Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A PORTRAIT OF LOYALTY by Roseanna M. White, Reviewed by Kim

 
I hate that this series is over! The Codebreakers is a 3 book series that is connected to the Shadows over England series. All of the stories, six in total, are really good and well worth reading.

I really liked both Lily and Zivon. I liked how their relationship slowly grew throughout this story and how Lily never doubted Zivon. Zivon was so loyal and had such a calm demeanor and I loved how he was willing to do whatever needed to protect Lily. I also really loved Lily’s relationship with her sister Ivy. It was one of my favorite relationships.

This story is so interesting and well written. While I must admit, I sobbed like a baby at one point, it left me completely satisfied at the end. I’m looking forward to whatever Roseanna White writes next!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. The faith element is medium/light. 

BackCover Blurb:
Zivon Marin was one of Russia's top cryptographers until the October Revolution tore apart his world. Forced to flee to England after speaking out against Lenin, Zivon is driven by a growing anger and determined to offer his services to the Brits. But never far from his mind is his brother, whom Zivon fears died in the train crash that separated them.

Lily Blackwell sees the world best through the lens of a camera and possesses unsurpassed skill when it comes to retouching and re-creating photographs. With her father's connections in propaganda, she's recruited to the intelligence division, even though her mother would disapprove if she ever found out.

After Captain Blackwell invites Zivon to dinner one evening, a friendship blooms between him and Lily that soon takes over their hearts. But both have secrets they're unwilling to share, and neither is entirely sure they can trust the other. When Zivon's loyalties are called into question, proving him honest is about more than one couple's future dreams--it becomes a matter of ending the war

Bethany House Publishers, Sept. 2020
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:


 

 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

CHASING DREAMS by Deborah Raney, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

What if your long-time dreams were not what God had in store for you? Would your hopes and dreams crumble or would you change your perspective? This is what Joanna Chandler deals with in Chasing Dreams.

Phee, Jo and Britt Chandler have purchased land with cabins on it with the dream to turn them into an Airbnb. Jo has ended a relationship and is focused on her job in a law firm and the joint venture with her sisters. She meets Lucas Blaine as the DJ for her sister’s wedding. She is interested in him but takes a step back when she realizes that he has custody of a twelve year old boy. Are all her dreams about to shatter?

I like the way Ms. Raney portrays family. They have their ups and downs but faith and love are what holds them together. She deals frankly with feelings and obstacles when her characters are confronted with grief and sticky relationship situations. It was nice to see the growth in both Jo and Luke as they navigate getting to know one another. You can tell Ms. Raney draws on her own family relationships in the interaction of the sisters. According to her Facebook page Ms. Raney finds treasures in local shops and garage sales. This is mirrored by the sisters as they shop to furnish the cabins. The scene of deciding what games to play is relatable and brings back memories of our own family gatherings.

Ms. Raney shows us what is really crucial in relationships. The foundation of faith is all important. Prayer is essential and forgiveness should be forthcoming.
I enjoyed this book for its realism and the lessons it taught.
*I won this book from the author in an Easter Multi Author giveaway. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.* I give this 5 stars. Solid faith thread. 

BackCover Blurb:
Joanna Chandler always dreamed of becoming an attorney. But when she left law school to help care for her dying mother, stepping away from her single-minded pursuit gave her space to reconsider. The only question is, if not law, what should she do with her life?

To keep her mind off an uncertain future, Joanna helps her older sister, Phylicia, throw an amazing outdoor wedding on the charming Missouri property the three Chandler sisters own together. That's when she realizes wedding planning could be a thriving business of its own. And Lukas Blaine, the handsome wedding DJ, opens her mind to the possibility of love on the horizon.

But there's more to Luke than meets the eye. The young boy he's been mentoring has lost his mother and become Luke's ward. Mateo is sullen and angry and needs constant attention. How can Luke possibly find the time to start a new relationship or saddle someone else with a wounded child? He may have to let go of the woman of his dreams--and crush her dreams at the same time.


Kregel Publications, Oct 2019
Available in digital ebook, library binding and paperback:
Buy Chasing Dreams at Amazon
Buy Chasing Dreams at Christianbook.com

Saturday, September 19, 2020

THE CHRISTMAS SWAP by Melody Carlson, Reviewed by Trixi Oberembt


"All Emma Daley wants this holiday season is a white Christmas."

Every year I anticipate Melody Carlson's Christmas books! And every year I'm not disappointed because that's exactly what she writes best.

I really enjoyed picturing a snow-covered cabin all decked out for the holidays, warm and inviting. I could see myself sitting in front of the fire, sipping on hot cocoa and gazing at the snowy mountain peaks out the vast windows. That would be a dream Christmas in my book! For the most part, I loved this story. Carlson knows how to paint those vivid setting pictures in a reader's mind, brings her characters to life, and sets you right in the middle of the pages. It's one of my favorite things about the author. Last year, I binge-read almost all of her Christmas books for this very reason, I just could not get enough! 

