Thursday, September 30, 2021

CASTLE OF REFUGE by Melanie Dickerson, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

Based on the fairytale, The Ugly Duckling, this is a medieval tale of a wronged heroine and a flawed hero who comes to her rescue.

While both are dependent on God, they still have some healing to do.

For Audrey: “ She wanted to fulfill a purpose...she felt very strongly that there was something she was supposed to do, a good work God had planned for her to do since before she was born.”

For Edwin: Striving to be the best lord for the people under his domain, to be a better ruler than his father.

For both: calling on God for help when all looked bleak and finding refuge in Him.

It is told in an easy to understand, fairytale-like way, with recognizable evil, a touching romance, some danger and a happily ever after.
*I won this book from Goodreads in April 2021. All opinions are my own.*
4 stars and a underlying faith thread.
BackCover Blurb:
In this Ugly Duckling retelling, New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson brilliantly crafts a high-stakes, encouraging tale about a brave young woman, the true meaning of beauty, and the power of love.

Ever since she was a child, Audrey wanted her life to be extraordinary. But as the daughter of a viscount born in late fourteenth-century England, the only thing expected of her was to marry—until an act of malice by her sister, Maris, four years ago damaged her face and her prospects. Though Maris was sent away, twenty-year-old Audrey is still suffering the scars of her sister’s cruelty. When her father announces his plans to marry off his damaged daughter and bring Maris home, Audrey decides to flee in search of her true destiny.

Life outside her home is dangerous, and Audrey soon finds herself attacked, sick, and in desperate need of help. She is taken in at Dericott Castle to be nursed back to health. While there, she decides to keep her identity a secret and work as a servant in the castle. But she doesn’t count on falling in love with the young and handsome Lord Dericott, who lost his arm several months earlier and bears scars of his own.

Meanwhile, Edwin—Lord Dericott—is curious about the new, well-educated servant’s identity. All he knows is that he’s quickly becoming smitten with her. When the man Audrey’s father wanted her to marry comes looking for her, she and Edwin must make life-changing decisions about what to believe and whether or not love is truly worth trusting.

Thomas Nelson Publishing, June 2021
Available in digital ebook, hardcover, and audiobook:

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

CARVED IN STONE by Elizabeth Camden, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas and Rebecca Maney

Set in New York City in 1900 and rich in historical detail, Elizabeth Camden’s first book in The Blackstone Legacy series is a fascinating look at the differences in social classes during that period. The disparity between the very wealthy and the poor, hardworking classes is brought to life in this tale.

Camden is a master at creating colorful, carefully-drawn, engaging characters, and they shine in this book. Gwen Kellerman is a wealthy heiress in the Blackstone family, although she cares little for her fortune. She aims to carry on her father’s work and legacy at Blackstone College. When she meets Patrick O’Neill, an impoverished Irish lawyer who is striving to help the struggling Irish immigrants in his community, a connection occurs. I enjoyed seeing their relationship change and grow as they strive to solve a mystery and accomplish their goals.

Intrigue, suspense, romance, and inspiration combine to make this a magnificent start to the series. I enjoyed the historical notes in the back of the book that tie the book to actual historical happenings and people. Camden is one of my favorite go-to authors for historical romance fiction, and I’m looking forward to her next book. 4.5 stars

*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House publishers. All opinions are my own.

"I want to get married someday, but I will wait until I know it's right, because there will be no going back on those vows. They will be carved in stone . . . "

But would Patrick O'Neill wait just a bit too long, allowing pride to cloud his thinking while his heart took a beating? After all, Gwen Blackstone Kellerman is clearly an heiress of unfathomable fortune, while Patrick could best be described as a priest-in-the-making turned lawyer-for-the-lowly. In spite of the societal and economic gulf looming large between them, what draws them together will have to prove stronger than what threatens them to break apart, for danger abounds in their gilded world, leaving a decades old family mystery just begging to be solved.

Surprisingly, this plot line seemed to meander about through pages and chapters that were quite interesting and often intriguing, but lacked a general cohesiveness that would have given it additional strength. That being said, it's a wonderful story with characters that will undoubtedly reappear as the series progresses, doggedly tugging on your heart strings as they navigate their advantages and opportunities. How satisfying that in this story Patrick finally admits that "I got too caught up in worrying about what people thought of me when I should have been counting my blessings for the miracle that brought you into my life" . . . agreeing with all of us . . . that for Gwen to be alone, "would be a crime".
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher and also purchased a copy. The thoughts and opinions stated above are entirely my own.
3.5 stars


Her gilded world holds a deeply hidden secret.

