Member Reviews

I absolutely love Lavender Fields and I feel like I might just pretend that this follow up doesn’t exist. (In a it’s not you it’s totally me sort of way). I know that sounds harsh I just PERSONALLY didn’t enjoy some of the choices made in this book. Please take my review with a grain of salt because so many LOVE this book.

I loved the beginning! Arlem pays so much attention to historical detail, language and setting that you feel completely immersed! Its intellectual and makes her books worth taking note for.

(For this next part of my review I GENUINELY hope you disagree with me)

However I just became disappointed with the pacing. The middle contained a lot of traveling and it started to feel a bit repetitive for me. I also felt like our FMC was just slightly naive and wanted her to have more growth and understanding towards our MMC side/perspective. There were certain choices made pertaining to characters that I don’t agree with and ultimately soured previous books a touch. That’s all I’ll say without spoiling. But it felt shocking and unnecessary to this books plot. I just didn’t like how it was handled for those who loved the first two books so dearly.

I wanted to love it, I wanted to connect to these characters. I almost feel anxiously ill writing this review.

Arlem is talented beyond measure but at the end of the day this is how I feel and I’m heartbroken about it. I loved the messages of forgiveness and how the book shows the war and the people in a complicated realistic light! I think she excels at story telling and not making it wrap up neatly in a bow but always basing it off history.

I’ll still love and read Arlem forever but I feel personally triggered by this one 😂

Was this review helpful?

Wow!!! What a breathtaking adventure through the French countryside during the revolution!!! Armelle and Maxence both have so much strength and integrity. It is fun to watch them grow to respect each other despite their differences. Then to watch that respect turn into something more. I love Armelle’s devotion to family. Maxence learned so much about himself through their journey and opened himself up to all of his new feelings. I look forward to learning more about these characters in future books.

Was this review helpful?

This book!! Along a Breton Shore might be Arlem Hawks’ best book yet. It sucked me in immediately and held me captive until the final page. I absolutely adored Armelle. She’s feisty, determined, and kind. The way she pushes and helps Maxence is incredible. Not to mention there’s a scene involving makeup and disguises that will live rent free in my mind for a long time to come. I also loved how this book brought to life aspects of French history I was personally unfamiliar with. This book was eye opening and engaging, filled with hope and heart break. I’ll definitely be rereading this book again soon.

*I received an e-arc of this book. All opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

When Maxence's brother, their mother's favourite, betrays him by refusing to join the army, Maxence feels deserted by his family, and when his best friend dies beside him in battle, he's left alone, unloved and believing himself unlovable. When he's ordered to execute a young woman, Armelle, he can't go through with it, and ends up imprisoned - but she turns his ideas on their head by risking her own life to rescue him. She has ideas that he considers completely wrong and even a brother who fights the Revolution, but somehow, she comes to mean more than he could ever have believed possible. But the army is his life and she hates it - and probably him too. Can two such different people ever have a future together - or is he truly unlovable?

A revolution tearing the country apart, two young people on opposite sides of the conflict, and hidden demons that must be overcome - it's the recipe for a great story, and the author certainly delivers. Armelle is a heart-warming character, always ready to help others but also willing to stand up for what she considers right. Maxence has a lot of baggage and sees things as very black and white - I enjoyed watching him learn to see that there are two sides to every question, and also watching his opinion of Armelle go from an irritatingly over-cheerful young woman to someone utterly indispensable. And as for the family reunion (ignoring their first meeting) - well, you need to read it. The historical background/setting was also interesting, and I appreciated the historical notes at the end. I did find the initial list of characters and definitions rather daunting - I'd say these are best ignored and used only to refer back to while reading if necessary. All in all, a heart-warming and inspiring book in a terrible period in history. Recommended.

Note that I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and this is my considered opinion of the book.

Was this review helpful?

Really a 4.5 star review. Seriously, when are we going to get 1/2 star options?

I never knew so much about the French Revolution and how inherently complicated it all was until I started reading Arlem Hawks books! She definitely does more than her fair share of research. Her writing is also very organic; I don't feel like I'm being inundated with information, but I definitely understand the historical implications and nuances I need to truly appreciate the plot.

