Friday, June 14, 2024

HIGHCLIFFE HOUSE by Megan Walker, Reviewed by Kim

 

I have never read a Megan Walker story, so I was unsure of what to expect. However, I’m so glad my friend recommended it! It is basically perfection - the characters, the romance, the humor, the storyline, and the secondary characters -all of it! So good!

I will admit I was not a huge fan of Anna at the very start of this story. Despite my initial dislike, I ended up loving her as much as Graham! I warmed up to her character once we found out the reasons behind her behavior towards Graham and saw her begin to thaw towards him. Speaking of Graham, it took me zero time to love him! He’s pretty amazing! Their romance is exactly what I love to read- believable, sweet, and romantic. Graham’s family and how he took care of them added so much to the story. Tabitha, his little sister, was one of my favorite characters! I really wouldn’t have changed a word in this romantic story!

Highcliffe House by Megan Walker is the perfect Regency read! This is my first Megan Walker book, but it will not be my last!
*I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. This is a clean read. 5 stars!

SEE WINNIE'S REVIEW

BackCover Blurb:

The daughter of a wealthy investor and a handsome young businessman clash in this enemies-to-lovers romance from the author who brought you Lakeshire Park.

1813, Brighton, England

When Anna Lane offered her heart to Alexander Lennox, she did not expect to learn he had secretly promised his suit to another. Hurt and embarrassed, Anna begs her father to take her to the seaside where she can escape the gossip of the ton and recover, but her father insists they remain in London so he can attend to some business. Feeling the sting of rejection again, Anna longs for the day when she can dictate her own future and find a companion who will love her for who she is.

Born into modest circumstances, Graham's hard work and ability to spot a good investment has allowed him to provide for his mother and younger sisters. Now, with a new opportunity in his sights, Graham approaches Mr. Lane, his business partner and mentor, hoping to persuade him to travel to Brighton to close the deal. Graham must act fast or else he might lose his chance to turn his meager earnings into permanent financial stability.

To Graham's relief, Mr. Lane is interested in his proposal, but he counters with one of his own. He has business elsewhere, so Anna--whom he trusts with his business affairs--will accompany Graham to Brighton, and if she gives a good report, he will invest. Both Anna and Graham hesitate. Though they have a passing acquaintance through Anna's father, the two have never truly got along. Anna feels that Graham is only interested in money, while Graham feels that Anna is stubborn and self-absorbed.

The two reluctantly travel to Brighton together, and Anna is determined to find fault with every inch of the seaside town--including Graham. She is tired of feeling like a pawn being moved about by other people's desires. But while staying at Highcliffe House and seeing the kind and gentle way Graham treats his family, Anna wonders if there is more to her rival than she thought.

But it will take more than a day at the beach for these two headstrong hearts to admit that if they set aside their misconceptions about each other and be vulnerable enough to share their true selves, they might have a chance at real love. 

Shadow Mountain Publishing, May 7, 2024
 

 

Thursday, June 13, 2024

LOVE ON A WHIM by Suzanne Woods Fisher, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

(A Heartwarming Contemporary Clean Romance Series Set in Small-Town Cape Cod)
" . . . we passed by a wedding chapel and . . . he asked me to marry him."

That is Brynn Haywood's story and she's sticking to it . . . except panicking the morning after her impromptu wedding to a man she just met, means she retreats to Cape Cod  . . . as a totally hot mess. Organized, sensible, confident, successful civil engineer Brynn admits she might have given in to her heart without using her head, except now she has no idea how to find her 24 hour husband. Her best friend Dawn is ready to hire an attorney and make Brynn's "little problem" go away, but it's not that simple. Love never is.

When a high-end wedding party employs Brynn's friends as back-up caterers, she throws herself headfirst into baking . . . something that she actually loves to do . . . meaning that she is too busy to think about what to do next . . . but "next" is going to happen whether she is ready or not; thank goodness "nothing is impossible with God".

Seriously, I loved this story! These characters are an award worthy showcase of entertaining attributes. Yes, Dawn still thinks she can control everything and everyone, (but her heart is in the right place) Callie is still as cool as a cucumber under pressure, (while being annoyingly fastidious about her food prep) and Marnie is just the best cheerleader, umpire, sage advice giver, and all round peacemaker on the face of the planet. Meanwhile, Brynn is quietly becoming the best version of herself with a little help from her friends. Maybe that meet- the -man, marry- the -man strategy wasn't so bad after all. "Same ingredients. Better outcome." 

