“whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Phillippians 4:8

The House of Oak Series by Nichole Van

As with most books that I love, my sister found this series first. It's set in both modern times and the Regency era, and it is about time travel. This sounds sci-fi, but it's really not. It takes a fantasy approach to it that is refreshing. There are five books in the series, and three of them are fantastic while the other two are incredibly disappointing.

Book one in The House of Oak series is IntertwineEmme Wilde is obsessed with the man pictured in a locket she found at an estate sale in Portland, Oregon. All of her relationships fizzle because of this fascination. Eventually she decides to visit the place where this locket must have originated. She figures it out and travels to England. One night, there's a terrible storm that knocks out the power, and she goes down to the basement to the fuse box. Where she's knocked unconscious. She wakes up in 1812 with no memory of whom she is. She meets the Knight family, who takes her in, and she falls in love with the eldest brother, James.

This book is great. It is engaging and well-told. The main characters are perfect for each other, and they are both likable. James does not belong in his time. His lack of propriety is perfect for modern times and perfect for Emme. As much as I enjoyed this book, it isn't my favorite in the series.

Divine shares that honor, and it is thanks to Sebastian. If I have another son, his middle name will be Sebastian, and it will probably be mostly due to this character. Sebastian, or Seb, has been in love with Georgiana Knight for his entire life. Only recently has he become an earl and actually in a position to woo and marry her. And now she's gone missing.

I do love Georgiana, but not nearly as much as I love Seb. He is awesome and wonderful, and he is so sweet to Georgiana. He is so cute, and he has a dangerous edge from when he was in the military. He is magnificent. Read it. Love him. After you read Intertwine

Next we have Clandestine, which tells us about Marc Wilde, Emme's brother. I love Seb, but Marc is a man from my actual time period. He is witty, clever, and sexy. And he knows it. Then he gets sent back to 1814, where he meets the vivacious Kit. I can't say anything else, or I will give away the biggest twist of the series. And it is beautiful.
I liked this one a lot. It is actually tied with Divine as my favorite books in the series. It holds adventure and romance and Marc. He is so much fun to read. He only has one fault: he is a major Denver Broncos fan.

Book four is Refine. This one had so much potential. When you pair the hippy Jasmine with the stuffy and insulting Lord Linwood, life could get so interesting. But it didn't. Instead, the whole book was about their insecurities and emotional issues. It was almost boring. Linwood was himself, but Jasmine was an entirely different person than who we saw in the other books. Instead of being her eccentric, lovable self, she was clumsy and awkward. You want to make a character clumsy and awkward, great, but own it from the beginning of the series. Don't change a person's personality entirely when it's time for their book. It's obnoxious. As a result, even though I've read the other books in this series several times, I've only read this one once, and I won't be reading it again. It was so disappointing.

Last and definitely least, we have Outshine. As awful as Refine was, Outshine was worse. I prefer to pretend it doesn’t exist. It focuses on Kit's brother, Daniel. He is obsessed with the tragedies of his past, and he can't move past them. It's to the point where he actually breaks the time portal. His story is set in 1828. Everyone in the story is older now, with established families. The main girl of the story is wonderful. Fossi is fantastic. She is magnificent, and even she couldn't save this story. Why, may you ask? Because the author ruined Seb. She made him weird. The military man who was enamored with his wife is now telling modern day dad jokes and has the personality of someone with whom no one wants to spend time. It is awful. I get that the story isn't about the older characters, but if you're going to ruin them, why even put them in?

My distaste for this book is also hinged on the fact that I don't like Daniel. He's rude, set in his ways, and obsessed with changing the past. I don't mean that he merely thinks the world would be better. He is obsessed. It's all he thinks about, and it's all he focuses on. At one point, he's even willing to sacrifice Fossi to his obsession. It's hard to read and not in an acceptable way.

Who should read the first three books: People who enjoy books about romance, adventure, and time travel.

Who should read the last two books: People who like regret and being let down.

I love the first three books. They are well-written and lovely. The last two books were hateful, Outshine more so than Refine. Refine at least gave some closure to the series. Outshine wasn't worth reading. It did nothing except make me sad.

The Sometimes Sisters by Carolyn Brown