A Sham Betrothal Review

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Paris, 1774. He can win her freedom, but can she win his heart?

With Sophie Twisden’s grandmother laid up with an illness, causing them to withdraw from the Paris social scene, the pompous Sheldon Cholmsley appoints himself as Sophie’s “protector.” Protector? Ha! More like tormentor. So when her new friend Basile Gervain offers her the protection of his name and promises he will not allow harm to come to her reputation when she breaks their sham betrothal and returns to London, she has little hesitation in accepting.

What once was an unthinkable notion—to align herself with a foreigner—becomes more and more the desire of her heart as she discovers how closely shared are their thoughts and sentiments. Now that it is time to leave Paris and put an end to their act, she wishes she might remain and become Madame Gervain in earnest. But what use is it to harbor a secret hope that he will declare his undying love, when he only proposed out of convenience in the first place?

A Sham Betrothal is a clean & wholesome 18th century romance novella, written in the traditional style.

Other books in the Georgians in Paris Series:


Jennie Goutet is the best-selling author of twelve Regency romances, including the Clavering Chronicles, Memorable Proposals, and Daughters of the Gentry series. Her books have received first place in historical romance for the New England Reader’s Choice Awards and have hit the number one spot in Regency Romance on Amazon. They have been featured on BookBub and Hoopla, and are translated into five languages. Jennie is an American-born Anglophile who lives with her French husband and their three children in a small town outside of Paris. Her imagination resides in Regency England, where her best-selling proper Regency romances are set. You can learn more about Jennie’s books and sign up for her newsletter on her author website at JennieGoutetBooks.com.


Sophie Twisden quickly realizes that Sheldon Cholmsley as expectations after escorting her and her grandmother to France. When a new acquaintance, Basile Gervain, offers to be her protector and promises that no harm will come to her reputation, Sophie jumps at the chance. As Sophie and Basile come to know each other they realize that their sham betrothal might not be such a sham after all. 

A Sham Betrothal draws the reader in with likeable characters that go against the expected and do the unexpected. This fun romance will keep readers on their toes as they watch the main characters navigate their relationship and deal with the foes around them. The story is cute, clean, and well-researched. The story also shares what was fashionable during the time, history of the time, and favorite iconic shops and locations. I love the "French" vibes in this book and the mention of iconic places like the Cafe Procope, the Palace of Versailles, visiting gardens, pastry shops and more. I enjoyed the romance, but the setting and its descriptions were also well-worth the read. It's definitely something I would want to revisit before my next visit to France. To learn more about this fun romance, click here.

Please note that I received a free ebook to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links.

How to Make a Sandwich Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Wednesday, May 22, 2024


How to Make a Sandwich

Written and Illustrated by Lorena M. Proia
Ages 4+ | 32 Pages
Publisher: PnM Publishing | ISBN-13: 979-8-9885730-0-5

Publisher’s Book Summary: Making a sandwich is fun and easy! And Rae knows just how to do it. The bread is like the parents, it keeps the sandwich safe and happy. The turkey is the love, the lettuce is the fun. But every time Rae adds an ingredient, it disappears, and she soon realizes there is a sandwich-stealing thief intent on eating her creation! Will Rae ever get to eat her lunch? Suddenly making a sandwich isn’t so easy after all!

Available for purchase on Amazon or the Author's website.


When Lorena M. Proia graduated with a BFA from Rochester Institute of Technology in Graphic Design and Painting, she never imagined she’d become an Information Architect in high-tech. She thought her creativity was lost until she was rescued by an Australian Shepherd named Phebe. Inspired by Phebe’s antics, her drawings became Phebe-n-Me, a t-shirt company, which grew up to become a children’s book! How to Make a Sandwich is her first picture book.

You can find out more about her, Phebe, and her books at www.lorenaproiabooks.com, Instagram, Facebook.


Life Is What It's Called - What do you want readers to know about you?

Lorena M. Proia - I’m a huge animal lover with 2 cats, 2 dogs and a horse. I also compete with my dogs in a sport known as Dog Agility. 

Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write this story?