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

 SEE PAULA'S REVIEW

BackCover Blurb:
Brynn Haywood's impulsive marriage to a man she'd known less than 24 hours leaves her with deep regret. She flees to Cape Cod, finding refuge with her loyal friend, Dawn Dixon. As Brynn grapples with her emotions, Dawn acts swiftly, eager to help secure a lawyer for her through her mother Marnie's good friend, Lincoln Hayes. However, Lincoln's preoccupation with his daughter's lavish wedding brings unexpected challenges.

The arrival of Lincoln's estranged son, Bear Hayes, stirs the waters further. Alarmed by his father's extravagant generosity toward the Dixon family, Bear ignites friction between Marnie and Lincoln. As the wedding day arrives, Lincoln vanishes--and an unwelcome guest makes a surprise appearance.

Bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher delights with this sweet story of love, family, and the unpredictability of life. 

Revell Publishing, May, 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook: 

 

 

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

BENEATH A CRESCENT SHADOW by A. L. Sowards, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

The Balkan Legends, Book 1:

Beneath a Crescent Shadow is a perfect example of why historical romantic fiction is my favorite genre—I can learn about diverse places and different time periods while enjoying an entertaining story. Set against the backdrop of the Balkans in the late 1300s, a place and era I was quite unfamiliar with, this tale showcases talented author A. L. Sowards’s creative imagination and impeccable historical research. I enjoyed the carefully-crafted, multi-layered characters and the rich historical detail.



When young Konstantin is made a ruler due to his father’s demise in battle, he is unprepared for the role. As a Serb, he is a vassal to the Ottoman sultan, but he and his people long for freedom. To save his lands, a marriage is arranged between him and Suzana, the daughter of a rich merchant. His trouble isn’t over, though, as danger seems to threaten them on every side.

“Sometimes we have no good choices, only ones that lead to different kinds of pain.”

With lots of twists and turns, danger, suspense, and a lovely dose of romance, this novel is a journey of courage, forgiveness, hope, and the healing only God can provide. It is part of a series, The Balkan Legends, but can easily be read alone. There is a prequel called After the Crescent Strike, and there will be more books in the series. I appreciated the glossary and map the author posted at the front of the book. They were a big help in understanding the terms and territory.

*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy from Shadow Mountain. All opinions are my own.
 

BackCover Blurb:

After an arranged marriage, Konstantin and Suzana must find a way to meet the demands of a conquering Ottoman sultan amid a torrent of setbacks and dangers much closer to their Balkan home.

The Balkans, 1373

A devastating battle claimed the lives of Konstantin’s father, uncle, and most of their Serb army, leaving Konstantin to rule as a vassal of the Ottoman sultan, a role he is wholly unprepared for. Between war, famine, and a persistent band of brigands, this young, new ruler is nearly bankrupt. He will need to find a wealthy bride if he is to have any hope of saving his lands and securing his future.

A betrothal to Suzana, the daughter of a prosperous merchant, is soon arranged, and upon meeting her, Konstantin immediately feels hope that their marriage could someday grow into love. Yet from the moment of Konstantin and Suzana’s betrothal, enemies threaten their lives, outlaws prey on their lands, and the terrors of Suzana’s abusive past haunt their fragile new relationship. As this onslaught of threats closes in, the two face challenges that will test their love, their faith, and their hope of saving their people from the heavy weight of Ottoman oppression.

 

Shadow Mountain Publishing, June 2024
Available in digital ebook, hardcover, and audiobook:
 

THE ROADS WE FOLLOW (Fog Harbor #2) by Nicole Deese, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

 

 A FOG HARBOR ROMANCE #2

"This certainly isn't the road less traveled I'd imagined for myself as I hid in my mama's house, writing as a means of escape. Or the road that I thought would keep me anonymous to critics . . . Perhaps the road less traveled wasn't the road meant for me. Perhaps this was always the path I was meant to take. . . A road that led me right here to this very moment."

Raegan Farrow was the youngest of three daughters; not necessarily an uncommon trait except for the fact that her mother happened to be . . . Luella Farrow, a legend in the music business. Raegan's aspirations of becoming a writer had hardly been acknowledged, much less encouraged, leaving her no other option but to quietly go out on a limb and pursue publication under a pen name. Apparently her real name was what the publisher wanted. . . Raegan had hit a dead end.

