Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A COWBOY FOR KEEPS by Jody Hedlund, Review by Paula, Trixi and Winnie

PAULA'S REVIEW:
From the gorgeous sunset on the cover to the concluding pages, this was an epic mail-order-bride-gone-wrong story with hope and faith winnings out!

“Ahead, the cabin and barn sat against the backdrop of the mountains with the glow of the setting sun reflected on the golden aspens, dark evergreens, and gray rocky crags.” This beautiful setting is perfect for this layered story of rancher, Wyatt McQuaid and Greta Nilsson and their quest to eke out a living in Colorado in 1862. Greta has her sick sister to care for and arrives to find her husband-to-be has died. Wyatt and Greta accept a marriage of convenience, putting their faith in God to somehow make things right. Both are hardworking and honorable. Ms. Hedlund writes a villain we love to hate and he makes things hard for Wyatt and his friend Judd. Their resolve is challenged but they do not buckle.

Greta tries her best with her nine year old sister, Astrid, who despite her illness, is a bright spot in their lives. “For so long, every time she prayed, she had felt she was disturbing God. Maybe He was waiting-even wanting- her to come to Him and let Him bear the burdens with her.”

Although this story came to an end, the last chapter hints at an equally mesmerizing story to come. The next book is about Wyatt’s family in Pennsylvania and a reunion is in the works.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*
5 stars. Strong faith thread

TRIXI'S REVIEW:
”She needs a husband,” Steele said firmly. “You need an investor. And I need a civilized town for my wife.”

With that ultimatum, how can Wyatt resist a chance to finally start his own cattle ranch? But then again, who is he to play with hearts? As for Greta, what other choice does she have but to enter a marriage of convenience for the sake of both herself and younger sister? What a quandary!

I already love Jody Hedlund's historical books, so I was especially excited to read her first Western one! Her stories are character driven, which is something I enjoy very much. I fell in love with Wyatt at first sight; not just because he's ruggedly handsome, but for his heart of gold. He learns that Greta and her young sister are in desperate need and reluctantly agrees to the mayor's marriage bargain. How this story plays out from there was all consuming for me, a book that was thoroughly engrossing. It was also a gentle love story between Wyatt and Greta, an absolute pleasure to watch these two together. They both have insecurities they fight within themselves, but in the end faith, hope and love overcome. The secondary characters added their own personalities and flavor; I especially loved Judd—Wyatt's unofficial cowhand and sage advice giving grizzled older gentleman. He was a favorite of mine.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this fantastic western historical & eagerly look forward to the next installment of “Colorado Cowboys”!
*I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House and was not obligated to leave a favorable review. All opinions expressed here are mine. * 

WINNIE'S REVIEW:
A Cowboy for Keeps is the start of a new series, Colorado Cowboys, by Jody Hedlund, and it’s quite a change from her previous series that I’ve read. With a change of scenery to the Colorado territory in 1862, and the introduction to the McQuaid family, this book set the stage for the new series. I enjoyed meeting the fascinating characters in this book. Wyatt McQuaid is an interesting hero with insecurities and past failures, but his courage, work ethics, and compassion shine. Greta Nilsson is independent, caring, and focused on improving her sister Astrid’s poor health. Astrid is a great addition to the cast, as is Wyatt’s ranch hand, Judd, whose wry wisdom and loyalty enhance the story.

“The way I see it . . . a team of oxen can carry more together than apart.”

“You can walk away every time the flies start bitin’. Or you can swat ‘em until they’re gone.”

I enjoyed this charming and enjoyable marriage of convenience tale, and I’m looking forward to meeting more of Wyatt’s family in the rest of the series.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House and NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
 
 
BackCover Blurb:
 Greta Nilsson's trip west to save her ailing little sister, Astrid, could not have gone more wrong. First, bandits hold up her stagecoach, stealing all her money. Then, upon arriving in Fairplay, Colorado, she learns the man she was betrothed to as a mail-order bride has died. Homeless, penniless, and jobless, Greta and her sister are worse off than when they started.

Wyatt McQuaid is struggling to get his new ranch up and running and is in town to purchase cattle when the mayor proposes the most unlikely of bargains. He'll invest in a herd of cattle for Wyatt's ranch if Wyatt agrees to help the town become more respectable by marrying and starting a family. And the mayor, who has promised to try to help Greta, has just the candidate in mind for Wyatt to marry.
 
Bethany House Publishers,  January 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A PROMISE TO KEEP ''BIRTHDAY BASH" from Author Melony Teague, hosted by Winnie Thomas #Giveaway

Celebrating Melony Teague’s 2020 Fiction debut novel,

A PROMISE TO KEEP.

Melony Teague was inspired to write this novel after thinking about her own high school reunion (which she could not attend because it would be too far away from her home base, Canada) and what it would be like to make a promise that changed everything. A Promise to Keep is a second chance novel, kicking off at a high school reunion, taking you to Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada, as well as Ithaca, NY, and Wyoming. You can armchair travel while reading the book.