When I write a review, I also try to be honest, and so this was what I didn't like. I didn't like Gillian, Emma's best friend for fourteen years. I didn't like Mrs. Landers, who had not one single positive thing to say. Gillian was manipulative, scheming, and treated everyone poorly. I found her to be annoying and grating, and don't know how Emma remained friends, let alone best friends with her. The only decent members of the family were Mr. Landers and Grant, the brother—who I eventually came to like at the end. The family arguments left me feeling tense and upset, which ruined the enjoyment of the story. However, I did like the developing relationship between Emma and West and wished the author would have expounded more on that. They had real potential to be a solid couple, so I was looking forward to watching them. The ending was abrupt, so a reader must imagine a happy ending for these two.

This story didn't live up to Carlson's reputation as a writer in my opinion, it certainly wasn’t her best yet. I was surprised because she is one of my must-read authors when it comes to yearly Christmas books. The beginning was better than the ending and I was really disappointed! It also lacked a light faith theme which she usually includes. So for me, this wasn't my cup of tea. However, I will continue to read her future books in spite of not liking this one.

*This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell through Interviews & Reviews. A favorable review was not required and all opinions expressed here are mine alone.*

BackCover Blurb:
All Emma Daley wants this holiday season is a white Christmas. But the young teacher and struggling musician sure can't find that in sunny Arizona. Luckily, there's someone living in a perfect mountain home in the Colorado Rockies looking to make a vacation trade this year.

Tyler Prescott is an in-demand songwriter and talented musician who put his own singing career on hold to write songs for celebrity acts to perform. When his mother convinces him to do a vacation trade for Christmas, he never imagined one of the houseguests would be so sweet--or so strikingly pretty. Naturally, he decides to stick around, and, to get better acquainted, he poses as the house's caretaker. But when Emma's friend Gillian discovers his true identity and sets her sights on him, things
get . . . messy.

Fan favorite Melody Carlson is back with another delightful Christmas tale to warm your heart on those cold winter evenings.

Revell Publishing, Sept. 2020
Available in digital ebook, and hardcover:

 


Friday, September 18, 2020

COURTING CALAMITY Reviewed by Rebecca Maney


"Arresting stowaways isn't my job." - Lady and the Tramp by Jennifer Uhlarik

How could it have gotten so complicated? Take eight orphaned children on a train, find her brother's property, and live happily ever after . . . or . . . . survive a train wreck, meet a handsome Wells Fargo Detective, get kidnapped, and survive to tell the story. Which would Mattie Welling choose?

" . . . . there was no reason he should be soaking wet and shivering. He jumped up and turned around. There stood the reason. And she was stunning. " - The Secondhand Bride of Polecat Creek by Kathleen Y'Barbo

What an introduction! Or, it was actually a chilly re-introduction to the man that Lizzie Cooper had figured would marry her sister. She had planned on it, as a matter of fact. But the best laid plans . . . Abigail was gone and Lizzie was left gaping at her not-going-to-be brother-in-law. So, that left both of them in a doozy of a conundrum.

"I have prayed God would spare me until I could ask you to marry Sofia and care for her once I am gone." - The Bride of Basswood Hill by Gabrielle Meyer

What an impossible request . . . or was it? Charles Alexander's beloved mentor was dying, and his beautiful granddaughter needed the protection of a husband. Was it possible that God had ordained this strange, but seemingly wonderful introduction? If so, Sofia was going to need help navigating her way into one of the most recognized industry names in the country. Can Charles convince her to not only take his name, but to claim his heart?

"What's love like?" . . . . "It's not like in the dime novels. . . . all sighs and roses and moonlit walks. It's hard and scary, because life is. But it's real. And when it's real, you know you've found someone to journey battles beside, not matter where that journey takes you." - Echoes of the Heart by Amanda Barratt

Who knew that a simple conversation between sisters would one day mean so much? Against all odds, Meggie and Aileen O'Connor have traveled to America in search of a better life. And they may have found it, having secured employment in a large New York shirtwaist factory. Working long hours with limited breaks and unfair payment policies, they get caught up the formation of unions. Along the way, Aileen meets a handsome, kind, charming young man; Lorenzo Faveros, whose admiration will be tested through the fires of adversity.

Four enjoyable, engaging, and inspiring novellas!
3.5 stars *I purchased this collection and was under no obligation to provide a review.

BackCover Blurb:

Heroes Needed for Four Damsels in Distress

Despite determination to be strong and independent, four women of bygone days are in need of a hero.

Lady and the Tramps by Jennifer Uhlarik
California, 1874
When outlaws steal a deed from Mattie Welling, her dreams for her eight orphan charges from New York City are dashed. Can Wells Fargo detective Jake Hickens be trusted to pick up the pieces?

The Secondhand Bride of Polecat Creek by Kathleen Y’Barbo
Texas, 1890
When Zeke Wyatt returns home to Polecat Creek intent on making good on his promise to marry his childhood sweetheart, he finds she’s run off in his absence, leaving her kid sister to care for her aging parents and the mercantile. Can Zeke finally settle down, or will he leave another sister with a broken heart?

The Bride of Basswood Hill by Gabrielle Meyer
Minnesota, 1900
When wealthy lumber baron, Charles Alexander, unexpectedly finds himself married to an Italian immigrant, Sofia Bellini, he must do all he can to protect her from the society she’s ill-prepared to navigate. But when he falls in love with his pretty bride, he will have to make a difficult choice: will he go through with the annulment they had planned?

