Book Review | The Curiosity Keeper

The Curiosity Keeper
Sarah E. Ladd

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Genre:  Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mysteries
Released:  July 7th, 2015

“It is not just a ruby, as you say. It is large as a quail’s egg, still untouched and unpolished. And it is rumored to either bless or curse whomever possesses it.”

Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop on Blinkett Street. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille has no choice but to accept help from the mysterious stranger who came to her aid.

Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content working as a village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may or may not be the answer to his questions.

Curious circumstance throws them together, and an intricate dance of need and suspicion leads the couple from the seedy backwaters of London to the elite neighborhoods of the wealthy to the lush, green Surrey countryside—all in the pursuit of a blood-red gem that collectors will sacrifice anything to possess.

Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, each will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.

WARNING: Possible Spoilers

{The Basics}
Set on the grimy streets of Blinkett Street, London, our story focuses on a small curiosity shop where a young lady spends her days managing the odds and ends of her father's collector's business.  Camille Iverness longs for one thing: to leave Blinkett Street for the tranquil, pastoral scene masterfully crafted in the painting in her bedchamber.  But due to her devotion to her distant--often absent--father, she remains at the shop, managing books and unruly customers.  That is, until someone stages a break-in, injuring her in the process, and she's rescued by handsome stranger Jonathan Gilchrist, who is attempting to recover a valuable ruby stolen from his father's house.  

And the adventure begins.  Jonathan feels of responsible for Camille's protection and seeks to help her find a new position as a schoolteacher in his hometown of Fellsworth, when her homelife is compromised and she must flee for her life.  Camille begins to experience her dream of living in the country again, but mention of the ruby of which she knows nothing about, threatens to take away that dream once and for all.  Meanwhile, she's falling for Jonathan.  But he's a gentleman, expected to inherit the vast estate of Kettering Hall (should the ruby be found) and she's naught but a shopkeeper's daughter, who's father's reputation is rather questionable at that.

Camille is an independent young woman, but she's made the most of her life working in her father's shop and managing the books.  She's the one who, it seems, has actually kept the business alive.  When circumstances force her to flee that life, she's determined to make her own way.

Jonathan, second son of the reputable Ian Gilchrist, wants a simple life.  He could care less for the want of wealth and despises seeing the greed in others.  Instead, he finds satisfaction as his village's local apothecary.

Both Jonathan's and Camille's fathers are distant to their children.  They care more for material things and neglect their family life.  [This could go in the positives: While Camille's father never really changes, in fact his character seems only to worsen, Ian Gilchrist comes to see that his family is worth more than the wealth he has squandered for a lifetime.  He realizes his mistakes and makes the first step to begin anew.]

A man flirts openly with a woman. Deception plays a large part in the attempt to uncover the whereabouts of the gem--a man and woman work together to gain Camille's trust by feigning friendship in order to gain any knowledge she may have of the ruby.

Romans 8:28 is quoted a time or two, and is Camille's comfort verse.  Jonathan attends service at the local church.

A woman is injured by a knife to her arm during a robbery and a man bursts through a window in an attempt to rescue her.  The displayed items of a shop are broken and destroyed in the ensuing struggle.  [SPOILER] Later, that woman is thrown into the streets by her own father.

This isn't really classified as violence, but scarlet fever plagues a few children (and one teacher) in the school where Camille goes to work and she helps to care for them.

A woman is imprisoned in her own bedroom and later tied hand and foot to keep her from escaping.

{Language, Alcohol & Drugs}
"Blackguard."  A man calls a woman, "little waif."

Brandy.  Wine.  Mention of tobacco.  Medicinal herbs and medicine.

Of course there is attraction between independent Camille and steady Jonathan.  This develops over time, and they hug once and kiss only once.

I loved this book! Definitely my kind of story and I would recommend to all my fellow historical-fiction fans.  I mean, come on! it's set in London, 1812.  There is mystery, intensity, a wee bit of romance, and the value of trust and friendship.  This tale kept me on my toes, and had a couple plot twists I was not expecting, but made the story even more intriguing.  Overall, I enjoyed this book! Definitely a keeper.

Recommended ages: 16+
My rating:

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What's in a Name?

Here's another Name post (finally)!  I already had the first two ready and realized I was still doing a part featuring Scandinavian names.  So, this one has two Finnish for you to peruse.  Perhaps I'll have a few more that hail from Finland in a week or two. . . :]  

(Heheheh, And I'm losing track of which photos I've already used. . . Forgive me if you see a picture that I've previously posted with another name.)