 Tell us, do you like second chances stories?

“A delightful romance sure to please anyone looking for a story about second chances, grace, and hope. This one has all the right ingredients!” —Catherine West, award-winning author of Where Hope Begins.

“With charm, wit, and romance, Teague’s debut novel takes readers on a journey of second chances, grace… and a trusty fern. Hope and humor blend throughout the story, balancing deep emotions with lighter moments and a sweet romance besides. A bright new voice in Christian fiction!”—Carrie Schmidt, ReadingIsMySuperPower.org

As part of the A Promise to Keep Book Birthday Bash (1 year anniversary of the book’s release), Author Melony Teague is offering a giveaway! Make sure you enter to win a $5 Amazon gift card

 

When the book released on Jan 21, 2020, Winnie reviewed this debut: “I recommend this to readers who enjoy amusing second chance stories with great, realistic characters.”


Here's her full
REVIEW of A Promise to Keep.

 

 

 

 

Giveaway entry link at the end of this post. There are many stops on this tour, so be sure to check out the full schedule link posted at the end of this post.

ADD THE BOOK TO GOODREADS

BUY ON AMAZON

About the Book: 

A Promise. A High School Reunion. And a pact that proves harder to keep.

Research librarian Savannah Sanderson wants nothing more than to escape into her happily-ever-after novels with their larger-than-life fictional heroes. But a promise to her late husband has her attending her dreaded twenty-year high school reunion, drinking ghastly punch, and taking desperate measures just to keep her vow, even if she has to hide behind the d├ęcor to do it.

Once a reckless troublemaker, Michael McCann fled town after graduation. Now a professional technical rescuer, he’s back for the reunion, but on his trip down memory lane, he soon comes face to face with unresolved issues, namely Savannah. Before the night is over, a pact between these two old friends will lead them on an adventure into uncharted emotional territory where Michael must confront his past regrets and find the courage to reveal the truth. But can Savannah fly from her sheltered nest and risk her heart on a real-life hero?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melony Teague is a freelance writer who believes everyone has a story to tell. As co-author of As the Ink Flows, she loves to inspire and motivate others through her written words. With foamy lattes in-hand, she writes Contemporary Romance with a dash of humor. Though she has no hobbies outside of reading, writing, and eating chocolate, she is a member of ACFW and The Word Guild. She teaches seniors in her community to write their memoirs. She confesses with no shame that she has a strong belief that pumpkin pie is an acceptable breakfast food since it’s mostly vegetables. Her Fiction Debut, A Promise to Keep, released in Jan 2020. Melony was born in South Africa and now lives in Toronto with her husband, their two teenagers, and two cats who think they’re humans.

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You can connect with Melony here:

Website | Facebook | Facebook Group | BookBub | Twitter | Instagram | Amazon| Goodreads  

Find the full blog schedule with other fun posts here.

(winner will be announced the week of Jan 25th.

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Sparrows

 Hello—Susanne here.

Do you ever watch lyric videos of Christian songs? On occasion, I do, but this past week I've been using them for personal worship, prayer, or meditation.

Cory Asbury's "Sparrows" has been my favorite the past few days, and I wanted to share it with you. It's been a rough season, hasn't it? I confess the past year has been challenging. We've all had a challenging year, for various reasons, but the truth is, God is still active. He's busy, He's strong, He's loving, and He's good.

I'm working harder to remember those things and to tell Him I trust Him. Or when I don't trust Him, because of my fear, that I want to trust Him.

This song has been nice for that! I hope you enjoy a short break to watch. Sing along. Or ponder the words. 

God takes good care of us. Amen!


Sunday, January 17, 2021

THE RED CANARY by Rachel Scott McDaniel, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"She'd worn pride as thickly as her makeup, covering her flaws, concealing her shortcomings. Didn't she know to be flawed was to be beautiful? That no matter how layered, how far beneath the surface was scarred, mercy ran deeper. To be healed by His wounds and to be freed by His surrender, now that was a beauty no cosmetic could duplicate."

When Sergeant Mick Dinelo is assigned protective custody over a material witness for a high profile Pittsburgh murder investigation, he never imagined that his heart would wage war with his head over how to manage the ravishing beauty many referred to as "the red canary". Night club entertainer Vera Pembroke had made serious allegations, stating that she knew exactly who had killed the manager of the The Kelly Club. Whisking Vera off to a remote location, fearing that her life could be in serious jeopardy, Mick instinctively knows that Vera's prickly demeanor hides a vulnerability that presents him with a challenge; he must convince her to be completely honest with him about what exactly happened on that rainy night when she returned to the club. Realizing that Vera trusts virtually no one but herself, pushes Mick has to face the fact that his own demons are preventing him from being completely forthcoming with her.