After years of tragedy, Gwen Kellerman now lives a quiet life as a botanist at an idyllic New York college. She largely ignores her status as heiress to the infamous Blackstone dynasty and hopes to keep her family's heartbreak and scandal behind her.

Patrick O'Neill survived a hardscrabble youth to become a lawyer for the downtrodden Irish immigrants in his community. He's proud of his work, even though he struggles to afford his ramshackle law office. All that changes when he accepts a case that is sure to emphasize the Blackstones' legacy of greed and corruption by resurrecting a thirty-year-old mystery.

Little does Patrick suspect that the Blackstones will launch their most sympathetic family member to derail him. Gwen is tasked with getting Patrick to drop the case, but the old mystery takes a shocking twist neither of them saw coming. Now, as they navigate a burgeoning attraction and growing danger, Patrick and Gwen will be forced to decide if the risk to the life they've always held dear is worth the reward.

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

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

AUTUMN BY THE SEA by Melissa Tagg, Reviewed by Nicole Cook #ReleaseDay

What a wonderful start to a new series by Melissa Tagg. With a handsome Scottish hero, a humorous meet-cute, a beloved family brought together by love rather than blood, and beautiful faith messages throughout, Autumn by the Sea is definitely my favorite Melissa Tagg book. The mystery surrounding Maggie Muir's missing granddaughter and the search for Sydney's true identity add additional elements of intrigue to the storyline.

There are so many fabulous things about this book that make it one of best contemporary romances I've read this year, including undeniable chemistry between the hero and heroine and of course, Tagg's spectacular kissing scenes! The cliffhanger at the end of the novel makes me so eager to read A Seaside Wonder (book two in the Muir Harbor series), which releases in early 2022.

This is truly Melissa Tagg at her best. Autumn by the Sea is highly recommended for fans of contemporary romance.
*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.


A captivating new seaside romance brimming with mystery from USA Today bestselling, Christy Award-winning author Melissa Tagg

Abandoned as a toddler, Sydney Rose has spent years wondering who she really is, homesick for a life she's never lived. When a private investigator crashes into her world, she finds herself heading to a tiny seaside town in Maine to meet a woman named Maggie, who's searching for the granddaughter she lost decades ago.

If not for Maggie, Neil MacKean might still be back in Scotland, bereft and alone. Instead, he has a full life in Muir Harbor with an adopted family he loves and a blueberry farm to run. But the farm is struggling and strange occurrences have him concerned. Worse, Maggie's once again caught up in the past, convinced she's finally found her long-lost granddaughter.

Worried for Maggie, Neil is suspicious of the city girl who shows up at the farm. But there's something about Sydney that tugs on him, drawing out secrets he never meant to share. While Neil grapples with the future of the farm, Sydney wrestles with a past that's messier than ever. Together, they're pulled into a mystery complete with a centuries-old legend, unexpected danger . . . and a love as deep and wild as the sea. 

Larkspur Press, Sept 2020
Available in digital ebook and paperback:

Melissa Tagg is the USA Today bestselling, Christy and Carol Award-winning author of swoony and hope-filled small-town contemporary romances. She’s also a former reporter, current nonprofit marketing strategist, and total Iowa girl.

Melissa has taught at multiple national writing conferences, as well as workshops and women’s retreats. When she’s not happily lost in someone else’s book or plugging away at her own, she can be found spoiling her nieces and nephews, watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next fictional hero. Connect with Melissa at


Monday, September 27, 2021

THE MISTLETOE COUNTESS by Pepper D. Basham, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"Love his world and win his heart."

"Oh, to win her husband's heart! Wouldn't that be a lovely adventure?"; and since "adventure" was practically Gracelynn Ferguson Percy's imaginary middle name, she was certainly well on her way . . .  from America to England, as a matter of fact . . . where a grumpy dowager mother and a deteriorating estate might possibly play havoc with her sunny disposition. Never fear, she had Frederick! Her handsome, winsome, wounded warrior of a husband . . . whose kisses could coax out the sunshine on the cloudiest of days, and since Grace was very fond of those kisses, what could go wrong? Apparently, everything.

To render this novel as enjoyable would be a vast understatement; it's absolutely delightful from beginning to end with its abundance of banter and plentiful wit. Even when faced with insurmountable odds, Grace and Frederick rise to the occasion, conquering their newlywed spats with heartfelt apologies and more of those . . .  amazing kisses,  proving that God knew exactly what He was doing when the wrong bride met the right husband at the altar.

"How God could take two people's very different stories and combine them to create an entirely new tale was rather remarkable. Instead of his story or her story, it had become their story . . . "
And "their" story is one that I will relish reading over and over and over again!
*I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 

BackCover Blurb:
Will the magic of Christmas bring these two newlyweds closer together, or will the ghosts of the past lead them into a destructive discovery from which not even a Dickens’s Christmas can save them?

