Friday, April 30, 2021

LANTERN BEACH GUARDIANS series by Christy Barritt, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

The Lantern Beach Guardian Series:




Book 1: HIDE AND SEEK
 
"Cassidy had so many questions."

Who was this little girl who had washed up onshore? Why wouldn't she speak? Would she recover from her long exposure in the ocean? Why was Cassidy's name written on the life jacket that had likely saved the dear one's life? Where were the girl's parents? What was her name? What now? What . . . . . . . now?

Lantern Beach Police Chief Cassidy Chambers couldn't dismiss the feeling that the answers to all of her questions were going to bring trouble to her sleepy tourist town. The timing couldn't have been worse, since the governor was scheduled to arrive for an under-the-radar island vacation. This couldn't have anything to do with his arrival, could it? Or could it.

Lantern Beach fans will love this first episode of a new series; Lantern Beach Guardians, featuring Cassidy and her ex-SEAL husband Ty, along with a darling little mystery girl who Cassidy names Janie.
* I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 3.5 stars

BackCover Blurb:
During a turbulent storm, a child is found on the beach, washed up from the ocean. Making matters worse—the girl can’t speak.

Lantern Beach Police Chief Cassidy Chambers can feel the danger lurking around them. As more mysterious incidents happen on the island, Cassidy fears each crime is somehow connected to this child—a child no one has reported missing.

Cassidy knows the girl’s life depends on finding answers. With the help of her husband, Ty, a former Navy SEAL, she scrambles to discover what exactly is going on.

Someone appears to be playing a deadly version of hide-and-seek—and using the girl as a pawn. But what will happen when the game finally ends?


Book 2: SHOCK AND AWE


" . . . we need to draw them out of their rabbit hole . . . Do a little shock and awe treatment on them. . . It's a classic military strategy."

Clearly, something drastic needed to happen. Police Chief Cassidy Chambers is being hemmed in along multiple fronts; a grisly murder scene with an unidentified victim, a state official who is being blackmailed out of keeping a secret, a traumatized little girl whose forward progress seems fragile at best, and an anonymous messenger boldly taunting Cassidy with words she never wanted to hear again; "we know who you are".

The author clearly upped her game in this exciting episode of The Lantern Beach Guardians, for die-hard romantic suspense fans will love the mix of frantic pace and tender moments
*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a review. 3.5 stars

BackCover Blurb:
They thought the worst was over—but they were wrong.

When Police Chief Cassidy Chambers arrives at a grisly crime scene, she’s shocked at where the evidence leads. Then the threats start coming. Threats against her. Threats that could upend her life.

As more clues are uncovered, a sinister plot is revealed, and Cassidy fears the little girl in her care may be tangled in a deadly scheme. Cassidy and her husband, Ty, will do anything to protect the child, each other, and the island. But what happens when they might not be able to save all three?


Book 3: SAFE AND SOUND


"You're like the woman who won't die. But I'm about to change that."

In spite of her best efforts Lantern Beach Police Chief Cassidy Chambers has been unable to find evidence that would clear the cloud of heavy suspicion hanging over her head; another F. B. I. agent has been murdered on the island, and this time the aim was personal. Too personal. The dying man's last words, "they know", forces Cassidy's hand. Those around her must be made aware of her past and who she really is, in order to protect those that she now loves the most.

Enjoy this thrilling conclusion to the Lantern Beach Guardians series, where Cassidy's life hangs in the balance not once, but twice.

"Whoever was behind this was playing a deadly game. And apparently, this other person was holding all the right cards."
*I purchased the book. 3.5 stars

BackCover Blurb:
A call for help draws Police Chief Cassidy Chambers deep into a wooded, isolated area on Lantern Beach. What she finds shakes her to the core—a friend is bleeding out, and his last words before dying are: They know.

Figuring out who killed her friend and what his final words meant becomes Cassidy’s mission. Have members of the notorious gang that placed a bounty on her head discovered her new life? Or is someone else trying to teach her a twisted lesson?

Elements from past investigations surface and threaten more than one person’s safety. Cassidy and her husband, Ty, must make sense of the deadly secrets that unfold at every turn. If not, the life they’ve built together might come to a permanent end.

Author Christy Barritt

USA Today has called Christy Barritt's books "scary, funny, passionate, and quirky."

A Publishers Weekly best-seller, Christy writes both mystery and romantic suspense novels that are clean with underlying messages of faith. Her books have sold almost two million copies, and one is currently being developed as a movie.

Christy's books have won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Suspense and Mystery, have been twice nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and have finaled for both a Carol Award and Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year.

