12 Days at Bleakly Manor (Once Upon a Dickens Christmas #1)
When CLARA CHAPMAN receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, BENJAMIN LANE.Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar.Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, 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.

12 Days at Bleakly Manor (Once Upon a Dickens Christmas #1) Details

Title12 Days at Bleakly Manor (Once Upon a Dickens Christmas #1)
Author
ReleaseSep 1st, 2017
PublisherShiloh Run Press
ISBN-139781683222583
Rating
GenreHoliday, Christmas, Historical, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Christian Fiction, Romance

12 Days at Bleakly Manor (Once Upon a Dickens Christmas #1) Review

  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    Christmas - 1850 - LondonTHE BEGINNING.....After being left at the altar by the man she loves, and being stripped of her family fortune, Clara Chapman accepts a mysterious invitation to receive a much needed $1000 IF she agrees to stay at an English Manor for a period of twelve days.After her arrival, Clara meets a variety of unusual cohorts, each with their own personalized promise of compensation.....including her former fiancé.THE MIDDLE.....There is a bit of mystery...a touch of romance, and Christmas - 1850 - LondonTHE BEGINNING.....After being left at the altar by the man she loves, and being stripped of her family fortune, Clara Chapman accepts a mysterious invitation to receive a much needed $1000 IF she agrees to stay at an English Manor for a period of twelve days.After her arrival, Clara meets a variety of unusual cohorts, each with their own personalized promise of compensation.....including her former fiancé.THE MIDDLE.....There is a bit of mystery...a touch of romance, and some very quirky characters, but the mishmash of dubious accidents did not flow well here and turned a great start into an ineffective read...for me.THE END.....Overall, 12 DAYS AT BLEAKLY MANOR was just ok. I expected more atmosphere...a bit of creepy intensity...and less predictability. For me...the storyline was trying to be a combination of too many other classic works of fiction all thrown together in a short 192 pages...not an easy task, but.....IT IS in fact a light Christmas read and average ratings ARE already at 4+ Stars so I am definitely in the minority here!There is a slight Christian theme with an important message and a historical compilation of past Victorian Christmas traditions to sum it all up.Many thanks to NetGalley and Shiloh Run Press for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Melisa
    January 1, 1970
    The 2017 Christmas book ARCs are coming out, and I'm not mad about it at all!This book is Downton Abbey + Clue + Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. I very much enjoyed the mystery and the huge manor at Christmas time in the Victorian days. An atmospheric story full of romance and intrigue.I did feel that there are a few loose ends that I would have liked to see tied up. I have some questions that were left unanswered. (A pet peeve of mine.)I will definitely be reading more of this serie The 2017 Christmas book ARCs are coming out, and I'm not mad about it at all!This book is Downton Abbey + Clue + Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. I very much enjoyed the mystery and the huge manor at Christmas time in the Victorian days. An atmospheric story full of romance and intrigue.I did feel that there are a few loose ends that I would have liked to see tied up. I have some questions that were left unanswered. (A pet peeve of mine.)I will definitely be reading more of this series to see where it goes, there is a lot of potential here. Note: this is technically classified as Christian Fiction. While there are some undertones, it is not a specific theme. Thought I would throw it out there whether it appeals to you or not. Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Julie Carpenter
    January 1, 1970
    Ok, I LOVE Bleak House by Charles Dickens, as well as, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and I LOVED how Michelle Griep combined the two of these together. I loved the ending of the book and how everything came together and the hows and whys of it all. So much fun. If you've read either of the above books that I mentioned then you will have fun reading this book and seeing the similarities. If you haven't read either of those books, grab them now or snatch this one up and it will have Ok, I LOVE Bleak House by Charles Dickens, as well as, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and I LOVED how Michelle Griep combined the two of these together. I loved the ending of the book and how everything came together and the hows and whys of it all. So much fun. If you've read either of the above books that I mentioned then you will have fun reading this book and seeing the similarities. If you haven't read either of those books, grab them now or snatch this one up and it will have you wanting to pick up either of those above mentioned stories to figure out the references.There were several times when a character would make a comment and I would look over at my husband and say, you've got to hear what this character said. He would listen, smile and say "hey that's so and so from Bleak House". I read a few scenes out loud to him and we both really enjoyed it lots.Clara and Ben are two great MCs. At the beginning there is the mystery of who are these people, why are they in these circumstances and why are they the ones chosen to attend this 12 Days of Christmas at Bleakly Manor? The accidents, incidents, intrigue, mystery and the feeling of constantly being watched definitely made this a great cozy mystery.Oh, I want to tell you so much about this story but I don't want to spoil any of the surprises or outcomes. Typing this I'm going through all the characters in my head and thinking about their individual little nuances. I start to say that one is my favorite over the other but then I think about them in Bleak House and just smile and think, "I like them all". Well maybe saying I like them isn't quite right, because some of these characters are just despicable, but I will say I like the way that the author wrote the characters. So fun. Yes this is a "Christmas" story. It is set at Christmas time but I think you would have fun reading this at any time of the year. Especially if you enjoy Dickens, Christie and Griep! I think this would make a fun movie...Masterpiece, if you're reading this grab the rights to it fast! I would watch it and love it! Grab yourself a copy, settle in with a cozy blanket, your favorite reading snack/drink and see how fast you can solve the mystery. My family loves watching Masterpiece Theatre, and the best part about watching it together is we all have to make a prediction about whodunnit within the first few minutes of the show. Can you do that with this book? Probably not within the first few minutes, but can you predict and be correct in your guess within the first 10 chapters? Or will it be a surprise to the end for you?If you haven't read any books by this author, I highly recommend doing so. I've read a novella and this is my second novel by her. I am wanting to adjust my reading schedule to move her books up my list. Great writing, great storyline, loved the mystery and especially the characters. Here's my shoutout to the 'day of reckoning' and 'shake me up'. If those don't make sense, well just read the book and Bleak House as well. Loved it!I didn't really mention anything about the sweet love story within this story. I loved the second chance given to the MCs. The love and trust that saves them all. I won't say anything past that except I loved watching that relationship unfold and grow. *happy contented sigh*Content: Clean. A few moments of peril but nothing graphic. Christian aspects are throughout, characters do call out to God in their thoughts and ask for His guidance. Very well done and fits perfect with this time period and characters. I received a copy from the publisher, Barbour Publishing, via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions in the review are my own.Happy Reading!!!
