Saturday, December 31, 2022

ALL THE LOST PLACES by Amanda Dykes, Reviewed by Winnie, Paula, and Rebecca

“Empty places . . . are not always lost places.”

I always have to give myself extra time when I read a book by this author, because I don’t want to miss a single beautiful word, thought, or phrase. I find myself rereading many of the lyrical and thought-provoking sentences and paragraphs and marking them for future reference. Her stories are some of my all-time favorites, and I recommend them often to other readers.

Set primarily in Venice during two time periods—the early 1800s and the early 1900s-- this stirring novel stars a baby foundling, Sebastien Trovato, who is raised by a group of artisans, and Daniel Goodman, who is trying to atone for past crimes. As Daniel travels to Venice on a quest to obtain and translate a lost book, he finds himself immersed in Sebastien’s story.

“This sense of anticipation flexed its reach until Sebastien was certain the air must be pushing right out of the windows, slipping onto the balcony and tumbling over the waters below.

The characters are colorful, unique, masterfully crafted, and set amidst historically intriguing locales. It was very interesting to learn much about the history of Venice while reading this absorbing tale. This book is filled with broken, bruised, and hurting souls searching for answers, lost places and lost people searching to find who they are. It’s a story of redemption, hope, family, and identity. It’s the kind of book I finish and immediately want to start reading again to find more hidden meaning and beauty.

“Courage keep and hope beget, the story is not finished yet . . . “
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers. All opinions are my own.


Exceptional, exquisite, thought provoking, poetic.... there are not enough positive words to describe this beautifully written dual time novel. The author has once again captivated me with the scenes in her latest book.

A mysterious unfinished *Book of Waters* reaches through time to connect two men in an unexpected way. Sebastien in 1807 and Daniel in 1904 are both searching for the meaning of their own lives, which makes the reader think about their own worth. The answer to the age old question of *who can love me* can be found in the grace of God and the love He has for all in the sacrifice of Christ...His own Son.

An overarching theme is Hope.

“Life had taught them hope was a dangerous and fragile thing...Faith sang a different song, hope was necessary as breath and so strong that it carried its own heartbeat.”

From a mosaic artist: “So I come, in the dark, to piece together things of hope from things of destruction.”

“God is not bound by the way things used to be. There is hope in that.”

From the fascinating origins of Venice, California to the breathtaking scenes of an age old Venice, Italy, this is a well-crafted story that should not be missed.
* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House on behalf of the author. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*
Beyond 5 stars and a solid faith thread

"The tale with no ending, Daniel . . . To give you hope. Remember - though it may feel as if it is, the story is not over yet."

Hope, she said? "This . . . was my life. An empty chamber. A glorified crate carved out to make way for atonement. Capture it, cage it, live it. And yet, across the city, the one I had wronged the deepest was about to lose everything."

Daniel Goodman embodies a tortured soul, until one day his heritage provides an opportunity; an all expenses paid trip to Venice . . . to capture its magic and mourning through the eyes of an artist while confirming its history through the pages of an unfinished manuscript. What he discovers is far different and yet entirely the same, for he and the unknown author from so long ago share the same burning desire to discover, "Who am I?".

" . . . but I do know that I can never begin to say how thankful I am that, of all the circumstances that brought you from the canal, from the basket, to the islands, to pull me from those waters, to be the man that you are, to be with me here and now . . . I am forever grateful." I am . . . forever grateful.

All the lost places. All the broken pieces. Found. In the hands of an almighty God, placed carefully and intentionally within a masterpiece, a mosaic showcasing His infinite design . . . one man's journey becoming every man's journey; for in being known, hope springs eternal.

A tutelage in imaginative fiction, this tome carries its enchanted readers down the very canals which whisper their truths as loudly as their secrets, taking up spaces and places in their hearts that had previously been vacant.
*I received a copy from the author and publisher, I also purchased a copy of this book. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.

BackCover Blurb:
When a baby is discovered floating in a basket along the canals of 1807 Venice, a guild of artisans takes him in and raises him as a son, skilled in each of their trades. Although the boy, Sebastian Trovato, has wrestled with questions of his origins, it isn't until a woman washes ashore his lagoon island that answers begin to emerge. In hunting down his story, Sebastian must make choices that could alter not just his own future, but that of the beloved floating city.

Decades later,Daniel Goodman is given a fresh start in life as the century turns. Hoping to redeem a past laden in regrets, he is sent on an assignment from California to Venice to procure and translate a rare book. There, he discovers a mystery wrapped in the pages of that filigree-covered volume. With the help of Vittoria, a bookshop keeper, Daniel finds himself in a web of shadows, secrets, and discoveries carefully kept within the stones and canals of the ancient city . . . and the mystery of the man whose story the book does not finish: Sebastian Trovato.

Bethany House Publishing, December, 2022
Available in digital ebook, paperback, and hardcover:
Buy ALL THE LOST PLACES at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House


Friday, December 30, 2022

IN LOVE'S TIME by Kate Breslin, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas and Paula Shreckhise


"We’ve all faced one obstacle or another in our lives, but those hard things prepare us for greater challenges.”

