Sunday, October 1, 2023

GARDEN OF THE MIDNIGHTS by Hannah Linder, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise #ReleaseDay

There is so much to love about this Regency Gothic story: midnight garden trysts, a hidden heir who is in danger, a wealthy heiress, an arrogant cousin lusting after an inheritance, intrigue, romance and a beautiful setting. The characters come alive under the pen of Ms. Linder. With an intricate plot, I could not turn pages fast enough. The twists and turns were unpredictable. The romance was complicated and an underlying faith thread kept this story interesting.

An absorbing tale for fans of Abigail Wilson, Erica Vetsch and Michelle Griep. This one you will not want to miss.
*I received a complimentary ecopy of this book from the author. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.* 5 stars and an underlying faith thread 

BackCover Blurb:
She begged him once more to meet in the garden at midnight.
“If you love me,” said the letter.
But if he loved her, he would not come at all.
Enjoy another Gothic Style Regency from Hannah Linder.

The accidents are not a matter of chance. They are deliberate. As English gentleman William Kensley becomes aware of the danger at Rosenleigh Manor, he pleads for the truth of his past from the only man he can trust—until that man is murdered.

As the secrets unfold into scandal, William’s world is tipped into destitution, leaving him penniless and alone. His only comfort is in the constant friendship and love of Isabella Gresham. If he does not have their nonsense at the seashore, their laughter, their reckless adventures, has he anything at all?

He should have known that would be ripped from him too. When a hidden foe arises from their acquaintances and imperils Isabella’s life, William may be the only one willing to risk his life to rescue her. But even if he frees Isabella from her captors, will he still have to forsake her heart?

Some sacrifice everything for love. Others sacrifice love for everything else. In this haunting tale of rigid social prejudices and heart-aching regrets, the greatest decision of their life will be determined in the garden of the midnights.

Barbour Publishing, September 30, 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook
Buy GARDEN OF THE MIDNIGHTS at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House


Saturday, September 30, 2023

THE GIRL FROM THE PAPERS by Jennifer L. Wright, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"It's only a matter of time. You have to be careful. 'Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm'. . . Proverbs 13:20"

Beatrice Carraway is living her life on the bottom rung of the ladder, or so it seems; money is tight, jobs are scarce, and sometimes a pretty face never makes it on to the stage. Enter Jack Turner. Handsome, reckless, passionate, and head-over-heels for Beatrice Carraway. It seems that Jack wants the same more-out-of-life as Bea, but Jack goes about getting what he wants in an entirely different way . . . Jack is brazen enough to take it.

In the beginning, the risks were calculated, thrilling, and exhilarating, but soon the stakes grew higher as were the chances of getting caught . . . and as their escapades make local and regional news, Bea begins to wonder if being "the girl from the papers" is all that she will ever be.

"You are more than what people call you. The names they give us, those things they say about us . . . they don't define us . . . They're not who we are. The only one who can ever truly define us is the One who made us."

An absolute stunner of a story! Brokenness, bitterness, helplessness all coincide to present a raw, stinging, and painful reminder that any and all attempts to grab happiness and fulfillment on our own only serve to conjure up a figment of our imagination that begs to be transformed into reality through the unconditional, forever love of a Savior. "I love you, Jack . . . but . . . Someone loves me more."
*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 


 BackCover Blurb:
Inspired by one of America’s most notorious couples, Bonnie and Clyde, Jennifer L. Wright delivers a riveting tale set during the public enemy era of the Great Depression.

Beatrice Carraway has dreams. Although she’s aged out of the childhood pageant circuit, she’s intent on carrying her talents all the way to the big screen—if only she can escape the poverty of West Dallas first. But as the Great Depression drags the working class further and further under, Beatrice struggles just to keep herself, her mother, and her younger sister afloat. After a string of failed auditions, she feels defeated.

And then in walks Jack Turner. Though Beatrice is determined to pull herself up by her bootstraps, Jack has decided on a different path out of the gutters. It isn’t long before Beatrice is swept into an exciting and glamorous life of crime beside the man she loves. Keeping one step ahead of the law, she sees her dreams of fame come true when her name and picture are plastered in newspapers across the country. Yet as their infamy grows, the distance between them widens. While Jack begins seeking bigger payouts and publicity, Beatrice starts to long for a safe, quiet life and something deeper to fill the emptiness in her soul. But when the danger of Jack’s schemes ratchets up, Beatrice fears her dreams—and her future—will end up going down in a hail of bullets.

Tyndale House, August, 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook

THE STARLET SPY by Rachel Scott McDaniel, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"Once - just once - I'd love a role where the leading lady joined the fray, helping the hero in the climatic attack rather than standing aside as a horrified spectator . . . But that wasn't how the script went."

Amelie Blake has just been handed the opportunity of a lifetime . . . to re-write her script. Unfortunately it required remaining in her role as a "brainless blond" starlet while she served as a spy for the United States Office of Strategic Services. Slipping into her Swedish homeland under the guise of visiting her ill mother, Amelie was to mingle among the Swedish elite in order to gain information on, and possibly access to, highly sensitive documents that had gone missing during the hectic evacuation of Danes into Sweden. Her main target? . . . Swedish shipping magnate Finn Ristaffason, whose cool demeanor and deep pockets made him an enigma that Amelie was assigned to explore.