Lorena M. Proia - After losing my first dog, Phebe, I was heartbroken. Drawing her and remembering her silly antics helped heal my heart. The initial drawings were more cartoon-like, and from those, I made humorous T-shirts and sold them so that I could spread the joy she brought me. It made me feel good to know that Phebe was still making people laugh, but after a while, I felt that there was so much more to tell than a T-shirt could ever convey. So, I decided to write a story about the time she really did steal the turkey off of my sandwich. It literally happened the way I tell it in the story. Nothing was disturbed, and I thought, 'Oh, that’s strange. I could’ve sworn I put the turkey on the bread.' That initial story was revised many times, and it took several different forms, but I always held true to the main kernel of the story: how she deftly stole my turkey without making a sound or moving the slightest thing out of place. And with me standing right there! TWICE!

Life Is What It's Called -What do you want children to learn from this story?

Lorena M. Proia - I think there are a few things children could learn, and if they were to come away with any one of them, I’d be very happy.

First, I hope they learn that it doesn’t matter how your family is configured or what the “ingredients” of your family are; it’s the love that defines it. The second lesson is that no matter how frustrated or upset you feel, when you take a moment and listen to your heart, those negative emotions will melt away.

Both of those lessons, however, roll into a third that I hope is the main takeaway, which is that it all comes down to love and that’s the most important thing of all.

Life Is What It's Called -How is this book different from the other books on the market?

Lorena M. Proia - I think the majority of books out today are wonderful, but I do think that my book is different than a lot of what’s in the market today. It focuses purely on storytelling without veering into any polarizing agendas. It’s just a story about a girl, her dog, family and love. This allows readers from all backgrounds to enjoy the narrative without feeling alienated or bombarded with specific viewpoints. While it sounds simple, the feedback from parents is that it imparts a quiet yet powerful lesson. 

Life Is What It's Called -Are the characters in the book based off on your own life?

Lorena M. Proia - Yes, they are!

Nero was my first cat as an adult, and Phebe was my first dog. As a child, my nickname was Ray, so I played off of that for the girl’s name. The character of Rae was developed entirely from imagination. Although she bears no resemblance to me, I did lend her the bangs and ponytail I once sported as a child. Otherwise, she embodies all of those precocious little girls out there with the big attitude that I find so endearing. The character of Phebe, on the other hand, is all Phebe. She was full of mischief and love from the day I brought her home, and everything about the character is her.

The drawing of the father is based on a cartoon drawing I used to doodle of my own dad when I was a teenager. However, my mom’s features didn’t lend themselves to a cartoon format, so the book’s mother looks nothing like my real mother. Instead, I decided I wanted the mother to resemble Rae.

Life Is What It's Called - How many books do you anticipate for this series?

Lorena M. Proia - I have three more books planned, so I hope there will be at least four books in total. Who knows, maybe more!


Enter for your chance to win this amazing prize package:

  • A signed copy of How to Make a Sandwich
  • A set of Phebe-n-Me t-shirts (1 child and 1 adult size)
  • A gorgeous set of 12 blank note cards featuring Phebe-n-Me designs

How to Make a Sandwich: Book Giveaway

This post is sponsored by Lorena M. Proia. The review and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.

Highcliffe House Book Review

Friday, May 17, 2024

1813, Brighton, England

When Anna Lane offered her heart to Alexander Lennox, she did not expect to learn he had secretly promised his suit to another. Hurt and embarrassed, Anna begs her father to take her to the seaside where she can escape the gossip of the ton and recover, but her father insists they remain in London so he can attend to some business. Feeling the sting of rejection again, Anna longs for the day when she can dictate her own future and find a companion who will love her for who she is.

Born into modest circumstances, Graham's hard work and ability to spot a good investment has allowed him to provide for his mother and younger sisters. Now, with a new opportunity in his sights, Graham approaches Mr. Lane, his business partner and mentor, hoping to persuade him to travel to Brighton to close the deal. Graham must act fast or else he might lose his chance to turn his meager earnings into permanent financial stability.

To Graham's relief, Mr. Lane is interested in his proposal, but he counters with one of his own. He has business elsewhere, so Anna--whom he trusts with his business affairs--will accompany Graham to Brighton, and if she gives a good report, he will invest. Both Anna and Graham hesitate. Though they have a passing acquaintance through Anna's father, the two have never truly got along. Anna feels that Graham is only interested in money, while Graham feels that Anna is stubborn and self-absorbed.

The two reluctantly travel to Brighton together, and Anna is determined to find fault with every inch of the seaside town--including Graham. She is tired of feeling like a pawn being moved about by other people's desires. But while staying at Highcliffe House and seeing the kind and gentle way Graham treats his family, Anna wonders if there is more to her rival than she thought.