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  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    This story is packed to the gills with an excellent atmosphere of old-country-house and Golden Age mystery. The story has plenty of action; guests are invited to Bleakly Manor to stay the twelve days of Christmas in exchange for a prize. Clara, impoverished by an embezzlement, need the promised 500 pounds. Ben, imprisoned unjustly for the embezzlement, is offered freedom. These two are the POV characters among the guests in the mysterious country house that seems to have no master.There’s even a This story is packed to the gills with an excellent atmosphere of old-country-house and Golden Age mystery. The story has plenty of action; guests are invited to Bleakly Manor to stay the twelve days of Christmas in exchange for a prize. Clara, impoverished by an embezzlement, need the promised 500 pounds. Ben, imprisoned unjustly for the embezzlement, is offered freedom. These two are the POV characters among the guests in the mysterious country house that seems to have no master.There’s even a slight Gothic feel as the mysterious things start happening—fire in the night, damaged ice skates that cause someone to break a leg, and so on. The mystery is strong and kept me guessing for quite a long while. Pretty soon it’s evident that someone is willing to kill for the prize, and Clara and Ben have to work together to figure out the threat.The main thing I didn’t like is a few slips in dialogue (“gone missing,” for example, is SO 1990s). Most dialogue, though, is excellent, and carries you right into the 1850 time period very effectively.Thanks to NetGalley for a free review copy. Favorable reviews not required.
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  • Michelle Griep
    January 1, 1970
    Love Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None?Adore Charles Dickens' Bleak House?Then 12 Days at Bleakly Manor is the book for you!
  • Deanne Patterson
    January 1, 1970
    With a writing style reminiscent of Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie, Michelle Griep sets up quite the atmospheric novel. I enjoyed getting to know the characters over a 12 day time period, the 12 Days of Christmas at Bleakly Manor. A tale that kept me reading as I was so intrigued to read the twists and turns taking place. I never knew what to expect til the end. This well developed plot and characters where enjoyable to read about in this mystery. Looking forward to reading book 2 in the On With a writing style reminiscent of Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie, Michelle Griep sets up quite the atmospheric novel. I enjoyed getting to know the characters over a 12 day time period, the 12 Days of Christmas at Bleakly Manor. A tale that kept me reading as I was so intrigued to read the twists and turns taking place. I never knew what to expect til the end. This well developed plot and characters where enjoyable to read about in this mystery. Looking forward to reading book 2 in the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series releasing Fall 2018. I also enjoyed reading about Victorian Christmas Traditions and their description from the end of the book.Pub Date 01 Sep 2017Thank you to NetGalley and Barbour Publishing, Inc. for a review copy in exchange fro my honest review.
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  • Rebekah Rodda
    January 1, 1970
    I was in the mood for a fun Christmassy book and this hit the note I was looking for - an historical romance with a dash of mystery. Two wronged lovers, both believing the other guilty of cruel betrayal are invited to Bleakley Manor along with six other misfits. All have been invited because of a mysterious letter and promised their heart's desire if they stay the twelve days. But their host remains hidden, the food is patchy and someone seems intent on murder. One by one the guests leave. Who w I was in the mood for a fun Christmassy book and this hit the note I was looking for - an historical romance with a dash of mystery. Two wronged lovers, both believing the other guilty of cruel betrayal are invited to Bleakley Manor along with six other misfits. All have been invited because of a mysterious letter and promised their heart's desire if they stay the twelve days. But their host remains hidden, the food is patchy and someone seems intent on murder. One by one the guests leave. Who will win the ultimate prize? And who is behind all this and why?Old style Christmas traditions such as finding the Yule Log are scattered throughout and there is a neat twist at the end. The plot does require a some suspension of disbelief and the romantic language becomes quite sensual at times although the actual actions are chaste. Overall, an enjoyable book to curl up with over the Christmas season. Thank you to NetGalley for providing a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Juli
    January 1, 1970
    Clara Chapman's life has taken a bad turn. Her fiance left her waiting at the altar a year before, after supposedly stealing her family's money. Funds are running out. She will be left destitute soon. As Christmas approaches, Clara does not know what might become of her and her sickly aunt. Then, on Christmas Eve, an unexpected visitor comes to the door. He hands her an invitation to Bleakly Manor. If she can stay at the manor through the entire 12 days of the Christmas season, she will receive Clara Chapman's life has taken a bad turn. Her fiance left her waiting at the altar a year before, after supposedly stealing her family's money. Funds are running out. She will be left destitute soon. As Christmas approaches, Clara does not know what might become of her and her sickly aunt. Then, on Christmas Eve, an unexpected visitor comes to the door. He hands her an invitation to Bleakly Manor. If she can stay at the manor through the entire 12 days of the Christmas season, she will receive 500 pounds. Although she is afraid of the unknown, they need the money, so she travels to the manor. Six people arrive. All have been promised a different reward for staying in the house for 12 days. It is revealed that only one person will actually receive a prize -- the last person remaining in the house at the end of the 12th day. Strange things start occurring almost immediately, and one by one the guests leave, by choice or through force. Who will be the last one left?Clara is beside herself....not only because she's in a strange house, but because one of the people with her is the very fiance that left her standing at the altar. This is an enjoyable holiday story! It is Christian fiction, but not overly preachy. (If Christian beliefs are not your cup of tea, pass this one by.) The story is like A Christmas Carol by Dickens got intertwined with And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. It's a nice mix of suspense, romance, and heartwarming holiday tale. The ending has a bit of a surprise that made me smile. All in all, a great Christmas story!! The cover art is wonderful! So festive! :) 12 Days at Bleakly Manor is the first book in the Once Upon A Dickens Christmas series. The second book, A Tale Of Two Hearts, will release in 2018. Michelle Griep is the author of several novels. Find out more about the author and her books here: https://michellegriep.com/**I voluntarily read an advanced readers copy of this book from Shiloh Run Press via NetGalley. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**