What a luscious blend of an unique historical setting with characters (and two fantastic secondary personalities) perfectly sculpted to match; the flame of romance breathing life out of death, and the power of the cross providing solace for two very troubled souls. Rather than feeling like outsiders looking in, readers will readily embrace their role of impassioned participants, working tirelessly alongside Mick and Vera to put the details of this case to rest, so that the canary can live the rest of her life filled with song.

"You said you needed a song."


*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a review. 3.5 stars

BackCover Blurb:
Music sparks her world, but can love ignite her heart?

In 1928, soot from the local mills and music from speakeasies linger in the Pittsburgh air. When the manager of The Kelly Club is found dead, nightclub singer Vera Pembroke is thrust into peril. As the only witness to the crime, she’s sentenced to hide away in the Allegheny Forest with a stuffy police sergeant as her guardian.

Sergeant Mick Dinelo harbors a burning hatred for Pittsburgh’s underworld after the devastation it left on his life—and heart. He should be out exposing culpable gangsters rather than tending to the impetuous woman who defies his every effort to keep her safe.

Mick and Vera must set aside their differences to solve the murder that someone wants to keep buried beneath the soot of Steel City.


Smitten Historical Romance, November 2020
Available in digital ebook and paperback:


 

Saturday, January 16, 2021

WONDERLAND CREEK by Lynn Austin, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise


“If my life were a book, no one would read it. People would say it was too boring, too predictable. A story told a million times. But I was perfectly content with my life-that is, until the pages of my story were ripped out before I had a chance to live happily ever after.”

Alice Ripley is absorbed in books in her job as a librarian in a good sized town in Illinois. After losing her job and boyfriend, she decides to hand deliver the books she has collected to a tiny hamlet in Kentucky. She likens her life to a novel but is out of her element when she arrives in Acorn, Kentucky along Wonderland Creek.
I loved Alice with her spunk and imagination. “I felt like I had been pushed onto the stage in the middle of a very bad play and did not know any of my lines. I would have run for the hills if I knew which hills to tun to.”

Alice meets Librarian Mac who has secrets. Lillie was a favorite character. She is one hundred years old, a former slave and knows natural healing arts. Lillie has raised Mac from a baby. She is very wise and an outspoken Christian. Alice learns so much from Lillie and as a horseback Librarian in Appalachia.

This was such a great story. I was sorry to leave the folks in Acorn behind.

Wonderland Creek is a gem of a tale with references to all things bookish. The characters are real and live their faith with the purpose to love their neighbors and try to right injustices.

Every Lynn Austin book I have read is well written and unveils spiritual truths. I have enjoyed every on of them.
*I read a copy of this book as part of the Amazon Prime Reading program. All opinions are my own.*I give this 5 stars and a strong faith thread.
 
currently a free read for Amazon Prime Members
 
BackCover Blurb:
Lynn Austin Will Delight Readers with Her Winsome Heroine

Alice Grace Ripley lives in a dream world, her nose stuck in a book. But happily-ever-after life she's planned on suddenly falls apart when her boyfriend, Gordon, breaks up with her, accusing her of living in a world of fiction instead of the real world. Then to top it off, Alice loses her beloved job at the library because of cutbacks due to the Great Depression.

Fleeing small-town gossip, Alice heads to the mountains of eastern Kentucky to deliver five boxes of donated books to the library in the tiny coal-mining village of Acorn. Dropped off by her relatives, Alice volunteers to stay for two weeks to help the librarian, Leslie McDougal.

But the librarian turns out to be far different than she anticipated--not to mention the four lady librarians who travel to the remote homes to deliver the much-desired books. While Alice is trapped in Acorn against her will, she soon finds that real-life adventure and mystery--and especially romance--are far better than her humble dreams could have imagined.
 
Bethany House October 2011
Available in digital ebook and paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
 

Friday, January 15, 2021

FOREVER HIDDEN and ENDLESS MERCY by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise


FOREVER HIDDEN
This is a story of many hidden secrets. Would those secrets be kept or would their revelation cause heartache years later?

The Powell family has known heartache and tragedy and they move with Grandfather Chuck Bundrant to Nome, Alaska and build a substantial dairy farm complete with chickens to serve the people of Nome. Life is busy and hard in such a fierce climate but the three daughters of Melissa Powell have their music and their faith to sustain them. When health problems loom, God sends an old friend to help out. John Roselli arrives at the farm to deliver a package to Chuck from his grandfather who has passed on. Chuck gives John the job of foreman, as God provides for all during this time of adjustment and upheaval. So many secrets, so much to work through.

The characters were all well developed and there is just the right amount of tension to make an great story. It is lightened by the antics of the granddaughters and their farm animals.

Love and trust grow and surprises are in store.

But the story is not quite complete. It continues in the next book: ENDLESS MERCY. (see below)

Two of my favorite authors give us an atmospheric tale of Nome, Alaska and an interesting family.
*I won a copy of this book from the author via AFCW Book Club. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*

5 stars and a solid faith thread. 