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  English, German, Old High German, Old French
Pronunciation:  GAR-uh-suhn

Meaning & History
Unknown in terms of names. Could possibly be said to mean "to defend, to protect."  Comes from the word of the same name, [noun] meaning "a body of troops stationed in a fortified place; the place where such troops are stationed; any military post, especially a permanent one." [verb] "To provide with a garrison; to occupy with troops; to put on duty in a fort, post, station, etc."

Word origin:  Middle English garisoun protection, stronghold; Old French garison, gareison defense, provision, derivative of garir, guerir to defend; Germanic; compare Old High German to warjan.  (

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  English
Pronunciation:  TESS-ah

Meaning & History
Diminutive of Theresa, which could ultimately be derived from the Greek theros meaning "summer" or therizo meaning "in harvest."

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  Portuguese, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, English, Greek, Biblical Latin, Biblical Greek
Pronunciation:  ǝ-LEE-ǝsh (Portuguese), e-LEE-ahs (German), E-lee-ahs (Finnish), i-LIE-ǝs (English), ee-LIE-ǝs (English)

Meaning & History
Cognate of Elijah, meaning "my God is YAHWEH."  Elias is the form used in the Greek New Testament.

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Finnish
Pronunciation:  LAHH-yah

Meaning & History
Means "gift" in Finnish.

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Names and meanings via &
Photos via Pinterest.

Just to say "Hullo!"

I'm still blogging, I promise!  Forgive my sporadic-ness.  I meant to have an update before now, as well as a long-overdue A+A post, and Name post. . . 

Someday, I will sit down and write an actual post for you.
But it is not this day!  xD

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Of Life & Love. . .In the Midst of Dateship

Hello, all!  It seems like it's been ages since I've posted here--I promise, I have good reasons!  I plan on doing an update soon, but for now I wish to share my thoughts regarding a very important subject that's been on my mind quite often most recently.  I've had this post in the drafts for about two weeks now, studying and tweaking because I don't want to make any mistakes or leave anything out.  
Do you remember my suitor, Evan?  Well, he and I have collaborated and I had asked him to read this beforehand and to add his own thoughts.  I believe it is of great value to know the man's side of the equation, and this is such a perfect way to do so!  He has willingly agreed and you will see his little thoughts and opinions quoted in blue.  As a warning though, this post is quite lengthy and for that, I apologize.  But again, I did not want to cut what I wish to say too short or to leave out what I believe to be important.  So, without further ado, here goes.

Dating and Courting have been defined and re-defined countless times.  But what do you think?  If asked what dating means/what courting is, how would you explain?
In my understanding, dating can be defined in two ways:  a) according to the world, and b) according to a biblical view.  
In the view of the World, dating is seen as a "game" of sorts.  Men and women (and shockingly, teens and pre-teens as young as 12--some younger!) go from one date to the next, essentially searching for pleasure, entertainment, companionship, or something more.  I have heard this "method" described as practice for divorce.  And wow, how true is that?  Just look at those around you.  The cute teen at church arrives for service with a different guy nearly every Sunday.  The college student believes he's going steady with his girl for a month or two, then has his heart broken when she notices his friend has a freer schedule.  The pretty nurse is excited for the second date with an awesome guy, but finds him no longer interested when she says no to an "activity."  These are merely examples, but something serious to think about.  With this practice, how long do you think these people will stay married?

To the world, we either play the Game or are frowned upon and constantly questioned. 

So, what about the biblical view? 

Our bodies are meant to be sacred temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20).  One man, one woman.  NO EXCEPTIONS.  The covenant of marriage is a beautiful commitment not only to each spouse, but to God as well.  A covenant marriage is of great glory to God.  And by following His Word and commands in marriage and life, you will glorify Him and give light to both believers and unbelievers.
Oh my.  There is so much that can be added here to help better explain the biblical view, but I feel right now I should save that for another time.  Today, I wish you to see the bare basics: God created marriage for His glory.  And yes, it is possible to go from one date to another without indulging in sex and still remain pure in both mind and spirit.  But do remember, the flesh is weak.  "Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life." (Proverbs 4:23, HCSB)

With all of that said, this is how I understand. . .

Time spent getting to know a person you are interested in with the ultimate goal being a permanent relationship: Marriage.  
This includes activities such as going to the movies, taking a picnic lunch to the mountains or local park, or even working simple tasks around the house--mixing laundry detergent, setting up for an outdoor cook-out, or drying the dishes.  Your outings/activities will be unique to you and your person-of-interest.  It's important to know what each of you enjoy and to do a little bit of everything.
(Also, don't limit this to just you and your special friend.  Include your family!  They'll be around even after you're married, and it's of great value that they get along well with your guy.)