When Luella arranges a cross-country road trip for herself and three daughters that traversed many of the destinations that she and her once best-friend-music-partner had taken early on in their career, bus driver Micah Davenport brings along his own vibe to the itinerary. For it was his recently deceased mother who had been Luella's best friend, and Micah had a few questions of his own to figure out. What he could never have anticipated was the bond that he and Raegan would develop so quickly. . . or the way that his keen insights into human nature and her kind, compassionate love for her family would transform the roads they followed into the journey of a lifetime . . . for a lifetime. . . if all the Farrow secrets could dawn the break of day.

"Freedom and peace work in tandem. And you won't experience either until you're finally willing to be transparent with yourself and with others."

" . . . the God who is not afraid of the secrets I've kept, or the masks I've hidden behind for years."


Epic! Absorbing! Romantic! Emotional! Cathartic! With its unique characters and diverse settings, this novel delves into the kind of journey that if we haven't already taken, we may need to; "establishing healthy boundaries, of open communication, of keeping short accounts, of setting honest and appropriate expectations, of having hard conversations with the hope of reconciliation". What a testimony to the God who Sees and Knows and Loves!
*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 

 SEE REVIEWS BY WINNIE AND PAULA

 BackCover Blurb:
A cross-country road trip. A secretive box of journals. An unforgettable summer romance.

As the youngest daughter of a country music legend, Raegan Farrow longs to establish an identity away from the spotlight and publish her small-town romances under a pen name. But after her dream is dashed when she won't exploit her mother's fame to further her own career, she hears a rumor from a reliable source regarding a tell-all being written about the Farrow family. Making matters worse, the unknown author has gone to great lengths to remain anonymous until publication.

Raegan chooses to keep the tell-all a secret from her scandal-leery sisters as they embark on a two-week cross-country road trip at their mother's request and makes it her mission to expose the identity of the author behind the unsanctioned biography. But all is complicated when she discovers their hired bus driver, Micah Davenport, has a hidden agenda of his own--one involving both of their mothers and an old box of journals. As they rely on each other to find the answers they seek, the surprising revelations they unearth will lead them down an unexpected road of love and reconciliation.


Bethany House Publishing, April 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:
Buy THE ROADS WE FOLLOW at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House


Tuesday, June 11, 2024

TRUTH BE TOLD by Patricia Raybon, Reviewed by Rebecca and Paula #ReleaseDay

(An Annalee Spain Mystery Book 3)

REBECCA'S REVIEW:

"A lady! She's dead!"

Sure enough, while Cooper Coates' guests are being entertained with food and drink on the lawn of his Five Points mansion, the voice of his daughter Melody heralds the sort of alarm that no one expects to hear at such a swanky event; a lovely young woman's dead body has been discovered in the corner of the potting shed. Who is she, how has she died, and more importantly . . . why is she dead? Annalee Spain, a guest at the party, immediately morphs into detective mode, noticing something that looks remarkably out of place . . . a gorgeous red, streaked with fuchsia, rose bud clasped in the hand of the deceased.

"Somebody lured her, and used her, and stole her life, and tried to pretty it up with a covering of flowers."

As most murder investigations are prone to do, it takes a team of people and a wealth of information to untangle the truth. With the help of the good Lord above, the mighty fine pastor (that Annalee is pretty sure represents her future), a posse of church women who are as loyal and helpful as any detective could ask for, and an energetic teen named Eddie whose eagerness is unmatched . . . Annalee is equipped to sniff out any and every crumb of information that comes her way. What is really going on? Is she way in over her head? (and why won't her garden grow???? . . . there are life lessons in that dirt!) The truth is just begging to be told.

Talk about putting my nose in a book!!! . . . Once acclimating back into the setting and its characters, there was no slowing down around the curves, much less tapping the brakes. With her uncanny ability to pull clues in and out of thin air, the author delights her readers by including them in every aspect of the chase to find a dangerous, elusive killer, who just might be hiding in plain sight, or not! An outstanding historical mystery!

"Because with murder, things get worse before they get better."
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Interviews and Reviews. I also purchased a copy. The opinions stated above are entirely my own. 4.5 stars


PAULA'S REVIEW:
It is no secret that I love historical books and suspense stories, too. This is the perfect blend that satisfies my mystery-loving heart. 

In this well-crafted book, Annalee Spain is savvy and smart but humble and full of faith. This story set, in 1924 Denver, Colorado, is full of the cultural mix of black and white and the clashes and harmony that occurred. I love the quotes by Sherlock Holmes at the beginning of each chapter. I love that Annalee is a Professor of Theology and is well read in literature, too. And I love that she sees her calling as a detective in order to help the ones who have no voice. 