The series (and other series set on Lantern Beach!) is available in a set or individually, in digital ebook or paperback at Amazon

 


Thursday, April 29, 2021

THE VEXING by Tamara Leigh, Reviewed by Kim

Once I start a Tamara Leigh story, I never want it to end! Her characters are always so wonderful and her storylines are always excellent and never cookie cutter! I don’t usually gravitate towards medievals, but Ms. Leigh’s are absolutely must reads!

While this is a stand-a-lone story, Sir Durand is introduced to us in previous Age of Faith stories. He had a little redeeming that needed to be done and I’m here to tell you, he was redeemed perfectly! He is so honorable, loyal, and kind and I loved his and Beata’s story - every second of it! Beata is such a great character! She’s strong, defends those she loves, and always tries to do the right thing. I loved everything about this couple and this story!

I also really enjoyed catching up with the previous characters in this series. I’m looking forward to reading The Awakening next! Baron Soames is introduced to us in The Vexing and I am intrigued!
*I bought this book, and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. The faith thread is medium.

BackCover Blurb:
USA Today best-seller Tamara Leigh returns to the medieval Age of Faith series with a romance three years in the making—Sir Durand’s tale.

A VEXING LADY
Answering her father’s summons to return home, Lady Beata Fauvel must evade capture by noblemen who seek to wed a great heiress. But when she falls into the hands of Queen Eleanor of England, she discovers her sovereign has plans of her own for the lady known France over as The Vestal Widow. Now Beata must not only escape the knight entrusted with ensuring she does not wed without permission, but survive a storm-tossed sea and revelation of a long-buried secret that could destroy her family. And what of a heart that wants what it cannot have? Will it only ever beat for the queen’s man?

A REPENTANT KNIGHT
For years, Sir Durand Marshal has faithfully served his queen as penance for betrayal of the Wulfrith family. When he rescues a woman pursued by vassals of the French king, he is charged with delivering to England the nearly scandalous lady who has only a name in common with the one he once loved. Though he never expects to feel anything beyond annoyance for the outspoken Lady Beata, he finds himself drawn to yet another woman denied him. Can he fulfill his duty to his liege? Or will he forsake his redemption and forever ruin his reputation—more, the lady’s?

 

2017
Available in digital ebook, paperback and audiobook:


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

WINNING THE GENTLEMAN by Kristi Ann Hunter, Reviewed by Paula and Winnie

PAULA'S REVIEW:
Kristi Hunter is one of my favorite authors. I am drawn to the Regency period and she is spot on with life in England during this time. I couldn’t be more pleased with this story. Her characters are for the most part Christian and convey those qualities in their personalities and actions. I was glad to meet up with characters from previous books. It helps me live in their world. I like that Ms. Hunter portrays the aristocrats as flawed but humble and not respecting of class distinctions. They are so kind and show Christian charity. A favorite character is Harriet, who is a take charge, no-nonsense lady of means. I’m hoping we see more of her in book three.

Hearts on the Heath
series is centered around the Regency sport of horse racing. This is where Sophia Fitzroy and Aaron Whitworth find common ground. However...” He’d never been able to understand women, but Miss Fitzroy confounded him far more than the rest of them.” Aaron has put different parts of his life into boxes in order to have some control. “His life had run smoothly until his friends had brought females into it.” Let the fun begin!

See how God works in the details in this delightful tale of romance and friendship and the promise of reconciliation.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House on behalf of the author. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*

I give this 5 stars and a strong faith thread.

WINNIE'S REVIEW:
It’s always a delight to open a new Kristi Ann Hunter book and immerse myself in a delicious new historical romance tale. I know I’m in for a rollicking great time with loads of wit, humor, and fun. Winning the Gentleman is filled with old friends from previous books and new friends and experiences. I was so glad that Aaron Whitworth got his own story, and what a story it was! Hunter is a master at getting her characters into strange predicaments and then finding humorous and creative ways of resolving them. When Aaron finds himself accidentally hiring a female as a jockey for his racehorses, he gets more than he bargains for. Sophia Fitzroy is spunky, courageous, and a talented horsewoman. Aaron is a self-deprecating, honorable man trying to take control of his circumstances. What could go wrong?

“His life had become a crazy mess of unpredictability.”

This is the second book in Hunter’s Hearts on the Heath series, and I’m enjoying the series so much. I’m going to have a hard time waiting for the next tale. I recommend this book to those who enjoy historical Regency stories. It’s definitely bound for my keeper shelf. *4.5 stars  I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers. All opinions are my own.


BackCover Blurb:

Aaron Whitworth hasn't had control over most aspects of his life, but he's always taken pride in being an honorable businessman and better-than-average horseman. When both of those claims are threatened, he makes the desperate decision to hire the horse trainer of a traveling circus as a temporary jockey for his racehorses.