Echoes of the Heart by Amanda Barratt
New York City, 1909
Irish immigrant Aileen O’Connor is willing to work to make a life in America. But even the land of opportunity is paved with hardship, as she discovers firsthand the injustices faced by factory workers. When she meets Lorenzo Favero at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, her heart is stirred by the kindness he shows her. When tragedy engulfs the city, will their newfound love survive the flames?

Barbour Publishing
Available in digital ebook and paperback:

 

 


Thursday, September 17, 2020

A LIFE ONCE DREAMED by Rachel Fordham, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

With a cast of engaging, well-crafted characters and tender messages of forgiveness and the worth of a soul, Rachel Fordham takes us from Buffalo, New York to Penance, South Dakota Territory in 1880 for a wonderful story of second chances. Agnes Pratt is an independent, spunky, compassionate heroine and a well-respected schoolteacher in the small town of Penance. James Harris is a doctor with a wealthy, privileged background who comes to Penance to find his childhood sweetheart, Agnes. Together, they find what the most important things in life are.

Lots of plot twists and turns kept me engrossed in this lovely tale, although there were a couple of times that I wanted to bonk some of the characters’ heads together. All in all, it’s a sweet story with an uplifting and thought-provoking message. I’ve enjoyed all of Fordham’s historical novels, and I’m looking forward to more of her books in the future.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from the author/Revell. All opinions are my own.

See Paula and Trixi's Reviews!

 Back Cover Blurb:
Six years ago, a shocking secret sent Agnes Pratt running in search of a new start. She found it in Penance, a rugged town of miners and lumberjacks in the Dakota Territory, where she became Miss Aggie, respected schoolteacher and confirmed old maid. But the past has a way of catching up with people.

When childhood friend and former sweetheart James Harris accepts a position as the town doctor, Aggie's pleasantly predictable days suddenly become anything but. James wants to know why Agnes left behind the life they had dreamed of creating for themselves--but he is the one person who can never know.

In the shadows of the Black Hills, can a healing light be shed on the past? Or will the secret Agnes can't seem to outrun destroy her chance at happiness?


Fan-favorite Rachel Fordham brings to life the dusty streets of an 1880s frontier town in this story that affirms where you come from matters far less than where you're going.


Revell Publishing, August 2020

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
Buy A Life Once Dreamed at Amazon
Buy A Life Once Dreamed at Christia

 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

OTHERWISE ENGAGED by Joanna Barker, Reviewed by Kim

This is my first Joanna Barker story and I can definitely say, it will not be my last. I absolutely loved this story! There’s really nothing I could complain about! The main characters were wonderful, the secondary characters were well developed, and the plot was just different enough to make it fresh and new.

I loved both Rebecca and Nicholas. I normally do not like love triangles, but this one was done so well that it didn’t bother me at all! I loved how Nicholas and Rebecca’s relationship slowly developed, how they became good friends first, and their flirty banter was so much fun! And don’t getting me started on the romance! Perfection!

This is a story that will have a spot on my keeper shelf and one that I will read again! Excellent story!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book. Clean read. 


Back Cover Blurb:

Constantly stifled by the rules of Society, spirited Rebecca Rowley enjoys finding ways to quietly—or not so quietly—rebel. But riding bareback and avoiding nosy neighbors are nothing compared to the thrilling secret she is keeping from her family.

When Rebecca’s quick thinking saves the life of a young girl, she unwittingly attracts the attention of the child’s dashing brother, Lieutenant Nicholas Avery. As that attention turns flirtatious, Rebecca is forced to tell him the truth: she is secretly engaged—to the one man her family would never approve of. Fortunately, Lieutenant Avery is a navy man with no wish to marry, or so they both assume as they enter into a friendship. Rebecca hopes to change her family’s mind about her betrothed, but the more she comes to know the handsome lieutenant, the more she wonders if she promised her hand too hastily.

After all her carefully laid plans are shattered during a family crisis, Rebecca must force her heart to decide. Should she stay true to the promise she made or fight for the future she’s only just begun to imagine?


Covenant Communications Oct. 2020
Available in digital ebook, paperback and audiobook:

 

 


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

ALMOST A BRIDE by Jody Hedlund, Reviewed by Paula and Winnie #ReleaseDay Sep 15


PAULA'S  REVIEW:
I really liked this whole series of The Bride Ships by Jody Hedlund. It was interesting to imagine these ladies lives and why they chose to become brides to men in Canada. You can’t beat Ms. Hedlund for historical Christian Fiction. I wanted to like this last story, Almost a Bride, but I did not warm up to Kate. To me she was shallow and wishy washy in her faith. I know she was supposed to have deep seated fears but she just seemed immature. 
 
I also did not care for the level of passion portrayed. The author was showing that people struggle with ardor but I was not comfortable with this aspect.
 
I liked many things about this story, among them was the growth of the characters and the strong faith thread that was shown. 
Quote from Kate to Zeke: 'We live in a sinful, broken world. Bad things happen to us and to those we love. But through it all, we cannot give up hope, because ultimately, someday, we will get our happy ending- If not in this life, then in the next.'
 