Annalee seeks the will of God and knows He has the answers. Hard things may come her way but she has loyal friends from all walks of life. She treats all people with respect. She has the support of a pretty nice pastor boyfriend, too! This is a fantastic story that takes a look at what life was like in 1924 Denver. Hope there are more stories in this series. * I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale via NetGalley. All opinions are mine alone.* .5 stars and a solid faith thread


Tyndale House Publishing, June 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:
Buy TRUTH BE TOLD at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House

 

Monday, June 10, 2024

STILL THE ONE (Deep Haven Collection #1) by Rachel D. Russell and Susan May Warren, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

"Megan Carter, all grown up, was a knock0ut."

Oblivious to former Army Ranger and childhood best friend Cole Barrett's silent musings, Megan's wedding planner and single mom mind was tracking in a totally different direction. Obviously, because in spite of herself she spouts out, "So you're the one trying to ruin my life". And there you have it . . . an epic conundrum . . . what Cole must sell, Megan needs to survive. Cole never planned on returning to Deep Haven in the first place, but now he has to decide whether or not he intends to stay. Just as you might expect, happily-ever-afters are often accompanied by gigantic hiccups.

"Restore us."


Amazing! With its fluid, instantaneous connections to all of Deep Haven's special memories . . . the people, the places, the sports, the eateries, the weather, the challenges, the triumphs . . . the romance!!!! . . . especially the romance! . . . that readers hold dear, it was hard to believe that a slightly different voice was commandeering the story. The narrative flowed effortlessly with charm, challenge and clever use of first sentences at the beginning of every chapter. What an outstanding first novel in what is guaranteed to be a delightful spin-off series.

"You've got mad skills with the twinkle lights." 

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

SEE NICOLE'S REVIEW

BackCover Blurb:
The last thing he wants to do is return home.

Cole Barrett, former Army Ranger, has a new mission objective. Sell his grandfather’s house and put Deep Haven in his rearview mirror as fast as possible. Deep Haven holds the hurts of physical abuse at the hands of his grandfather, a man now in a memory care facility with dementia. Recently divorced, single, and unattached, Cole just wants a new life as a US Marshal. One where he can forget the past and start new. Unfortunately, there’s a tenant in the garage apartment who’s refusing to move. Even worse? It’s his childhood crush, Megan Carter, and her son.

She’s waited years for her first love to return.

Wedding planner and single mom Megan Carter is no stranger to Deep Haven. To her, it’s the place where she makes dreams come true—at least, everyone else’s. Her big dream is to purchase the Black Spruce Bed & Breakfast to turn it into a premier event venue and, if she can stay booked for enough weddings over winter, she’ll have enough money to buy the inn, move out of Grandpa Barrett’s garage apartment, and finally give her nine-year-old son, Josh, the life he deserves. After using part of her intended down payment to cover his hockey fees, she’s behind on her Black Spruce funds and only has thirty days to come up with four thousand dollars. Still, she’s oh, so close…until her childhood friend-slash-crush, Cole Barrett, returns to Deep Haven. Unfortunately, he’s not back to fulfill a silly childhood promise to marry her, but she never expected him to evict her! The last thing she needs is more expenses. Or for another man to walk into her heart…and break it.

Maybe it’s never too late to finish a love story…

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

Return to Deep Haven with this magical tale about the one who got away…and came back.

Sunrise Publishing, January, 2021

Available in digital ebook, paperback and audiobook:






Saturday, June 8, 2024

WITH EACH TOMORROW by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

(The Jewels of Kalispell Book #2): 

(A Christian Historical Romance Series by Bestselling Authors set in Montana with Mystery and Intrigue)

The reason I like historical fiction is that I always learn something. This time it was the early foundation of Kalispell, Montana and how the railroad helped the town expand and threatened its future when it left. I also learned about the clashes of the conservationists and landowners during the quest to set aside lands for a National Park.

The characters brought the scenes to life, from the not so cute meet of Ellie and Carter to the nefarious plotting of the villains who took matters into their own hands.

The sweet romance moved slowly because Ellie and Carter were struggling personally. Carter was a strong Christian who was attracted to Ellie but was not willing to compromise his beliefs. Ellie wanted to please her father but learned to think for herself and to build on her spiritual heritage to make her faith personal.  