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  • Marlene
    January 1, 1970
    "Some choice. Remain in a room of vipers or search for a rodent." 12 Days at Bleakly Manor (September 2017, Shiloh Run Press), first in the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series by Michelle Griep, is a Christian historical romantic mystery. It opens in London on December 24, 1850, which puts it in the Victorian Era. The novel is a standalone with no cliffhangers. I wanted to read this book because I absolutely loved both titles I previously read by Griep. See my reviews for Brentwood's Ward "Some choice. Remain in a room of vipers or search for a rodent." 12 Days at Bleakly Manor (September 2017, Shiloh Run Press), first in the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series by Michelle Griep, is a Christian historical romantic mystery. It opens in London on December 24, 1850, which puts it in the Victorian Era. The novel is a standalone with no cliffhangers. I wanted to read this book because I absolutely loved both titles I previously read by Griep. See my reviews for Brentwood's Ward and The Captive Heart .Rating: 5 starsThe heroine: Clara Chapman, 25, is wounded by multiple rejections: first by her father, and then nine months ago, by her fiance. Formerly from a well-to-do family, she is now poor and has been living with kindly, infirim Aunt Deborha. Clara unexpectedly receives a cryptic (and if it is to be trusted, a lucrative) invitation:"The Twelve Days of ChristmasAs never's been reveledYour presence, Miss Chapman,Is respectfully hearld.Bleakly Manor's the placeAnd after twelve nightsFive hundred poundsWill be yours by rights."The hero: Benjamin Lane is in prison for stealing and is slated for deportation to a labor camp in another country. The reader is immediately privy to the fact that he views himself as not only innocent, but betrayed by "the woman he loved." (Now, there's a conundrum. The reader naturally will presume he is thinking of Clara, which doesn't make sense! How could she feel rejected by him while he simultaneously feels betrayed by her? Particularly when it seems they both still love each other???) Ben also receives an invitation to Bleakly manor, and he is promised something different if he remains the full time: his freedom. Christian elements: *"Sometimes all we have are questions. But there's really only one that matters…. Is God in control, or is He not?"*Both our hero and heroine are suffering and question, "Why, God? Why?"*There is a coin that occasionally appears in the story, and while I interpreted it (and its message) to be symbolic only, looking back, I see that the introduction says that both the babe Jesus and the coin are "both bearers of a second chance." I still interpret the coin as symbolic and the verse as poetic. But I suppose a different reader could view the coin as slightly magical. This is just an FYI, because some Christians are not comfortable with magic in stories. (I know some Christians who avoid Harry Pottter, for example.) Is it clean/chaste? Yes. There is the occasional warmth in the gut or belly. Or, at another time, "the touch of his hand guiding her foot into the skate sent a charge up her leg. A shameful response, but completely delicious." (See information about kissing below.)What I liked: *The portrayal of Ben in prison seemed very realistic. Yipes.*The mystery was extremely cozy, and there was no murder! I found this totally lovely! I was able to feel nostalgic about previous mysteries I've read without the negativity that often comes with it. Yes, there were some negative characters, but I didn't feel they were pervasive.*I totally enjoyed the nod to Agatha Christie. The cast of characters could easily have been in a Christie novel. I did wonder what the host would have done if things didn't work out the way they did, though. And I was completely mistaken about who invited people to Bleakly Manor, which is awesome.*I loved the tidbits of information about the Twelve Days of Christmas. I had always wondered about it due to the famous Christmas song.What I didn’t like: *I'm noticing a trend in some clean romance novels of extremely steamy kisses without crossing into questionable waters. It's not what I prefer. I think there were two steamy (but not inappropriate) kisses in this story. I felt a bit impatient when this happened even though they weren't very long. I'm not reducing any stars for this dislike of mine, because I think that the book is definitely clean and I know many readers of clean romance enjoy steamy-clean stories.*Not precisely a dislike, but I did notice that the 12 Days of Bleakly Manor, which start on December 24th, don't quite line up with the Twelve Days of Christmas, which begin on December 25th. I asked Ms. Griep about this, and she explained that it was intentional.***********The bottom line: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I recommend it to fans of Agatha Christie, cozy historical mysteries, and Christian historical romance. The next book I read by Ms. Griep might be Out of the Frying Pan , as I recently picked up a Kindle copy for free! I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, what a refreshingly unique tale of mystery and romance set over the holidays in 1850's, England! I enjoyed following this group of colorful characters through the Twelve Days of Christmas in the manor house, each with their own motivation for being there. A bit of other classic tales cleverly mixed in gave it an authentic flavor; one slice Dickens, Christie and a bit of Dumas. Lyrical, descriptive writing, with quotable lines added to the reading pleasure, plus some action. A choice between Wow, what a refreshingly unique tale of mystery and romance set over the holidays in 1850's, England! I enjoyed following this group of colorful characters through the Twelve Days of Christmas in the manor house, each with their own motivation for being there. A bit of other classic tales cleverly mixed in gave it an authentic flavor; one slice Dickens, Christie and a bit of Dumas. Lyrical, descriptive writing, with quotable lines added to the reading pleasure, plus some action. A choice between seeking revenge and holding onto bitterness, versus choosing to love and forgive, was a prominent theme. Recommend to readers who enjoy historical mystery and clean romance, with some faith.(An e-book was provided by NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.)
