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Ratings and Book Reviews (5 6 star ratings
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    Another great book from Carolyn Miller

    Well, this was a lovely book. Carolyn Miller became one of my favourite Regency authors with her first series, and this second series is proving to be just as good. I love her rich plots full of historical detail, witty dialogue and treatment of flawed, yet sympathetic characters. Plus, the faith elements are woven seamlessly into the story without appearing too preachy. This story followed Serena, the younger sister of Katherine Winthrop from the last story, and the male protagonist is one of Johnathan Curlew 's (the hero from that story) friends. Henry, Viscount Carmichael. I won't call him a rake, he seemed to be more of a lovable rogue at the beginning. He's a struggling nobleman commissioned by his friend John to look out for his young sister in law, Serena. She's supposed to be very young. No more than about 18 or 19, or something, and recently escaped an unfortunate situation involving a sleazy Art Teacher.. Serena is a talented artist: although her negative experience and the censure of society leave her unsure of her vocation. Many adventures, rendenvous, polite dinners and society functions later, and of course Serena and Henry (one of my favourite names), are in love, but there's much keeping them apart. Henry's estate is struggling, his father threatens to disown him if he does not marry the person he wants, and Serena wants nothing to do with a man who gambles: nor does she believe he can ever trust a man again. Although Henry is very sweet, kind and reaches out to her with acceptance, and introduces her to his family. His sister and her two lovable children: lovable and typically forthright, who immediately ask of their new friend is going to marry their favourite Uncle. The title, in some sense refers to 'secrets' or rather the difficulties that have to be overcome on both sides,. Henry's problems are not a 'secret' per se, but he wants to change to earn the love of a good woman: and because he knows he's not the man he wants to be. He needs to grow up and face the responsibility of running his estate, only to be faced with illness in his family. Again, there were shades of the Classics, and Austen here: but the novel is not just aping them. Its an independent creation. As before, I loved how the landscape and details about the region were used in this story: in this case its a mention of a local stone, a type of Agate which is only found in parts of the county of Derbyshire. One would almost not believe the author is, in fact, Australian. The only minor niggle that I had (which other reviewers have pointed out), is some uncertainty over the precise details of certain events relating to Serena, and a hint at some behaviour on the part of Henry which did not seem consistent with the way he was presented in the story before. I just could not really believe he had done such a thing before his reformation. Also, younger readers might need to be aware of a couple of scenes towards the end relating to adult themes, and the consummation of marriages. There is nothing graphic, but might be a bit embarrassing for some. Overall though, this was another wonderful story and addition to the latest series. I downloaded an ebook of this title courtesy of Kregel Blog Tours and was not required to write a positive review, all opinions expressed are my own.
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    Miller's Magic Continues...

    Carolyn Miller always manages to enchant me, and this is no exaggeration. There is a sincerity in her writing that makes it so endearing. This is a story with many twists and turns, some surprises and yes, the secret. To be honest, it took me a while to actually figure out what exactly the secret was from the many elements of Serena's side of the story, but it is quite interesting going through all the aspects of it. And of course, this is a story of Hope, which is evident in both Serena and Harry's hearts. Plot wise, it is not very complex, I felt. Character development is significant, especially in the case of Harry. It is the story of accepting the other person as they are with all their aspects as well as changing for the sake of becoming worthy of someone. Two contrary aspects, but well blended in the story. Overall, as always, I found Miller's book a delight to read. Her writing has a certain charm, her characters are well rounded and human, period details exceptional and writing engaging with a distinct wit. I admire her way of conveying emotions, of feelings. I have been a fan since I read the first page of The Elusive Miss Ellison, and I believe I always shall remain one!
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    Miss Serena's Secret by Carolyn Miller