Sophia Fitzroy knows that most horsemen don't take her seriously because she's a woman, but she can't pass up the opportunity to get away from the tumultuous world of travel and performing. As she fights for the right to do the work she was hired for, she learns the fight for Aaron's guarded heart might be an even more worthwhile challenge.

As secrets come to light and past vulnerabilities are confronted, will Aaron and Sophia sacrifice their former dreams and forge a new one together--against all odds?

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

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

SEEKING SANCTUARY by Susanne Dietze, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise and Winnie Thomas #ReleaseDay

 


PAULA'S REVIEW:
I love stories set in quaint historical towns. Paige Faraday must too because she wants to make afresh start as a new Christian where her past is unknown. She turns to Kellen Lambert, who was with her brother Drew when he was killed in Afghanistan. Another of my favorites is book shops and Kellen owns Open Book! Kellen gives Paige a job there. I like the way Ms. Dietze depicts Paige as trying to be self sufficient but not afraid to ask for help. She gives her a great personality and a quick mind with creative ideas to help Kellen. They both have much to overcome and forgive including family situations and priorities for their future.

It was good to see a few of the characters from A Future for His Twins appear in this cozy town setting as well as some new favorites. The three elderly matchmaking ladies were a nice touch. They are friends and have the best intentions. The rescue animals showed a soft side of Kellen and add to the fun.

This story showed that with Faith there is hope and healing in reconciliation

I’m ready to return to Widow’s Peak Creek any time!
*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.*I give this 5 stars and a strong faith thread.


WINNIE'S REVIEW:
Seeking Sanctuary
by Susanne Dietze is the perfect example of why I enjoy small town romances. The camaraderie and helpfulness of the characters in the story were a delight. The main characters, Kellen Lambert and Paige Faraday, are realistically flawed and engaging. I enjoyed seeing their relationship grow and develop as they spent time together. Themes of hope, healing, and forgiveness of self and others added depth and dimension to the story.

Although this is part of the Widow’s Peak Creek series, it can easily be read alone. It was fun to see some of the characters from the first book in the series show up in this one. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy clean, wholesome, uplifting romance stories.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. 

BackCover Blurb:
All she wants is a home…
Can her second chance
survive a painful secret?

When pregnant single mom Paige Faraday arrives in Kellan Lambert’s bookstore seeking a temporary job, he wouldn’t dare turn away the sister of his old military buddy. After all, she just needs the job until her baby’s born and she figures out her next steps. But when Kellan’s deepest secret threatens their growing bond, will Paige be able to forgive him for the past he can’t forget?

From Harlequin Love Inspired: Uplifting stories of faith, forgiveness and hope.

Love Inspired April, 2021
Available in digital ebook, and mass market paperback:
 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

SECONDHAND CHANCES by Shaen Layle, (Mysteries of Lancaster County) Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

 

I love the cover of Secondhand Chances. It hints at the wedding theme.

This book ends a long running series for Guideposts: Mysteries of Lancaster County. It also marks the first solo-authored book by Shaen Layle. This book is set in a quaint town in Pennsylvania with a trio of sisters, Elizabeth, Mary, and Martha Classen. Here we see the approaching double wedding of Elizabeth and Mary. If it weren’t hectic enough with the wedding preparations, now the sisters are dealing with anonymous threat letters. They double down to get to the bottom of the mystery. With many who fit their suspect list, the sisters investigate in order to rule out all but the real culprit.

Well written with the flavor of Amish country, friends, faith and community, this book is a fitting end to a fun series. A nod to Jessica Fletcher and vet Dr. Pol was a nice touch as was the wonderful looking recipe at the end.
For a faith-filled cozy type series, check out all the books in The Mysteries of Lancaster County.
*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.*5 stars and A strong faith thread. 
 
 
BackCover Blurb:
Secondhand Chances is the 25th book in the Mystery of Lancaster County mystery fiction series.


As the much-anticipated date approaches for the double wedding of Elizabeth to John and Mary to Bill, the Classen sisters are trying their best to get everything just right. While Martha deals with the picky wedding-cake baker, who just can’t seem to make up her mind, the sisters receive a flurry of incoming mail. To their delight, most of it consists of congratulations and RSVPs for the wedding ceremony. 
 
However, one letter in a bright red envelope stands out…an anonymous poison-pen letter demanding that the sisters vacate their home and store immediately. At first, the sisters think they are the sole targets of the letter writer, but as the days pass they soon discover they aren’t the only ones in Bird-in-Hand who have been receiving hostile mail. In the flurry of trying to uncover the anonymous letter writer, old suspicions are raised and long-held grudges are unearthed. Can the Classen sisters solve their latest mystery before two of them say “I do”?