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  • Heidi Robbins (Heidi Reads...)
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't quite know what to expect when I started this book, which is always fun because I start out with an open mind and enjoy the surprises on my reading journey. Clara and Ben and the other characters that are invited to Bleakly Manor don't know what to expect either which enhanced the mysteriousness of the event and the secret benefactor. While Clara and Ben's reunion is a bit rocky, I loved seeing them reconcile and reignite their love, while the rest of the plot turns into a cozy mystery I didn't quite know what to expect when I started this book, which is always fun because I start out with an open mind and enjoy the surprises on my reading journey. Clara and Ben and the other characters that are invited to Bleakly Manor don't know what to expect either which enhanced the mysteriousness of the event and the secret benefactor. While Clara and Ben's reunion is a bit rocky, I loved seeing them reconcile and reignite their love, while the rest of the plot turns into a cozy mystery with increasing danger and mishaps that threaten the occupants. A fun holiday story with elements of suspense and romance!(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    I've had the pleasure of reading some unique Christmas reads this year, and 12 Days at Bleakly Manor is no exception! This story is a fun mystery, full of an intriguing cast of secondary characters and endearing leads. I wasn't expecting the slightly spooky feeling to the plot, and I thought the way everything is revealed later, and the connection to Charles Dickens, to be a great way to tie it all together. My favorite part of the story was wondering what was going to happen to the rag-tag bunc I've had the pleasure of reading some unique Christmas reads this year, and 12 Days at Bleakly Manor is no exception! This story is a fun mystery, full of an intriguing cast of secondary characters and endearing leads. I wasn't expecting the slightly spooky feeling to the plot, and I thought the way everything is revealed later, and the connection to Charles Dickens, to be a great way to tie it all together. My favorite part of the story was wondering what was going to happen to the rag-tag bunch of people who occupied Bleakly Manor.I do admit that I prefer Griep's full length novels; I didn't reach the same level of enjoyment while reading this novella, but I still enjoyed the time spent reading it. I also admit that I haven't read anything by Charles Dickens except for A Christmas Carol, so there may have been references that I wasn't quite getting. Regardless, it was still a fun story, and I recommend picking up if you're looking for a quirky Christmas read!I received a complimentary copy of this novella. I was not required to post a review; the opinions expressed here are my own.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    My thanks to NetGalley and Barbour Publishing, Inc. for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.This book wasn't quite a good fit for me. I loathe Charles Dicken's writing, so I have no idea how the characters and story line of this book tie in with anything of his. Which wasn't a bad thing, per say, but connections between this and his writing completely went over my head. This book also went by INCREDIBLY quickly, to the point where I felt the character development and plot line suffered. My thanks to NetGalley and Barbour Publishing, Inc. for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.This book wasn't quite a good fit for me. I loathe Charles Dicken's writing, so I have no idea how the characters and story line of this book tie in with anything of his. Which wasn't a bad thing, per say, but connections between this and his writing completely went over my head. This book also went by INCREDIBLY quickly, to the point where I felt the character development and plot line suffered. And the characters were pretty 1D and stereotypical. The volatile and rude French woman, the slimy guy who didn't get the idea that the pretty heroine wanted nothing to do with him, etc. And the little old lady who had a box full of mice friends? Her name was Miss Scurry. I kid you not.The plot KINDA made sense, but the explanation was so over the top, it kicked me right out of the story. Suspension of disbelief is necessary when reading a work of fiction and if the author tromps all over that, then the book isn't going to be as enjoyable as it could be.This wasn't badly written, just somewhat rushed and cliche and unbelievable at points. There is a teaser for the next book in the series at the end of this one and it seemed more my speed, a fake fiancee/wife plot, which I tend to have a soft spot for. So I'm not going to shun this author. The writing has promise and the Christian overtones aren't in the reader's face, nor are they nonexistent. It is a delicate balance and I feel it is met. Maybe a tad on the less rather than more side, but nothing objectionable on my reading of it.This book wasn't quite for me, but if you enjoy historical mystery/romance with a Christian bent and you like Charles Dicken's work, then this book may work for you very well. 2, I just couldn't get into it, stars.