Ms. Hedlund populates her story with interesting characters. I especially liked cook/butler Mr. Peabody and his calculations loving grandson, Wendell. Companion to Kate, Becca was a real heart winner, too. The scenes in the mine were some of the best. They revealed the true feelings of Zeke and Kate as they were forced to evaluate the things they had held on to from childhood.
 
I would still recommend this whole series. Ms. Hedlund is an excellent writer and has expanded my horizons about ladies who would go on such adventures.
* I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from the author. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*give this 4 stars, a strong faith thread

WINNIE'S REVIEW:
Jody Hedlund has brought to life a colorful slice of history in her series, The Bride Ships. Her masterful, realistic, and colorful characters and richly painted settings, along with poignant and imaginative stories, have captured my imagination and kept me entertained. I thoroughly enjoyed Kate Millington and Zeke Hart’s story of love and redemption, although I wanted to bump their heads together a couple of times.

This series is obviously well-researched, and the characters have been such fun to meet. I’ve enjoyed seeing previous characters pop up in later books. This is a standalone book, but the series is so fantastic you should do yourself a favor and read all of the books.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary book from the author. All opinions are my own.
 
BackCover Blurb:
Always close, but never a bride.

Longing to find true love, Kate Millington arrives in British Columbia on a bride ship. With countless men waiting to snag a bride, Kate has no trouble getting engaged. It’s staying engaged that’s the problem. After traveling to the remote mining town of Williamsville to marry her newest fiancĂ©, she finds herself single again.

As the prosperous owner of a gold mine, Zeke Hart has everything he’s ever wanted except for a wife. At Kate’s arrival, he takes it upon himself to protect his childhood friend from the men clamoring to court her. The more he renews her friendship, the more he wants to win her for himself. But as much as Kate admires Zeke, she’s resolved not to marry someone who doesn’t share her faith.

When Zeke begins receiving anonymous threats, he unwittingly puts them both in grave danger. In the midst of peril, the past rises up to haunt them both, and Zeke realizes the fight for Kate’s affection may be his biggest challenge yet.

Available in digital ebook, paperback, and audiobook:
Buy Almost a Bride at Amazon
Buy Almost a Bride at Christianbook.com

Monday, September 14, 2020

RELATIVE SILENCE by Carrie Stuart Parks, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney


 " . . . the perfect home on the perfect island for the perfect family."

That's how Piper Boone's life began; it's not at all how it ended. Everything changed one fateful afternoon when the loss of what was most precious to her became a painful reminder of what she never could regain. Returning to Curlew Island, South Carolina became a way to survive her loss of employment, a failed marriage, and the many, many painful memories.


Except that now, " A man's weight across (her) body crushed (her) to the sidewalk. . . . . . Don't move". . . . . . . then, "Like the eye of a hurricane, silence". What were the chances that a pleasant lunch date with a friend would involve an active shooter, a hero, and more questions than answers. As Piper and Tucker Landry (the man who took a bullet for her) begin to unravel the supposed curse surrounding the powerful and prestigious Boone family, it isn't surprising how shocked they become with the outcome.

"You are my angel, my soul-mate, my friend. I'll be right with you till the end. And when you fear the stormy gale, I'll keep you safely on the trail."

What a thriller! Impossible to figure out; this story all but begs you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride! *I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.

BackCover Blurb
A powerful family with dark secrets.
After personal tragedy, Piper Boone retreats to her childhood home—a secluded mansion for the wealthy Boone family, who are practically American royalty. When catastrophe strikes, her family is put in the spotlight, and the line between victim and suspect gets blurred.
A forensic artist with his own haunting past.
Tucker Landry is drawn to Piper in the midst of the trauma, but the connections being made to her family might prove to be their undoing. With a hurricane beating down on the private island, there isn’t much time to find answers.
The truth will determine whether she lives or dies.
 
Thomas Nelson Publishing July 2020
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
Buy Relative Silence at Amazon
Buy Relative Silence at Christianbook.com

Saturday, September 12, 2020

FORGET ME NOT (The Gents Book #1) by Sarah M. Eden, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

“You are building a new life; don’t forget to live it.”

With plenty of wit and delightful charm, Sarah M. Eden’s long-awaited story of Julia Cummings and Lucas Jonquil begins a new Eden series, The Gents. After meeting The Gents, I can say that I’m eager for the rest of their stories. Forget Me Not started off a bit slow for me, and I wasn’t sure I was going to like the main characters, especially Lucas. There were several parts of the story where I wanted to cuff him on the side of the head. However, luckily, they both grew on me as they tried to navigate their family-arranged marriage. The addition of Lucas’s friends, The Gents, is pure Eden genius, as they added so much levity and fun to the tale. I loved their different personalities and getting to know a bit about their backgrounds. I can see why Lucas enjoyed traveling with them and being with them.

Although there are many twists and turns and misunderstandings, the tale wraps up nicely with some very sigh-worthy moments and a satisfying end. I was delighted to see a few of the characters from previous stories pop up in this book. I’ve read most of the Jonquil brothers’ stories, since I’m a huge Sarah M. Eden fan. You can’t go wrong with any of her books. Forget Me Not is bound for my keeper shelf.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from the author and Covenant Communications. All opinions are my own.