BackCover Blurb:
For Havyn Powell, growing up on her grandfather Chuck Bondrant's dairy outside the 1904 gold-rush boomtown of Nome, Alaska, offered all she needed. She had the love of her mother, two sisters, and grandfather. But now, at 23, Havyn realizes the stability of her life may soon vanish. Havyn is determined to find a way to keep the family together, but her grandfather's health is declining and everyone seems to be holding secrets from each other, including the handsome, dark-haired stranger who recently arrived.

John Roselli arrives in Nome looking for a steady, consistent job. He has grown tired of the promises of getting rich quick and just wants an honest job with honest pay. His grandfather once knew a Chuck Bondrant, and so when John arrives at the dairy, he's quickly offered a job--and a path to more if he wants it.

Havyn's plan for helping out the family means using her beautiful singing voice and her sisters' musical talent at a local roadhouse. They're an immediate hit, and it looks like her plan will be a success. But the spotlight brings with it dangerous eyes that covet Havyn and are jealous as she and John grow ever closer. But will they realize the peril before it's too late?

Bethany Publishing, January 2020
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:

ENDLESS MERCY
Life has dealt a few blows to the Powell sisters and their grandfather Chuck Bundrant. In book one we heard about Hayven and John. Endless Mercy tells of youngest sister Madysen. Red-headed Madysen Powell certainly lives up to the reputation reheads have gained. She is exuberant, headstrong, opinionated and a bit naive having just turned 21.

The girls each have their favorite animals to care for on the farm. Maddy has chosen sheep and a new venture- cheese making. But the family knows little about sheep cheese. Help comes in the form of Daniel Beaufort, son of a local merchant.

Danger lurks in the frozen town as does the lure of fame and fortune for Maddy, one of the musically talented Powell sisters. Complications also arise when a father who was believed dead shows up. Can the sisters find it in their hearts to forgive a man who abandoned them so long ago? Can this family find Mercy and make a fresh start? God can and does lead them in their journey in harsh Nome, Alaska.

I enjoyed this book but not quite as much as Havyn’s story. I am looking forward to book three and Whitney’s story.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Bethany House. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*
4 stars strong faith thread. 

BackCover Blurb:
Madysen Powell has always been a forgiving person, but when her supposedly dead father shows up in Nome, Alaska, her gift for forgiveness is tested. With the recent loss of her mother, she searches for answers, leaning on Granny Beaufort, a neighbor in town, who listens with a kind heart. Still, Madysen is restless and dreams of performing her music around the world. The arrival of a traveling show could prove just the chance she needs, and the manager promises more than she ever dreamed.

Daniel Beaufort arrives in Nome, searching for his own answers after the gold rush leaves him with only empty pockets. Still angry about the death of his loved ones, he longs to start fresh but doesn't have high hopes until he ends up helping at the Powell dairy making cheese. Drawn to the beautiful redhead with big dreams, will deceptions from the past tear apart any hope for the future?

Bethany House Publishers, January 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:
 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

TO DWELL AMONG CEDARS by Connilyn Cossette, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney


"Follow the Ark, Arisa. Do not turn to the right or to the left, and do not stop until it dwells among cedars and you are sheltered in perfect peace."

Urged to flee Philistia before being forced to slave among lascivious temple priests, Arisa and her younger brother Lukio follow the curious gold box belonging to the Hebrews, as it makes it way out of Ashdod. Their childhood servant, a humble Jewish woman named Azuvah, had whispered stories about Yahweh all their lives, but hearing about Him and believing in Him were two totally different concepts. Tired, hungry, and homeless the two siblings happen upon a celebratory welcome for the revered Ark of the Covenant, only to become eye-witnesses to the magnificent holiness of the One true God.

Years pass following the adoption of the two orphans into a kind and compassionate Hebrew family. The talented Levite musician Ronen, who initially rescued Eliora (her new name) and her brother, returns to Kiryat-Yearim to discover that the scared little waif who clung to his back has turned into a very beautiful young woman. But Ronen's task in Eliora's home is not a pleasant one, for he is virtually a spy, working silently for an opposing Levite faction whose primary goal is to purloin the Ark in order to transport it back to the fully restored tabernacle. Urged by his cousins to use his masculine charm to extract information from Eliora regarding the Ark's location, Ronen quickly finds himself torn between the God he thought he knew about and the God that Eliora serves with her whole heart. 
This author's ability to bring Scripture to life is astounding; capturing the beauty of the Old Testament with resounding joy, the book's powerful imagery paints landscapes of love, honor, and sacrifice, its characters exude the fragrances of flawed humanity who bow humbly before a God who not only sees and hears, but loves and forgives; a God who grafts the weak into the branches of the strong, and a God who writes His own song upon every heart, .

"There is no song more beautiful than the one the Creator is composing with every note of your life, one he's been weaving together even before your first breath."
*I receive a copy of this book from the author and publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own. 
 
*To Dwell Among Cedars can be found on multiple 2020 Favorites Lists!
 