Friday, April 23, 2021

CAROLINA COAST SERIES by T. I. Lowe, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney



"I LOVED this series. Loved it."

(Available in boxed set or individually)
 
BEACH HAVEN
"I am going to give you another shell before you go home today. . . . . . Slowly but surely, Lincoln Cole, God is going to answer a lot more prayers on your behalf. . . . I can't wait to witness what you do with them."

When an extra tall wounded ex-Marine meets a darling pixie sized coast dweller, it makes sense that a lot of growling and groveling invade their conversations. Opal Gilbert is a sweet, tender spirit hiding behind a flitting, fairy like persona, while Lincoln Cole is exactly what he appears to be; irritable and impolite with the hidden heart of a teddy bear . . . . . except that after a few special sea shells are exchanged and a whole lot of prayers are offered up to the gates of heaven . . . . this unlikely duo is one that only God could assemble. . . . because after all, God is continually in the restoration business. Bless this mess, indeed!

I can't begin to convey how much I loved this story!
 
BackCover Blurb:
Free-spirited Opal Gilbert seems to have everything she needs to keep living a happy life in Sunset Cove as she refurbishes vintage furniture to sell at her funky ocean-side boutique, Bless This Mess. Until Lincoln Cole, a new-to-town ex-Marine nursing deep wounds and harboring hurts he can’t seem to shake, wanders into her shop. Opal knows a person in need when she sees one and offers Lincoln a job in her workshop. But the brooding former soldier has no interest in Opal’s offer. Thanks but no thanks.

But then a hurricane strikes, damaging Bless This Mess. Feeling guilty for how he treated Opal, Lincoln decides to help her repair the store. And soon it becomes clear Opal wants to restore not only her business, but also help Lincoln find restoration. As much as Lincoln tries to keep her at arm’s length, Opal’s well-meaning meddling begins to heal his wounds . . . and capture his heart almost before he realizes it.


DRIFTWOOD DREAMS
"I'm a thief . . . . A thief of moments. . . . I want to steal as many as I can steal in the time God gives me. Jo . .. will be a thief with me?"

"When a man loves a woman" . . . . the words to that classic pop ballad ran continually through my mind the entire time that I was reading this book. August Bradford's pursuit of the gorgeous, shy, fearful, talented, and terribly fragile Josie Slater is a masterpiece of wooing . . . . teasing, touching, tugging . . someone else's heart closer than they ever imagined it could be. Using multiple brushstrokes; words, colors, paints, and canvases, August draws Josie into a step-by-step journey towards a life that "is too short to live without you".

I expect that I will read this story over and over and over again . . . . as it's meant to be.

One of the most romantic books that I have ever read. 
 
BackCover Blurb:
Josie Slater has allowed the circumstances anchoring her in Sunset Cove to become a life sentence. Since her mother’s death years before, she’s spent most of her waking hours helping her dad run the Driftwood Diner. As her best friends, Opal and Sophia, make their dreams come true, Josie watches her own art school aspirations drift on by. But when a French-speaking Southern gentleman from her past moves back from Europe, Josie is launched into a tizzy of what-ifs and I-sure-do-hope-sos.

August Bradford left Sunset Cove six years ago to sow some life oats and conquer his ambitious career goals. Finally ready to lay down some roots, the successful artist is back in town and determined to win Josie’s heart. When he enlists Josie’s help in the preparations for a children’s art camp, Josie finds herself unleashing her artistic side in a way she hasn’t since before her mother’s death. August hopes to convince Josie to paint a life with him, but the problem is convincing her to let go of her apprehensions and give him—and her dreams—a fair chance.

SEA GLASS CASTLE
"The shadowy defeated version was something he just couldn't handle, but that tiny woman all riled up and feisty was a different story."

Sophia Prescott is a force to be reckoned with, especially when she bursts into Dr. Weston Sawyer's pediatric practice demanding his attention for her son. But after a heated exchange about what turns out to be a non-emergency, she huffs and puffs like she wants blow his house down . . . . and then leaves. And that . . . was that. So when she basically comes back begging for a job as his office manager, Wes has every intention of turning her down, and rightfully so . .. right?

Enjoy the sparky exchanges between a thoroughly defeated divorcee and a withered down widower as they progress from being tossed about like broken glass in the sea to landing beside each other on the beach as new creations, "pressed down on every side by troubles, but . . . not crushed". And that beside-each-other-thing ends up working just fine.
BackCover Blurb:
Sophia Prescott is still mending from the embarrassment of a highly publicized divorce from a pro football player, and the now-single mother is back in Sunset Cove, surrounded by the supporting love of her family and the Sand Queens. Sophia doesn’t think there’s any hope for starting over until an unexpected trip to the pediatrician’s office gives her a second chance after all.