Mistletoe is beautiful and dangerous, much like the woman from Lord Frederick’s Percy’s past, so when he turns over a new leaf and arranges to marry for his estate, instead of his heart, he never expects the wrong bride to be the right choice. Gracelynn Ferguson never expected to take her elder sister’s place as a Christmas bride, but when she’s thrust into the choice, she will trust in her faithful novels and overactive imagination to help her not only win Frederick’s heart but also to solve the murder mystery of Havensbrook Hall before the ghosts from Frederick’s past ruin her fairytale future.

Barbour Publishing, September, 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

IF IT RAINS by Jennifer L. Wright, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

“This drought, this depression...we are in blackness. We can either shine in the dark or be overcome by it. Sometimes shining means staying. Sometimes it means going. But it never means to quit.”

This is a story of two sisters during the Dust Bowl of 1933. Melissa who stayed in dry, dusty Oklahoma and Kathryn who set out for Indianapolis and the hope for a better future.

This is the debut novel from Jennifer L. Wright. The author writes with dramatic prose that puts you right there with Kathryn and her gut wrenching journey, trying to reconnect with her father. Melissa’s life is no less harrowing as she exchanges poverty for seeming affluence in the middle of dwindling resources. Melissa has to contend with an abusive husband and hide all for appearances sake.

Both women are strong in different ways, but the author portrays them as totally believable and shows how God is in their midst no matter what. “For so long I had focused on what I lacked, what had been taken from me — while God had been trying to show me what had always and would always remain: Him.”

I liked the way Ms. Wright used The Wizard of Oz to connect the sisters even though they were far apart. I also liked the way Kathryn looked at the stars and remembered good times with her family.

Thank you Ms. Wright for giving us a look at a troubling time in our history and a story of hope in God.
*I won a copy of this book from the author through ACFW Book Club. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own.*5 stars strong faith thread 

BackCover Blurb:
A story of resilience and redemption set against one of America’s defining moments—the Dust Bowl.
It’s 1935 in Oklahoma, and lives are determined by the dust. Fourteen-year-old Kathryn Baile, a spitfire born with a severe clubfoot, is coming of age in desperate times. Once her beloved older sister marries, Kathryn’s only comfort comes in the well-worn pages of her favorite book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Then Kathryn’s father decides to relocate to Indianapolis, and only the promise of a surgery to finally make her “normal” convinces Kathryn to leave Oklahoma behind. But disaster strikes along the way, and Kathryn must rely on her grit and the ragged companions she meets on the road if she is to complete her journey.

Back in Boise City, Melissa Baile Mayfield is the newest member of the wealthiest family in all of Cimarron County. In spite of her poor, rural upbringing, Melissa has just married the town’s most eligible bachelor and is determined to be everything her husband—and her new social class—expects her to be. But as the drought tightens its grip, Henry’s true colors are revealed. Melissa covers her bruises with expensive new makeup and struggles to reconcile her affluent life with that of her starving neighbors. Haunted by the injustice and broken by Henry’s refusal to help, Melissa secretly defies her husband, risking her life to follow God’s leading.

Two sisters, struggling against unspeakable hardship, discover that even in their darkest times, they are still united in spirit, and God is still with them, drawing them home.

Tyndale Publishing, July, 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:


Sunday, September 26, 2021

THE LINES BETWEEN US by Amy Lynn Green, Reviewed by Winnie, Paula, and Rebecca

Amy Lynn Green’s newest novel is a great example of why historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I love learning new things about a slice of history while enjoying a wonderful story. The Lines Between Us isn’t written in epistolary form as is her first book, but it does include a quite a few letters which add different voices to the story. Based on true accounts of WWII conscientious objectors and Women’s Army Corps members that served during the war, this book gives a glimpse into their everyday service and some of the things they endured from those around them and even family. There were those who looked down on anyone who hadn’t enlisted to fight, even though they were serving their country in other capacities.

The author did a fantastic job of creating colorful, realistic characters and giving them their individual personalities. Dorie is happy-go-lucky, spunky, and adventurous, while Gordon is more serious, honest, and trying to serve well despite being opposed to the war. I enjoyed the wit and humor Green interspersed into the tale which added some lighter moments and fun into the rather serious happenings.

If you enjoy well-written and impeccably researched historical fiction, I recommend you read this book. It’s an intriguing look into a little known part of WWII.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishing. All opinions are my own.


“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. But what could the children of God do when their Father had left them in the city of man filled with war and hurt and uncertainty.”