Set in England and Russia in 1918, In Love’s Time by talented author Kate Breslin gives us the story of Captain Marcus Weatherford and Clare Danner. When Marcus is sent on a dangerous secret mission to Russia with a ballerina named Natalya posing as his fiancée, miscommunications occur and Clare is crushed. Marcus returns injured with memory loss, and Clare is tasked with helping him recover his health and memory.

From the back cover blurb, I was expecting more of the story to take place in Russia, but the vast majority of the story was set in England, so I felt the blurb was a little misleading. I love historical fiction, because I learn about little slices of history while enjoying a good story, and this novel was no exception. The author’s notes in the back of the book were very interesting and helpful in understanding some of the events and circumstances of the time.

The characters are well-drawn and engaging, the writing flows smoothly, and the story kept me turning pages. With plenty of intrigue, suspense, romance, and inspiration, this story should appeal to those who enjoy clean historical romance. While Breslin’s books aren’t labeled as a series, there are some characters that are interconnected and show up in her other books.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers. All opinions are my own.
4.5 stars 

Although I enjoy many historical time periods, this author always captures my interest with her WWI tales. Full of romantic difficulties, a country estate, spies and political intrigue, this is one of the best of its genre.

Marcus works for the Admiralty during the war and goes on danger missions for his country. While he loves Clare and her daughter, he wants to protect them so keeps certain things secret. After an unfortunate injury, he struggles to remember the recent past. With Clare as his nurse, he makes slow but steady progress. But will it be enough and in time to prevent calamity? Confused and conflicted, could he be falling in love with Clare all over again?

Ms Breslin immersed me in the era and made me care about Clare and Marcus as well as his family and the injured soldiers at his estate. The scenes in the conservatory with sister Fanny and Lieutenant Ainsley were refreshing and hinted at another story. With all the turmoil, the characters still conveyed their faith in God and strove to rely on Him for the answers to their life-altering situations.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House on behalf of the author. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*5 stars and a strong faith thread.

BackCover Blurb:

In the summer of 1918, Captain Marcus Weatherford arrives in Russia on a secret mission, with a beautiful ballerina posing as his fiancée. Marcus searches for the Romanov tsarina and her son--who both allegedly survived the murdering Bolsheviks--and the information behind an allied plot to assassinate Lenin. But Marcus's sense of duty battles his desire to return home to Clare--his actual love.

Hospital orderly Clare Danner still suffers from Marcus's betrayal and now fears losing her daughter to the heartless family who took Daisy away from Clare once before, but only Marcus can provide the critical proof needed to save her daughter.

Faced with danger and unexpected circumstances, can Clare trust Marcus, or will he shatter her world yet again? 

Bethany House Publishers, December, 2022
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:


Thursday, December 29, 2022

STAY WITH ME by Jody Hedlund, Reviewed by Nicole Cook

Stay with Me by Jody Hedlund is the much anticipated third novel in her Waters of Time series. This time-travel romance will appeal to a wide range of readers, with storylines taking place both in contemporary and historical times. Even if you do not think you are a fan of time-travel romances, you will be after reading this series! The series has such an interesting premise with holy water being able to heal any disease and being a means to cross time for others. I was thrilled when Jody Hedlund announced that she would be writing books three and four in the series.

Sybil Huxham and Sir Nicholas Worth, who readers were introduced to in previous books of the series, take center stage in Stay with Me. There were brief mentions of Marian, Ellen, and Harrison, (who were leading characters in the previous books), although I wish they had made actual cameo appearances in the novel. When book four releases next year, I am hopeful that they will play a more prominent role in the conclusion of this amazing series. This book kept me thoroughly invested in the storyline, and I did not want to put it down.

Stay with Me is highly recommended for fans of time-travel romance, contemporary romance, and historical romance.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine.

BackCover Blurb:
Sacrificing and dying to oneself is costly.
But doing so brings new purpose and joy.

As a private investigator, Sybil Huxham has seen her fair share of strange occurrences. But nothing in her career has been more perplexing than the miracles she’s witnessed as a result of people drinking ancient holy water. When she discovers more of the rare holy water, she experiences strange overlaps with a nobleman in the Middle Ages who is languishing in a dungeon, accused of treason and condemned to die. To save his life, she finally crosses to the past completely.Nicholas Worth has never met a woman quite like Sybil, and as the two run for their lives into the Weald, they find refuge among a community of outlaws. With both their reputations on the line, they have little choice but to marry. As they get to know each other, an undeniable attraction develops. But danger and disease chase after them, drawing ever closer. Will they be able to escape the threats? And will Sybil choose to stay with Nicholas in the past, or will she be ripped apart from him forever?

Waters of Time
Book 1: Come Back to Me
Book 2: Never Leave Me
Book 3: Stay With Me

Digital ebook available at Amazon December 6, 2022

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

HONOR'S REFUGE and LOVE IN ANY LANGUAGE by Hallee Bridgeman, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

Honor's Refuge - Hallee Bridgeman

"Why do you have lunch with me every Sunday and breakfast every Thursday?" . . . 