BackCover Blurb:
Eight years ago, when the Philistines stole and then surrendered the ark of the covenant back to the Israelites, Eliora left her Philistine homeland to follow the ark to the community of Kiryat Yearim. There, the family she was adopted into has guarded the ark at the top of a mountain in seclusion. 

Ronen is a Levite musician determined to secret away the ark to a more fitting resting place, watched over by priests who would restore the Holy of Holies. He never expected that the Philistine girl he rescued years ago would now be part of the very family he's tasked to deceive.

As Ronen's attempts to charm Eliora lead them in unexpected directions, betrayal leaves Eliora with strained family ties and Ronen questioning his own loyalties. Ultimately, Eliora and Ronen are caught up in the battle for the soul of Israel and its future under the leadership of Samuel, the last judge before the era of the kings begins.

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



Wednesday, January 13, 2021

ALL THAT WE CARRIED by Erin Bartels, Reviewed by Paula, Winnie, and Rebecca

PAULA'S REVIEW:
“Jeweled trees leaned in toward the water, as though listening to the creek tell its particular story.”

This was a beautifully written book about two estranged sisters who go on a multi-day hike in the Porcupine Mountains of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As the story unfolds, we see that the title: All That We Carried, is allegorical. “Olivia couldn’t carry both her pack and Melanie’s. Carrying just her own was exhausting enough.” The characters of Olivia and Melanie Greene are not necessarily likable but they are realistic and we see each struggle to find purpose in life. They have heard the same mantra from their parents as they grew up: “ What is done is done and cannot be undone.”

This story was interesting because I have visited Ontonagon and the Porcupines in a day trip while living in Northern Wisconsin.

While the allegory came through, the author brought out a lot of spiritual questions that the characters were struggling with. I wish she would have taken it a step farther and provided clearer answers. Such as pointing the reader to the true compass, Jesus, who wants to carry our burdens for us. Especially lacking was a follow through with Josh, who seemed to be a Christian and had a captive audience. There was just no real resolution for me.

That said, I would recommend this as a good book, especially if you want to hike through the eyes of the characters without leaving your comfy reading spot.
* I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Revell Reads Book Blog Program. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*I give this 4 stars and an incomplete faith thread.

REBECCA'S REVIEW:

"How could Melanie ever hope to have a relationship with someone who allowed no room for mistakes, no room for repentance?"

Hoping to bridge a ten year relational gap following the tragic deaths of their parents, Melanie Greene talks her older sister Olivia into an extended wilderness excursion deep within the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Melanie's casual approach to the trip was perfectly counter-balanced by her sister's excessively detailed itinerary, however neither of them could have predicted how heavy their literal and figurative backpacks would become along the way. What would it feel like to be free?

This book is guaranteed to generate widely varied reactions. Some readers will finish with a deep sense of satisfaction; assured of closure, while others will find the ending confusing, wondering how so many deep spiritual questions could be posed with only brushstrokes of possibilities as answers. Regardless, it's a well written book, especially for those who have struggled mightily with life and death issues, knowing there is only One who holds all the assurances that we need, pleading with us to lay down the burdens of our hearts; the ones that we have tried so clumsily to carry.
*I received a copy of this book from Baker Publishing Group through Interviews and Reviews. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.

WINNIE'S REVIEW:
All That We Carried is a well-written, thought-provoking book about two sisters trying to reconnect ten years after the accidental death of their parents. Although they are siblings and suffered the same trauma, they reacted differently to it. Olivia left town to deal in her own way, while Melanie was left at home to take care of things. I was struck by the difference in the two sisters. While Olivia was very structured and detail oriented, Melanie was more spontaneous and flexible, although when going on an extended hiking and camping trip, each has advantages and disadvantages, as the reader finds out. I had a hard time relating to either of them. Olivia seemed antagonistic and critical, while Melanie seemed to be very unprepared. The story takes them through different adventures during the trip and their reactions to them.

The title is more meaningful as the story progresses. Threads of forgiveness, repentance, and mercy are woven throughout and add depth and dimension to it. I was a bit conflicted about the ending, as I felt I was left hanging, and it could have had more resolution. 3.5 stars
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Revell through Interviews and Reviews. All opinions are my own

BackCover Blurb:
 Ten years ago, sisters Olivia and Melanie Greene were on a backcountry hiking trip when their parents were in a fatal car accident. Over the years, they grew apart, each coping with the loss in her own way. Olivia plunged herself into law school, work, and a materialist view of the world--what you see is what you get, and that's all you get. Melanie dropped out of college and developed an online life-coaching business around her cafeteria-style spirituality--a little of this, a little of that, whatever makes you happy.

Now, at Melanie's insistence (and against Olivia's better judgment), they are embarking on a hike in the Porcupine Mountains of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. In this remote wilderness they'll face their deepest fears, question their most dearly held beliefs, and begin to see that perhaps the best way to move forward is the one way they had never considered.

Michigan Notable Book Award winner Erin Bartels draws from personal experience hiking backcountry trails with her sister to bring you a story about the complexities of grief, faith, and sisterhood.
 