Told through the eyes of Dorie and Gordon, sprinkled with letters and documents, this novel shows more than things unspoken between the lines of a letter. It shows what the lines are between differing convictions and when those lines can be crossed.

I was drawn in immediately by the writing style and subject of the home front during WWII and the alternate roles taken up by conscientious objectors. I grew up in a denomination that espoused these views. My uncle, a trained minister, was exempt during the war. However, my father, after a soul searching discussion with my uncle, enlisted and served in China, Burma, India. Years later, during Vietnam, my cousin was a CO and served in a mental health hospital in our home town. Most of my friends and my future husband were either drafted or enlisted.

Ms Green opened up the world of smoke jumpers and how COs and forestry personnel interacted. The characters were well-drawn and the tension between them were believable. Dorie, the WAC sister of Jack, was spunky, tenacious and reminded me of Nancy Drew.

Not only does Ms. Green tackle the sticky situation of convictions, she addresses segregation and women’s roles in war. The story is well rounded. Humor, mystery and danger are used to great advantage. I will be reading more by this author.
* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Reviewers. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*


"We live in different worlds, Gordon. Mine is the real one, and yours is some idealistic fantasy where everyone loves their neighbor and no one has to fight for freedom. It took a declaration of war to wake us up to that, but I'd rather know now than keep pretending."

Well, that was a blunt good-bye. Becoming a conscientious objector had cost Gordon Hopper the woman he imagined himself to fancy, and subsequently landed him in the middle of Oregon with Dorie's brother, his best friend Jack. . .  fighting fires. Tragically there was one fire that Jack couldn't fight, and it left Gordon wondering if all of his convictions had just gone up in smoke.

"What are you doing here, Dorie? ". . . "What do you mean? You practically summoned me."

Dorie Armitage wanted answers. As a member of the Women's Army Corps, she had a reputation for flying above and below the radar when it came to rules, but twisting her leave into a fictitious army investigation into a suspicious fire was over the top, even for her. And blast it! Gordon Hopper was still as straight laced as ever; would he even help her find the information she sought; they both sought? Highly doubtful.

" . . . but maybe it takes courage to stand up to people making fun of you for what you believe, or to jump out of planes . . . you were braver than I realized . . . "

Written with remarkable creative flair, this story weaves an amazing amount of little known information about World War II's conscientious objectors, and some of the tasks assigned to them, into a very interesting narrative. The ending? Pleasantly satisfying in a round-about way, but still leaving a lot of room for thought. As every good story should.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own. 

BackCover Blurb:
A WWII novel of courage and conviction, based on the true experience of the men who fought fires as conscientious objectors and the women who fought prejudice to serve in the Women's Army Corps.

Since the attack on Pearl Harbor, Gordon Hooper and his buddy Jack Armitage have stuck to their values as conscientious objectors. Much to their families' and country's chagrin, they volunteer as smokejumpers rather than enlisting, parachuting into and extinguishing raging wildfires in Oregon. But the number of winter blazes they're called to seems suspiciously high, and when an accident leaves Jack badly injured, Gordon realizes the facts don't add up.

A member of the Women's Army Corps, Dorie Armitage has long been ashamed of her brother's pacifism, but she's shocked by news of his accident. Determined to find out why he was harmed, she arrives at the national forest under the guise of conducting an army report . . . and finds herself forced to work with Gordon. He believes it's wrong to lie; she's willing to do whatever it takes for justice to be done. As they search for clues, Gordon and Dorie must wrestle with their convictions about war and peace and decide what to do with the troubling secrets they discover.

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


Saturday, September 25, 2021

A MIDNIGHT DANCE by Joanna Davidson Politano, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

Joanna Davidson Politano is a masterful storyteller, and one of my favorite historical fiction authors. Her newest novel, A Midnight Dance, is an intricately woven tapestry of history, romance, mystery, and inspiration set in London in 1833 and populated with colorful, interesting, multi-layered characters. It’s also a fascinating look at the theatre culture at that time. The heroine, Ella Blythe, is talented and focused, but plagued with feelings of not being good enough. I loved seeing her journey as she let herself be tutored by Jack Dorian.

“The only way you’ll go far is to leap big. You may fly or you may fall, but either way, everyone will be looking at you.”
Although Jack is known as the dance company flirt, his true character is revealed as the story progresses, and he’s definitely a fitting hero. Many twists, turns, and surprises swirl through this tale as it winds its way to the inspirational and emotional end. This is a beautiful story of personal and spiritual growth. 4.5 stars
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Revell. All opinions are my own. 