BackCover Blurb
Nottinghamshire, 1785 

Julia Cummings has long been acquainted with loss-her mother, her brother, her sister, her friend, all gone too soon.  But the loss that pushed her grief to the limit as a young girl was that of her best friend, Lucas Jonquil, who abandoned her without looking back.  Now, eight years later, Lucas has returned to Lampton Park, and Julia has steeled herself-she will never forgive the man who broke her heart.

After losing too many of his friends and family to early deaths, Lucas vowed to live life to the fullest.  And after traversing the world, he has returned from his adventures to find his family and home as he left them-except for Julia.  The little girl he left behind has blossomed into a captivating lady, a lady who makes it clear she despises him.  With little hope of reconciliation, the former friends are blindsided when their parents make a shocking announcement.  Lucas and Julia have been betrothed without their knowledge and are to marry immediately.  Now Lucas must rely on the help of his closest friends to win the heart of a lady who loathes him-a lady he’s coming to love more deeply every day.

Available in digital ebook, paperback and AudioCD:


Thursday, September 10, 2020

THE BLACK MIDNIGHT by Kathleen Y'Barbo, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

The Black Midnight by Kathleen Y'Barbo
"I have a friend in Chicago. Six words that had changed her life. And her address."

Being the great granddaughter of Queen Victoria definitely had its advantages when it came to lavender baths and plush carpets, but when one's independence was at stake, it took a miracle for Alice Anne von Wettin to slip across the "pond" unnoticed as a Pinkerton detective in the making. And a really fine detective at that! When her path crosses with fellow agent Isaiah Joplin, they form a duo tasked with solving a series of horrific murders in Austin, Texas . . . to no avail. What they did accomplish however, was a matter of the heart. Unfortunately, they were most emphatically interrupted by none other than Annie's father.

Three years later, murder strikes again. To everyone's surprise, the queen insists on reuniting Annie and Ike following a series of bloody homicides, attributed to none other than "Jack the Ripper", who has succeeded in blatantly terrorizing the streets of London. Is it possible for lightning to strike twice? What of the rumor circling about that there is a secret society hiding one of its own? So many questions . . . . and ultimately there's only one answer that Annie is tempted to change.

Wonderful book! The pacing was creatively flawless and the characters were so at home with each other that it was easy to forget they were actually fictional, rather than real. Historical events were strategically absorbed in all the right places; and in the end, there was a love story that was worth reading every page. What a great addition to a fascinating series! 
* I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.
 
BackCover Blurb:
Three years before Jack the Ripper began his murderous spree on the streets of London, women were dying in their beds as The Midnight Assassin terrorized the citizens of Austin, Texas. Now, with suspicion falling on Her Majesty’s family and Scotland Yard at a loss as to who the Ripper might be, Queen Victoria summons her great-granddaughter, Alice Anne von Wettin, a former Pinkerton agent who worked the unsolved Austin case, and orders her to discreetly form a team to look into the London matter.

The prospect of a second chance to work with Annie just might entice Isaiah Joplin out of his comfortable life as an Austin lawyer. If his theories are right, they’ll find the The Midnight Assassin and, by default, the Ripper. If they’re wrong, he and Annie are in a bigger mess than the one the feisty female left behind when she departed Austin under cover of darkness three years ago.

Can the unlikely pair find the truth of who is behind the murders before they are drawn into the killer’s deadly game? From Texas to London, the story navigates the fine line between truth and fiction as Annie and Isaiah ultimately find the hunters have become the hunted. 
 
Barbour Publishing August 2020
Available in digital ebook, and paperback:
 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

THE EDGE OF BELONGING by Amanda Cox, Reviewed by Nicole and Paula #ReleaseDay

NICOLE'S REVIEW:

With powerful authenticity and deep realism, author Amanda Cox takes readers on an emotional and highly compelling journey to discovering the true meaning of family and finding true love in her debut novel, The Edge of Belonging. This time-slip novel follows the present-day storyline of Ivy Rose Lashley as the death of her grandmother leads to answers about the mysterious circumstances of Ivy’s adoption many years earlier. The second storyline takes readers back to 1994 when Ivy was born and how decisions made by a homeless man named Harvey change Ivy’s young life forever.

This extraordinary novel demonstrates how our family is the people who love us, not necessarily those who are related to us by blood. I absolutely loved everything about this book! The last 25% of the book had me in tears and touched me so profoundly like no other book has done in a long time. Even though The Edge of Belonging deals with some heavy topics, the romance in the novel balances out the storyline perfectly. Reese, Ivy’s childhood friend, is one of my favorite characters in the novel, and I know readers will fall in love with him, just like I did.

The Edge of Belonging is highly recommended for fans of dual timeline novels, women’s fiction, and readers who enjoy contemporary romance. The Edge of Belonging is sure to be on my top ten list of books for 2020.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine.

PAULA'S REVIEW:
Amanda Cox tells an exquisite tale of finding home and family. The story is about Ivy Rose and is told from two perspectives. Present day Ivy yearns to know her beginnings. In flashbacks we see baby Ivy from her first day. Four seemingly diverse people are brought together by a tiny baby.