As you might expect, this story swirls with subterfuge, leaving Amelie struggling to maintain her role as a naive celebrity, when in fact her keen intelligence skills were difficult to ignore if one looked ever so closely . . . and there was one person in particular who was looking very closely . . . dare she want him to? "Trust no one."

Enjoyable, historical, witty, intriguing, romantic, inspiring . . . "Over the past decade, I'd had many roles, but God had called me to go off script. To be the leading lady in the story He'd written for me." 

BackCover Blurb:
Hollywood Star Turns Spy
In 1943, movie producer Henrik Zoltan approaches Amelie Blake under the guise of offering the Hollywood star a leading part in his upcoming film, but he has a more meaningful role in mind. Amelie’s homeland of Sweden declared neutrality in the war, but Stockholm has become the “Casablanca of the North.” When top-secret atomic research goes missing in Sweden, the Allied forces scramble to recover the files before they fall into Nazi hands.

The United States Office of Strategic Services (OSS) needs someone who’s subtle enough to spy on the Swedish elite without triggering suspicion. Who better than the “all beauty, no brains” Scandinavian starlet? Fluent in three languages and possessing a brilliant memory, Amelie loathes being labeled witless but uses the misconception as her disguise. She’s tasked with searching for the crucial files, but Finn Ristaffason keeps getting in her way. Is the charming shipping magnate after the missing research? Or does he have other reasons for showing up at her every turn?

With the Gestapo on her heels, Amelie must rely on her smarts in addition to her acting skills to survive a world of deadly spies and counterspies.
Barbour Publishing, August 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, library binding, and audiobook:
Buy THE STARLET SPY at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House 

Don’t miss these other stories:
The Cryptographer’s Dilemma by Johnnie Alexander
Picture of Hope by Liz Tolsma
Saving Mrs. Roosevelt by Candice Sue Patterson
Mrs. Witherspoon Goes to War by Mary Davis
A Rose for the Resistance by Angela K. Couch
Season of My Enemy by Naomi Musch
Escape from Amsterdam by Lauralee Bliss
On My Honor by Patty Hall
The Escape Game by Marilyn Turk
Beneath a Peaceful Moon by Debby Lee


Friday, September 29, 2023

SHADOW OF DECEIT by Susan Sleeman, Reviewed by Rebecca and Winnie

"The irony . . . She'd summoned all her courage to return to Shadow Lake and face the people who'd hurt her the most, only to die in a fire in her first hour in town."

Mia Blackburn guessed this was where the note reading, "Evergreen Resort will never be yours. Leave town now or you will pay" came in to play . . . she just didn't expect to be locked inside a burning barn with a young child . . . or to be rescued by . . . none other than Ryan Maddox in full turn-out gear. She couldn't leave; as stipulated in Uncle Wally's will, the beautiful property would be hers within a year's time if she stayed. In the interim, who had a motive to harm her, thereby gaining access to Evergreen, it made no sense.

Full of terse family dynamics, regrets, and suspicions, this story is primarily about rebuilding relationships, learning to walk by faith, enjoying a second opportunity to love . . . and of course, solving more than a few crimes.

"'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding'. . . Letting God be in charge . . . makes the living so much easier."
*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 

I can always count on Susan Sleeman for clean romantic suspense books. Shadow of Deceit is the first book in her new Shadow Lake Survival series. Mia Blackburn and Ryan Maddox get a second chance at love as they work together to find out who is threatening Mia and warning her away from the resort property she inherited from her uncle. It’s always interesting to learn more about law enforcement and criminology from Sleeman’s books, as she is knowledgeable about them and includes a lot of intriguing tidbits in her stories.

It took me a little while to connect with the main characters, and there were a couple of spots in the story that were a bit confusing to me, but I still felt that it’s a solid start to the series. Lots of action, suspense, inspiration, and a little romance combined to keep it interesting and me guessing.

*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own

BackCover Blurb:

When returning to her past threatens her life and a murder occurs…
When Mia Blackburn returns to Shadow Lake to inherit her uncle’s property, she doesn’t expect a threatening warning before she even reaches the rustic resort. And when a fire traps her in the burning barn that very day, she fears she won’t get out alive. Just in time, Ryan Maddox, her ex-boyfriend and Shadow Lake Survival owner, rescues her from the deadly blaze. She’s thankful for his rescue, but after their tumultuous breakup, he’s the last person she wants to see.

Will she be the next victim?
Despite the threatening warning and her residual feelings for Ryan, Mia won’t let anyone scare her from the rustic resort before she fulfills the terms of her uncle’s will and inherits the property. Ryan insists on keeping a close eye on her, and soon Mia feels safer and closer to Ryan than ever before. Yet the threats haven’t stopped, and soon Mia’s inheritance includes a murder, and she could be the next victim.

Edge of Your Seat Books, August 2023
Available in digital ebook, paperback, and audiobook


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