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  • Megan
    January 1, 1970
    Prepare yourself to be highly entertained by this delightful book! "12 Days at Bleakly Manor" by Michelle Griep is the first book in the "Once Upon a Dickens Christmas" series. Ms. Griep fills her story with danger and mystery, leaving the reader guessing as to what will happen next! "12 Days at Bleakly Manor" is a mix of Charles Dickens's "Bleak House", Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None", and pure genius. I love BBC's version of "Bleak House", so I was excited to pick this book up. I' Prepare yourself to be highly entertained by this delightful book! "12 Days at Bleakly Manor" by Michelle Griep is the first book in the "Once Upon a Dickens Christmas" series. Ms. Griep fills her story with danger and mystery, leaving the reader guessing as to what will happen next! "12 Days at Bleakly Manor" is a mix of Charles Dickens's "Bleak House", Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None", and pure genius. I love BBC's version of "Bleak House", so I was excited to pick this book up. I've never read "And Then There Were None", but I didn't feel like I was missing anything by not having read the book. It was fun for me to pick up the "Bleak House" nods throughout the story. Ms. Griep reminds me of Dickens in the way that she shows and describes the conditions of prisons, the plight of the poor in Victorian England and the unfair and corrupt justice system. This story is a fast-paced read with amazing characters and a gothic, mysterious setting. Ms. Griep employs great descriptions and word pictures. There is a darker side to the goings-on at Bleakly Manor. I appreciate how Ms. Griep gives the readers a helpful list and description (at the back of the book) of the Victorian Christmas traditions that are mentioned in the story. If you think the people at your Christmas get-togethers are crazy, check out this group at Bleakly Manor! Some of the characters have very funny and weird idiosyncrasies and eccentricities, which makes the story all the more interesting. With everything going on in the house and mystery looming everywhere, can the characters trust that God is in control? "12 Days at Bleakly Manor" is a novel of second chances and choosing between revenge and forgiveness. There is a theme of trust and a strong faith element. I very much enjoyed this book!Content: This is a clean read. There is a scene where a man is in prison and the conditions are described vividly, which might make sensitive readers uncomfortable. It also mentions that a character swears, but the word is not actually used.Rating: I give this book 4.5 stars.Genre: Christian historical fiction; Victorian England; MysteryI want to thank Michelle Griep, Shiloh Run Press and Barbour Publishing for the complimentary copy of this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I express in this review are my own. This is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s CFR 16, Part 255.
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  • Chautona Havig
    January 1, 1970
    Right off the bat… or rather, the balustrade, I give this book five… ten… twenty stars? Can I do that? I’m calling it 35 stars. Why? Because I’m giving these stars “dog years.” Seven times five… Okay, so why am I piling on the praise for 12 Days at Bleakly Manor?Well, the first star toward “I loved it” came with a fun plot device—a multi-layered plot that made you recognize characters that could have inspired beloved Dickens characters such as Miss Flite and her flock of birds from Bleak House, Right off the bat… or rather, the balustrade, I give this book five… ten… twenty stars? Can I do that? I’m calling it 35 stars. Why? Because I’m giving these stars “dog years.” Seven times five… Okay, so why am I piling on the praise for 12 Days at Bleakly Manor?Well, the first star toward “I loved it” came with a fun plot device—a multi-layered plot that made you recognize characters that could have inspired beloved Dickens characters such as Miss Flite and her flock of birds from Bleak House, Mr. Smallweed, also from Bleak House, and Amy Dorrit from Little Dorrit.Yes, I know this is Bleakly Manor, but um… sorry. I see more Little Dorrit in Clara than I do Esther Summerson or any of the other characters (except Judy was in there with Mr. Smallweed. I also saw other characters in this one—namely Ben Lane reminds me much of John Harmon from Our Mutual Friend and Arthur Clennam from Little Dorrit. Seeing how Michelle Griep used these characters in this book, I see it as an alternative story for how Dickens could have gotten his ideas.Oh… and if that wasn’t wonderful enough, the plot is more than just a twist on Dickens. Ms. Griep brought in a bit of Agatha Christie, too. And she did it without “over-copying” an already over-used device. "And Then There Were None" this is not. But it is. Alas, it is not. Squee!The second star…Well, that’s for simple and beautiful prose. I deliberately did not say “simply beautiful” because I wanted to emphasize that the prose in this book is lovely. Ms. Griep has taken the time to turn phrases with a careful wielding of perfectly chosen words. And in doing so, she’s ensured that I loved the book.I have to admit that a tiny part of me dreaded reading it. I was so afraid it would be full of Dickensesque “purple prose.” I mean, it’s what people do when they try to embrace the “genius” of Dickens. Yeah. Whatever. Dickens could have taken a few writing lessons from Michelle Griep. We’d have all been better off for it, too.So, what about that third star?The third one came when I guessed a bunch of what would happen—and she still made me turn each page with that kind of excited anticipation of “what’s going to happen next?” Seriously? That’s some awesome writing, folks. I knew. I wasn’t wrong. But man, I wanted to “find out.” She captivated my mind and attention.Star four?Well, that one was the easiest of all. She got me. One plot point totally took me by surprise. Yep, I got all the rest—really! All of it. No, wait. Two spots. I didn’t expect another thing, either. So if you read the book, on the day everyone arrives, Clara does something that I would never have predicted. It fit, but it totally took me by surprise.Then, of course, there’s star five.Okay, so let’s see, stunning cover, clever plot idea, fabulous characters, wonderful prose, throw me for a loop, and keep me reading when I’ve figured out most of the book… What else could there possibly be to make me say this book is worth five stars (times 7)?You know that beautiful prose? Ms. Griep didn’t just write a solid book with beautiful turns of phrases. She also has a great grasp of writing itself. Aside from a few annoying “thens” (my personal dislike because it chops up the narrative), I didn’t find myself thinking, “Ugh… info dumpy” or “ugh… passive.” I’m not saying there weren’t moments where there were things I’d normally be bothered by. There could be!But here’s the thing. I don’t know it because the writing is so good that I didn’t notice it. And that’s all that matters to me.Recommended for everyone—Christian or not (although some parts do have a strong faith element). Well, I’ll throw in a caveat. If you hate anything remotely historical or related to Dickens, then skip it. But man, you’re missing out.Easily in my top three books that I read this year.