I appreciate the clear gospel message that these authors include in their books. The historical information and suspense elements made it that much more enjoyable.
* A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Bethany House via NetGalley. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are mine alone.*5 stars and a strong faith thread


BackCover Blurb:
Even in the midst of adversity, love and faith can flourish.

As the formation of Glacier National Park takes Eleanor Briggs and her conservationist father on a journey west to advocate for public lands, her heart carries the weight of a painful past. Since the death of her mother, she has spent her life traveling the country with her father and helping him with his work, but now he's considering settling down and writing a book--and she's not sure what that means for her future.

Carter Brunswick faces trials of his own when the Great Northern Railway's departure threatens his family's livelihood and the entire town of Kalispell. In the visiting conservationist's daughter, Ellie, he finds a spirited woman who challenges his convictions in ways he never anticipated, and his own dreams for the future begin to change.

When tensions over the railroad's departure boil over, Ellie and Carter are drawn together on a daring journey that tests the depths of their feelings and their faith in God.

Bethany House Publishing, May, 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook
Buy WITH EACH TOMORROW at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House

 

Friday, June 7, 2024

WALKING ON HIDDEN WINGS by Rachel Scott McDaniel, Reviewed by Rebecca Maney

 

A Novel of the Roaring Twenties


"Love gives, not takes. It never forces another person to sacrifice but sacrifices itself for the other person."

Geneva Ashcroft had experienced very little true love in her life as the daughter of a New York elite, even her practically arranged marriage to a prominent newspaper titan was a calculated effort by her father to control publicity surrounding his upcoming senate campaign. Imagine her surprise when she actually liked Warren Hayes in all the little ways that had the potential to make her upcoming nuptials at least tolerable, hence making her grief nearly unbearable when Warren perished in a private plane crash just months after their wedding. The only thing Geneva has left are cryptic notes from her husband's private investigator, prompting Geneva to "take to the skies" as Stella Starling, the wing-walking barnstormer, following a path from small town to small town, never imagining what she would discover . . . or what it would mean.

An extraordinary story because? . . . all the necessary components . . . fascinating historical backdrop, flawless word flow, magnetic romanticism, a menagerie of secondary characters whose underlying motives were hidden in plain sight, cleverly constructed formatting . . . in fact, it was the brilliant use of "now and then" merging seamlessly into "now" that tipped the scales in the direction of a five star read . . . an outstanding book deserving of abundant attention.
*I purchased a copy and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. 4.5 stars

SEE REVIEWS BY KIM and PAULA, and WINNIE

Back Cover Blurb:
Geneva Ashcroft Hayes's marriage to a newspaper mogul might have been arranged, but the New York socialite is devastated when her husband's plane crashes a few short months after their nuptials. When the authorities suspect murder, Geneva sets out on a wild mission to find his killer--and to prove it wasn't her!

When mysterious notes surface pointing to Geneva's guilt in his death, they only strengthen her resolve. She has little to go on except for a detective friend's cryptic list of locations connected to her dead spouse. When the friend also disappears, she trades her sparkling gowns for coveralls and pilot goggles.

Armed with a new name and career as a wingwalker and barnstormer, she travels from town to town in hopes of unearthing clues and locating her missing friend. But Geneva discovers that her past may not belong to her . . . what she once believed as truth may be nothing more than lies and deception.

Kregel Publications, April, 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, and audiobook:

 





 

Thursday, June 6, 2024

A TASTE FOR CRIME by Ellery Adams and Tina Radcliffe, Reviewed by Kim


(Hope Street Church Mysteries Book 8)

If it has Tina Radcliffe’s name on it, I will read it! She always writes wonderful stories! No matter the genre, her characters are always likable, her storylines always good, her humor is spot on, and her faith thread is always seamlessly woven throughout the story. A Taste for Crime, which is a cozy mystery, is excellent!

I really enjoyed reuniting with Cooper and the gang to solve another mystery. I wish I could be a part of their Bible study group! Cooper and Jon’s relationship, which I love, is moving along nicely. The secondary storylines with Cooper and her family and her work really added to the plot. I love Zoe and the lesson she unknowingly taught Cooper - and myself if I’m being honest. LOL. I loved the faith thread! Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

“We need our Bible nourishment to make it through the week.”

Gosh, this is so true!
A Taste for Crime by Ellery Adams and Tina Radcliffe is part of a series, but it can totally be read as a standalone. I really loved this story and these characters. I hope we get more with this group of sleuths! 
*I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own. The faith thread is light. 5 stars!

BackCover Blurb:

Welcome back to Hope Street Church, where friendships are formed, fresh starts are encouraged, and mysteries are solved . . .

