Member Reviews

I just reviewed Along a Breton Shore by Arlem Hawks. #AlongaBretonShore #NetGalley

I tried to get into the story because I love Arlem Hawk's books. I had a hard time getting into the story, just not my genre maybe.

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I really enjoyed this one. It was a great follow-up to Beyond the Lavender Fields! The romance was good, and I learned more about the later parts of the French Revolution. I didn’t give it full stars because the plot got a little slow, and there was some unnecessary drama caused by characters making dumb decisions BUT I loved that each character felt real and had their own strengths/weaknesses. I’d read this one again in the future!

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While the love story was sweet and had a good slow burn buildup, I felt the surrounding story fell flat. I craved more action, more history, and more passion!

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Set during the French Revolution, is the contrast of a soldier set to defend the new republic with gusto and a young hopeful woman trying to survive amidst the oppression. When his orders are to dispose of her, he can't do it and must face the consequences.

He's been hardened by war and doesn't remember the last time he was shown compassion. She can't figure out why he'd save her, so she decides to rescue him. They go on the run together, opposites as hot and cold, but in getting to know each other their fondness grows. Decisions about their future will depend on reconciling hurts from the past, if they can face them.

So much suspense in this well crafted story. It's my second by the author and I'll easily pick up another by her.

* A big thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

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I started reading "Along a Breton Shore" not knowing it was a kind of sequel to "Beyond the Lavender Fields", but I fell in love with this second book as quickly as the first! (It can also be read as a stand-alone.)

In 1794 France, Maxence Étienne, a revolutionary from Marseille and the brother of Gilles from "Beyond the Lavender Fields", is sent to Nantes with the army to stop the rebellion against the new republic. A loyal soldier, he would do anything for the new republic... except kill an innocent young woman, even though she may be a counterrevolutionary. When he helps Armelle Bernard escape, he is immediately imprisoned. Armelle risks her life to help him escape, and they both have to flee Nantes. Along the Breton shores, avoiding both soldiers and counterrevolutionaries, these two young people that have so little in common might find in the other the person they cannot live without.

I absolutely loved this book. The two main characters are rich, detailed, strong, complex and credible. Their evolution, especially that of Maxence, are realistic and interesting. I was a little scared of the number of protagonists listed at the beginning of the book, but it's very easy to keep track of who is who. The secondary characters are interesting but mostly stay in the background.

The decor is not as "visually" rich and vivid as the previous book, but it does provide us with a lot of context about the revolution and counterrevolution. The plot was good, although the first/second part (in Nantes and on the road) could have been a little shorter and the third part (in St Malo) could have been a little longer. I also regretted that some parts were not too credible (the escape from the prison, all the things that happen on the road in quick succession, the disguise with the dress...) but the delightful dialogues more than made up for it. The chemistry between the two characters was excellent, one of the best romances I have read (it made me spill a little tear!).

The use of French words and phrases is nearly perfect (and I say this as a native French speaker), although I once again got a bit scared when I saw the list of all the French and Breton words at the beginning! (I'm pretty sure most of them are understandable with the context though). And as a native speaker, I found their English pronunciation pretty hilarious—but also such a good idea to include it in the book, and to use French names, surnames, etc. rather than names that could do in both languages.

It was also great to include a final history section that provides a bit more context about the revolution in France and Brittany/Bretagne, and explains where creative licence was taken. A small map of Bretagne would have been welcome too.

Lastly, the book cover and title are great, and I appreciate the subtle similarities with the first book. I can only hope that Arlem Hawks will soon write another book in this series—or just any other book, as at that point, I would read anything from her!

Finally, the one thing I cannot easy forgive is the disappearance of you-know-who-if-you've-read-the-two-books. And honestly, the one thing I disliked most about this book is that I couldn't put it down and read it until early in the morning! And now, I have a book hungover.

*I received an e-ARC and this is my honest opinion*

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Another great historical novel from Arlem Hawks, I had enjoyed the previous book Beyond the Lavendar Fields. This book had what I enjoyed from the previous book and I think it was a stronger plot. I really enjyoed getting to know the characters and their world. I was invested in what was going on and enjoyed getting to know Maxence Étienne. I'm excited to see where Arlem Hawks goes next.

"Étienne extracted himself from the four-year-old, the ghost of a grin on his lips, which he quickly banished when he caught Armelle watching. They bid farewell to the little family and set off down the road. To avoid potential meetings with the soldiers housed in town, they skirted around it before meeting the north road. Somehow it felt so natural, walking side by side. Like they’d returned to their normal routine, even though they had spent more days recovering at the Colberts’ than they had walking to Savenay."

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