This is an achingly beautiful story of growing faith and living out the love of Christ despite difficulties. The characters are real and relatable. They have their flaws but Ms. Cox shows us that compassion can bring healing. We struggle along with Miri, Thom, Harvey and Pearl as they battle their own inner demons and rejoice when they find their purpose again.

This is an exceptional debut novel. I will be glad to read another offering from Amanda Cox. * I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Publishing on behalf of the author. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*I give this 5 stars. Strong faith thread.

 
BackCover Blurb:
When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee her late grandmother's estate sale, she soon discovers that the woman left behind more than trinkets and photo frames--she provided a path to the truth behind Ivy's adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing.

Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he's ever loved.

In this dual-timeline story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truth--both the search for it and the desire to keep it from others--takes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.

Revell Publishing September 2020
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:



About the Author:
Amanda Cox is a blogger and a curriculum developer for a national nonprofit youth leadership organization, but her first love is communicating through story. She holds a bachelor's degree in Bible and theology and a master's degree in professional counseling. Her studies and her interactions with hurting families over a decade have allowed her to create multidimensional characters that connect emotionally with readers. Amanda lives in Tennessee with her husband and their three children.


Monday, September 7, 2020

UNTIL I MET YOU by Tari Faris, Reviewed by Nicole Cook #ReleaseDay Sept 8

With small town charm and beautifully crafted characters, Until I Met You, the second installment of author Tari Faris’ Restoring Heritage series, is sure to delight readers of contemporary romance. Readers can start with this book and fully understand the storyline, but to get the full enjoyment of the Restoring Heritage series, I recommend reading P.S. Goodbye (the prequel novella) and You Belong With Me (book one) first. These books are a great introduction to many of the characters who will play an important role in the Restoring Heritage series.
Realistically flawed characters, estranged brothers, strong bonds of friendship, and small town life…I loved everything about this novel! I have been looking forward to reading Until I Met You ever since I read book one when it released last year. This book focuses on Libby and Austin’s story, along with Pastor Nate and Olivia’s secondary storyline. Beloved characters from book one including Hannah, Luke, Thomas, Janie, and many more familiar townspeople have appearances throughout the book. With her stellar writing and bits of humor sprinkled throughout her books, Tari Faris has quickly risen to the top as one of my favorite contemporary romance authors.

Until I Met You is highly recommended for fans of contemporary romance, especially readers who enjoy novels by authors such as Denise Hunter, Becky Wade, Courtney Walsh, Melissa Tagg, and Susan May Warren. In future installments of the Restoring Heritage series, I would love for Luke’s brothers to have their stories told, especially Liam, who I have been curious about ever since I was introduced to him in book one.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine.
Using the Inkwell faith ranking system, I categorize Until I Met You as a 2 (having a light faith message), which is perfect for readers who enjoy contemporary romance with light spiritual content integrated into the storyline.


About the Book:
Welcome back to Heritage, Michigan--the small town with a big heart

When she hears that the town of Heritage is looking for a new librarian, Libby Kingsley jumps at the opportunity. Little did she know the library is barely more than a basement room stuffed with dusty, outdated books. What the community really needs is a new building. But the only funds available are those being channeled into the new town square, and the landscape architect in charge of the project wants nothing to do with her plans.

All Austin Williams wants to do is get the town square project finished, and he hopes it is enough to save the family business. Then he can extricate himself from the town that reveres the brother who cost him so much. But the local media and the town's new librarian seem to be conspiring against him at every turn. Will the determined bookworm find her way into his blueprints--and possibly even his heart?

Revell Publishing September 2020
Available in digital ebook, hardcover and paperback:
 

Buy Until I Met You at Amazon

About the Author:
Tari Faris is the author of You Belong with Me. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy, she is the projects manager for My Book Therapy, writes for learnhowtowriteanovel.com, and is a 2017 Genesis Award winner. She has an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary and lives in the Phoenix, Arizona, area with her husband and their three children. Although she lives in the Southwest now, she lived in a small town in Michigan for 25 years.


 

Sunday, September 6, 2020

BETWIXT TWO HEARTS reviewed by Trixi Oberembt


Authors: Amanda Tru, Cathe Swanson, Kari Trumbo, Alana Terry, Carol Moncado, and Chautona Havig

What a collection!! There are so many book tropes to enjoy in it--ie: Friends-to-love, Enemy-to-love, etc, that I think readers will find some of their favorite ones among this set. These authors are all new-to-me and that was an extra bonus, I'll be looking for books written by each one for future reading! The stories themselves are full of Christian faith playing out in imperfect people, so you'll meet characters like people you may already know living out everyday life. I felt like they could become friends in real life and I'm a huge fan of character lead stories. Some secondary ones I liked over others, but it just made for a well-rounded cast of characters.
Lastly, I've never read books based around a Christian online match-making service (not a dating site), so it was extra fun to meet the couples who were matched through it and see their love story being played out! There's so much to adore about each story and I'm sure readers will find this a refreshing faith-filled set of romantic fiction that satisfies both heart and soul.

*I borrowed this from Kindle Unlimited, and was under no obligation to provide a review.