"Because I enjoy your company . . . Because that is all I have . . ."

Melissa Braxton refuses to believe that her hero-in-hiding is incapable of seeing past his limitations in order to realize what a magnificent specimen of God's creation that he truly is. Can Phil Osbourne, former Special Forces A-Team soldier be incredibly gruff and grumpy? Absolutely! Can he ignore the fact that even though he is a incredibly trained army medic and esteemed oral surgeon that he can simply choose to bury those talents underneath a broken perception of himself? Phil seems to be trying awfully hard to do just that. Can Melissa "fix" him? Unfortunately, she cannot. She can love him though . . . and wait?

Phil is convinced that Melissa needs someone without the mental and physical baggage that comes along with war wounds and past mistakes, but there is someone he can give her in the whereabouts of her younger sister. The girls' painful past was the result of domestic violence; separated when they were very young after the death of their mother, Melissa has lost all contact with Lola. With the help of his former teammates, Phil locates the young woman, but extracting her from a highly dangerous situation is going to bring that same degree of danger to the front door of the women's shelter where Melissa works. Is it too risky, can he protect the woman that he holds very dear (without admitting to love)safe?

What a joy to follow Phil's story to completion! A clear reminder of the words, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness". This entire series has been (and will continue to be, for it will be enjoyed again and again) a compelling blend of suspense, romance, and the miracle of divine intervention.
*I received a copy of this book from the Baker Publishing Group through Interviews and Reviews. The opinions stated above are entirely my own. 3.5 stars


BackCover Blurb:

When she was just five years old, Melissa Braxton watched her father take her mother's life. Separated from her sister, Lola, at that time, Melissa grew up with a strong desire to help those stuck in abusive relationships. It's why she became a family therapist and opened a domestic abuse shelter.

After losing a leg to a gunshot wound in the line of duty, Phil Osbourne has felt like a man without a purpose--until he hears Melissa's story and decides to use his Special Forces contacts to track down her missing sister. He knows what he discovers will break Melissa's heart. What he doesn't realize is that helping the women reunite will bring the cartel down on them like the Category 5 hurricane striking Miami.

Bruised yet not quite broken, Melissa and Phil battle the storm and the cartel, calling on strength they didn't know they had to escape death, save the innocent, and--just maybe--find healing in each other's arms.

Revell Publishing, November 1, 2022
Available in digital ebook, paperback, and hardcover

Love in Any Language - Hallee Bridgeman 

(prequel novella to the series)
"Did the members of the team all sit around and laugh behind their hands at the gullible little Emma Selah . . . ?"

This short form novella is exactly what you might expect it to be . . .brief and sweet. And it certainly lives up to those expectations, but it also seems a bit larger than life, since these characters populate three other novels where their presence has tremendous impact on others. So yes, at its core, this is a love story. ("in any language" is an understatement, Selah speaks five or is it six and she's going for seven?) But it's also a glimpse into the hearts of heroes who work hard, love their country, take risks, survive misunderstandings, and depend on their faith during the best and worst of times.

So, enjoy meeting Selah and Pena as they navigate the troubled waters of dangerous missions while trying to rebuild their trust in each other, trust that was tested by the kind of fire that only made it stronger.
*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 3.5 stars

BackCover Blurb:
Afghanistan born U.S. Army consultant Emma Selah works as a fluent and multi-lingual interpreter assigned to a special forces team. Deployed to a base in Djibouti, Emma and First lieutenant Jorge “Pina Colada” Pena start to form a relationship built on friendship, mutual respect, and undeniable attraction.

Then she discovers that he has been married the entire time when news of his wife’s untimely death reaches them. She gives him no room for excuses or more deceptions. Distracted and feeling betrayed, Emma mistakenly enters an unsafe situation and a dangerous prisoner takes her hostage. Pena comes to her rescue but is gravely wounded.

Emma remains by his side while his life hangs in the balance. He doesn’t want to live without her and she can no longer live without him. Can they find a way to bridge the gap between their separate worlds?

Available in digital ebook, paperback, and hardcover from Olivia Kimbrell Press, August 2022 


Monday, December 26, 2022

ON MY HONOR by Patty Smith Hall, Review by Paula Shreckhise

Fine contribution to the series.

Corralling six Girl Scouts was a big job for Ginny. Not to mention her job on a ferry and volunteering at the infirmary. Besides her group of Scouts couldn’t get into much trouble! Ginny was a watcher for the Coast Guard in 1942 along the coast of North Carolina and saw a tanker explode. What a mess on the beach! The girls wanted to help birds that were coated in oil but end up rescuing a passenger from the ship and then the fun begins. Ms. Hall did a great job portraying teen girls as well as the struggles that Ginny had. They were authentic and believable.