Dr. Weston Sawyer knows all about lives shattering into millions of pieces. His own all but ended when a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and barreled head-on into his pregnant wife’s sedan, killing her instantly and leaving Wes with a soul so wounded that it has refused to heal. He packed up and left swampy southern Alabama for South Carolina with the hope of fading into the sleepy coastal town of Sunset Cove. Instead, feisty brunette Sophia Prescott will have him braving something different and entirely unexpected. If Sophia and Wes can take the leap to give love another try, they just might find that hope has a way of coming back around and weaving into one’s heart.

*All three books were purchased. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review.

 
All three books are available in digital, ebook, paperback, and audiobook; the boxed set is available as a paperback boxed set. Use the links above to the boxed sets for additional links to individual books.

From bestselling author T. I. Lowe comes the Carolina Coast Collection, a Southern contemporary romance series.

Beach Haven―Ex-Marine Lincoln Cole lands in Sunset Cove harboring deep hurts. Almost before he realizes it, free-spirited boutique owner Opal Gilbert’s well-meaning meddling begins to heal his wounds . . . and capture his heart.

Driftwood Dreams―After a tragedy, Josie Slater’s let her dreams drift by. Then a friend from her past returns, hoping Josie will give him―and her dreams―a fair chance.

Sea Glass Castle―Both reeling from heartbreak, Sophia Prescott and Dr. Wes Sawyer aren’t looking for love in Sunset Cove. But what they aren’t looking for may find them anyway.

 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

WHERE GRACE APPEARS by Heidi Chiavaroli, Reviewed by Nicole Cook #ReleaseDayApril22


Heidi Chiavaroli's contemporary twist on the beloved novel Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is a definite winner! Even for those readers who have not read Little Women, Where Grace Appears is a fabulous novel that can be cherished on its own. Readers will be introduced to the Martin family, with daughter Josie playing a starring role in this novel. Her struggles and decisions she makes while attending graduate school as her personal life begins to take a shocking turn are very realistic and relevant. Heidi Chiavaroli does not shy away from the fact that Christians are not perfect and life is often messy.

Heidi Chiavaroli is one of my favorite women's fiction and time-slip/historical authors, and I love her foray into strictly contemporary with this new series. While the emphasis is on Josie's character struggles and growth, readers will also enjoy the romantic relationships touched upon in Where Grace Appears. This novel is highly recommended.
*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.

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Ashamed of being duped by her handsome psychology professor, Josie Martin returns to Maine too proud to admit her foolishness to those closest to her. As the one-year anniversary of her father’s death approaches, she seeks solace in an old friend, Tripp Colton, and a new business venture that will prove to herself and her loved ones that she is still capable of success despite her overwhelming failure.

When Josie announces she will not return to school to finish her graduate degree but wishes to remain in Camden to help her mother achieve a lifelong dream, the entire family gets behind her idea to open and run a bed and breakfast inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House. Even Tripp gets excited about restoring Josie’s great-aunt's Victorian home for the purpose, but when Josie’s unexpected news is revealed, their friendship and the new feelings blooming between them are threatened.

As summer gives way to fall, Josie struggles with decisions regarding her family’s future, dealing with past mistakes she cannot run from, and her feelings for Tripp. When the opportunity for grace comes along, will she take it? Or will she continue to allow her failures to define her worth?

This is Book 1 in The Orchard House Bed and Breakfast Series. A contemporary twist on the well-loved classic, Little Women, readers will fall in love with the Martin family—Maggie, Josie, Lizzie, Bronson, Amie, and their mother Hannah—each trying to find their own way in the world and each discovering that love, home, and hope are closer than they appear. 
 
Hope Creek Publishers April 2021
Available in digital ebook and paperback:
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Heidi Chiavaroli (pronounced shev-uh-roli...sort of like Chevrolet and ravioli mushed together!) wrote her first story in third grade, titled I'd Cross the Desert for Milk. It wasn't until years later that she revisited writing, using her two small boys’ nap times to pursue what she thought at the time was a foolish dream. Despite a long road to publication, she hasn’t stopped writing since!

Heidi writes women's fiction, combining her love of history and literature to write split time stories. Her debut novel, Freedom's Ring, was a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist, a Romantic Times Top Pick and a Booklist Top Ten Romance Debut. Heidi loves exploring places that whisper of historical secrets, especially with her family. She loves running, hiking, baking, and dates with her husband. Her latest dual timeline novel, The Orchard House, is inspired by the lesser-known events in Louisa May Alcott's life. Heidi makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.