BackCover Blurb:
Six of today's Best-selling Christian Authors weave six brand-new, unique, interconnected stories where nothing comes between the love betwixt two hearts.

Betwixt Two Hearts by Amanda Tru
With control of their dating website the prize, Bailey and Camden embark on a matchmaking competition that snags on unexpected results. All is fair in a contest of love. May the best matchmaker win.

The Swedehearts Glory Quilt by Cathe Swanson
Eleanor ran away to find herself. David knew exactly where he wanted to go. Could a matchmaking agency put them on the same map?

Whole Latte Love by Kari Trumbo
Misguided Drew thinks all quiet women hide harmful secrets. While pretty, new best friend Addi's soft-spoken nature reminds him too much of past hurts to move their relationship forward. Can a matchmaking agency change his heart?

Seoul Refuge by Alana Terry
Caroline is a new believer, excited and passionate about her faith. Calvin is a Boston police detective, an atheist who can hardly believe Christians have brainwashed his wife. Caroline just wants to follow God. Calvin just wants his wife back.

Guardian of Her Heart by Carol Moncado
Signed up for a dating service by friends and brought together by a stowaway cat, Mark and Casey must decide if they want to overcome their apparent incompatibilities or go their separate ways.

Random Acts of Shyness by Chautona Havig
Heath's sister, Selby, has laid down the law. It’s time to let her take over his love life. After a series of first and only dates, Heath embarks on her new scheme to help him overcome the debilitating nervous habit that has plagued him all his life. However, between dates, each worse than the last, he tries one more time to do things his way… sort of.

Please Note: The Crossroads Collections are sets of stories that are interconnected in some way, but the collections are independent, complete, and can be read in any order. 

Available in digital ebook, paperback or hardcover:

Buy Betwixt Two Hearts on Amazon

Saturday, September 5, 2020

THE HEART OF A HERO by Susan May Warren, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

Susan May Warren is a master at crafting courageous, engaging, and strong heroes and placing them in precarious settings and circumstances. Of course, she also adds amazing, realistically-flawed, and engaging heroines to go with them. And since The Heart of a Hero is part of the Global Search and Rescue series, the hero Jake Silver has lots of chances to rescue the heroine, Aria Sinclair. The characters are amazing, the action is nonstop and dramatic, and the story is typical Susan May Warren fare.

Aria and Jake were introduced in the first book of the series, The Way of the Brave, and I enjoyed getting to know them better and watching their relationship change and develop. There was also some backstory of Hamilton Jones’s situation which is continuing in book 3 of the series.

The only problem I had with this book is that there seemed to be perilous situation overload.

“I thought we weren’t talking about that.” 

“If we limited our conversation to only the things that happen when we’re trying not to die, we’re going to run out of things to say.”

I’d hate to hang out with these characters, since every time they turned around something else was thrown at them. At times, it seemed to be a little unrealistic and over the top. That said, I still enjoyed the story, and I’m looking forward to book 3 in the series. 

*I received this from Library Thing and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.

See Nicole's Review
See Kim's Review

 
Back Cover Blurb:
Jake Silver may not be able to put the memories of his time as a sniper and Navy SEAL behind him, but at least he can put his skills to use as a part of the Jones Inc. rescue team. Saving the life of pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Aria Sinclair on Denali helped too. Now he can't get her out of his head, and when he hears she is in the path of a hurricane down in Key West he can't help but jump on a plane to rescue her.

Aria has dedicated her life to helping children born with defective hearts. After all, she was one of those children. Now driven to succeed, she lives a lonely, stressful life. One she would have lost on Denali if it hadn't been for Jake. Jake is exciting and handsome, but he's also dangerous, and she's already lost one person she loves. She can't bear it again.

It's not until she finds herself trapped in the middle of a category 4 hurricane that she can admit she needs Jake desperately. With their very survival in the balance, can they hope for a second chance at life . . . and love?


Available in digital ebook, paperback, and hardcover:

Buy The Heart of a Hero at Amazon
Buy The Heart of a Hero at Christianbook.com


Friday, September 4, 2020

DUST by Kara Swanson, Reviewed by Kim

First off, can we just take a second to look at this gorgeous cover? The cover alone made me want to buy this book! And I’m so happy to say that what’s inside is just as good as what’s outside! I really really enjoyed this story and I’m not a huge Peter Pan fan either, but I loved the writing style and Kara Swanson’s take on Peter Pan!
Where to start! I was immediately drawn to Claire. I felt for what she had been through throughout her life and the grief she was feeling about her missing twin brother. I was so excited when she finally got a lead on what happened to him and we flew off to London where she meets Peter and Tiger Lily and Hook and the pixies! I loved the pixies!! 

I loved when Claire and Peter were with them because of the feeling of warmth and light that exuded off the page! Peter was charming and immensely likable, but he was also hiding something that kept me intrigued till the end of this story. Speaking of the end, I kind of need book 2 right now because I totally did not see that coming!

This is such a great YA fantasy! It is a bit darker than the original, but I highly recommend it! I can’t wait for book 2 to see what happens next.
*I bought this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. The faith element is light- (2) 

 

BackCover Blurb:
The truth about Neverland is far more dangerous than a fairy tale.