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  • Aimee (Getting Your Read On)
    January 1, 1970
    I know it's not the Christmas season, but this book sure put me in the mind for it! I love the cover for this book and I'm so excited to see that this is the beginning of a new series from Michelle Griep. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.This book had a bit of everything. It's a cozy mystery with romance and a dash of danger. I loved how the characters came alive for me- jumping out from the pages like a movie in my head. This book should be a movie!! I'm envisioning hot chocol I know it's not the Christmas season, but this book sure put me in the mind for it! I love the cover for this book and I'm so excited to see that this is the beginning of a new series from Michelle Griep. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.This book had a bit of everything. It's a cozy mystery with romance and a dash of danger. I loved how the characters came alive for me- jumping out from the pages like a movie in my head. This book should be a movie!! I'm envisioning hot chocolate and a cozy blanket with my girls. :)Yes, this book is set during Christmas but don't let that stop you from reading it at any time of the year. I loved that as a reader, I didn't have a clue as to what was going on. I was right there with the characters, wondering and trying to figure things out. It made me feel like I was a part of the book in some way.This was such a fun story! I can't wait for the next one!Content: mild violence, kissing- I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    What an intriguing book. I love the premise and it did deliver.Clara and Ben have some major misunderstandings to work through but once the truth is revealed all will be good, right?The cast of characters are rich in personality. Michelle did a wonderful job of giving everyone their own voice.This will begin to get you in the Christmas frame of mine a bit early, but it’s never too early for Christmas is it?A copy of this book was given to me through Netgalley.com. All opinions are my own.
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  • Carol
    January 1, 1970
    What a fun book. I loved this book, can't wait for the next one in the series to come out.
  • Judy Lesley
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you to NetGalley and Barbour Publishing, Inc., Shiloh Run Press for allowing me to read this digital book galley.I truly enjoyed this well plotted mystery novel filled with well developed characters. Six people receive an invitation to spend the Twelve Days of Christmas at Bleakly Manor, beginning on December 25, 1850 and ending at midnight on January 5, 1851. Each is promised something that they desperately want or need will be their reward for spending the season there. Once they arrive Thank you to NetGalley and Barbour Publishing, Inc., Shiloh Run Press for allowing me to read this digital book galley.I truly enjoyed this well plotted mystery novel filled with well developed characters. Six people receive an invitation to spend the Twelve Days of Christmas at Bleakly Manor, beginning on December 25, 1850 and ending at midnight on January 5, 1851. Each is promised something that they desperately want or need will be their reward for spending the season there. Once they arrive at Bleakly, however, they discover that only one will receive the promised reward for staying the entire time and anyone who leaves before time is up, regardless of reason, forfeits their chance at the reward. The mixture of character types was quite interesting and the author, Michelle Griep, was very clever about keeping the true motivations of each person well under wraps. There are no deaths which take place, but this is definitely a series of mysteries. In the first place no one knows the identity of the owner of Bleakly Manor. Neither do they know whether the six guests are who or what they claim to be. So prepare yourself for a Christian mystery novel where faith, love, and charity all play their part in helping...........Ah, but that's where the twists begin so you really need to read this to find out how these strangers deal with all the misfortunes and adventures they find themselves involved in. A sweet love story is the main basis for the novel, but trying to figure out what is going on will bring readers enjoyment also.The first chapter of book two in the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series, A Tale of Two Hearts, is included at the end of the book.
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  • MJSH
    January 1, 1970
    This book was my introduction to Michelle Griep's writing and, wow, it was a fun ride! This book combines a little history, plenty of mystery and intrigue, and a heapful of romance to draw the reader in from page one. The writing is easy to follow and the book is very well-written. The plot is engaging and there are many twists and turns in the storyline that the reader is kept guessing until the very end of the book. The premise of the book reminded me of the board game Clue...or Agatha Christi This book was my introduction to Michelle Griep's writing and, wow, it was a fun ride! This book combines a little history, plenty of mystery and intrigue, and a heapful of romance to draw the reader in from page one. The writing is easy to follow and the book is very well-written. The plot is engaging and there are many twists and turns in the storyline that the reader is kept guessing until the very end of the book. The premise of the book reminded me of the board game Clue...or Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. Three men and three women are invited to Bleakley Manor for the Twelve Days of Christmas celebration and they are promised something in return if they stay the entire twelve nights - but the promised reward is only for the last person remaining at the end of twelve days. Cue the rolling fog and eery music....Clara and Ben, the main characters of the story and two of the invited, are wonderfully detailed in their personalities, flaws, dreams, and desires. Their shared painful past divides them but also draws them together. I'm definitely looking forward to the second installment of this series and will be on the look out for more of Michelle Griep's books. I received an ARC of the book from Barbour Publishing via NetGalley. I was not required to write a review or a favorable review. All comment and opinions are solely my own.
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  • writer...
    January 1, 1970
    Great concept and multiple character stories as we watch the twelve days of Christmas unfold. Great start to this series has me anticipating #2...Enjoyed my read in the audio download version from my library.
  • Lynda Edwards
    January 1, 1970
    This book is fun, quirky, and not at all what I expected. Yes, the book is set during Christmas and the days following, but it really isn't a story about the holiday. Instead, Michelle Griep explores relationships and how we perceive people, both those long acquainted but separated for a time, and those who are strangers until thrust into unusual circumstances together. There's a mysterious air owing to the absent host, who makes many demands of his guests while not even present to enjoy the spe This book is fun, quirky, and not at all what I expected. Yes, the book is set during Christmas and the days following, but it really isn't a story about the holiday. Instead, Michelle Griep explores relationships and how we perceive people, both those long acquainted but separated for a time, and those who are strangers until thrust into unusual circumstances together. There's a mysterious air owing to the absent host, who makes many demands of his guests while not even present to enjoy the spectacle. The guests themselves all have issues of varying types, including an older woman with mice as companions, an inspector who wants to improve his station in life, and our main characters who have to discover the truth and learn to trust each other again; there is no shortage of material in this short novel and the author expertly balances character development without overwhelming the reader with unnecessary information. Even though this book is set during the period around Christmas, it can easily be read and enjoyed at any time of year. I recommend it for those who enjoy Victorian era stories, historical romance readers, and, of course, anyone who likes a story that takes place during Christmas. The author helpfully includes a guide to Victorian Christmas traditions at the end for those who may be unfamiliar with them. I received a free copy of this book from the author and publisher but was not required to write a positive review. The thoughts expressed are both honest and my own.