But it will take more than a day at the beach for these two headstrong hearts to admit that if they set aside their misconceptions about each other and be vulnerable enough to share their true selves, they might have a chance at real love.

Megan Walker was raised on a berry farm in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, where her imagination took her to times past and worlds away. While earning her degree in Early Childhood Education, she married her one true love and started a family. But her imaginings of Regency England wouldn't leave her alone, so she picked up a pen. And the rest is history. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her husband and three children.

Anna Lane wants to escape a suitor after learning more about him. Part of her plan to escape is to convince her father to take her to the seaside. Her father has other plans and Anna Lane finds herself stuck spending time in Brighton with her father's business associate, Graham. Graham and Anna detest each other and have misconceptions about one another. Will they be able to find common ground?

In the beginning of Highcliffe House, Megan Walker makes William Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew references and reinvents the essence of the play into something completely new. Anna Lane comes off at first as a bit "shrewish" and begins to be "tamer" as she gets to know Graham and Graham gets to know her. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It was light-hearted and funny. The author does a good job at making the book have unexpected scenes and twists. The book focused on character development with several scenes that helped the characters come to realizations. Overall, I thought this was a clever romance and I think it's one of my top favorites that I read this year. To learn more, click here.

Please note that I received a free copy to review, however, this is my honest opinion. This post contains affiliate links that help support this blog.

1-2-3 A Deep Breath for Me Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Tuesday, May 14, 2024


1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me
Written by Hillary Harper
Illustrated by Felipe Calv
Ages 3-8 | 38 Pages
Publisher: Cannoli & Co. Books | ISBN-13: 9798988363637

Publisher’s Book Summary: Meet Mack, the pup with emotions as big as his paws! At times, Mack finds himself overwhelmed by his feelings. His stomach is filled with butterflies, his legs grow wobbly, and he feels short of breath. Thankfully, Mack has his trusty sidekick, Gertie, to guide him through the tough times. Together, they explore ways to manage and overcome these powerful emotions.

Through Mack’s journey, children can learn breathing exercises, visualization techniques, and other self-regulation activities that can be practiced in their daily lives.

Available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Bookshop.org.


Hillary Harper has worked in the field of early childhood education since 2006. During this time she has worked as an elementary and preschool teacher, academic designer, and preschool/center director.

Her love of children’s books helped launch her book company, Cannoli & Co. Books, in 2023. Cannoli & Co. Books bring engaging, timeless, and creative stories to children and adults alike. The company is named after Hillary’s “best boy”, an English cream golden retriever named Cannoli. He and his canine brothers and sisters are the inspiration for her funny stories.

Hillary is a native of Ohio. She has three teenage daughters, who also inspire her on a daily basis. She is a second generation teacher and writer, following in the footsteps of her parents. Outside of her professional life, Hillary enjoys spending time gardening, taking care of her house plants, and going on adventures.

Learn more about Hillary and her book company at cannolicobooks.com. Follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/cannolicobooks.


Life Is What It's Called - What's your background in writing?

Hillary Harper - I began crafting short stories during my college years out of a passion for reading and children's literature. While I lack formal writing education, my daily exposure to children's books as a preschool director has greatly enhanced my skills in crafting children's literature.

Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write 1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me?

Hillary Harper - The idea for this book was sparked by our family dog, Mack, who struggles with anxiety. We've experimented with various methods to help him relax. Alongside our dog, I aimed to tackle the rise in anxiety among children post-pandemic. The goal was to develop a fresh picture book centered on imparting self-regulation skills and calming strategies to children experiencing anxiety.

Life Is What It's Called - What message will readers learn from this book?

Hillary Harper - Through Mack's journey, kids can learn beneficial breathing exercises, visualization techniques, and various self-regulation activities to integrate into their daily schedules. They will grasp the concept that intense emotions will eventually fade and are not permanent. Additionally, they will discover the comforting effect a friend can have on their well-being.

Life Is What It's Called - How is this book different from others on the market?