I am enjoying these Heroines of WWII books especially the ones about the home front. We should not forget the past and how we all pulled together and fought for Right.
* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Review Crew Program. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*4 stars and a strong faith thread


BackCover Blurb:
A Girl Scout Troop Joins the Battle of the Atlantic

Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.

Ginny Mathis was finished with nursing school and had no intention of staying rooted in the Outer Banks—then war broke out. With her father away, she feels duty-bound to stay and help her mother and younger sister. While working as a clerk for the Oregon Inlet ferry, naval officers ask Ginny and others to be watchful for German U-boats reportedly spotted in the area. So to help occupy her teenage sister, Ginny enlists the Girl Scout troop she leads to help watch for suspicious activity along the coast.

Timothy Elliott is no stranger to death. As a British reporter working with the M-6, he’s numb to the losses of war after two years of fighting the Germans. Maybe that’s why he volunteered for this mission—to connect with an ex-German naval officer who stole the Furor’s battle plan for the Atlantic war. When the boat giving him passage to New York is bombed near the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Tim is thrown from the boat and wakes up in the care of a group of young girls.

Ginny follows her sneaky sister on a clandestine mission and discovers the shipwreck victim. Ginny knows she must take charge, but is this man the enemy, or does he hold secrets that could turn the tide of the Battle of the Atlantic in the allies’ favor?

Barbour Publishing, December, 2022
Available in digital ebook, paperback, library binding, and audiobook:




Monday, December 19, 2022

CIRCLE OF VENGEANCE by Ramona Richards, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"I want to hire you to solve the murder of Genevieve Marshall Eaton. I want you to find out who really killed her and clear my family's name of this curse."

If only it was that easy, cold case private investigator Star Cavanaugh already knew that digging into deeply embedded family secrets in Pineville, Alabama came with a "proceed with caution" sign in neon lights; hoards of investigators had gone before her over the years and found absolutely nothing, what new angle could she possibly explore?

Luckily, she found one.

Realizing that no one had concentrated on the young mother's crazed obsession with locating her missing daughter (whom most presumed dead), Star soon realized that Genevieve Eaton had not been as crazy as most people thought. But after cracking open the door on this theory, Star became a little distracted with another task . . . staying alive . . . and her ally/associate/friend/maybe more chief of police Mike Luinetti was growing weary of visiting Star in the emergency room.

With all the clever twists and turns that were on full display in the first book of this series, the author takes off again with a multi-layered case that is perfectly suited for its small town setting, the parallel time lines showing off just enough truth to remain as secretive as the story itself, and the characters . . . well, the characters (both new and former) are just as integral to the "circle of vengeance" as they should be, for even though you may think you know what's going to happen, I can guarantee . . . you don't.

"The messier a case gets, the more convoluted the information, the more likely you are the one to make sense of it. I don't know how you do it, but quite frankly, it's a little addicting to give you the raw details and see what kind of cake you bake."
*I received a copy from the author. I also purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 4.5 stars

BackCover Blurb:
Revenge is best served cold--and this family has been waiting decades to dish it up

Twenty-five years ago, a body was discovered in the Turney family barn--and folks around town were all too ready to believe that killing blood ran through all the Turney's veins. Every member of the family came under suspicion, their reputations crumbled to pieces, and with no convictions, no one could be cleared.

Daughter Jill, now a Chicago lawyer, is ready for this case to be solved and for her broken family to be repaired at last. Who better to find the answers than cold-case P.I. Star Cavanaugh? But as Star begins to dig into generations-old secrets, the killer resurfaces to make sure none of those skeletons leave the closet--no matter what the cost.

As the danger mounts, Star again joins forces with police chief, Mike Luinetti, and begins to uncover truths that the whole town has kept hidden. But becoming the target of the determined killer isn't the way Star wants to find the answers. It's a race to solve the case before it becomes a matter of her life or death.

Readers will love jumping back into the Star Cavanaugh Cold Case series as their favorite plucky heroine drives her vintage Airstream home straight into the heart of another town's mystery.

Kregel Publications, October, 2022
Available in digital ebook, paperback, and audiobook:


Saturday, December 17, 2022

A HUNDRED CRICKETS SINGING by Cathy Gohlke, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"The persistent, conflicting voices of all those I love, spoken and not, are deafening - a hundred crickets shouting, screeching in my brain. The mounting tension is intolerable. Help us, Lord!"

Would the crickets ever sing again? After reading those words, Celia Percy wondered.

During an horrific thunderstorm, lightning splits an ancient tree in half, taking off a portion of Belvidere's roof, exposing an attic room that no one knew existed; partly (mostly) because there was no entrance from inside the house, it had been completely sealed off. What Celia finds cleverly hidden inside the bottom of an old trunk is capable of igniting a firestorm of painful No Creek, North Carolina history . . . all over again.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, Minnie Belvidere tries desperately to hold her crumbling family together following the death of her mother. North Carolina is on the verge of succession and Minnie's two brothers are on opposite sides of what is certain to become a civil war. Using a third floor room in their massive home as a safe stop for those escaping northward, Minnie is soon forced to cease those efforts while working alongside her aging father to script freedom papers and land deeds to those who have faithfully served their family. Unfortunately, history takes its toll and what was once a close knit pillar of the community becomes a house divided against itself, which cannot stand . . . until light reaches the attic once again.