When a scathing review by a prominent food critic threatens to ruin the career of local celebrity chef Anton Parsley, he turns to Cooper and her Bible study group for help. Cooper’s boyfriend was once mentored by the beloved chef, and Cooper will do anything she can to support his struggling restaurant. But before she can figure out how to restore the chef’s good reputation, the food critic is found murdered in his restaurant. Suddenly, Cooper and the gang must go from propping up the chef to tracking down a killer.

It’s well known that the food critic had built a lucrative career with her bombastic reviews, but as Cooper and her friends look into her background, they discover that she may not have been who she appeared to be. Suspecting that secrets from her past will lead them to whoever wanted her dead, the Bible study group cook up a scheme to trap the culprit. The risks are high and may just get them burned, but they’re dead-set on catching the killer before the chef’s career is toast . . .

Includes heavenly recipes from Magnolia Lee’s kitchen!
 
Beyond The Page Publishing, April, 2024

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

SHELTERWOOD by Lisa Wingate, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise #ReleaseDay June 4

A striking story recounting the unjust and criminal actions of powerful people who took advantage of innocent tribal children in Oklahoma in 1909. Using extensive research and shedding light on the efforts of Kate Barnard, a woman on the forefront of politics even before women won the vote, this was a compelling read.

But the heart-wrenching story is the resilience of the orphans who did everything to survive in the untenable conditions of the times. It can be raw in places as the awful truth is conveyed.
The 1990 part of this dual time dealt with widowed Val, a Park Ranger with a seven year old son and how she tries to fit in with her new position and its prejudice against women rangers. It was interesting how the two timelines converged during a complex case.

I am a fan of dual timelines but this one was a bit jarring when it went back and forth between the two. I would still recommend it for the exceptional historical value.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Random House via NetGalley. All opinions are mine alone.* 4 stars and a clean read

BackCover Blurb:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours comes a sweeping novel inspired by the untold history of women pioneers who fought to protect children caught in the storm of land barons hungry for power and oil wealth.

Oklahoma, 1909. Eleven-year-old Olive Augusta Radley knows that her stepfather doesn’t have good intentions toward the two Choctaw girls boarded in their home as wards. When the older girl disappears, Ollie flees to the woods, taking six-year-old Nessa with her. Together they begin a perilous journey to the remote Winding Stair Mountains, the notorious territory of outlaws, treasure hunters, and desperate men. Along the way, Ollie and Nessa form an unlikely band with others like themselves, struggling to stay one step ahead of those who seek to exploit them . . . or worse.

Oklahoma, 1990. Law enforcement ranger Valerie Boren-Odell arrives at newly minted Horsethief Trail National Park seeking a quiet place to balance a career and single parenthood. But no sooner has Valerie reported for duty than she’s faced with local controversy over the park’s opening, a teenage hiker gone missing from one of the trails, and the long-hidden burial site of three children unearthed in a cave. Val’s quest for the truth wins an ally among the neighboring Choctaw Tribal Police but soon collides with old secrets and the tragic and deadly history of the land itself.

In this emotional and enveloping novel, Lisa Wingate traces the story of children abandoned by the law and the battle to see justice done. Amid times of deep conflict over who owns the land and its riches, Ollie and Val traverse the rugged and beautiful terrain, each leaving behind one life in search of another. 

Ballantine Books, June, 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

LEANING ON AIR by Cheryl Bostrom, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise

Wow, what a complicated, worthwhile story. The author gleans from her background in the beautiful countryside of Washington State. The descriptions are awe inspiring. The characters are complex, touching on dealing with autism as an adult and coping with daily life and relationships.
 

Burnaby is an outstanding character with a profound faith in God that his scientific brain explains in a fascinating way. Celia is a tortured soul who struggles to find meaning when tragedy strikes. A favorite character is Hazel, her solid faith and the love she shows to her newfound granddaughter, Celia.

This is a many layered story that deals with friendship, family drama and relationships as well as harrowing episodes told in a realistic way. The details of working with wildlife, farming and vet duties were extremely interesting.
 

I thoroughly enjoyed this excellent book and will definitely check out the debut by this accomplished author.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale via NetGalley. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are mine alone.* 4 stars and an underlying faith thread

BackCover Blurb:

They last spoke as teens . . .

But on a country road twelve years later, a surprise encounter reunites ornithologist Celia Burke with veterinary surgeon Burnaby Hayes, and they plunge into the most unusual romance of her life.

