Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Michelle Griep: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas

By Kelly Bridgewater

Three Delightful Christmas Tales from Beloved Storyteller Michelle Griep

Pour yourself a cuppa, get lost in the merriment of the season, and enjoy a Dickensian Christmas in three stories from fan favorite Michelle Griep:

12 Days a Bleakly Manor: Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

A Tale of Two Hearts: Pleasure seeker William Barlow needs a wife immediately to gain his uncle’s inheritance, and Mina Scott is just the girl to make him look respectable—too bad she turns him down. Ought he give her a second chance?

The Old Lace Shop: Recently widowed Bella White is finally freed from the domination of the overbearing men in her life, but when she enters into a business partnership with the handsome Edmund Archer, she begins to wonder if marriage is worth a second chance.

From Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Once Upon a Dickens Christmas

"12 Days at Bleakly Manor"

I, personally, have never read anything by Michelle Griep. I do have a number of her books downloaded to my Kindle, but I haven't had the time to read them yet. The book 12 Days at Bleakly Manor was my first introduction to Griep's writing. With the setting being in London, I was interested in the plot right away. The story is a historical romance, so I was pretty sure the historical setting with the characters would be interesting.

Griep's writing is top notch. I had no problem picturing Bleakly Manor at all. Griep sprinkled in just enough description to capture my attention as Clara and Ben moved through the house. I could feel the cold outside and imagine that I was belonged in the house during the twelve days of Christmas. She did a great job at inviting me into the Manor just like she did her characters.

The characters were interesting too. I loved the strange cast of characters that she used to tell her story. All of them were different, but each one of them had their own vices that made them stand out. I loved seeing Clara and Ben interact after so much trials and misunderstanding which had affected their relationship. They were a nice couple to watch as they loved blossomed after their misunderstanding came to light.

As for the plot, it did remind me of the 1980's movie Clue, but with a British Christmas twist. I enjoy the mystery. The entire time I couldn't wait to meet who the master of the house was. Griep did a great job at intertwining the mystery into the Christmas story. When I started the novel, I was drawn in right away to the plot. I had a hard time believing it was a novella. Most novellas feel short and not fully developed, but I didn't feel this way with Griep's novel. It felt complete, and I really can't wait for the next addition. Next fall seems too far away.

Overall, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor captured my interest because of the mystery, London setting, and the Christmas time of the year. I highly recommend this book to fans of Charles Dickens and fans of  a good mystery. I can't wait to see what the next book entails.

I received a complimentary copy of 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep from Barbour Books, but the opinions stated are all my own.
(A previous review of the individual novella.)

"A Tale of Two Hearts"

Christmas. London. Victorian era. What could be the better makings for a novel? Maybe some suspense. But Michelle Griep creates a wonderful short story that fits in with the makings of a true Dicken's novel. I enjoyed the first book in the series entitled 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on A Tale of Two Heart too. Boy, am I glad I did. The story comes to life and brings the good feelings that Christmas brings only a couple of months earlier.

I really enjoy traveling to London during the Victorian age with Griep. She wove together a timeless love story filled with intrigue and romance. I loved how well-described Griep make London. I have never been there, but she did a wonderful job at bringing London from a long time ago to life. She dove into the characters personalities and allow me to see how the characters feel and perceive things.

The plot kept me spellbound. The top item on my bucket list is to visit London during the Christmas time. I loved how Griep created a story with a fake marriage to win an inheritance from an uncle. The competition between the two cousins captured my imagination. I couldn't wait to see how the story ended. I finished the novel in under a day. It didn't feel like a novella because Griep does a good job at diving into the characters and intermingling them with the plot.

The romance was not the typical Victorian romance. I mean, what girl allows herself to pretend to be someone marriage to help them earn an inheritance? What does she get out of it? Slowly, through all the conflicts and moments that could have blown their cover, the romance between Mina and William blossomed into true love.

The theme of second chances is created and fulfilled by the uncle and passed onto his nephews. What person does not need a second, or even a third or fourth chance from their past mistakes or encounters?

In conclusion, TheTale of Two Hearts is a wonderful, Christmas-type of feeling story. With a different type of plot, Griep captures my attention by creating another keeper for the shelf. I anxiously await the next installment in the story, which is teased at in the final pages of the book. Fans of Johanna Davidson Politano would enjoy this novel.

I received a complimentary copy of A Tale of Two Hearts by Michelle Griep from Barbour Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.
(A previous review of the individual novella.)

"The Old Lace Shop"

"The Old Lace Shop" is a wonderful Christmas feel-good story telling the horrors of working conditions in Victorian London. I really enjoyed the inside look at the horrors of the tiny detailed work of Lace making and the old factories that used to produce them. The plus side to Griep's story is that she didn't just show the horrors inside the factory; she also showed us the horrors of the town surrounding the factory. The low wages and low hours affected the employees, the bosses, and the community. I enjoyed this glimpse into Victorian London's life. I did enjoy the characters of Edmund and Ms. White. The romance between the two really didn't sparkle on the pages. There were hints of their past love coming the surface, and enjoyed that. Edmund was more focused on working on orders for the factory while Ms. White wanted to make a better world for the less fornuate. This was a great story in favor of Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol, and I think it was a great addition to the collection and  a wonderful story to read for Christmas.

I received a complimentary copy of Once Upon a Dickens Christmas by Michelle Griep from Barbour Publishing, but the opinions stated are all my own.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

About the Author:

Michelle Griep
From Amazon
I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I've been writing since I discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write--except for that graffiti phase I went through as teenager. (Taken from Amazon.)

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