Reuniting with a slightly more grown-up version of Celia Percy in this inspiring sequel to "Night Bird Calling", the author showcases Celia's indomitable spirit to fight for the underdog while showering compassion over the downtrodden. Rich in cultural and generational history, the story dissects the harsh difficulties of societal change while celebrating the heroes who determined to do the right thing whether they lived to see the outcome or not.

Using Zephaniah 3:17 as their battle cry, "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing." . . . these character prove without a shadow of a doubt that yes! . . . the crickets will sing again!
*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 4.5 stars

BackCover Blurb:

In wars eighty years apart, two young women living on the same Appalachian estate determine to aid soldiers dear to them and fight for justice, no matter the cost.
1944. When a violent storm rips through the Belvidere attic in No Creek, North Carolina, exposing a hidden room and trunk long forgotten, secrets dating back to the Civil War are revealed. Celia Percy, whose family lives and works in the home, suspects the truth could transform the future for her friend Marshall, now fighting overseas, whose ancestors were once enslaved by the Belvidere family. When Marshall’s Army friend, Joe, returns to No Creek with shocking news for Marshall’s family, Celia determines to right a long-standing wrong, whether or not the town is ready for it.

1861. After her mother’s death, Minnie Belvidere works desperately to keep her household running and her family together as North Carolina secedes. Her beloved older brother clings to his Union loyalties, despite grave danger, while her hotheaded younger brother entangles himself and the family’s finances within the Confederacy. As the country and her own home are torn in two, Minnie risks her life and her future in a desperate fight to gain liberty and land for those her parents intended to free, before it’s too late.

With depictions of a small Southern town “reminiscent of writings by Lisa Wingate” (Booklist on Night Bird Calling), Cathy Gohlke delivers a gripping, emotive story about friendship and the enduring promise of justice.

Tyndale House Publishing, April, 2022
Available in digital ebook, hardcover, and audiobook:


Friday, December 16, 2022

ON MY HONOR by Patty Smith Hall, Reviewed by Trixi Oberembt

I’ve only read one other book in the Heroines of WWII series so when I had opportunity to read this one I didn’t hesitate. The other reason was because this gives me a glimpse of the history of the Girl Scouts/Girl Guides. I used to be a Brownie as a small girl and was in the Girl Scouts for a few years after that, so for me this was a very fascinating piece of history that I learned more about!

I loved getting to know each of the young girls and Ginny their Girl Scout leader. When they find an injured man washed ashore, they banded together to help fix him up. This is where the story really took off! Intrigue, adventure, mystery, a little bit of danger and a budding romance made the book a great read from page one all the way through.

The author also touched on many landmarks in the book, which makes me want to learn more about them. One thing I love is when an author can immerse me in their story, as if I was right in the middle of it. Patty Smith Hall did an outstanding job with On My Honor!

History lovers will find this fascinating and richly steeped in the WWII era!
* I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. *

BackCover Blurb:
A Girl Scout Troop Joins the Battle of the Atlantic

Full of intrigue, adventure, and romance, this new series celebrates the unsung heroes—the heroines of WWII.

Ginny Mathis was finished with nursing school and had no intention of staying rooted in the Outer Banks—then war broke out. With her father away, she feels duty-bound to stay and help her mother and younger sister. While working as a clerk for the Oregon Inlet ferry, naval officers ask Ginny and others to be watchful for German U-boats reportedly spotted in the area. So to help occupy her teenage sister, Ginny enlists the Girl Scout troop she leads to help watch for suspicious activity along the coast.

Timothy Elliott is no stranger to death. As a British reporter working with the M-6, he’s numb to the losses of war after two years of fighting the Germans. Maybe that’s why he volunteered for this mission—to connect with an ex-German naval officer who stole the Furor’s battle plan for the Atlantic war. When the boat giving him passage to New York is bombed near the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Tim is thrown from the boat and wakes up in the care of a group of young girls.

Ginny follows her sneaky sister on a clandestine mission and discovers the shipwreck victim. Ginny knows she must take charge, but is this man the enemy, or does he hold secrets that could turn the tide of the Battle of the Atlantic in the allies’ favor?

Barbour Publishing, December, 2022
Available in digital ebook, paperback, library binding, and audiobook:


Thursday, December 15, 2022

THE LADY'S MINE by Francine Rivers, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"Even as a child Kathryn had been enraged by injustice. Her first crime, in the eyes of the judge (her stepfather), had been to steal the Thanksgiving turkey from Cook and give it to a poor family who had come to beg for work at the gate."

