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A Tale of Two Hearts by Michelle Griep

Book 2 in Reader Favorite Michelle Griep’s Charming Once Upon a Dickens Christmas Series

London, 1853: Innkeeper’s daughter Mina Scott will do anything to escape the drudgery of her life, for there’s nothing more mundane than serving customers day after day. Every minute she can, she reads and dreams of someday becoming a real lady—and catch the eye of William Barlow, a frequent guest at the inn.

William is a gentleman’s son, a charming but penniless rogue. However, his bachelor uncle will soon name an heir—either him or his scheming cousin. In an effort to secure the inheritance, William gives his uncle the impression he’s married, which works until he’s invited to bring his wife for a visit.

William asks Mina to be his pretend bride, only until his uncle names an heir on Christmas Day. Mina is flattered and frustrated by the offer, for she wants a true relationship with William. Yet, she agrees. . .then wishes she hadn’t. So does William. Deceiving the old man breaks both their hearts. When the truth is finally discovered, more than just money is lost.

Can two hearts survive such deception?

I’m struggling to even begin this review because the sheer poetry of this book leaves me speechless. Griep’s ability to transport you back in time and directly into the lives of Mina Scott and William Barlow is astounding. When Mina first accepts William’s offer I shook my head much in the same way as Miss Whymsy. No good would come of this deception and yet how we all do try to take the reins and drive our own lives instead of leaving things in the hands of the master. The truth will always reveal itself eventually, the only true question is how far down the rabbit hole are you willing to go in order to avoid discovery?

We meet several noteworthy characters throughout A Tale of Two Hearts and each one appeared for a special purpose. Effie reminds Mina that heroines do not sink despairingly into the fog, but choose instead to face their problems bravely in order to do what is right.

Mina has always wanted to be a true lady, but through meeting Will’s cousins, she learns a valuable lesson. Having the things of the world does not equate to happiness. True happiness lies within. I’m leaving a quote from the book here because it so perfectly sums up what I am trying to say. Mina to Will, “There’s value in that, in the sharing of joy and tears, and that’s what makes life worthwhile. Not what we do or what we accomplish.”

Finding true joy is not an easy task, nor should it be. But finding joy in the pain of everyday life, and in death, lies in our ability to trust that God has our best interests at heart. This is the truth that both Mina and William search for as their deception comes to light and all hope seems to be lost. There is never a hopeless situation for God is always by our side.

I encourage you to read this book. Its story and meaning will give you plenty to think about and the beauty of description in the pages cannot be denied.

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