The period of time spent furthering the "dating" relationship, taking it to a new level; the stage before engagement.
In my mind, this definition closely resembles that of the above term, but with the exception that it is taken to a new level.  Dating is the stage of "getting to know" the other person, while Courting (or courtship) is dating with the knowledge you want to marry that person.  Hence, you do much of the same things as with dating, but you communicate your hopes and expectations regarding life and marriage.  "It would be painful to invest so much into a relationship without really knowing how the other truly felt. You may believe that this person is right for you after a little while, but you cannot be sure that the other will share those same beliefs about you. He or she may come to believe that neither of you are right for each other."

Once Evan and I began dating, now nearly four months ago (whoa!), he made this statement:  
"I have always considered courting to be the final step before engagement.  For me, courting is when you decide that the person you have been getting to know better really is someone you could spend your life with.  You start to talk about very intimate subjects, such as finances, sex, children, living locations, and so forth.  Also, as a man, courting would not start until I am positive that I can provide for the woman financially.  As I don't believe I will be able to do this for another year or so, I don't think it right to enter into such a binding agreement.  At least for me, that is the case.  But I am not saying that I do not look forward to entering such an agreement, only that right now, I don't believe it accurate to describe our relationship.  I like you, you like me, and we would like to get to know each other better."

Now, he no longer views this statement to be fully accurate in our relationship and I agree that nothing is set in stone.  They are apt to change and will definitely differ with each couple.  I had many ideas and views of what and how I would go about a courtship with a guy--things I'd thought of years ago--and now that I'm in an actual relationship (which still feels so surreal!), those views have changed somewhat, but in a good way.  It just goes to show that something you think of may turn out to be completely different once you are in that position yourself.


Ah, and now we must dig a little deeper.

In the Dating stage, and Courting as well, you must set boundaries.  There's one thing about being friends, but once you spend time around the opposite gender, there will be some form of attraction, regardless if they are the one for you or not.  Hey, we are merely human, but that doesn't excuse our behavior to other children of God.  

Three things:
First things first, drown this relationship in prayer.  If you and your guy are serious about taking the dating stage further and for the purpose of marriage, you're gonna need some serious help.  God must remain first in your life, or you will never be satisfied on this earth.  No man can satisfy the God-sized hole in your heart.  It's God-sized for a reason.  "Also, because if we are honest with ourselves, we are very weak. Once you start thinking you're fine and become comfortable, stuff happens that can bring regret and consequences. Pray to the Lord for help every day. And set yourselves up for success."

Secondly, you and your person-of-interest should choose whether or not to make physical contact.  If so, you should probably limit to hugs and holding hands.  Anything more could lead to dangerous territory.  You want a clear conscience and no regret.  Also, decide on the smoochy-smoochidy thing.  (You know what I mean!)  :]  In giving a guy a kiss--whether on the cheek or lips--you are sharing an intimate gift.

Think of it as a charm bracelet laden with many rare and precious gems.  Each gem represents an action of love--a hand to hold, an "I love you," a kiss.  When you give one of these actions away, you give the gem to match.  This is a beautiful visual of just how valuable your purity is.  Would you want your gems to be scattered among several different guys, or would you want to give the whole bracelet and every last precious stone to one special man?  (Brio & Beyond, Focus on the Family's magazine for young women, April 2008)

Thirdly, seek the counsel and prayers of others.  Your relationship should not be a secret, and if it is, watch out! for every hidden thing will find the light no matter what you do to prevent it.  Scripture says, "Without guidance, people fall, but with many counselors there is deliverance." (Proverbs 11:14, HCSB)  Admit it, we would never survive this life without the strength and encouragement of our friends and family.  God made us to be companion-creatures.  No one truly enjoys solitude.  We need each other!

I pray this post serves to encourage you and help you along your way.  If you have any questions whatsoever, I'd be pleased to answer them!   And Evan has expressed his willingness to answer for the man's side as well (within reason).  :]  Please feel free to comment below!  If we have enough inquiries regarding these subjects, I may just post a Q & A follow-up.

A huge thank-you to him for helping me out with this post!  *applause all around*  :D

Evan & I -- Gatlinburg, TN 
Oh, I am so blessed.  God is so good to me, and that seems like a colossal understatement.  He has never failed me, though I fail Him every day.  I do not deserve His unconditional love, nor His sweet mercy and amazing grace.  Despite all my failures, He loves me anyway.  Oh, what joy I find in Him!