But it didn't stop there, and Kathryn Walsh found herself banished from Boston and sent across country to a small mining town in the Sierra Nevadas, her out-spoken opinions and determination to remain single landing her in Calvada, where there were more saloons than women. (maybe a slight exaggeration, but not much) Having inherited her uncle's newspaper office and abandoned mine claim(through her mother's willingness to send her away), Kathryn sets about to do what she does best, take charge. . . and runs straight into two men who want to claim her . . . Matthias Beck and Mordan Sanders. Ultimately, only one man would be able to declare; "the lady's mine", for trouble had stepped off the stage . . . in the form of a red headed little dynamo.

"Falling in love with her had shaken and then inspired him. . . He didn't want to win the bet. He wanted to win Kathryn Walsh's heart."

Hard-headed meets hard-headed in this mountain top battle of the wills, with a wagon load of bantering, badgering, and bargaining (utilizing the kind of persuasion that generates a little heat), keeping the reader (and the residents of Calvada, for that matter) thoroughly entertained. Did I think that the ending was a bit rushed . . . possibly. But no one is going to argue with the end result! If you ever doubted the power of an individual, or two, to bring about positive change in an entire community, consider this story as your textbook.

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


BackCover Blurb:
A delightful new western romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Redeeming Love

New York Times bestselling author Francine Rivers returns to the California frontier in this sweeping, romantic tale of a displaced New England suffragette, a former Union soldier disinherited by his Southern family, and the town they join forces to save.

1875. When Kathryn Walsh arrives in tiny Calvada, a mining town nestled in the Sierra Nevadas, falling in love is the farthest thing from her mind. Banished from Boston by her wealthy stepfather, she has come to claim an inheritance from the uncle she never knew: a defunct newspaper office on a main street overflowing with brothels and saloons, and a seemingly worthless mine. Moved by the oppression of the local miners and their families, Kathryn decides to relaunch her uncle’s newspaper—and then finds herself in the middle of a maelstrom, pitted against Calvada’s most powerful men. But Kathryn intends to continue to say—and publish—whatever she pleases, especially when she knows she’s right.

Matthias Beck, owner of a local saloon and hotel, has a special interest in the new lady in town. He instantly recognizes C. T. Walsh’s same tenacity in the beautiful and outspoken redhead—and knows all too well how dangerous that family trait can be. While Kathryn may be right about Calvada’s problems, her righteousness could also get her killed. But when the handsome hotelier keeps finding himself on the same side of the issues as the opinionated Miss Walsh, Matthias’s restless search for purpose becomes all about answering the call of his heart.

Everyone may be looking to strike it rich in this lawless boomtown, but it’s a love more precious than gold that will ultimately save them all.

Tyndale House Publishing, March, 2022
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:
Buy The Lady's Mine at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House




Wednesday, December 14, 2022

A SEASIDE WONDER by Melissa Tagg, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"You looking for Narnia or something?" . . .
Says the man hiding out in the wardrobe . . . 

"Narnia. Ha. That's, uh, very . . .  funny. I-I loved those books as a kid". Allow the introductions and explanations to begin . . . between the tall, handsome, stammering professor and the lovely, impulsive, artsy antique store owner. Except that many important little details got interrupted by a phone call, and then the artist went all to pieces, and the professor felt a need to stand by her side . . . and . . .

It's how Philip West first experienced the wonder of Muir Harbor. Except that is was all over, before it actually began; Indi Muir was thanking him for his kindness and Philip was heading back to his life . . . his entirely new life as the legal guardian for his sister Holland, whose teen-age surliness was a puzzle that Philip had been unable to solve. Thankfully, opportunity came knocking, but would Muir Harbor welcome him back again? (after all, Indi's siblings thought he was someone else, some that they didn't even like at the moment . . . but that's another part of the story that you will just have to read about on your own)

Around ever corner and on every page of this amazing story you will discover conversational quality, barely suppressed hilarity, life lived authentically, faith born from adversity; add in a decades old mystery, and a romance practically sparking with electricity (complete with "canoodling" in the university library . . . after hours, of course!) and the end result is nothing short of "a seaside wonder"!
*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 4.5stars

BackCover Blurb:
In one evening, Indi's world falls apart. Enter the shy professor her family mistakes for her fiancé...make that ex-fiancé.

Professor Philip West never wanted to return to Maine . . . or his grandfather’s miserable old house. But after his mother’s death, he’s now the guardian of a teenage half sister who doesn’t want anything to do with him. He longs to help her heal, but he’s exhausted and numb, desperate for relief of his own. Maybe that’s why he’s so easily distracted when he happens upon the little shop with an intriguing owner—one who happens to share a name with someone from his grandfather's mysterious past.

More than a decade has passed since Indi Muir made the heartbreaking decision she’s never recovered from—though she’s certainly tried. She has a full life running her shop and creating the artsy pieces that fill its shelves. If she can just stay busy, she’ll keep her hurt and regret at bay. But when her ex-fiancé returns to Muir Harbor, he brings news that shatters her carefully built walls. Things only get worse when lurking danger comes calling at her childhood home.

The one bright spot amid Indi’s turmoil is the shy stranger who wandered into her shop months ago and his moody but lovable sister. As she confronts her past and the mysterious threat facing her family, she’s intent on helping Philip win over his sister. He just might win over Indi, too, if they can overcome old secrets and wounds, outrun rising peril . . . and take a chance on love.

