And last, but not least, who hasn’t heard of Christmas pudding? To our American ears, that sounds like a tasty dish that you’d eat with a spoon and slap a little whipped cream on top. Actually, it’s more like a fruit cake.
Christmas pudding is quite a production, one that begins well before Christmas Day. In fact, it begins on Stir-Up Sunday, the last Sunday before Advent (which is five weeks before Christmas). This is why when Mina, the heroine in A Tale of Two Hearts, returns home from dinner at Uncle Barlow’s, and though it’s not yet Christmas, she sees the pudding moulds on the kitchen table.
If these tastes and the accompanying smells still aren’t quite enough to get you in the Christmas spirit, then snatch yourself up a copy of the second book in the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series. A Tale of Two Hearts is sure to get you in the mood.
Michelle's A Tale of Two Hearts Pinterest Board(click here to go directly to the board on Pinterest)
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To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d4ef/a-tale-of-two-hearts-celebration-tour-giveaway