    Miss Serena’s Secret #2 A Promise of Hope by Carolyn Miller Miss Serena’s Secret is set in 1817 Regency England where we get better acquainted with Serena Winthrop than in the first book in the series, Winning Miss Winthrop. I was not sure about Serena in that book but as her story unfolds, she soon became a favorite character; one I felt compassion for in her mysterious ailment. . .abdominal migraine (which is a sub-type of migraine), as I suffer from chronic migraines I can relate to her debilitating pain. In addition to her ailment, she has been wounded in the past and as such does not trust men in general, especially smooth charmers with a “not so nice” reputation (to put it politely) like the Viscount Henry Charmichael. I love that she is true to her convictions, faith and standards and does not hesitate to vocalize them on the occasions that warrant outspokenness. Henry often finds himself on the receiving end of that outspokenness and cool look, rightly so on most occasions. I enjoyed watching Henry as he interacts with Serena and as he takes a good long look at his life and finally realizes that the reputation he has is not one he wants any longer. I guess you could say, he grew up, however it is far more than that (I won’t say more and spoil anything). I also enjoyed watching as his faith grew, which has a huge impact on everything in his life. Serena’s new art master, Monsieur Despard, was a delight to watch as he instructs Serena in her craft and the way he “flitted” around the studio. He certainly is her advocate, one she sorely needs. I appreciate the way Carolyn Miller handles some sensitive and distressing subjects and in a way that fits the era. I understand that in ‘genteel circles’ of the time these subject matters were often not discussed. With historical detail and vivid descriptions of the Gloucestershire countryside, the “Treasure” Lord Henry’s father speaks of and Serena’s painting and art of the era are such I could envision them as I read. I would like to see this “Treasure” myself. I enjoyed reading the author’s notes at the end of the story, which gives more historical information related to the book and characters. The ending is a perfect lead into the next novel in the series, The Making of Mrs. Hale, I am looking forward to reading. ~I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher (no monetary gain were exchanged), this is my honest review~
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    Incredible storytelling and characterization!

    I know I've said this about EVERY ONE of Ms. Miller's books, but Miss Serena's Secret is one of the BEST books out there! I don't know how, but Ms. Miller somehow manages to draw my whole heart and all of my emotions into her stories! Every time! Miss Serena's Secret was no exception. I felt a special connection to both Serena and her hero, more so than probably any of Ms. Miller's previous characters. I understood both of them and their struggles so well! The introvert who hides her feelings and emotions is so often misunderstood and hardly ever written about. This was a refreshing departure from the norm and it completely stole my heart, proving (once again) the author's incredible versatility in creating unique characters and personalities in each new book! The story itself was AMAZING! The emotions were entangling. The descriptions were so vivid! And the historical detail was engrossing. I could literally feel as though I lived in Regency England for the duration of the book! Ms. Miller is (hands-down!) one of the most TALENTED and thoroughly ENJOYABLE authors I've ever had the pleasure of coming across!
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    An emotional read

    4.5 STARS!!! Sharp wit, dramatic undertones, and romance equal a lovely Regency rendering in Miss Serena’s Secret. Serena is a young woman highly gifted in the arts, making for lovely word pictures painted throughout the story. I had no trouble envisioning the scenery of England and was quite keen to be there to see something so beautifully grand for myself. After an unfortunate incident, Serena is left disillusioned toward men and filled with sorrow, thinking to put painting aside forever. What shall restore her spirit and cause her to pick up a brush once again, illuminating canvas with color? Henry, Viscount Carmichael, is a bit older, making for the perfect rogue-turns-hero. He really does live a sin-filled life but isn’t that who Christ came to save…the sinner? Of course we know in the end he is going to turn to Christ but it is the getting there that makes the story. ‘His thoughts darkened, yet he forced himself to act his part, all the while conscious of feeling like a snared hare, caught by this foppish, fleshly reputation he’d cultivated over many years, bound forever to expectation and obligation, even as the morals of the Winthrops whispered freedom for the man he wanted to be.’ ~Henry, Viscount Carmichael, Miss Serena’s Secret Henry senses something mysterious in Serena’s countenance upon meeting her and it intrigues him. He is decidedly focused in finding out what her secret is. As he gets to know her, a protective side that he had never built upon but one that will both frustrate and draw Serena to him, manifests itself. Will Henry be one of the instruments God uses to heal her fractured heart? ‘If he claimed affection for her in his heart, then that affection should be outworked in his attitude and actions.’ ~Henry, Viscount Carmichael, Miss Serena’s Secret Broaching mysterious medical maladies in a heroine is not something you see often and I was quite surprised at Serena’s final diagnosis. It perplexed me the whole time and kept me guessing, which I have to say was quite good on the author’s part. Henry’s father, the Earl of Bevington, likewise suffers an ailment that today is quite openly spoken of but long ago could not possibly have been understood, causing much discomfiture and probably confinement in horrendous manners, although this does not happen to the earl in the book. I thought this aspect added much depth to the story between Henry and his parents, and it genuinely tugged at my emotions. Fans of Regency and Christian fiction will enjoy the latest quintessential offering from Miller. I was provided a digital copy from the publisher through Netgalley. I was not required to write a review. No compensation has been received.
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