BackCover Blurb:
All theater romances are tragedies. Ella Blythe knows this. Still, she cannot help but hope her own story may turn out different than most--and certainly different than the tragic story of the Ghost of Craven Street Theater. Yet as she struggles to maintain her tenuous place in the ever-shrinking ballet company, win the attentions of principal dancer Philippe, and avoid company flirt Jack, Ella cannot deny the uncanny feeling that her life is mirroring that of the dead ballerina.

Is she dancing ever closer to the edge of her own tragic end? Or will the secrets that are about to come to light offer release from the past?

Mystery and romance make the perfect dance partners in this evocative story from fan-favorite Joanna Davidson Politano.

Revell Publishing, September 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:
Buy A Midnight Dance at Amazon
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Buy A Midnight Dance at Baker Book House

Thursday, September 23, 2021

UNDER THE BAYOU MOON by Valerie Fraser Luesse, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"I think I'd rather just find somebody I could be quiet with".

Adjusting to her new life in the tiny town of Bernadette, Louisiana, Ellie Field is full of anticipation; she's the new school teacher, and already the locals are filling her head with all sorts of reasons why their children have continually despised going to school. Primarily, the state superintendent has determined that the Cajun language and culture should be sacrificed to progression; Ellie begs to differ.

One of the first people Ellie meets is an enigmatic young fisherman, Raphe Broussard, whose kindness and selflessness has extended out into his community as well as inward towards his young orphaned nephew Remy, who lives with Raphe. As Ellie masters the challenges of teaching multiple grades, Raphe and Remy help her become more and more comfortable in her remote surroundings. But all is not as beautiful as the moonlight on the bayou; danger and greed lurk in the shadows of the tall swamp grasses, along with a well kept secret that hides beneath local lore . . .  the tales of a white alligator are not just a figment of a storyteller's imagination. 

Brimming with Louisiana culture and mystique, this story does have some minor hiccups. Scene changes and time lapses are bumpy and unpredictable, but fortunately the characters rise to every occasion, searing their sense of benevolent community spirit towards each and every family, regardless of race, religion or economic standing, into your conscience. Is there a difference between happiness and contentment? Perhaps, Raphe and Ellie have found the answer to that question.

"Ellie heard - for the first time in her life - the sound of pure contentment, flowing over her like creek water on smooth rocks. And she knew without a doubt that she could listen to it forever."
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own. 3.5 stars

See Paula's Review!

BackCover Blurb:
Restless with the familiarity of her Alabama home, Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country. Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their culture, most of the people in tiny Bernadette, Louisiana, come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher as a boon to the town. She's soon teaching just about everyone--and coming up against opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives.

Acclimating to a whole new world, Ellie meets a lonely but intriguing Cajun fisherman named Raphe who introduces her to the legendary white alligator that haunts these waters. Raphe and Ellie have barely found their way to each other when a huge bounty is offered for the elusive gator, bringing about a shocking turn of events that will test their love and their will to right a terrible wrong.

A master of the Southern novel, Valerie Fraser Luesse invites you to enter the sultry swamps of Louisiana in a story that illuminates the struggle for the heart and soul of the bayou.
Revell Publishing, August 3, 2021
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

THE RESTORING HERITAGE series by Tari Faris, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

Book #1 in the Series: YOU BELONG WITH ME

This debut novel had so many great elements. I love when a main character wants to preserve history in a small town.

Hannah loves the historic buildings in her town and wants to save them from being torn down for a strip mall. She has great ideas and friends and family rally behind her. But can she pull off the requirements for a contest from a national magazine and win the prize money to begin to rehab her beloved Heritage, Michigan?

As a former foster child, Luke feels that he has never fit in but there are surprises in store that he could not have imagined.

There are two romances that run into obstacles but with introspection and learning to seek God for the answers, disappointments are averted.

“When we hold the broken pieces of our lives too close, they will cut us up inside.”

“When you’ve got nothing left, that’s when you see how real your faith is. Faithh with everything you want is easy. But faith when everything goes wrong? That’s when God alone has to be enough.”

The characters have a lot to learn but they see that God can take broken pieces and make something beautiful.

A feel good story in my favorite setting, a small historic town.
* I won this book in a Just Reads Tour contest in October, 2020. All opinions are my own.*5 stars and a strong faith thread 
Book#2 in the Series: UNTIL I MET YOU

I loved going back to Heritage, reading about the next two couples to find romance and seeing where Otis the hippo lands this time.

This reminded me of the Prodigal Son. But we also see the Prodigal Brother. With multiple points of view, this is a story of reconciliation and love re-kindled.

Pastor Nate has been redeemed but still holds on to his past. It takes a friend to remind him:”You aren’t called to have the answers. You were called to point to the One who has the answers.”