Heidi is represented by the Natasha Kern Literary Agency.

 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

ORCHARD HOUSE by Heidi Chiavaroli, Reviewed by Rebecca and Paula



REBECCA'S REVIEW:
"I am talking about a bigger place to belong - in the arms of One who not only tells me not to fear; but who, in the midst of my failures, has loved me and given me a worth beyond measure. In this, I find both liberty and home - two things I once thought opposites but I now see are not so very different."

Belonging. A difficult topic for two young women to comprehend; separated by generations and yet inexplicably bound together by commonality of heart and mind. One had been adopted as a young teen, only to suffer betrayal by those who had spoken of love. The other sought security beside one who routinely broke his promises, ushering in years of heartache and misunderstanding.

But running away? Had that been the right response to Taylor Bennett's dilemma? What about staying? Did Johanna Suhre Bancroft make the right decision when she remained? Miraculously, a hidden book of poems, found tucked away in the historic home of Louisa May Alcott, peels back the pages of time enough to give both women closure, within and without the walls of The Orchard House.

"The Author of Life. He was still writing the words, spinning our story. And this time I was certain that good would come from it."

What a lovely and thought-provoking book! 
* 4.5 stars. I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.


PAULA'S REVIEW:
Ms. Chiavaroli is a masterful storyteller as she weaves past and present into a story that is beautiful but complicated with a subtle underpinning of faith.

From the first page, I cared about Taylor and not just her story. Taylor is on a journey to meet her past head-on and find what is truly meaningful in life. “Maybe I could find myself. If not myself or peace, then maybe I could brave the waters of optimism and at least search out that dangerous, elusive thing I’d feared too long...hope.”

The setting was magical because of its historical significance and the peek into the life of Louisa Alcott. It is written with an appreciation for all things Louisa and Concord, Massachusetts and at the same time it tells the struggles of an adopted child to fit in and belong.

I like that the subjects of PTSD and domestic abuse were dealt with but the ending was not tied up in a nice bow. Yet there is hope presented throughout the characters journeys, past and present.

An excellent book from an accomplished author.
*I borrowed this book from the library. All opinions are my own.*I give this five stars and a subtle faith thread. 

See Nicole's Review

Back Cover Blurb:
Award-winning author Heidi Chiavaroli transports readers across time and place in this time-slip novel that will appeal to fans of Little Women.

Two women, one living in present day Massachusetts and another in Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House soon after the Civil War, overcome their own personal demons and search for a place to belong.

2001
Abandoned by her own family, Taylor is determined not to mess up her chance at joining the home of her best friend, Victoria Bennett. But despite attending summer camp at Louisa May Alcott’s historic Orchard House with Victoria and sharing dreams of becoming famous authors, Taylor struggles to fit in. As she enters college and begins dating, it feels like Taylor is finally finding her place and some stability . . . until Victoria’s betrayal changes everything.

1865
While Louisa May Alcott is off traveling the world, Johanna Suhre accepts a job tending Louisa’s aging parents and their home in Concord. Soon after arriving at Orchard House, Johanna meets Nathan Bancroft and, ignoring Louisa’s words of caution, falls in love and accepts Nathan’s proposal. But before long, Johanna experiences her husband’s dark side, and she can’t hide the bruises that appear.

2019
After receiving news of Lorraine Bennett’s cancer diagnosis, Taylor knows she must return home to see her adoptive mother again. Now a successful author, Taylor is determined to spend little time in Concord. Yet she becomes drawn into the story of a woman who lived there centuries before. And through her story, Taylor may just find forgiveness and a place to belong. 

Tyndale House Publishing
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

ALL THAT REALLY MATTERS by Nicole Deese, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas


“There’s nothing you can sacrifice that’s worthy of what God gives us freely.”

At times witty and fun, at other times deep and thought-provoking, All That Really Matters is sure to tug at the reader’s heartstrings and cause much introspection. Nicole Deese is a master at creating captivating story lines and settings and populating them with colorful, realistic, and engaging characters. This tale is full of fantastic characters that felt real and made me want to get to know them and associate with them. Molly is spunky with a sense of fun, and, at first, seems to be a bit frivolous and superficial. Silas is a wonderful hero--full of compassion and integrity, and dedicated to his mission of helping teens that are aging out of the foster care system. I loved seeing their relationship transform and mature as they each change for the better.
Powerful themes of grace, forgiveness, compassion, hope, and trust in God give added depth and dimension to this stunning, absorbing story. I was hooked from the first page and just kept getting more and more involved in it. I’ve read most of Deese’s books and enjoyed them all, but I think this is my new favorite. If you haven’t read any, do yourself a favor and try this one. You’ll be glad you did. This one is bound for my keeper shelf.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House/NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
 
 
BackCover Blurb: 
Molly McKenzie's bright personality and on-trend fashion and beauty advice have earned her an impressive social media following, as well as a shiny monthly paycheck. When her manager-turned-boyfriend tells her of an upcoming audition to host a makeover show for America's underprivileged youth, all her dreams finally seem to be coming true. There's just one catch: she has little experience interacting with people in need.
 