Revell Publishing, January 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:

 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

STILL THE ONE by Rachel D. Russell, Reviewed by Nicole Cook

“I’ve always remembered you.” His eyes held hers. “You’ve always been the one.”

With award-winning author Susan May Warren’s guidance and support, Rachel D. Russell crafts a stellar return to the beloved town of Deep Haven in her debut novel, Still the One. Fans of Susan May Warren will be thrilled to take a journey back to Deep Haven in this fantastic new series written by debut authors with a writing style similar to Warren's. Susan May Warren is one of my favorite contemporary romance authors, and she continues to create phenomenal stories with captivating heroes who become fan favorites, while also drawing readers closer to their faith. With cameo appearances from popular Deep Haven characters and the introduction of fabulous new characters, Rachel D. Russell’s Still the One is the perfect addition to the Deep Haven Collection.

 “Don’t ever give up on a happy ending or what God might do in your life, Megan. You just don’t know how God can surprise you in unexpected ways.”

Readers will be introduced to former Army Ranger Cole Barrett, who returns to Deep Haven and reconnects with childhood friend Megan Carter in less than ideal circumstances. This heartwarming tale of forgiveness and discovering true love will find a place in the hearts of readers everywhere. I can’t wait to read more from author Rachel D. Russell.

Still the One 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, Tari Faris, and Susan May Warren.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author/publisher and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine.Inkwell Faith Content Rating – 2.5 (Moderate)

ABOUT THE BOOK

It’s never too late to finish a love story…
Former Army Ranger Cole Barrett has a new mission objective—sell his grandfather’s house in Deep Haven, and leave the town that contains his childhood hurts for good. Unfortunately, the tenant in the garage apartment refuses to move. Even worse? It’s his childhood crush, Megan Carter, and her son.

Wedding planner and single mom Megan Carter loves Deep Haven. To her, it’s the place where she makes dreams come true—at least, everyone else’s. Hoping to purchase a local B & B and turn it into a premier event venue, she’s oh, so close to her down payment…until Cole Barrett returns to Deep Haven. Even if he’s not back to fulfill a silly childhood promise to marry her, she never expected him to evict her!

When a blizzard strikes Deep Haven, and Megan is overrun with wedding catastrophes, it takes a former Ranger to step in and help. Besides, the more he comes to her rescue, the sooner she’ll be able to move out…and he can move on. And that’s what they both want, right?

Return to Deep Haven with this magical tale about the one who got away…and came back 
 
Available in digital ebook and paperback:


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

RACHEL D. RUSSELL
Rachel D. Russell is a member of Oregon Christian Writers, My Book Therapy’s Novel Academy, and is a regular contributor to the Learn How to Write a Novel blog. When Rachel’s not cheering on one of her two teens at sporting events, she’s often interrogating her husband on his own military and law enforcement experience to craft believable heroes in uniform. The rest of her time is spent cantering her horse down the Oregon trails and redirecting her three keyboard-hogging cats. Visit her at www.racheldrussell.com


SUSAN MAY WARREN
USA Today bestselling, RITA, Christy and Carol award winning novelist Susan May Warren is the author of over 80 novels with nearly 2 million books sold, most of them contemporary romance with a touch of suspense. One of her strongest selling series has been the Deep Haven series, a collection of books set in Northern Minnesota, off the shore of Lake Superior. Visit her at www.susanmaywarren.com.




Monday, January 11, 2021

BEAUTY AMONG RUINS by J'nell Ciesielski, Reviewed by Kim

This is my first J’nell Ciesielski book, but it won’t be my last! I really enjoyed the writing style and the storyline. It was romantic, had great characters, and I loved that it was set in Scotland, in a castle, no less!

I loved Alec and how Lily slowly broke through his gruff personality with with her always sunny disposition. I also loved how she didn’t really let things get her down. The slight mystery aspect was interesting as well as its resolution.

I will definitely be reading more of J’Nell Ciesielski’s stories.
*I was given a complimentary copy of this book. The faith element is light.

BackCover Blurb:
In Ciesielski’s latest sweeping romance, an American heiress finds herself in Scotland amid the fallout of the Great War, and a wounded Scottish laird comes face-to-face with his past and a woman he never could have expected.

American socialite Lily Durham is known for enjoying one moment to the next, with little regard for the consequences of her actions. But just as she is banished overseas to England as a “cure” for her frivolous ways, the Great War breaks out and wreaks havoc. She joins her cousin in nursing the wounded at a convalescent home deep in the wilds of Scotland at a crumbling castle where its laird is less than welcoming.

Alec MacGregor has given his entire life to preserving his home of Kinclavoch Castle, but mounting debts force him to sell off his family history bit by bit. Labeled a coward for not joining his countrymen in the trenches due to an old injury, he opens his home to the Tommies to make recompense while he keeps to the shadows. But his preference for the shadows is shattered when a new American nurse comes streaming into the castle on a burst of light.