Hillary Harper - This book stands out from other anxiety and calming technique books as it is narrated from a dog's point of view. I selected this approach because pets are highly relatable to children. Dogs have a unique way of sensing emotions and providing comfort to those in need. In this book, the dog narrator shares valuable insights on how to cope with anxiety and find inner peace. Through the eyes of a loyal and understanding companion, children can learn important calming techniques that are easy to understand and apply in their daily lives. By connecting with the perspective of a beloved pet, young readers can feel supported and encouraged as they navigate their own feelings and experiences. This book aims to not only help children manage anxiety but also foster empathy, companionship, and a deeper understanding of the world around them.

Life Is What It's Called - How do you see this book being used in classrooms?

Hillary Harper - I aim for this book to serve as a tool for teaching children self-regulation skills and as a comforting story for them during emotional moments. My hope is that they can use the rhyme (1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me) as a new calming technique used in the classroom for all of the students.

Life Is What It's Called - What else do you want readers to know about you?

Hillary Harper - I am creating a journal to accompany this story. It will feature a section where children can draw, write, and reflect on their emotions. Additionally, there will be coloring pages and engaging activities to help children channel their focus during times of anxiety. I'm currently writing my third book, which revolves around a playful cat and her closest companion. Together, they use their creativity to unravel the mystery behind why the cat brings piles of leaves to her owners daily. The story is inspired by my friend's famous Instagram cat, Mary.


Enter the giveaway for the chance to win a copy of 1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me, signed by Hillary Harper as well as a children’s journal companion to the book.

1-2-3, A Deep Breath for Me: Book Giveaway

This post is sponsored by Hillary Harper. The review and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.

Else B. In the Sea Virtual Book Tour, Review, and Giveaway

Friday, May 3, 2024


Else B. in the Sea: The Woman Who Painted the Wonders of the Deep
Written by Jeanne Walker Harvey
Illustrated by Melodie Stacey
Ages 5-7 | 32 Pages
Publisher: Cameron Kids/ Abrams Books | ISBN-13: 9781949480283

Publisher’s Book Summary: A poetic picture book biography about a daring and pioneering woman artist that combines themes of art and science. A perfect STEAM book!

Else Bostelmann donned a red swimsuit and a copper diving helmet and, with paints and brushes in hand, descended into the choppy turquoise sea off the coast of Bermuda. It was 1930, and few had ventured deep into the sea before. She discovered a fairyland six fathoms below the surface—fantastic coral castles, glittering sunbeams, swaying sea plumes, and slender purple sea fans. And fish! Flashy silverfish, puckering blue parrotfish, iridescent jellyfish. Else painted under the sea! She painted what she saw with her own eyes.

Back on land, Else painted the never-before-seen deep-sea creatures described by world-renowned scientist William Beebe on his momentous 1930s bathysphere expeditions for the New York Zoological Society’s Department of Tropical Research. It was a daring and glamorous adventure and a dream come true for Else B., who shared this new, unfathomable world with humankind.

Available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org.


Jeanne Walker Harvey is the author of many award-winning picture books, including Boats on the Bay, as well as the well-received picture book biographies Ablaze with Color: A Story of Painter Alma Thomas and Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines. She lives in Sonoma, California.

For more information, visit the author's website, Instagram, Twitter and/or Pinterest


Melodie Stacey is a fine artist and illustrator whose work can be found in the picture book Beautiful Useful Things. She lives in Brighton, United Kingdom.


In this picture book biography, Else Bostelmann dons a copper diving helmet to look at under-the-sea life and paint about it. This book teaches kids about science and art through a biography. I like that this book teaches kids about so many different things within one picture book. Readers will learn that scientists used artists to observe and draw animal life that they couldn't take pictures of. Readers will also learn that science and art can work cohesively. I also really like that this book shows a strong female role model for young girls. The storytelling in this book is excellent and tells a biography in a creative way that kids will find enjoyable and interesting. I could see this book used in a home or school setting. It's very versatile for a school setting in that it could be used to teach kid's biography, art, or science. The art for the book is done in the style of Else Bostelmann and kids can learn about the techniques that she used and her artistic style. I would recommend this book for young readers. I can't wait to see what the author does next.


Enter the giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of Else B. in the Sea: The Woman Who Painted the Wonders of the Deep! Prizes include a class set of 30 books, swag like an Else Bostelman painting on a bookbag and notebook, stickers, and signed/customized bookplates.

Else B. in the Sea: Book Giveaway

This post is sponsored by Jeanne Walker Harvey. The review and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view. Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to share my opinion. This post contains an affiliate link.
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