To gain an edge on her competitors, she applies to volunteer at a transitional program for aged-out foster kids during summer, only the program's director, Silas Whittaker, doesn't find her as charming as her followers do. But since forfeiting a goal has never been her style, Molly's only option is to accept the terms Silas lays out and submit to his rules--even the most ridiculous ones pertaining to social media.  

Soon as the residents of the home become more than a means to pad her career resume, and Silas becomes more than an obstacle on her path to fame, her once-narrow focus expands to include the deep needs of those she's serving... and perhaps the ones she's neglected inside herself as well. It took years to build her platform, but only one summer to discover what really matters most.
 
Bethany House Publishers, April 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook:

Monday, April 19, 2021

THE INDEBTED EARL by Erica Vetsch, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

Erica Vetsch has once again penned a spellbinding Regency tale with her newest book, The Indebted Earl, starring Captain Charles Wyvern and Lady Sophia Haverly. Charles has had his life upended with his war injury, the death of his friend, his obligation to his
friend’s fiancĂ©e, and the shock of becoming the Earl of Rothwell. He has inherited a neglected estate and three orphaned girls. No wonder he’s in a dither.
 
Charles is a fantastic hero—honorable, noble, and brave. Sophie is sweet, compassionate, and capable. I enjoyed the interaction and the slowly building respect and admiration between the two. The characters are all well-crafted and engaging, and
it was fun to see people from the previous two books in the series pop up in this one. Although this is the third book in the series, it can easily be read alone.
Vetsch has become a strong and delightful voice in historical fiction with her well-researched stories and delicious characters. I’m looking forward to more of her amazing books in the future. This series is bound for my keeper shelf.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Kregel Publishers. All opinions are my own.
 
 

BackCover Blurb:

Can Captain Wyvern keep his new marriage of convenience all business--or will it turn into something more?

Captain Charles Wyvern owes a great debt to the man who saved his life--especially since Major Richardson lost his own life in the process. The best way to honor that hero's dying wish is for Wyvern to escort the man's grieving fiance and mother safely to a new cottage home by the sea. But along the way, he learns of another obligation that has fallen on his shoulders: his uncle has died and the captain is now the Earl of Rothwell.

When he and the ladies arrive at his new manor house in Devon, they discover an estate in need of a leader and a gaggle of girls, all wards of the former earl. War the new earl knows; young ladies and properties he does not. Still wishing to provide for the bereaved Lady Sophia Haverly, Charles proposes a marriage of convenience.

Sophie is surprised to find she isn't opposed to the idea. It will help her care for her betrothed's elderly mother, and she's already fallen in love with the wayward girls on the Rothwell estate. This alliance is a chance to repay the captain who has done so much for her care, as well as divert her attention from her grief. When Wyvern returns to his sea commission, she'll stay behind to oversee his property and wards.

It sounds so simple. Until the stalwart captain is arrested on suspicion of smuggling, and Sophie realizes how much he's come to mean to her. Now she'll have to learn to fight, not only for his freedom but also for his love.

 

Kregel Publishing, March 2021

Available in digital ebook and paperback: 

Buy The Indebted Earl at Amazon

Buy The Indebted Earl at Christianbook.com


 

 



Sunday, April 18, 2021

NIGHT FALL by Nancy Mehl, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"Do you hear the Train Man rumbling in the night?"

F. B. I. Behavioral Analyst Specialist Alex Donovan "felt like all the blood in her body had frozen, as if time itself had come to a halt". Seeing those awful phrases painted on the side of a rail car brought back equally awful memories from her childhood, for Alex remembered those words being chanted from the lips of a woman who had been designated as her guardian, although undeniably unstable, her Aunt Willow had taken Alex in after the death of her mother. Frankly, at this point Alex has no choice but to pull herself together in order to aggressively utilize her inside knowledge, the agency is frantically tracking a serial killer, a psychopath who has declared himself as the "Destroyer", his signature being the "Train Man". But what about the cost to Alex's psyche? Revisiting her nightmares will be no easy assignment.