Breathtaking romance, a captivating mystery, and an enchanting wintry seaside . . . return to Muir Harbor in bestselling author Melissa Tagg’s latest. 

Available in digital ebook or paperback, October 2022

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

ENGAGING DECEPTION by Regina Jennings, Reviewed by Paula and Winnie #ReleaseDay

Joplin Chronicles #3

Back we go to Joplin, Missouri and the mis-adventures of yet another quirky Kentworth cousin. Olive, arguably the most practical, has a secret passion that is unusual for a lady: she is a self taught architect and has designed two buildings for her family. While looking for a change of pace, she becomes a nanny for famed architect, widower, Maxfield Scott. Now she is keeping another secret. She is beginning to fall for Max and his children.

Lots of fun to be had in this quaint historical with deception, misunderstanding, and a contest between business owners wanting to have the largest house in town. Never fear, the meddling cousins are back.

Well plotted, informative and romantic, this book will have you chuckling and rooting for Olive to be brave and reveal her artistic talent. With characters who try their best to live out their faith, this is a worthy conclusion to this series.

* A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Bethany House through Interviews and Reviews. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.*5 stars and a solid faith thread

It was such a treat to travel back to Joplin again and see what shenanigans the Kentworth cousins have been up to. Engaging Deception stars Olive Kentworth who seems to be a little more sedate and diligent than some of her other cousins. Now that doesn’t mean her life isn’t going to have some turmoil thrown into it. Author Regina Jennings is a master at creating amusing situations in which to embroil her characters. Olive has been a caretaker for her mother during her terminal illness, but she also has been hiding her budding architectural talents. When she takes a position as a nanny for her idol, famed architect and widower Maxfield Scott, things get a little complicated. 

I enjoyed seeing the relationship between these two characters change and grow. A fantastic cast of secondary characters make the tale even more delightful. Cousin Amos is the best, and I’d love to see a story about him.

With lots of intrigue, adventure, wit and humor, and a dose of romance this story has much to recommend it. I absolutely adore this author’s sense of humor and fun. This book can be read as a stand-alone, but to get the full effect of this delightful family, the reader will want to read the first two books also. I recommend this to those who enjoy clean and wholesome historical fiction with a light faith element.

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

BackCover Blurb:

A lively competition draws her into her rival's blueprints--and maybe even his heart.

Olive Kentworth has spent her life hiding her interest in architecture, even though she pores over architectural books and sketches buildings. When she accepts a job on a home expansion, it's only because her cousin Amos agrees to pose as the builder. To further hide her involvement, Olive takes a position as a nanny--not knowing that she'll be working for her idol, Joplin's leading architect, widower Maxfield Scott.

Maxfield is intrigued by his new nanny--she makes his home and his life bearable again. His work, on the other hand, is a disaster. An untrained builder is remodeling a completed project of his. What's worse, Maxfield's current client wants changes to his plans because of that builder's work.

As the architectural one-upmanship heats up, Olive's involvement becomes harder to hide. Will the relationship between her and Maxfield survive, or will they both miss out on building something for their future?
Bethany House Publishers, December 13, 2022
Available in digital ebook, and paperback


Monday, December 12, 2022

BLIND DATE WITH THE HERO by Tara Grace Ericson, Reviewed by Kim

A Christian Search and Rescue Christmas Romance

I really enjoyed Blind Date with the Hero by Tara Grace Ericson. I always love visiting Freedom, Colorado. It's one of those fictional towns that I would love to live in or at least spend the Christmas season there!

This is a sweet Hallmark type story with a best friends to more romance, which is one of my favorite tropes. Jared is such a great character. I loved his job as a K9 Specialist and learning about how they train the dogs to help people. Alexis was a bit salty for me, but I still liked her well enough and felt for her and her struggles with PTSD. I felt like the Secret Santa gift exchange added so much fun to the story and really showed how Jared felt about Alexis.

Blind Date with the Hero was a great way to start off my Christmas reading. If you're looking for a sweet friends to more romance filled with all things Christmas, this is the story for you.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book. The faith thread is light. 4 stars.

BackCover Blurb:
She’s on a series of blind dates, but all she can think about is her Secret Santa…

Alexis would rather skinny dip in a snowbank than make good on the bet she lost. Ten blind dates? As though the holidays weren’t hard enough, now she has to sit at awkward Christmas parties with men who were more likely to be intimidated by her military experience than infatuated. At least her Secret Santa was keeping things interesting.

K9 Specialist Jared Keen couldn’t believe his luck when he got his best friend’s name in the Secret Santa pool. After years of wishing he could tell Alexis how he felt, this is his chance to show her instead. At the same time, he just needs to convince her that their friendship can handle the pressure outside the friendzone, and pray that one of her ridiculous blind dates doesn’t derail his plan.

Return to Freedom, Colorado and enjoy the faith, friendships, and forever-afters of the Heroes of Freedom Ridge in this Christian Christmas romance.