"Along a Breton Shore" follows the events of "Beyond the Lavender Fields". While you don't necessarily need to read "Lavender Fields" before this one, I highly suggest you do, as the beginning (and ending) will have a much stronger impact. We are now following along with Maxence Etienne, who left his family in Marseilles to join the revolutionary forces about 2 years before the start of the book. After having seen battle, he's world-weary and disillusioned with a lot of what he'd previously been a staunch supporter, and so finds himself unable to do his duty as a "proper" solider one wintery afternoon.

Armelle Bernard is from Breton, a region of France that certainly does not agree with Paris and has its own band of counterrevolutionaries called Chouans. Armelle's got a fighting spirit, and at the beginning of the book she's a little immature and impulsive - which leads to her getting arrested by one Maxence Etienne. A fight breaks out, one of Max's fellow soldiers is killed, and he and Armelle go on the run.

The two unlikely friends now have to travel what appears to be half of France to get to safety in Saint Malo, picking up a variety of disguises as they go. My one issue with this book is that it was a little difficult to get a sense of time or distance in this middle section of the book. Max and Armelle manage to walk the majority of the way, but I was under the impression that they had to travel a distance that didn't seem walkable, and I couldn't really figure out how long it exactly took them.

Max and Armelle are as different as night and day, but they manage to find some common ground in their travels, which eventually leads to more. I highly recommend this book, and the other Arlem Hawks books, to anyone who is interested in reading about ordinary people in a divisive time in history.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Believing in and willing to do anything for the Revolution, Maxence Étienne has spent the last two years fighting for change. As those changes are starting to show, Maxence is transferred to Nantes. There, he is expected to help stop counterrevolutionaries rebelling against the new republic. He soon finds himself stopping a dispute between a priest and a young counterrevolutionary woman.

Armelle Bernard finally receives good news after months of distraught and fear. So, she does what any reasonable young woman would do and protest the local priest who put her family in their current predicament. When things go to far, Armelle finds herself being carried off by Maxence to be disposed of.

When Maxence's past prevents him from following orders, a life is lost and Armelle and Maxence find themselves on the run together. Having to learn to trust one another and facing their own personal trials, will they be able to find a way to what will really bring them the happiness they both seek?

Everytime I read a book from Arlem Hawks, I find myself feeling all the feelings and being transported back in time. She has a way of making a story come to life. I always finish her books wishing I could go back and read it for the first time again. Along a Breton Shore was a beautiful story that did just that.

I loved Armelle and her bright outlook on life despite the world in which she lived. I was empathetic for Maxence and his need to belong. I felt the joy and fear of falling in love. I felt the determination they had to to survive and to keep moving forward. These characters became friends and I was cheering for them at the steps of the church, on the paths to Saint-Malo and on the cliffs along the shore.

Along a Breton Shore is the perfect read for anyone who loves historical fiction, the French Revolution and romance. I loved reading it and look forward to reading it again soon.

Thank you to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for the the e-ARC. These thoughts and opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

This book has:
-Dual POV
-One bed
-Fake marriage
-Grumpy/sunshine
-Forced proximity
-Redemption vibes
-French revolution

I really enjoyed this story. I loved the journey that the MCs went on and how through the journey their relationship changed and evolved into something strong and beautiful.

I loved how strong Armelle is. She is full of spunk and fire and sticks to her beliefs and what she feels is right. I loved how she didn't think only of herself, but also of the soldier who granted her mercy and wanted to help him as well.

I loved Maxence. He has many struggles and has pretty much lost all hope. But with Armelle with him he learns to find hope and peace that have long felt out of reach.

These two characters go through so much. I loved that their relationship came from small steps and was one of deep growth.

This book is about the brother from the book Beyond the Lavender Fields. I have not yet read that book and I feel like I wasn't missing any information from not having read it, but there is a small spoiler toward the end of the book. So you may want to read that book first.

Thanks to Netgalley for the advanced copy. All opinions are my own.

Available June 6, 2023

Was this review helpful?