This is a tight knit community, where everyone knows just about everything, so reputations are on display. I liked how Ms. Faris portrayed the characters as having flaws but after some stubbornness, they learned to let God lead.”When I push God away, He doesn’t force Himself on me. And when I look for Him, He tends to find me.”
The romance is palpable and I loved the gestures by Austin to win Libby. He took her on a surprise date to see the local Carnegie Libraries. She was trying to collect selfies of them. The back and forth with the baggie of change was very funny. Olivia, trying for a newspaper job agrees to do an article on dating. That whole scenario was a hoot, as Nate tries not to be offended or left out.

Great series so far. I’m looking forward to reading the next book.
*I won this book from Just Reads tour in October 2020. All opinions are my own.*
5stars and a strong faith thread.

BOOK #3 in the series: SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE

Welcome back to Heritage, Michigan, one of my favorite fictional places. Small town flavor where some things are not private but where most everyone rallies to support you. Two more couples take center stage.

Leah and Jon are coming back to town, Jon to take over the family business and Leah to resurrect the legacy her grandfather left behind. They team up to open a unique store that sells items Made In Michigan, hoping to make Heritage proud.

Colby, famous for his Christian music, is in retreat mode after some career trouble. Madison, the redeemed bad girl, is making a fresh start and rehabbing her childhood home.

Ms. Faris brings her characters to life with messy choices and complicated situations. But they come through struggles with faith and realistic solutions. There is angst, humor and touching romance.

And as always, the mystery of wandering Otis, the huge metal hippo town mascot.

“Love is letting someone in and trusting them even though they have the potential to break your heart.

“Failure can be a good thing, but you have to learn from it and fail forward. Let the failure push you on to something greater.”

Not only is this a story about restoring a town, but it is a story of restoring lives and keeping the heritage of families alive.

If you love romance, struggles, spiritual growth and happy endings, you will love this series.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Reads program. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.* 5 stars and a strong faith thread. 
Find the single books or series in digital ebook, paperback, and audiobook...

Visit Tari's Amazon page for more information


Tuesday, September 21, 2021

CROSSED LINES by Jennifer Delamere, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

I always enjoy Jennifer Delamere’s books, so I was excited to read Crossed Lines, the second book in her Love Along the Wires series. With a setting in London in 1881 and a cast of colorful, realistic, and endearing characters, this book brought to life the world of the telegraph office. I enjoyed learning more about this little slice of history while enjoying a charming romance.

“God has a way of know our needs and providing for them, even before we know what they are. You must trust in His timing.”

Emma Sutton is a cheerful, likeable telegraph operator who is longing for marriage and her own home. Mitchell is an engaging, hard-working, and enamored of Emma. When his friend Christopher falls for Emma, also, he agrees to help Christopher. I enjoyed seeing how this love triangle played out. The author has penned a delightful, well-written story, and I’m excited to see what she has in store for Rose in the next book of the series.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House. All opinions are my own.

See Paula's Review!

BackCover Blurb:
When romance finally blossoms in her life, will it grow in the right direction?

Emma Sutton knows she should be satisfied with her life. She has a position at London's Central Telegraph Office, and behind her rented rooms is a small plot where she can indulge her passion for gardening. But ever since she was orphaned as a child, she has longed for a family of her own and the stability and consistency it provides. Her deepest wish appears realized when a handsome engineer is thrown into her orbit and sends her a thrilling love note.

Mitchell Harris's sharp wit and facility with a pen have enabled him to thrive despite serious obstacles. That the woman of his dreams works just two floors above his should make life perfect. But a childhood accident has left Mitchell convinced he'll never draw a woman's affection, especially from someone like Emma. When his best friend--who once saved his life--falls in love with Emma too and asks for help writing her love letters, Mitchell must choose between desire and loyalty. 

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

Monday, September 20, 2021

SARAH'S CHOICE by Pegg Thomas, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"If life was a choice . . . . . . ."

There were many days when Sarah Feight wondered why she had survived. Having experienced unspeakable horrors, she was haunted by the memory of losing her beloved husband and extended family in the dead of one night, crushing her idyllic life on Pennsylvania's wild frontier. Sarah's future could have been forever marred, but for the one who had rescued; a freighter named Leith McCully who arrived on the grisly scene, gently prying Sarah's hands away from her husband's lifeless body before carrying Sarah to the relative safety of Fort Pitt. If only that had been the whole of her story.

"If he was reading her right, she was choosing whether or not she wanted to live. What could he say to persuade her?"

Sarah Feight was exactly the kind of woman the frontier needed if she could overcome her debilitating sorrow. Leith McCully would be blind not to notice all of her outward attributes, but it was her strength of character that was even more attractive. Little by little it appeared that the young widow was beginning to trust him, but would it be enough? "The least he could do was to see after (her) welfare . . . he wasn't going to fail her".