After a decade of marriage, Celia and Burnaby have found a unique and beautiful rhythm. Then tragedy strikes while Celia hunts for the nest of a research hawk near the Snake River. Reeling with grief, she’s certain Burnaby won’t understand her anguish or forgive the choice that initiated it.

She flees to kindness at a remote farm in Washington’s Palouse region, where a wild prairie and an alluring neighbor convince her to begin anew. But when unexplained accidents, cryptic sketches, and a mute little boy make her doubt her decision, only a red-tailed hawk and the endangered lives of those she loves can compel her to examine her past―and reconsider her future.

A soaring tale of wonder, loss, redemption, and restoration from Cheryl Grey Bostrom, the award-winning author of
Sugar Birds.

-A beautifully crafted story set in the Pacific Northwest that brings the setting to life.
-A compelling contemporary novel about love and loss.
-Explores the challenges of a marriage when one partner is on the autism spectrum.
-Includes discussion questions for book clubs
 


Tyndale House, May 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:
Buy LEANING ON AIR at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House

 

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

THE HUDSON COLLECTION by Jocelyn Green, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise #ReleaseDay


The Hudson Collection (On Central Park Book #2): 
(Historical Fiction with Mystery and Romance Set in 1920's New York City)

Magnificent historical set in 1926 New York.

Ms. Green takes us into the inner workings of the American Museum of Natural History. It reminds me of touring behind the walls of the Field Museum in Chicago where my father’s cousin was a curator.

This multi-faceted story taught me about cataloging birds as well as interesting facts about historical salvaging done in the 1920s. Paired with a search for a mysterious valuable illuminated manuscript from the Middle Ages and secret rooms in an abandoned mansion, this book was very hard to put down. It also told of Elsa and her bout with childhood polio and how she coped with the effects as an adult. Luke, architectural salvage dealer, is also dealing with the scars left from The Great War. But they help each other glean valuable spiritual lessons. A takeaway was: it is important to communicate, as Elsa learned to do concerning her experience with polio that left her feeling abandoned and lonely. Also, that we should care about how God sees us rather than people who have no real place in our lives.

Elsa and Luke as well as other characters were easy to engage with. The scenes with Danielle, a young autistic girl, were well depicted, showing the attitudes and ignorance of the condition in that time period. The author cited the interest in eugenics and how that effected the characters. So much valuable information wrapped in an appealing story. I look forward to the next book.
*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 mine alone.* 5 stars and a solid faith thread

BackCover Blurb:
Step into the beguiling world of 1926 New York and discover the power of resilience, friendship, and love from award-winning author Jocelyn Green.

Elsa Reisner's lifelong dream of working as an ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History is fading as the job begins to drain her passion. But fate takes an unexpected turn when she is assigned to catalog the bequest of a recently deceased patron whose Gothic country mansion holds secrets and treasures waiting to be discovered.

As Elsa delves into her task, she forms an unlikely bond with the estate's delightful gardener and her daughter, as well as an architectural salvage dealer who still bears scars from the Great War. Together, they embark on a thrilling treasure hunt for a missing relic intended to safeguard the servants' futures before the estate is sold. At the same time, Elsa's body seems to betray her with new symptoms from a childhood disease that isn't through with her yet.

With the brooding veteran and her handsome colleague joining the search, Elsa must navigate the tangled web of secrets and hidden motives along with the changing state of her health. As her deadline looms ever closer, will she be able to secure a new life for her friends before the estate slips from their grasp?


Bethany House Publishing, June, 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, library binding, and audiobook:
Buy THE HUDSON COLLECTION at Amazon, Christianbook .com, or Baker Book House

 

THE CROWN CONSPIRACY by Connie Mann, Reviewed by Paula and Rebecca #ReleaseDay


(A Speranza Team Novel)

PAULA'S REVIEW:

*Speranza = Hope*
Sophie Williams is on a dangerous search for a missing painting that was gifted to her friend Lise who has also disappeared. What mysteries does the decades old royal portrait hold? Sophie, an expert art forger, embarks on a seemingly wild goose chase from Germany to Italy for answers. She is pursued by an art recovery agent Mac McKenzie and others. Just how many are anxious to find this painting and for what purpose?

Spectacular suspense and excitement are non-stop as Sophie encounters a troupe of women called Speranza, a secret group who champions women in need. More action than a James Bond film and reminiscent of a heist movie, this excellently plotted book has a spiritual lesson included. “I believe in God, even when He is silent.”