Along a Breton Shore by Arlem Hawks is an epic tale of the French revolution that will sweep you into the lives of those who lived and fought in that time period. The author includes a glossary of French and Breton terms as well as historical notes. The thoroughness of the author’s research makes every scene rich in detail and really fleshes out the story and the setting. Maxence Etienne is fighting for the Republique, but fighting for the cause hasn’t gone exactly as planned. He moves forward with his assignments, but when he is asked to execute a young woman named Armelle, he instead lets her go free and finds himself imprisoned. Armelle risks everything to help him escape and they begin a journey of self-discovery as they try to find a place of safety with friends and family. As danger surrounds them at every turn, tentative friendship turns to feelings of love as they do what they must to survive. But when they finally reach their destination, will they be able to stay together? Or will the war and forces beyond their control keep them apart?

Maxence has suffered much during the war. He’s lost his passion for the cause as friends have died and he experiences emotional pain and survivor’s guilt. His conscience won’t let him execute Armelle, but that decision changes his life forever. Readers will love Maxence’s sense of duty paired with compassion as he navigates a war that has taken so much. He is stoic at the beginning, and afraid to open up his heart. Armelle is headstrong and optimistic even in the face of loss and she finds a way past all of Maxence’s emotional defenses. She has suffered loss as well, but she is determined that her family will one day be reunited and she’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen. In order to do that, she travels to Saint-Malo with Maxence where they both hope to find some semblance of safety. Their relationship growth is slow and believable as they learn to trust and build a foundation for a love that could last—if they survive. The journey is fraught with danger, and the author expertly weaves in the themes of family and sacrifice and the need to belong—and how those things look different in the middle of a war. The writing is beautiful and descriptive, and even the scenes of war are handled well. There is plenty of history woven throughout the book and the historical notes also add an extra perspective into the careful research the author has done. This heartfelt story of love and survival will leave readers inspired by the courage and strength of the human spirit even in the most difficult circumstances.

Was this review helpful?

Struggled to rate this. 3 seems too low, 4 too high.

I liked this much better than the previous book in this series (Among the Lavender Fields). I'm not sure it's an official series but the characters and settings are connected.

My main complaint with ATLF was that the characters either didn't hold firm beliefs about their worldview, or they couldn't articulate their outlook beyond "I just want to choose how I live!" AABS has much more ideologically interesting characters.

Max is a Revolutionary and Armelle is more politically adrift. She definitely isn't pro-republic but she also acknowledges that the monarchy wasn't great for France either. She just wants to keep her family together.

Their journey to Breton had great pacing; I love characters travelling together. However, by the end, this felt solidly in Historical Fiction and less Historical Romance. This is a complicated historical time period. There are bad guys and good guys with terrible methods of carrying out socio-political change.

One thing I hated was all the French words. Of course, we read the book in English, but I as a reader, I know that the characters are speaking French (or Briton, when noted). The text of the book is virtually a translation. So when the characters drop in a "merci" I'm taken out of the flow of the story. I hate being reminded that they're not speaking English. I KNOW!

Names of political parties and locations don't bother me, but everyday language does. I don't like the breaking of the fourth wall to throw in a French term here and there.

Was this review helpful?

Arlem Hawks continues her intriguing French Revolution saga with this adventurous tale. I was immediately transported to France in the late 1700s and came to adore these plucky characters.

Armelle is spunky and had me laughing at her antics...until I feared for her life. Maxence is the Republique soldier ordered to execute her, but fails to do so. In a romantic adventure full of passion and danger, this couple makes their way across France in search of freedom. Maxence is a brooding fellow and I loved uncovering his reasons throughout the story.

It's very apparent that Hawks does her research because the reader is completely swept away in a vivid tale. While full of the effects of war, I loved all the tropes that presented themselves: enemies to more, a fake relationship/marriage, forced proximity, grumpy/sunshine, and more.

Although I sometimes weighed myself down with trying to pronounce the names, places, and words correctly, I couldn't get enough of the courage, heart and soul, connection, and longing for more.

Content: mild+ war violence/death/descriptions; mild romance; mild moments of danger/peril

Was this review helpful?

You’ll be glad you read this book! This is not one of those books you get to the end of and wish you hadn’t wasted time on. I wasn’t sure what I would think about it before I started reading because I don’t usually enjoy war books and this is set during the French Revolution, but it isn’t heavy, depressing, or violent. In fact, talkative Armelle often surprises me and makes me laugh. The revolution plays a big role in the book, but thankfully the violence is mostly in the background or happens off page. This is mainly the story of two very different people falling in love while relying on each other to survive.