As Alex and her team race forward to avoid a sixth death and the possible unleashing of a powerful pathogen, her subconscious reverts back to episodes of paranoia, near panic attacks, and questions . . . . . all sorts of questions about God . . . . angels . . . . and demons. Fellow agent Logan Hart, nicknamed "The Preacher", calmly and gently probes Alex's misconceptions, assuring her of the existence of a one true God whose characteristics are nothing like the cultish influences of her past. Will it be enough? Will Alex know who to call on in her darkest hour . . . "or else the evil Train Man may carry them(her) away".

Non-stop action, interesting twists and turns . . . characters that readers will want to spend much more time with . . .  characters whom characters themselves will want to spend more time with. A very intriguing suspense with a rather dark ambience, balanced by some very authentic questions and answers about all things spiritual. 
*3.5 stars. I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review.
 

BackCover Blurb:
Now that Alexandra "Alex" Donovan is finally free of her troubled upbringing, she's able to live out her childhood dream of working for the FBI. But soon after she becomes a member of the FBI's elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, authorities in Kansas and Missouri contact them about bodies found on freight trains traveling across the country--all killed in the same way.

Alex never expected to be forced to confront her past in this new job, but she immediately recognizes the graffiti messages the killer is leaving on the train cars. When the BAU sends her to gather information about the messages from her aunt in Wichita, Kansas, Alex is haunted by the struggles she thought she'd left behind forever.

In a race against time to solve the case while battling her own weaknesses, Alex must face how far she'll go--and what she's willing to risk--to put a stop to the Train Killer.

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

Saturday, April 17, 2021

AN UNCOMMON EARL by Sian Ann Bessey, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

Be prepared to fall in love with the uncommon Earl, Alexander Allerton, in Sian Ann Bessey’s newest historical fiction book. He is a champion for the less fortunate of England, and is a courageous, compassionate, and exceptional hero. Jane Hadford is reserved, observant, lovely, and because of an unfortunate accident, used to being ignored socially. The relationship between these two is dynamic, and I enjoyed seeing it change and grow. 

I quickly became invested in this story. With a richly painted setting and characters that are layered, engaging, and colorful, it was easy to transport myself into the tale. Bessey has quickly become one of my favorite authors for historical fiction. She is a master at meshing actual historical details with a fictional story. I enjoyed learning more about this slice of the history of England while reading it. I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Covenant Communications. All opinions are my own.

BackCover Blurb:
Alexander Allerton, the Earl of Bloxley’s, greatest desire is to alleviate the suffering of the poor and less fortunate of England. So when his hackney carriage is involved in an accident that results in the death of one of those he is determined to help, he is devastated. Alexander vows to keep the promise he makes to the injured woman as she takes her final breaths: he will not rest until he finds her young son. 

After a crippling accident years ago, Jane Hadford is accustomed to being largely ignored at social events. But being overlooked has allowed her to hone her observational skills—and she quickly perceives that all is not well with the handsome Lord Bloxley. When an unexpected opportunity arises to talk to the earl, he surprises them both by sharing with her his fruitless search for the child. Touched by Lord Bloxley’s story and by his desire to make things right, Jane determines to help him fulfill his promise. What she cannot anticipate, however, is that the quest she has chosen to undertake will bring into her life a small boy who will steal her heart and a gentleman who might well do the same.

Covenant Communications, April 2021

Friday, April 16, 2021

ROOTS OF WOOD AND STONE by Amanda Wen, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

Fabulous debut.

I so love novels steeped in the history of the author. This lovely dual-time book is a prime example. Ms. Wen draws on extensive research into her family tree to give us a exceptional story of life, love and lessons learned.

It is a fabulous story of Sloane Kelley who is adopted and feels the loss of her own history. She is a curator at a historical museum in Wichita, Kansas when Garrett Anderson brings in an artifact discovered when he was clearing out his grandmother’s attic. Little did Sloane know how God would use an old satchel to answer her longing heart.

Garrett is a planner but he has forgotten to enter seeking God into his plans for the future. Together, Sloane and Garrett pour through old diaries and find their life answers. There are a lot of surprises along with laughter and tears. This author knows how to write romance and sizzling kisses!

Past and present meld in a fascinating way. And at the root of it all is a lesson both generations of characters learn: we all have worth in God and He can give us more than we deserve or expect.
*A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Kregel through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*I give this 5 stars and a strong faith thread. 

BackCover Blurb:
This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . .and their hearts

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn't expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary.Now she's on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother's historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer's, he can't afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who's fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love--and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God's plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.

Kregel Publications, February 2021
Available in digital ebook and paperback:
 

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