Lily and Alec are thrown together when a series of mysterious events threatens to ruin the future of Kinclavoch. Can they put aside their differences to find the culprit before it’s too late, or will their greatest distraction be falling in love?

Thomas Nelson Publishing, January 12, 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, and audiobook:
 

Sunday, January 10, 2021

FAITH'S MOUNTAIN HOME (Hearts of Montana #3) by Misty M. Beller, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"That long familiar knot pulled tight in his gut . . . . . God had forgiven him, but truly putting the past behind him was a whole new matter."

Nate Long is a new man on the inside. Having confessed his past mistakes to both God and man, he is trying to live a new kind of life, working off a debt incurred through lawless associations , while also encouraging his twin brother during a long recovery from a gunshot wound that nearly shattered his leg. But it's the lovely young physicians assistant who begins to work another kind of miracle; this one burrowing deep within the recesses of Nate's lonely heart.

Laura Hannon is a bit wary of getting too close to the Long brothers. After all, they were members of the gang of bandits who had kidnapped her, but to their credit, they had attempted to keep her safe during the unfortunate incident. If only her stray shot hadn't damaged Aaron Long's leg causing severe damage. Thankful for the opportunity to settle in Settler's Fort while aiding the local physician and his wife, Laura is unexpectedly thrust into accepting Nate's help, finding that his handsome exterior houses a kind nature and a genuine desire to lovingly protect. Does she have the courage to believe in her own happy endings?

Readers will genuinely respect this author's ability to weave Scriptural truths into the very fabric of her characters; this story displaying the freedom from one's past that only forgiveness can bring while demonstrating God's remarkable power to resolve situations outside of human control. And of course, a little romance makes everything sweeter!
*I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.

BackCover Blurb:
Nate Long has always watched over his identical twin brother, Aaron, even when it put him on the wrong side of the law. When Aaron is wounded in a shootout, the brothers are taken to Settler's Fort to recover. As Nate works to make reparations for their past, he marvels at the nursing Aaron receives under the care of a woman with all the reason in the world to resent him.

Laura Hannon knows what it is to start over, and she knows Nate's newfound faith is real. What she can't look past is how far he allowed himself to be led astray by his brother's weaknesses.

As a fledgling trust grows between Nate and Laura, they stumble upon a mysterious cave in the mountains that may not be as uninhabited as it seems. While working together to unravel the secrets surrounding the cave, will the new lives they seek for themselves include love, or does too much stand between them
?

Bethany House Publishing, January 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:

 

 

Saturday, January 9, 2021

BEAUTY AND THE BARON by Joanna Barker, Reviewed by Kim

Beauty and the Baron is everything I look for in a story. It’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling and I’m always in for that! Henry is a bit gruff and temperamental, while Rose is very sweet and willing to sacrifice her lifestyle to remedy the mistakes of her father. I really loved how the relationship between Henry and Rose grew. The scene where they got caught in the rain was a favorite.

While this was short, it was well fleshed out and while I would have loved for this to be a novel instead of a novella, I was completely satisfied at the end! This is my second Joanna Barker story and she is definitely an author I will continue to read!
*I purchased this book. It is a clean read. 

BackCover Blurb:
A penniless maid determined to save her father, a broken baron bent on isolation, and the undeniable draw between them that could lead to happiness—or disaster.

Rose Sinclair has run out of options. With her father in prison and their bookshop sold to pay his debts, she has no choice but to turn to Henry Covington, the Baron Norcliffe. But the baron has more than earned his harsh reputation, and Rose must face his wrath in order to save her father—and herself.

Since the deaths of his parents, Henry Covington has isolated himself from society, ensuring the solitude of his estate with his deliberate callousness. However, when the beautiful Miss Sinclair appears on his doorstep, begging for a chance to repay her father's debt to him, a moment of weakness finds him offering her a position—as a maid in his own house.

They both soon learn that first impressions are not to be believed. Henry is surprised—and intrigued—by Rose's optimistic charm, while Rose slowly uncovers Henry's true self, his compassion concealed behind the pain of loss and betrayal. But when a shadow from Henry's past returns, their newfound hope is tested. They must decide for themselves who to trust and what they will risk for their happily ever after.

Beauty and the Baron is a Regency retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It is a sweet/clean romance novella, and is Book 1 in a series of Regency retellings. The stories can be read in any order.
Book 1: Beauty and the Baron by Joanna Barker
Book 2: The Captain and Miss Winter by Sally Britton
Book 3: The Steadfast Heart by Arlem Hawks

Available in digital ebook and paperback:
Buy Beauty and the Baron at Amazon

 

 

Friday, January 8, 2021

TO STEAL A HEART by Jen Turano, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

“In the past, Gabriella would have had her choice of competent assistants, but since she’d abandoned her life of crime at the ripe old age of twelve, she no longer had experienced criminals at her beck and call, which was why she’d had to settle for Daphne, an unlikely partner if there ever was one.”