Silver Fountain Press, December 7, 2022

Sunday, December 11, 2022

A DAUGHTER'S COURAGE by Misty Beller, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"The porcelain skin, the refined features - how could he not have realized this was a woman from his very first glance? . . .  And why was she out in this storm?"

Determined to locate an engraver skilled enough to repair her village's historic chalice before anyone discovered the damage she had accidentally inflicted, Charlotte Durand slips away from her family early one dawn and begins the slow trek across neighboring mountains towards Fort Versailles. Unfortunately, the weather does not cooperate and Charlotte finds herself dependent upon a young trapper who happens upon her half-frozen body. Carefully skirting the true reason for her trip, Charlotte unsuccessfully tries to convince Damien Levette to allow her to warm up and continue on, but the stubborn man insists on accompanying her, as a guide of sorts. It seems they both have secrets.
Everything about this series conclusion exudes quality; beautifully paced and finely plotted, the two main characters spend enough time together to discover hidden strengths which neither of them knew they had. Especially Damien. Watching him grow into the life God intended for him to live, while observing Charlotte's joy at finding the sort of man whom she feared would never cross her path . . . well, it all adds up to a really good story. (But wait! We can't leave out Gulliver!!!)

"When He looks at you, He's pleased. And because of that, you are not second best to any other. . . You needn't fear the opinion of anyone else."
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.
3.5 stars

BackCover Blurb:
Her quest to repair what's been broken leads to imminent danger--and soon it's more than her own life on the line.

After accidentally destroying the intricately carved chalice her people have treasured for over a hundred years, Charlotte Durand sets out in search of a skilled artisan who can repair the damage. What she expected to be a two-day trek becomes much more daunting when a treacherous snowstorm sets in.

Searching for solitude and respite from his troubling past, the last thing Damien Levette needs in the middle of a mountain blizzard is to tend to another person, but he can't leave behind the mysterious woman he found half frozen at the edge of a mountain lake.

As they battle both the elements and their distrust of each other, Charlotte and Damien must work together to survive the peril of the mountains--or it could be the downfall of them both.

Bethany House Publishing, November, 2022
Available in digital ebook, hardcover, and audiobook:


Friday, December 9, 2022

WITHIN THESE GILDED HALLS by Abigail Wilson, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

With an air of elegant mystique, this story wraps the known and unknown around and around into a coil of unanswered questions. Where to start, where will it end, or has the entire affair been an old woman's proverbial "wild goose chase" . . . except that Miss Drake's murder was very real indeed.

"'Promise me you'll follow the clues. That you'll find it for me. If you don't . . .' A second of motionless silence ticked away as her eyes slid shut, her final two breaths so terribly long and slow."

Artist Phoebe Ratcliff has just witnessed the breath of life slip away from a beloved mentor. As a guest in the woman's home, she has spent months completing a massive restoration project; the walls of Avonthorpe Hall's glorious ballroom. Deep down Phoebe has to admit that she fled to the once grand estate to renovate more than just a room; she needed a fresh start . . . away from family, away from misjudgments . . . away.

So why does meeting the mysterious Lt. Graham Burke, Miss Drake's nephew, generate such a flurry of mixed emotions? Apparently there's a treasure to be found and Graham has inherited the same clues as Phoebe was given. Will they be partners or competitors; they have nothing but time . . . or do they?

Enjoy the setting, enjoy the characters, enjoy the swirling aroma of romance, enjoy the restoration . . .  within, as well as without. (and like a good game of Clue, enjoy the "who done it", because you going to be mighty surprised).

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


BackCover Blurb:

Hidden treasure and betrayal mingle with unexpected love within the walls of Avonthorpe Hall.

After studying art under Miss Drake, a renowned painter, Phoebe Radcliff is certain she can finally move beyond the childish mistake that’s kept her away from home. She is thrilled when Miss Drake employs her to complete a complicated ballroom renovation.

Everything changes, however, the moment Miss Drake is murdered. With her last breath she imparts the location of a clue to Phoebe. Can the biggest secret of Avonthorpe Hall be true—the rumored treasure real? Phoebe is tasked to finish her work in the ballroom by Miss Drake’s infuriatingly regimented yet all-too-handsome nephew, Lt. Graham Burke. Determined to fulfill the promise she made to her beloved teacher to find the treasure, Phoebe also works to uncover the truth about Miss Drake’s death—and she must do so before Lt. Burke leases the house.

But dark shadows line the gilded halls of Avonthorpe, and soon enough Phoebe realizes she’s not the only person who knows about the clues. What’s worse, she needs Lt. Burke’s help to stay ahead of whoever is hard on her heels. If only she weren’t so attracted to him.

Caught up in a deadly race for answers, Phoebe must find a way to breach the shroud of lies that surrounds every last resident in the house and, more importantly, face a past she’s been running away from for far too long.

Thomas Nelson Publishing, October 4, 2022
Available in digital ebook, paperback, library binding, and audiobook:
Buy WITHIN THESE GILDED WALLS at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House




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