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  • Becky
    January 1, 1970
    Clara Chapman has fallen from high society, a woman about to be married;to a poor girl taking care of her invalid aunt. When an odd invitation comes, inviting her to spend the 12 Days of Christmas at Bleakly Manor in exchange for a goodly sum, Clara decides to accept the offer. However, things are not as they seem at the old,odd mansion. Other guests show up in hopes of a reward and the host is conspicuously absent.Griep toys with the reader's mind as each guest is presented and well-drawn with Clara Chapman has fallen from high society, a woman about to be married;to a poor girl taking care of her invalid aunt. When an odd invitation comes, inviting her to spend the 12 Days of Christmas at Bleakly Manor in exchange for a goodly sum, Clara decides to accept the offer. However, things are not as they seem at the old,odd mansion. Other guests show up in hopes of a reward and the host is conspicuously absent.Griep toys with the reader's mind as each guest is presented and well-drawn with both clues and secrets. I was glued to my chair as I tried to figure out what part each character would play in the mesmerizing drama. Or was I (and other readers)being intentionally sent on a red-herring chase?Michelle Griep depicts the times, settings, and peoples well. She has proven herself a very versatile writer, able to perform well in whatever genre she chooses.I appreciated the footnote early on that urges reader to see the back of the book for historical traditions. More historical fiction books could take a lesson from Griep. Quotable:"Worrying doesn't stop the bad from happening. It keeps you from enjoying the good."I received an ARC from the author. I am freely leaving this review, for which opinions I am solely responsible.
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  • Lucinda
    January 1, 1970
    This one is so good! How lucky am I to get an ARC! Thank you, Michelle and Barbour Publishing. It gripped me from the first chapter. What happens when the person you loved and thought you knew turns out to be your biggest traitor? And then you come face to face with them and not everything as it seems to be. I loved the backstory between Clara and Ben. There was so much hurt but also so much love. And so many twists in this story! And there's even a little cameo appearance by Charles Dickens! Ho This one is so good! How lucky am I to get an ARC! Thank you, Michelle and Barbour Publishing. It gripped me from the first chapter. What happens when the person you loved and thought you knew turns out to be your biggest traitor? And then you come face to face with them and not everything as it seems to be. I loved the backstory between Clara and Ben. There was so much hurt but also so much love. And so many twists in this story! And there's even a little cameo appearance by Charles Dickens! How cool is that!It's a story of second chances and redeemed love, delivered in Michelle Griep's gripping writing style that I've come to expect and love.Highly recommend!
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  • Arlena
    January 1, 1970
    Title: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor Bleakly ManorAuthor: Michelle GriepPublisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc.Series: Book 1 in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas Reviewed By: Arlena DeanRating: FourReview:"12 Day at Bleakly Manor" by Michelle GriepMy Thoughts.....This was quite a interesting story of Christian historical romance and mystery during 1850's holidays in England. I liked how this author brings to the readers some really intriguing characters during the '12 Days at Bleakly Manor' that had a parti Title: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor Bleakly ManorAuthor: Michelle GriepPublisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc.Series: Book 1 in Once Upon a Dickens Christmas Reviewed By: Arlena DeanRating: FourReview:"12 Day at Bleakly Manor" by Michelle GriepMy Thoughts.....This was quite a interesting story of Christian historical romance and mystery during 1850's holidays in England. I liked how this author brings to the readers some really intriguing characters during the '12 Days at Bleakly Manor' that had a particular reason for being at this location. Be ready for a fast paced, fun, quirky read with a Gothic and mysterious setting with some great descriptions given and even a little bite of danger. What happens when Clara Chapman who was once from a well to do family, rejected by her father and later by her fiance now found to be poor living with her Aunt Deborha receives a cyptic invitation?"The Twelve Days of ChristmasAs never's been reveledYour presence, Miss Chapman,Is respectfully hearld.Bleakly Manor's the placeAnd after twelve nightsFive hundred poundsWill be yours by rights."Who was Benjamin Lane who had been in prison for stealing and is to be deportation to a labor camp from another country. Now what on earth does he have to do with all or this? Well, as the reader continues to read we find that Benjamin believes he was been betrayed by someone he once had loved and that he was also innocent of all of this mess he had been accused of. What will happen when he receives the same invitation to Bleakly Manor that 10 others had received? Now, what will Ben be promised?Will Clara and Ben [the two main characters] who had some huge misunderstandings be able to work through it all out just be able to come to a better understanding of it all?I enjoyed how this author was able to bring in the Christian elements [with trust and faith elements] in this very realistic story that will keep you turning the pages to see what was coming next in this story that was of 'second chances and choosing between revenge ad forgiveness.' I did notice that the '12 day of Bleakly Manor 'started on December 24th and ending January 5, 1851 which I thought was somewhat strange but as I was reading I get this idea from the author was done for a particular reason.This was quite a interesting story after all is said and done. To find all of the answers to the above questions and so much more you will have to pick up this good read that has so many twist to see it's a good story of second chances and redeemed love. This is definitely one of those stories that will keep one guessing until the very end! Even though this novel is around Christmas holiday, I found that it's the kind of read that one can be read at any time of the year.
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  • Susan Snodgrass
    January 1, 1970
    When CLARA CHAPMAN receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, BENJAMIN LANE.Imp When CLARA CHAPMAN receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, BENJAMIN LANE.Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar.Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, 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 . . . loveThis is a cozy mystery with all the right ingredients. Everyone who comes to Bleakly Manor for the 12 days is promised something known only to themselves. Everything is so mysterious, including the manor itself. Nothing is as it seems to these guests for the Twelve Days of Christmas. Reminiscent of Agatha Christie, this mystery will reel you in and keep you guessing to the very end. I'm happy to see there will be more in this series. Michelle Griep is a favorite of mine and she has proven that she is quite capable of switching genres very easily and continuing to be a favorite in each.*I was given a preview copy of this book by the publisher. My opinion is entirely my own.