One of His blessings to me is the sweet friendship of Evan.  Over the past couple months of getting to know each other (though we've been friends with one another and our families for about six years now), I have come to care deeply for him.  He is my best friend and I thank my God for him everyday.  I don't know exactly what God has in store for the two of us, but we are learning to fully rely and trust in Him.  As we travel the road of this new adventure, we hope to be a light for those who come after.  May God grant us wisdom, patience, compassion, and understanding to follow His lead.

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What's in a Name?

Had a request for some Scandinavian names.  And because there are three different kingdoms that make up the region of Scandinavia, I decided to take these next few Name posts into three themes.  Today's comprises of Norwegian names!

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  Norwegian, Ancient Scandinavian
Pronunciation:  brinn-YAR, brien-YAR (possibly)

Meaning & History
Derived from the Old Norse elements bryn "armour" and arr "warrior."

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Estonian, Slovene
Pronunciation:  KAH-yah (Estonian)

Meaning & History
Scandinavian diminutive of Katarina, which is derived from the English name Katherine, ultimately meaning "pure."

Gender:  Masculine
Usage:  Norwegian
Pronunciation:  hal-DOR (most likely)

Meaning & History
From the Old Norse name Hallþórr, meaning "Thor's rock."

Gender:  Feminine
Usage:  English, Italian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Ancient Roman, Roman Mythology
Pronunciation:  kǝ-MIL-lǝ (English), kah-MEEL-lah (Italian, Danish), KAH-meel-lah (Finnish)

Meaning & History
Feminine form of Camillus, meaning unknown.  This was the given name of a legendary warrior maiden of the Volsci, as told by Virgil in the "Aeneid."  It gained popularity in the English-speaking world thanks to Fanny Burney's novel "Camilla" (1796). 


Have a lovely week, my faithful friends!

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Names and meanings via
Photos via Pinterest.

Double Liebster Award!!

I was tagged the Liebster Award by two of my new, lovely friends, Katie Grace of A Writer's Faith, and Leah of the blog Princess Leah.  Thank you bunches, dearies!  I love all of your questions.  These tags are such fun!


- Thank the person(s) who nominated you and link to their blog(s) -
- Answer the 11 questions from the blog who nominated you -
- Nominate 11 bloggers to receive this award -
- Come up with 11 questions for your nominees! -

- Katie's Questions -
1.  Why do you write?
          "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere! I want it more than I can tell."  But maybe not entirely in a literal sense. . .unless of course Gandalf shows up at my door, then I might consider packing up and leaving hearth and home. . .  But seeing as he's yet to show, I create adventure with pen and paper.  
          Also, oral speech is not really a strong point of mine.  I suppose that's why I enjoy writing so much, it gives strength to my "voice."
2.  If any fictional character could be your best friend, who would it be?
          Good gravy.  That's a hard one. . . Toothless.  Definitely Toothless, from Dreamworks How to Train Your Dragon.  And why not?  He's loyal, adorable, fierce when need be, and you can ride him!
3.  What's one really weird dream you've had?
          Heheh.  I've had several of these, but sadly none come to mind except one that was about an ant and a T-rex. . . O_o  That's all I remember of it, really.  Just that those two VERY different creatures were in it. . . and it was kinda scary. . .
4.  If you found a portal that could transport you to any fictional world of your choice, where would you go?
          Oh my.  NARNIA.  Or maybe Middle Earth!  Yes! I could go to Rivendell and live with the Elves, visit Gondor, and maybe stay awhile in Rohan. . .  Oh, that's so hard.  Maybe I'd go to Middle Earth for awhile, find an old wardrobe or painting somewhere, and then head to Narnia.  :]
5.  Paperback or Kindle?  Why?
          Paperback!  I love the feel of paper.  I like being able to physically turn the pages and then see just how far I've read.  And the smell!  I love the smell of books.  Also, many things can happen with digital copies of anything.  There's just something about books.
6.  What's one post you've written that you are most proud of? 
          Probably the Valentine short story I wrote earlier this year:  A Letter for Lillian.  I was especially pleased with how it turned out.  And I know the question said "one post," but I'm also quite proud of this motivational post for writers: "He never knew he was whipped. . . So he never was."
7.  What's an interesting quirk that you have?
          I love Legos.  :]
8.  Can you share a picture of your bookshelf? (more commonly known as a #shelfie)
           Sure.  But please know, my books are scattered EVERYWHERE.  In closets, on the headboard of my bed, on my desk. . . 
The over-laden bookshelves.
headboard of meh bed
9.  What are three things on your bucket list?  Or do you even have a bucket list?
          I don't have one.  But I hope to one day finish and publish my WIP, Safia.  I'd also LOVE to travel internationally--Australia has always been on my mind, and then there's Europe and New Zealand.  And someday marry my best friend and start a family.
10.  How old were you when you started writing?
          Hmm.  Would you believe I didn't start seriously writing until about four years ago, around the age of 17-18?  I had tried a few short stories before then, but they just didn't seem any good.  And then came the idea for Safia's story and all of the planning and writing exploded and went from there.
11.  Share the last sentence of your WIP with us!
          As it is still a work in progress, I don't really have a "last sentence."  So I thought I'd share the last sentence of the first chapter but when I looked, I nearly laughed aloud, for it was only three words long.  So, here is the last paragraph. . . Hopefully, that'll do.