This story embodies the essence of love and loss on the American frontier. Filled with real and imaginary characters. its pages boldly declare a tale of admirable tenacity in the face of a rapidly changing American landscape. Sarah faces many, many challenges and a myriad of choices; some of her decisions seem questionable but understandable. Others are nothing short of courageous. Enjoy this peek back in time, when nothing or no one but God himself stayed the same.

"She hadn't imagined anything good rising from the ashes of such a tragedy. How very wrong she'd been."
*3.5 stars. I purchased this book and was under no obligation to provide a review.

BackCover Blurb:
Sarah Feight has her life planned with a loving husband, a promising new settlement, and big dreams to shape the future of trade on Pennsylvania’s frontier. An Indian attack at dawn changes everything.

When he pulls his freight wagons into Fort Pitt, Leith McCully never dreams he’ll be conscripted into the militia and ordered to defend the fort. Worried about trader friends on his delivery route, he rides to their settlement and returns with Sarah, the only survivor.

Fort Pitt is crowded to twice its capacity with the settlers who have taken refuge there and surrounded by the rising smoke of burned-out settlements. Tempers flare, disease breaks out, and the constant fear of the next attack has everyone on edge.

Cully keeps an eye on Sarah because he feels responsible for her. And, though he doesn’t admit as much, she tugs at his heart. Sarah sees Cully as the last link to her past. A friend of her husband’s family. She’s going to need someone she can trust, and she trusts Cully. Her rescuer.

Are trust and admiration enough to help them survive the siege and its devastating consequences? Is there any hope for a future beyond?

Sunday, September 19, 2021

WHEN THE PILOT FALLS by April Hayman, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

Book three in the Ever After Mysteries.

Travel back to the days of bi-wing planes and stunt shows in this intriguing tale of hidden pasts and thwarted love. Set during prohibition, this story has the glamour of Hollywood stunt flying and a criminal family feud.

The heroine, Willie, is a female stunt pilot with tenacity who will not let obstacles like crashing her plane get in her way. The hero, Hugh, is a man of conviction and stands by his word.

This was an engaging, exciting story and took us into the world of a mobster kingpin and his manipulative daughter. A nice, quick read with a solid faith thread and justice prevailing.
*I received a complimentary copy of this ebook from Celebrate Lit. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*
4 stars and. a solid faith thread. 

BackCover Blurb:
In 1923, there aren’t many pilots, but Willie Labeau didn’t let that stop… her.

A bear of a man, Hugh Taylor, needs a stunt plane pilot, and despite their rocky introduction, Willie sets off for golden California and a new life as his pilot. There’s just one little thing she has to do in addition to flying.

Leave his past alone. Period.

When the flame of her own curiosity becomes fanned by encouragement from Willie’s sister, the feisty pilot can’t help but do just a little investigating.

And Hugh vanishes.

Friends rally around her, and with all the information she can find in hand, Willie sets off to rescue Hugh and battle the evil family holding him hostage.

A fierce air race, a sincere act of humility—are they enough to free Hugh and give Willie a chance to be with him… forever?Find out in this next book in the Ever After Mysteries, combining beloved fairy tales and mysteries. When the Pilot Falls offers a retelling of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” that will keep you gripped to the edge of your seat as you watch hearts soar and daring dos. 

Celebrate Lit Publishing, September 2021

Saturday, September 18, 2021

UNDER THE TEXAS MISTLETOE: A Trio of Christmas Historical Romance Novellas by Karen Witemeyer, Reviewed by Trixi, Paula, and Winnie

I love novella story collections, and Witemeyer is one of many favorite authors. To have three stories in one book by her is like getting an early Christmas present! You'll also find some bonus material which includes a couple of her favorite recipes, fun facts about nineteenth-century Christmas celebrations and a hope-filled Christmas devotion. So without further ado, here's my review on each novella:

A Texas Christmas Carol
I loved this fun take on one of my favorite Christmas movies “A Christmas Carol”! Instead of Ebenezer, our hero is a Scrooge-like bachelor named Evan Beazer, and our heroine is Felicity Wiggins. She decides to take on the mission of enlisting Evan's monetary and physical help to distribute Christmas baskets and bring him Christmas cheer (in spite of his grumpiness). It's fun to watch her break down the walls he's built, and touch his hidden tender heart! Witemeyer references the biblical story of the persistent widow when it comes to the tenacity Felicity shows. It also has a deeper meaning to the story that I think readers will enjoy, the real reason behind Christmas. The epilogue was my favorite, and very heartwarming. I found this to be a tender love story and a fun take on a favorite Christmas tale.

