Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Reading and #Reviews (Valpy, Culiner)

I'm an author, but I'm also a reader. Each month, I'll share with you reviews of present and past reads. My available time to read is limited because I write, but I love to curl up with a paperback or an eBook at night for the last hour of my day. 

I tend to read what I write, but not exclusively. Besides Romantic Suspense, I read crime and law novels, once in a while a true story, WWII historicals, mysteries, and mainstream character driven books.

Here are some of the books I've read recently or in the not-too-distant past. Maybe you'll discover a new book or author.

The Dressmaker’s Gift by Fiona Valpy

Paris, 1940. With the city occupied by the Nazis, three young seamstresses go about their normal lives as best they can. But all three are hiding secrets. War-scarred Mireille is fighting with the Resistance; Claire has been seduced by a German officer; and Vivienne’s involvement is something she can’t reveal to either of them.

Two generations later, Claire’s English granddaughter Harriet arrives in Paris, rootless and adrift, desperate to find a connection with her past. Living and working in the same building on the Rue Cardinale, she learns the truth about her grandmother—and herself—and unravels a family history that is darker and more painful than she ever imagined.

In wartime, the three seamstresses face impossible choices when their secret activities put them in grave danger. Brought together by loyalty, threatened by betrayal, can they survive history’s darkest era without being torn apart?


I’m a sucker for 1940 era fiction if the story is character driven and full of conflict. The Dressmaker’s Gift satisfies in that way. I don’t want to tell you much beyond what the blurb above states. Ms. Valpy’s synopsis is clear, and you know what the story is by her summation. The only part of the story that bumped me a bit was Harriet’s outlook on her life in comparison to her grandmother’s story. She seems to be searching for something, and expects to find answers to her life through her grandmother’s experiences in Paris. Or maybe I’m dense and missed the point. Regardless of that, the wartime story of the three seamstresses was highly entertaining. There is romance, danger, mystery, and historical accounts I found enjoyable.



A Room in Blake’s Folly by J. Arlene Culiner

If only the walls could speak…
In one hundred and fifty years, Blake’s Folly, a silver boomtown notorious for its brothels, scarlet ladies, silver barons, speakeasies, and divorce ranches, has become a semi-ghost town. Although the old Mizpah Saloon is still in business, its upper floor is sheathed in dust. But in a room at a long corridor's end, an adventurer, a beautiful dance girl, and a rejected wife were once caught in a love triangle, and their secret has touched three generations.


What an intriguing way to tell a story that spans generations. Blake’s Folly and the Mizpah Saloon are characters unto themselves. They live and breathe with the lives that passed through the space they occupied and still occupy in time. As each story within the novel is told, I could feel the story before still echoing off the walls of the saloon. Ms. Culiner is talented at painting a scene and bringing characters to life while weaving a story you can’t put down.



  1. I always enjoy your comments and perspective on books--and I've purchased many that you recommended. I loved A Room in Blake's Folly, where the town was a character in itself. Thanks!

    1. It's good to hear I'm not just posting in the wind, Dee. Thanks.