Claire Kenton believes the world is too dark for magic to be real—since her twin brother was stolen away as a child. Now Claire’s desperate search points to London... and a boy who shouldn't exist.

Peter Pan is having a beastly time getting back to Neverland. Grounded in London and hunted by his own Lost Boys, Peter searches for the last hope of restoring his crumbling island: a lass with magic in her veins.

The girl who fears her own destiny is on a collision course with the boy who never wanted to grow up. The truth behind this fairy tale is about to unravel everything Claire thought she knew about Peter Pan—and herself.




Enclave Publishing, July 2020

Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
Buy Dust at Amazon
Buy Dust at Christianbook.com








Thursday, September 3, 2020

THE LOST LIEUTENANT and THE GENTLEMAN SPY by Erica Vetsch, Reviews by Winnie and Rebecca

WINNIE'S REVIEW:
The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch
What an adventure and treat it was to read Marcus Haverly’s story in The Gentleman Spy! I met him in the first book in author Erica Vetsch’s Serendipity and Secrets series, and I was definitely ready to see him get a happy-ever-after. Marcus wasn’t expecting or desiring to inherit a title, but when his father and older brother passed away unexpectedly, he ended up with more notoriety than was good for his job as a spy for the Crown. I loved his compassion, his determination, and his courage as he tried to fulfill all his many responsibilities and compartmentalize his life. 


Lady Charlotte is intelligent, plucky, and ready to be out from under her parents’ caustic rule. It was amusing to see Marcus allow Charlotte enjoyment of her newfound freedom and the ability to develop her own passions. The growth of these two characters was so satisfying. Vetsch is a master at crafting endearing, flawed, colorful characters that come alive on the page. The stellar cast of secondary characters adds greatly to the enjoyment of the tale.

If you enjoy Regency romances with lots of intrigue, suspense, and a dash of inspiration, you’ll adore this series. Themes of forgiveness, mercy, and grace are woven tenderly through the story and add depth and dimension to it. Though this can be read as a standalone book, I’d suggest reading The Lost Lieutenant first to get more of the backstory. I’m eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Kregel Publications through Interviews and Reviews. All opinions are my own.


REBECCA'S REVIEWS:

The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch
"No French soldier, no cannon fire, no smoke or broken, bleeding bodies. He wasn't on the battlefield . . . He wasn't fighting for his life. He was in the hospital. Still."

Evan Eldridge is suffering from terrible wartime flashbacks, insufferable nightmares and has no recollection of the battle that could have easily ended his life, rather than his career; making him wonder if some will deem him insane. Instead, to his complete astonishment, Evan is recognized by the Prince Regent as a hero, being awarded a title, property and a lovely, young bride. . . . . who is bringing secrets of her own into their union.

"What would it be like to live in a peaceful, happy home, where people were kind and treated one another with respect? Did such a household even exist?"

Diana Seaton has been viewed as a valuable commodity by her father for quite some time, but on the eve of being "sold to the highest bidder", she is suddenly paired with the newly titled Earl of Whitelock. The new earl seems like a kind man, but Diana's only experiences with men have not been pleasant ones, and yet as she is being whisked away to a new life, Diana makes a rash decision; the consequences of which have the potential to dramatically change the course of her new family's future. What has she done?

Allow the magnificence of this story to settle in, for readers will not only develop an instantaneous bond with Evan and Diana as they carefully navigate the dangerous relationship thrust upon them,
but they will also appreciate the carefully crafted surrounding cast, several of whom do not have the newlywed's best interests in mind. Conversation by conversation, hurdle by hurdle, one misunderstanding at a time; two solitary hearts cautiously tiptoe toward a union of hearts, and it's a beautiful thing to behold.

*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.

The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch
"I can be a married man and still maintain my freedom in other aspects. Charlotte will suit me fine. There when I need her and capable of being autonomous when I don't."

Compartments. That's how the new Duke of Haverly had been envisioning his life; in neat little compartments. Marcus had functioned in this manner for so long, he erroneously assumed that adding a wife, just added a compartment . . . . . not so. Lady Charlotte's brilliant mind drew him in like cold hands to a warm fire, but when her heart began showing, matching her outer beauty to what was hidden within, Marcus knew he was in deep, deep trouble.

"What did you expect? By now you should know better than to think that anything good would come your way or last more than a moment. God may be the giver of good gifts, for some, but not for you."

Lady Charlotte Tiptree had been overlooked and under valued for most, if not all, of her life. Threatened to a life of spinsterhood by her overbearing father, he delivers a shocking ultimatum; find a husband or become relegated as a companion for her insufferable aunt. Imagine her surprise when the answer to her dilemma arrives in the form a handsome enigma. . . .was the Duke of Haverly's offer a dream come true, or the continuation of a living nightmare?

Undoubtedly, one of the most romantic stories that you will ever read! And suspenseful! And inspiring! May it come as no surprise if you close the book only to open it back to the very first page. 

*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 
4.5 stars


#1 The Lost Lieutenant:
Purchase at Amazon, Christianbook.com

See Winnie and Paula's Reviews
See Trixi's Review 

#2 The Gentleman Spy:  
Purchase at AmazonChristianbook.com

See Paula's Review
See Trixi's Review

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