Armelle Bernard’s family has been torn apart by the French Revolution and she is desperately trying to reunite them but ends up facing execution due to her impulsive actions. Maxence is a very troubled soldier who is estranged from his family but has a good heart. He doesn’t carry out the execution order and ends up injured and on the run with Armelle. I loved watching their relationship develop while they are forced to travel together for over a month in this clean romance.

I especially appreciated the list of French and Breton terms at the beginning and referred to it many times. Some of the characters are introduced in Beyond the Lavender Fields and references are made to things that happen in that book, but this can be read alone. It captured and kept my attention throughout. Some parts are predictable but there are a lot of surprises. This is a romance so I was hoping they would end up together and wondered what would happen with their families, especially between Maxence and his brother Gilles. Thanks to Shadow Mountain Publishing for an ARC to use for my review.

Was this review helpful?

I loved the first book in this series because it showed different perspectives in the French Civil War. I loved how this book highlighted all the different views of people on the each side and now they changed over time. I never realized how many different factions were created as the fence attempted a new type of government. This war was so much more complicated than I learned in high school European history. It was so fascinating to see how all the different thoughts and factions played into the war. I love how much history is packed into this novel. It made my history nerd heart happy.

The romance was a very fun aspect of this historical fiction. I loved that it slowly developed as Max and Armelle find themselves traveling together. Armelle was headstrong and passionate. I loved her character and how she didn’t let anything stand in her way. Max was the grumpy to Armelle’s sunshine and their clash in personality brought a levity to the hard historical content. Such a lovely pair.

Was this review helpful?

Set in the era of the French Revolution we come upon two interesting protagonists, Armelle and Mexence. He believes in the future of the Republique and is in the army, while she has disdain for all that is happening in France. In an incident he finds himself in a rather difficult situation as he is ordered to shoot her for some trivial incident. Refusing to do so, he is challenged by another soldier who he unfortunately kills. Helping him to escape prison, Armelle and Maxence go on a journey to escape being captured. Their journey is give and take and one that sets them at odds. The backdrop of the French Revolution made this book an interesting novel. While I have never read anything written by Ms. Hawks, I will definitely look for more of her books. My thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Was this review helpful?

I found this book to be very interesting, even though I thought the male main character was more than a little whiny and self-pitying. I've never known much about the French Revolution, and this book, along with Beyond the Lavender Fields, has taught me quite a bit. In fact, I plan on using both of these books in our homeschooling.

While I didn't have a big emotional connection to the characters here, I did like them. I found Armelle to be a fun and lively companion, and she was a great balance to Maxence. I also liked seeing where the war had brought the other characters from Beyond the Lavender Fields. It was good to catch up with them. And France. ~happy sigh~ Even in war, the language is beautiful, and I loved reading the French words and phrases.

This is a beautifully written book, and I will have the hard copy on my shelf.

Was this review helpful?

When I started reading this I did not realize it was a sequel to Beyond the Lavender Fields. You don't necessarily need to read it beforehand to enjoy and follow this story, but I would suggest it. It's really good. It was good to get to know Maxence. I could see potential in him from the beginning and enjoyed watching him change. Armelle was such a fun character. I loved her banter and wit. This was such a hard time for all of France. So much confusion and injustice. It can be hard to read and study. I feel the author handled this dark time really well. I loved the romance in this story, but also enjoyed the real and hard moments too.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and this is my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

“"You will find it hard to believe that I do not go around sampling the sweets before deciding which to buy."”

Arlem Hawks has done it again! Along a Breton Shore is a must read this year! If you have been dying to find out what happened to Gilles’s older brother Maxence then run and get your copy of this book. You will not move disappointed.

Maxence Étienne is loyal soldier for the République. He has lost his best friend and family. He is doing his best to find his place in the world. I loved reading about Maxence’s journey of finding where he belongs and someone he belongs to. He was so grumpy, I was instantly in love with him. Armelle might be an annoying to him at the beginning to him at the beginning of the story. But she is definitely someone he needs in his life!