An Archer Family Christmas
I've read every one of the Archer brother stories, so to see them all come together for a Christmas celebration was purely delightful! Watching the children's excitement along with the adults definitely got me in an early Christmas mood. There's a bit of danger to add a little spice to this story, but I love how Jim Archer plays the hero to save his wife. The ending was sweet and brought some tears to my eyes. If you've read the Archer Brothers stories, (if not, you should!), you'll love this extra addition!

Gift of the Heart
Since my favorite Biblical story is Ruth and Naomi, this held a special place in my heart. I really enjoyed the nod to scripture. Widow Ruth Fulbright and her daughter Naomi relocate to Hope Springs, Texas two years after her husband’s death. Taking the job as a cook at the Homespun Cafe, she hopes to start a better life for her and her daughter. In the meantime, she meets her landlord, Beauregard Azlin—or Bo for short. Thus begins their happily-ever-after story, and while this may sound too perfect, it has a few rocky places they both must navigate. Ruth is good for Bo in boosting his self-confidence and in return, Bo is good for Ruth in resurrecting feelings she thought buried with her husband. Naomi is the glue that binds them together! I love her spunky spirit, her childlike view of the world and her compassion for one stray cat lovingly nicknamed Teddy. Talking about the tabby, he contributes his own quirkiness and personality to the mix. A mish-mash family whose love story is hard earned and has a satisfying end. Witemeyer inserts her trademark humor that had me laughing out loud in quite a few spots and her characters are ones I would have enjoyed meeting. Too bad it's not real because I could make a life in Hope Springs myself! A delightful story with a Biblical twist.
* I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House on behalf of the author and was not obligated to leave a favorable review. All opinions are my own. *

Delightful trio of stories with great bonuses: a Baby Jesus devotional, a nice summary of traditions and two sweet recipes.

A Texas Christmas Carol:
Clever Texas Twist on an old favorite. Great play on names. Evan has a heart that has turned hard and cynical but Felicity is determined to thaw it. Watch as a beautiful transformation takes place, and for the true meaning of Christmas to shine through.

An Archer Family Christmas:
A family Christmas gathering turns into a fight for the life of a newborn and hope for Cass and Jim Archer. The author once again brings faith and family together and shows the Archer clan can pose a formidable united front.

Gift of the Heart:
Reminiscent of the story of Ruth and Boaz. Widow Ruth with her small daughter, Naomi, starts a new life in a resort town as a cook. The only thing of value she has is an heirloom brooch that she uses for collateral. Resort owner Bo keeps it for her in exchange for rent on a cottage. Ms. Witemeyer spins a beautiful Christmas time story of new beginnings with wit and romance.
*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.*
5 stars and a solid faith thread.


Under the Texas Mistletoe is a collection of novellas guaranteed to get you in the Christmas mood and delight your heart. Karen Witemeyer’s historical romance stories are always well-written and populated with colorful, endearing characters that the reader can relate to and grow to love. All three of the stories in this book are charming. While my favorite is Gift of the Heart, I also enjoyed the other two, A Texas Christmas Carol and An Archer Family Christmas. Sprinkled through the book are additional Christmas goodies—recipes, a devotion, and some fun Christmas facts.

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy clean, wholesome, uplifting historical romances.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from the author and Bethany House Publishers. All opinions are my own.

BackCover Blurb:
Three Charming and Festive Holiday Novellas Spiced with Humor, Frontier Action, and Sweet Romance

In this 3-in-1 novella collection, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer presents the new story "A Texas Christmas Carol," in which a town's wealthy, Scrooge-like bachelor finds his world invaded by a woman set on earning his donation for helping the local poor, and by the penetrating questions of three mysterious visitors.

It also includes, for the first time in print, "An Archer Family Christmas." When the Archer clan gathers for the Christmas holiday, an unexpected request for help leaves Cassandra Archer directly in the path of a dangerous outlaw. Desperate to protect the woman he loves, Jim Archer races to the rescue, only to find that Cassie's life is not the only one in peril. It will take a Christmas miracle--and the entire Archer clan--to keep a second Archer Christmas from ending in disaster.

In previously published "Gift of the Heart," a widow and her young daughter move to Hope Springs for a fresh start. But with no money to secure a home, Ruth must convince a wealthy resort owner to accept her heirloom brooch as collateral. Will the pin that brought love to three generations soften the heart of a wounded recluse and give Ruth a second chance at love as the holidays draw near?

Sprinkled throughout the collection, you'll find a hope-filled Christmas devotion, Witemeyer holiday recipes, and fun facts about nineteenth-century Christmas celebrations!

Bethany House Publishing, August, 2021
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