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  • Amanda Tero
    January 1, 1970
    This was unlike any book I’ve read. Well, almost. In parts, it made me think of “The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin. A group of people have been summoned to Bleakly Manor, each promised a gift—that is, if they can endure the twelve days. Intrigue and mystery weaves through the days of their stay.This novella had a very quaint and old-fashioned appeal to it. The description was lovely and detailed; it lent so much to the feel of the story. In another setting, I might have found the description dra This was unlike any book I’ve read. Well, almost. In parts, it made me think of “The Westing Game” by Ellen Raskin. A group of people have been summoned to Bleakly Manor, each promised a gift—that is, if they can endure the twelve days. Intrigue and mystery weaves through the days of their stay.This novella had a very quaint and old-fashioned appeal to it. The description was lovely and detailed; it lent so much to the feel of the story. In another setting, I might have found the description drag the story down, but here, it just seemed to fit. The characters in this book were all diverse and very interesting.There were references to God sprinkled throughout the entire story, such as “Why, God, why?” and prayers to Him in times of trouble. As for characters who are actively living out a Biblical lifestyle, that was seriously wanting. Not to be harsh, but it didn’t really have the feel or foundation of a Christian book. It was moral, yes; God was mentioned and prayed to, yes; but strong Christian characters? It just seemed lacking to me. Clara and Ben are, for lack of better words, long-lost lovers. Because of their shared history, it doesn’t take long for sparks to renew. There are a couple of semi-detailed kisses and quite a few references of feelings and longings. There was some violence in the climax of the story, which includes blood and attacks. Not to mention all of the “accidents” that happens throughout the entire book. Given this and the romance content, I’d put it at 18+ for conservative readers.The actual plotline and story left me guessing until almost the last chapters. It did seem to jump around, divided by days on top of chapters (some days were five chapters, some were only one), but given the style of the story, it seemed to fit well.For being something different than my normal reading, I enjoyed this. I would have enjoyed it a little more if it was more decidedly Christian, but I realize that is my personal opinion.
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  • Nicole Sterling
    January 1, 1970
    This was quite a charming novel, set during the twelve days of Christmas in 1850. Our main protagonist, Clara, has fallen on hard times after being left at the altar nine months before, and now has to live with her ailing aunt, who is kind and loving, but dying. When she receives an invitation to spend the twelve days of Christmas at Bleakly Manor in exchange for 500 pounds, she hesitates to leave her aunt, even thought that sum of money would help her take care of herself after her aunt passes. This was quite a charming novel, set during the twelve days of Christmas in 1850. Our main protagonist, Clara, has fallen on hard times after being left at the altar nine months before, and now has to live with her ailing aunt, who is kind and loving, but dying. When she receives an invitation to spend the twelve days of Christmas at Bleakly Manor in exchange for 500 pounds, she hesitates to leave her aunt, even thought that sum of money would help her take care of herself after her aunt passes. Her aunt encourages her to go, though, so she does. When she arrives, she finds herself thrown in with an odd assortment of characters, including her ex-fiancé, whom she hadn't seen or heard from since before the wedding day he was absent for. They find themselves in a "Clue"-style situation, where the host is unknown and strange & menacing things keep happening. It was never too convoluted to follow, but it was also never so easy to figure out that I was bored. I enjoyed reading this book, and look forward to reading the second book when it comes out next year. I received a digital ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a truthful review.
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  • Trixi
    January 1, 1970
    What fate awaits a cast of seven eccentric characters who heed the missive of a single gold embossed envelop inviting them to spend 12 days at Bleakly Manor? That's what the reader will find out in this cleverly written mystery! Only one will receive the prize promised within the letter and each are determined to stay. Even when mishaps begin to happen! Mystery, mayhem, a manor full of secrets and a missing host mash up in this page turner! Unique and eccentric characters, vividly told scenery s What fate awaits a cast of seven eccentric characters who heed the missive of a single gold embossed envelop inviting them to spend 12 days at Bleakly Manor? That's what the reader will find out in this cleverly written mystery! Only one will receive the prize promised within the letter and each are determined to stay. Even when mishaps begin to happen! Mystery, mayhem, a manor full of secrets and a missing host mash up in this page turner! Unique and eccentric characters, vividly told scenery so real you think you've stepped in the story yourself, clues cleverly dropped, all sprinkled with a second chance love story. What a fun read! *I received a complimentary early copy from the author. No favorable review was required and opinions expressed here are all my own. *
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  • Nicki
    January 1, 1970
    I felt like I stepped back in time. The manor sounded grand, but a bit bizarre at the same time. What a combination of characters to have at a holiday gathering. Each person had such an interesting reason to be at the manor. I truly expected the servants to slowly disappear one by one and have the guests fix their own meals. This book was a book I had a hard time setting down. I was hoping there was a way for all to get their hearts desire. But only one can win the grand prize. I liked the conce I felt like I stepped back in time. The manor sounded grand, but a bit bizarre at the same time. What a combination of characters to have at a holiday gathering. Each person had such an interesting reason to be at the manor. I truly expected the servants to slowly disappear one by one and have the guests fix their own meals. This book was a book I had a hard time setting down. I was hoping there was a way for all to get their hearts desire. But only one can win the grand prize. I liked the concept of the book. The pace was good and kept me entranced. This story works well for a historic cozy mystery too. What a delight!i received this book on NetGalley.
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