A tale of mystery, danger, and romance... It Started in Budapest by Julie Daines (Review & #Giveaway) @Covenant_Comm

Welcome to my tour stop! I've been so excited for this new series revolving around the Orient Express!
Read my thoughts on the first book and enter the giveaway below from Covenant Communications...

It Started in Budapest
(Romance on the Orient Express #1)
By Julie Daines
Adult Historical Romance
Paperback & ebook, 177 Pages
August 10, 2020 by Covenant Communications


Molly Cooper is haunted by one simple fact: it is her fault her twin brother, Matthew, has spent his life trapped in a frail body while she has thrived. Deep in her heart, she knows he can't hold on much longer . . .

In her desperation to save her brother, Molly finds inspiration in an unlikely source: the newly published novel Dracula. When her family embarks on the Orient Express to seek treatment for Matthew in Bulgaria, Molly is prepared to set her plan in motion: she will sneak away from her parents and journey alone to Transylvania, where she will seek a vampire, whose blood can make her brother immortal. Molly's rash plan is going flawlessly—until she encounters Percy Hunt, a handsome American traveler running from the shadows of his own past. When he discovers Molly's plan, Percy's concern for the naive young woman leaves him no choice but to accompany her on her strange quest. But neither Percy nor Molly is prepared for the feelings that quickly grow between them or for the death-defying escapade that awaits.

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My Review

IT STARTED IN BUDAPEST is a great start to this new series revolving around the Orient Express. With plenty of elements of mystery, a bit of danger, a romance that is quick but also slow-building, and with vivid historical details, readers are sure to enjoy this story immensely!

This author's writing style always works well for me, and my experience was no different in this newest release. Not only did I feel immersed in this time period and the lushness of the Orient Express, I also fell in love with these complex characters. I do love the classic mysteries, like Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes, and this did feel somewhat nostalgic in that way. There is just a feel to their stories, maybe due to a similar time period, but this story felt much like theirs do. Then there was the way Dracula is used in this story, which I thought quite ingenious and a very fun plot point.

On the surface, these characters first come across lightly. However, as the story progresses, you learn that they both deal with quite a bit of heartbreak, and it was heartbreaking to read of their losses and struggles. They care deeply. They want to fix things and each have their own ways of doing that. Percy definitely had learned some things from his past trauma although he was still healing, but Molly was still dealing with trauma from her past as well as her present. I felt like he had some wisdom to give her and she had her own light to share with him. I also loved them both!

I enjoyed how the romance develops in this story, even if a bit unusual. It starts with attraction and curiosity and then builds in a very authentic way as these two get to know each other. They're with each other for days, which allows things to progress. They both have their vulnerabilities and feel duty bound. I loved the banter and teasing moments, but also the heartfelt and vulnerable ones.

There weren't many issues with this story. I would have loved it to have been longer as I felt some things needed more development (and also because I love this world and the author's writing style and didn't want to leave!). The ending also was a bit abrupt - it just left me wondering how exactly things would work out. The other thing I battled with was Molly's naivete. She is young and somewhat sheltered, but I thought she was a bit too trusting of some individuals and not enough of others. She also had some far-fetched ideas, but I also could see how those ideas could come about.

I'm very curious as to a certain character who would pop up at opportune times and if he'll appear in the other books. I'm hoping eventually there will be a bit more of an explanation for him.

In the end, was it what I wished for? This was a heartfelt story, with likable characters, a subtle mystery that is consistently weaved through the story, and a sweet romance. It also pulls on the reader's emotions, from swoon-worthy moments to ones of heartbreak and to desperation during the climatic moments. Definitely recommended!

Content: Clean
Source: Purchased

Other Books by the Author

(Linked to my reviews.)

About the Author

Julie Daines was born in Concord, Massachusetts, and was raised in Utah. She spent eighteen months living in London, where she studied and fell in love with English literature, sticky toffee pudding, and the mysterious guy who ran the kebab store around the corner.

She loves reading, writing, and watching movies—anything that transports her to another world. She picks Captain Wentworth over Mr. Darcy, firmly believes in second breakfast, and never leaves home without her verveine.

She has three published novels and a novella, has won several awards for her writing, and her novel, Unraveled, was a contender for the ALA’s Schneider Award.

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