          Her thoughts were muddled, she couldn't tell if she was underwater or above. Vaguely, she remembered Konner protectively wrapping his arms around her.
          All was black.


- Leah's Questions -
1.  What is your biggest fear?
          The night and what creatures may walk there. . . Like big, creepy dogs and such. . . 
2.  Who is your favorite Author?
          You ask me this?  GAH.  But I have so many. . . Louis L'Amour!  I've loved his westerns for as long as I can remember.  
3.  Do you like rooms to be super bright or do you prefer dim light? (I know, weird question)
          Hmmm.  Wow, that's a great question.  I dunno.  I believe it would depend on my mood.  If I am reading or working on something, I like light.  But if I'm tired and simply relaxing or watching a movie or counting the stars, keep the lights dim!
4.  What is your biggest pet peeve?
          When people talk with their mouths full of food.  O_o  Yeah, I know.  But I can't stand it!! 
5.  What is your hidden talent?

          BAHAHA!! Just kidding.  I suppose my hidden talent is dancing. . .  Does that count?  I don't do much of it anymore, but I still love ballet and feel I was made for it.  I even heard a dance instructor say I had the natural build and grace for ballet.  So pleased that she thought so!
6.  Did you change a lot since you were a child?  If so, how?
          Um, yes, actually.  I used to be so shy, I wouldn't talk to anyone except my family and friends.  And in grade school, I would only whisper to my buddies or the teacher.  *le gasp* Hahaha! now, speaking is a little easier.  And it helps that I work at LifeWay, where I meet people ALL the time.
7.  Are you sarcastic, deep, sweet, or undefinable?  
          Sweet.  I've been told I'm sweet. ^_^
8.  When you raise your eyes from this computer screen, what are you looking at?
          *eyes widen*  Should I really tell you??  *sighs* Well, I'm sitting in the family living room. . . So when I look up, there's the huge flat screen TV staring blankly at me.  But believe me, the rainy landscape outside the windows are more my style. 
9.  What is your realistic/unrealistic dream job?
          To be a professional ballerina.
10.  What was your first job?
          Part-time secretary for my home church of Clearwater Baptist.
11.  Do you have a tan right now?

          Haha, not really.  I don't tan very easily.  I BURN.  Though the past couple years, I have darkened considerably, I think. . .  Until I'm standing next to my two sisters and it's more like, "NOPE."


Thank you, ladies!  This was a load of fun.  I so enjoyed answering each of your questions.

But now, it's my turn!
I tag. . . 

Christine @ Musings of an Elf
Jameson C. Smith @ Lovely Whatsoevers
H.M. Wilson @ Plottinger Twist
Alea @ Elvish Pens, Fantastical Writings
Lizzie @ World of Noise
Ally @ The Scribbling Sprite
Jillian @ Covers and Ink
Brittney @ Daughter of the King
Hannah @ The Daisy Tree
Joy @ Fullness of Joy
Kiri Liz @ Lianne Timenlore

You are not obligated to partake of this award!  But I hope you do!!!

Here are my questions to you:

1.  What is your favorite meal of all time?
2.  If you could choose to travel back in time, to which era would you go to? (the days before Christ? Medieval ages? Western 17-1800s? etc...)
3.  Are you a writer?  If so, please summarize your story/novel/WIP in THREE sentences. (Mwahahahaha xD)
4.  Where would your ideal dream home be?
5.  What person in your life is closest to you, and how and where did you meet?
6.  Favorite ice-cream flavor?
7.  Very quickly (and yes, this requires MOVING), stand from where you are, walk ten paces, turn right, step two, turn left, step five paces.  Where are you now?  And were there any obstacles in your way? If so, what are they?
8.  If you and your best friend were stranded on an island, and you could choose three items to help you survive/escape, what would they be?
9.  If you could give your ten-years-from-now-future-self ONE piece of advice, what would it be?
10.  Camping/back-packing trip, or beach vacation?
11.  What is your realistic/unrealistic dream job?

Have fun, my lovelies!

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