Armelle Bernard meets Maxence after he is ordered to execute her for causing some problems. She doesn’t let this stop her from saving them both from the soldiers. She is the exact oppose of Maxence and I enjoyed that! It made for some good banter between the two of them. I loved reading Armelle’s journey of trying to find a way her family to be together again. It was also fun to watch her and Maxence fall in love.

This book isn’t necessarily a sequel to Beyond the Lavender Fields, but you do get to find out what happens to Gilles and Marie in this book. So I’d encourage you to read that book before you read this one.

If you are looking for a grumpy x sunshine book then you’re gonna definitely what to read this one! You’ll be on a rollercoaster of a ride with this book. It’s a quick read and was well researched.

Thank you NetGalley for the ARC. These thoughts and opinions are my own.

Was this review helpful?

"The young woman backed away from the officer, eyes round and face pale.
‘Étienne, take her away. Dispose of her.’ Voulland’s greying brows sat low.
She dashed for the crowd, but Maxence caught her around the waist, his arms working mechanically.
‘Dispose of her?’ His body had acted, but his mind scrambled to catch up.
‘River. Musket. Bayonet. However you wish.’
Dispose of her. Like dumping refuse in the river. The memory of the last time he’d aimed a gun pressed against his consciousness. The slip. The missed shot….
If he didn’t do this, he’d fail as a guardsman. Just as he’d failed at everything else. Maxence tied her hands above her head to the branch of the nearest scraggly, empty tree. His limbs shook as much as hers did."

How’s that for a riveting ‘meet-cute’?

Maxence, though outwardly cocky and self-assured, struggles with a deep sense of his own failure and expects any meaningful relationships to end in rejection. As a result, he has thrown himself fully into his duties as a soldier for the République, even at the cost of his relationship with his family.
For Armelle, political loyalties are secondary to the love she has for her family, and her desire to see them reunited. Still, her family is actively fighting against the République and Armelle is not one to cheer from the sidelines; she must be part of the action.
However, when Maxence refuses to carry out his orders to shoot the young woman, Armelle helps him escape from prison hours before his execution. Now, the unlikely pair, is forced to depend on each other, as they escape over the bleak countryside of war-torn France.

My propensity to develop exceedingly high expectations for the books I’m most looking forward to has more often than not, led to my own disappointment. Somehow, Arlem Hawks refuses to disappoint. Once again, she has created a poetic and emotionally charged story that is grounded in the political turmoil of its historical context, revealing the complexity of “alliances” that ripple waves of distrust through every relationship, tearing apart families and binding together strangers.

“Along a Breton Shore” is a companion novel to “Beyond the Lavender Field,” and although I highly recommend you pick that one up as well, (if only because that’s where Maxence younger brother Gilles gets his spotlight,) I think you could get away without having read it, and still find yourself full invested in this new story that Hawks has developed.

Was this review helpful?

4 1/2 stars!

Have the Kleenex handy! In her second book about the French Revolution, Arlem Hawks brilliantly weaves a thought provoking story exploring family relationships, idealism, war, love, and loss that’ll pull on your heartstrings. Her books have a way of making history come alive and feel like you’re right there in the middle of it and Along a Breton Shore is no different.

Maxence Etienne is searching for his place in this world. He feels abandoned by his family especially after his brother refuses to fight alongside him for the revolution he wholeheartedly believes in. As a soldier for the Republique, his idealism starts to wane after the death of his friend, and when asked to shoot an innocent young woman. Deciding to let her go free, he soon finds himself imprisoned after struggling with a fellow soldier whom he accidentally kills.

Armelle Bernard is from Breton and on opposite sides of the revolution. When her father is sentenced to death for hiding counterrevolutionaries, she confronts the priest who turned him in. When soldiers become involved, she’s sentenced to immediate execution. But, the soldier tasked with executing her ends up sparing her life and she in turn must save his. As the two flee, hoping to escape to Saint-Malo, their animosity turns to an unlikely friendship to love as they’re confronted with dangerous situations and forced proximity along their journey. But, when they reach Saint-Malo, will they go their separate ways or explore the feelings brewing between them?