I know when I pick up a Jen Turano book I’m going to be in for a rollicking good time, and To Steal a Heart was no exception. Turano is a master at creating quirky, eccentric, but lovable characters and plopping them into improbable situations, which causes all sorts of mayhem and mischief to occur. She then proceeds to extract them from those situations in ways that has the reader smiling, chuckling, and laughing out loud.


I absolutely adored spunky Gabriella Goodhue and Nicholas Quinn who were best friends as children. They hadn’t seen each other for years, and when they are reunited, they are thrown into some crazy, hilarious, and dangerous situations. The colorful cast of secondary characters adds to the hilarity and fun.

If you love historical fiction that is full of wit, humor, and charm, treat yourself to this book, which is the first in the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency series. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next book in the series, which I think is going to star Daphne. This is definitely bound for my keeper shelf.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers. All opinions are my own

SEE PAULA'S REVIEW:

BackCover Blurb:
After a childhood as a street thief, Gabriella Goodhue thought she'd put her past behind her until a fellow resident at her boardinghouse is unjustly accused of theft. In the middle of breaking into a safe that holds the proof to prove her friend's innocence, Gabriella is interrupted by Nicholas Quinn, the man she once considered her best friend--until he abandoned her.

After being taken under the wing of a professor who introduced him into society and named him as heir, Nicholas is living far removed from his childhood life of crime. As a favor to a friend, Nicholas agreed to help clear the name of an innocent woman, never imagining he'd be reunited with the girl he thought lost to him forever.

As Gabriella and Nicholas are thrown together into one intrigue after another, their childhood affection grows into more, but their newfound feelings are tested when truths about their past are revealed and danger follows their every step. 
  

Bethany House, November 2020
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:


 

Thursday, January 7, 2021

DESERT RESCUE by Lisa Phillips, Reviewed by Trixi Oberembt and Paula Shreckhise

TRIXI'S REVIEW: 
“Come on.” Jennie Wilson held tight to her son's hand as they crept down the back steps of the house. A house where they'd been held for hours. Nearly a whole day, if she'd correctly tracked the rise and subsequent fall of the sun.

Whoa, what an opening scene that is! Can you imagine being held against your will in your own house, all while trying to keep yourself and your son safe making your escape? Yikes! Talk about a hyper-tense start to a story. I was wondering how in the world they were going to make it anywhere under the shadow of the night when they were surrounded by bad guys. Guys who had evil intent; talk about sending shivers down my spine! 

Who will come to their rescue? 

Enter K-9 Search & Rescue dog Tucker, a handsome curly haired Airedale terrier trained to find the lost just by scent. He stole the show for me because I love K-9 officers slightly more than their two-legged counterparts. Though I have to say, state police officer Patrick Sanders makes for an imposing figure (and just as handsome)! These two work in sync, almost as if they were connected at the hip. Things get even more complicated because both Jennie and Patrick have a past history together, and a son he didn't even know he had. Cue the extra layer of drama!

I won't spoil the story by giving anything away, but Desert Rescue is a multi-dimensional suspense that engages both mind and body. It also draws so many emotions out when the author unfolds Jenna and Patrick's backstories with so much misconception and heartache to work through! Second chance romance is also a favorite of mine because there are reasons why a couple didn't make it the first go-round. Watching the characters work though all that mess just adds so much depth for me. The hard-won happily-ever-after is so much sweeter because of it. There's also the faith thread that's very evident, Jenna helped Patrick re-prioritize the importance of it in his life. Forgiveness and the ability to move on when we lean on God's strength is a huge part of what this story is about. I think readers of inspirational romantic suspense will love this new book penned by Lisa Phillips. And an exciting new series called K-9 Search + Rescue by Love Inspired Suspense! I can't wait for the next installment.
*I received a complimentary copy from the author & was not obligated to leave a positive review. All opinions are mine alone. *

PAULA'S REVIEW:
First of all, that is the cutest rescue dog on the cover. I did not know that Airedales could serve in this way. We used to have an Airedale mix when I was 10 and they are so energetic. I learned a lot about the training and operation of working canines.

This was a suspenseful tale about Jennie and her son Nate who meet up with a Patrick Sanders, the dog handler, who Jennie knew in her youth. They have to overcome old hurts and rely on God to see them through terrifying events that come out of their past. The scenes with the dog were interesting and the interaction with the boy and the dog were very sweet.

First of a series that I am anxious to continue.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*
4 stars and strong faith thread

BackCover Blurb:
With his K-9’s help,
can he save the son he didn’t know existed?
Rescuing a kidnapped child is part of the job for search-and-rescue K-9 handler Patrick Sanders—but this time it’s his son. Now Patrick and his furry partner must work with his high school love, Jennie Wilcox, to shield the little boy he just learned about. But with someone targeting them, will Patrick and Jennie survive to face their painful past and become a family?

From Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense: Courage. Danger. Faith.
 
Harlequin Love Inspired, January 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, audiobook:

 

 

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