This story was so hard to put down! Along with the sweeping historical aspects, I enjoyed the romance between Max and Armelle. It has so many of my favorite tropes like grumpy/sunshine, enemies to lovers, forced proximity, and a fake marriage! Armelle is all about family and consumed with reuniting with her brother and father. She’s strong, passionate, and a force to be reconned with. She’s also kind and thoughtful.

Maxence is the brooding hero suffering from his past and perceived abandonment. His relationship with his family is complicated. His holding on to his idealistic view of the revolution often puts him at odds with Armelle. But, Armelle has a way of getting under his skin and helps him open up and see his past in a new light. I loved how she uses dice to ask questions.

If you’ve read Georgana’s secret and Lavender Fields, you may have an inkling about what happens when they meet up with Gilles in Saint-Malo. This part broke my heart. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but it’s so sad to those of us familiar with these stories. After thinking about it for awhile, I’ve decided it’s the perfect way to illustrate the times they were living in and bridge a heartfelt, human connection to the past. It could be a little jarring for those not familiar with Gilles’ story and seem to take over the story for a bit.

If you haven’t read these books, don’t worry because this book could be read as a standalone, but it’s more meaningful if you’ve read the previous books. Highly recommend to historical fiction and romance fans! I received an advanced complimentary copy from the publisher. All opinions are completely my own and voluntarily given.

Was this review helpful?

“Along a Breton Shore” is the sequel to “Beyond the Lavender Fields” in @arlemhawks’ beautiful historical romances set in 1790s Revolutionary France.

Hawks is masterful at creating entire worlds – you fall in love with the beauty of the scenery (so richly painted), the vivid and varied characters, and the stories themselves of these individuals finding love in such a turbulent time.

Here, you’ll find Armelle, a jubilant and headstrong woman, and Maxence, a rather grumpy gentleman who end up on the run together. He refuses to execute her and she rescues him from prison before they make their way further north along the Breton shore. During their month-long journey, they face illness, injury, warring factions, thieves, all in an effort to just live safely and hopefully reunite with their families.

“Along a Breton Shore” broke me. A lot. While it’s beautiful and Maxence and Armelle get their HEA, I cried for other reasons.

SPOILERS: If you’ve read BtLF and love Gilles Étienne as much as I do… I’m really, really heartbroken for him. I know Hawks is committed to portraying the realities of life back then - war, death, disease. But did she have to have Marie-Caroline die in childbirth? Why couldn’t Gilles have his HEA for longer? Or why did she have to die in childbirth? Since Gilles is a skilled doctor and surgeon, it hurts that’s how she died rather than some disease that just couldn’t be helped - like TB or something. Gilles has been one of my all-time favorite literary characters and I’m broken he did not get a HEA or like even a decade or two of it. Gilles and Marie-Caroline (and little Lina) deserve all the happiness and I’m still crying.

Back to NO spoilers: I love anything and everything Hawks has written. Each of her books has a very special place in my heart. And “Along a Breton Shore” is no different. I implore you to pick up her books, they’re enchanting. It’s obvious in every piece she crafts how much research, love, and dedication goes into them – they’re precious treasures, each one of them.

Was this review helpful?

Move over, Gilles! A different Etienne brother has stolen my heart with his grumpy demeanor and hard won smiles. And honestly I didn’t think that was possible. I loved Gilles so much in BTLF and while he is still a favorite, Maxence is magnifique!

When Armelle tempts fate, she finds herself the object of a Republique officer’s contempt and condemned to death. Maxence is tasked with disposing of her. But after Émile’s death, Maxence can no longer stomach the harsh punishments being meted out by the army. While he refuses to execute Armelle, someone does die. Max is charged with the murder, but not before she escapes.

Armelle can’t fathom why Max would go against orders and place himself in such a dire situation. So she hatches a plan to return the favor and rescue him before he meets an untimely end.

And that begins the harrowing and arduous journey of Maxence and Armelle. What a beautiful, scary time of self discovery and maturity. They learn to listen, learn, lean on one another and love. It is delicate, tender, revealing. But be prepared to have to heart ripped out. Not everyone gets a happy ending.

Thank you to NetGalley fort advanced copy. All opinions are my own.

#arlemhawks #alongabretonshore #netgalley #historicalromance.

Was this review helpful?