This first in a series hints at more adventures for Sophie, Mac and the gang and some room for characters to grow in their faith; I am extremely eager for follow-up books.
*I received an ARC copy from Tyndale Publishing via NetGalley. All opinions are mine alone.* 5 stars and an underlying faith thread.

REBECCA'S REVIEW:
"  . . . and I believe in God even when He is silent.
I believe through any trial there is a way."


"Stay in character. He can't possibly know who you are." Who would have thought that a little tiny thing like shapely calves could plant a seed of doubt into a savvy art investigator's mind? Sophie Williams' transformation into the much older "Frau Bauernstein" for the evening should have been flawless; she had a job to do, the opportunity to do it, and except for "the incredibly handsome blue-eyed, black-haired, tuxedo-clad man" who showed up on the dance floor, her disguise would never had been questioned.

"Had he found Robin Hood?" There was an incredibly elusive art thief roaming the streets of Germany, replacing stolen originals with beautifully painted forgeries and Mac McKenzie had been hired by the most influential man in the country to find one of them. Sensing that following the mysterious woman he had met the night before was key to discovering the valuable painting . . . he did . . . and then again he didn't. She was slippery as an eel and seemed to not only have enemies at every turn, but a host of very competent friends.

Multi-layered and overflowing with interesting characters, this high-stakes game of cat and mouse was as pleasant as it was perplexing. Multiple plot lines raced for priority while the details of each remained completely tangled, yet satisfyingly knotted. Admittedly it was a bit confusing at first to determine which story line would emerge as pivotal or which characters were worth noting, but it took no time at all to become fully invested in the carefully crafted drama that was taking place between the pages of "Speranza" . . . "Hope."

A finely written suspense with the promise of more of the same!
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Interviews and Reviews. The opinions stated above are entirely my own. 4.5 stars
 

BackCover Blurb:
She’s a master at spotting a forgery . . . and knowing how to create one. But can she solve a decades-old mystery?

The media spotlight is the last thing art thief and forger Sophie Williams needs. But when one of three long-missing royal portraits turns up in Germany at her best friend’s art gallery, the spotlight is exactly what she gets. Since the tragic deaths of Princess Johanna of Neuhansberg and her two children forty years ago, the whereabouts of these portraits have been unknown . . . and the timing of their reappearance—just days before a new prince’s coronation—reignites questions surrounding the infamous accident.

Then Sophie’s best friend vanishes, and a rumor about hidden treasure connected to the paintings surfaces, seemingly confirmed by a cryptic message on the back of the first canvas. Convinced that finding the other two portraits will lead to her friend, Sophie begins a twisty investigation that pits her against other ruthless treasure hunters, a handsome investigator who seems to dog her trail at every turn, and a mysterious group that offers help, wearing an emblem identical to one on the painting.

From Germany’s grand castles and soaring cathedrals through the Alps to the canals of Venice, Sophie must choose her allies carefully if she hopes to find the portraits, rescue her best friend—and perhaps save a throne—before time runs out.

A clean, contemporary adventure with a dash of romance
A thrilling cold case mystery
Includes discussion questions for book groups 

Tyndale House Publishing, June, 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:


HIDDEN IN THE NIGHT by Elizabeth Goddard, Reviewed by Paula Shreckhise #ReleaseDay

Hidden in the Night (Missing in Alaska Book #3): 

(Murder Investigation and Missing Person in Romantic Suspense Thriller Set in Picturesque Alaska)

Alaska--a remote and beautiful place and very hard for State Trooper Nolan Long to police. Equally hard for former FBI agent Ivy Elliot to search for a missing girl who has a unique lost manuscript attributed to Jack London. 

Ivy and Nolan met last summer and neither one can forget that short but sweet week.

Full of intrigue, harrowing adventures and appealing romance, this story has sinister overtones and an unexpected mystery lurking in the permafrost. 

I loved seeing characters from previous books. The writing is solid, the plot riveting, and the faith element was skillfully imparted. Another intense offering in a noteworthy series by an excellent author.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell on behalf of the author from the Revell Reads Program and via NetGalley. I was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are mine alone.* 5 stars and a solid faith thread

BackCover Blurb:
At the behest of her ailing mother, former FBI special agent turned rare-book collector Ivy Elliott arrives in Alaska to secure an unpublished Jack London manuscript kept secreted away for decades. But when she arrives, she learns the manuscript is gone--taken by the granddaughter of the woman who possessed it. Ivy sets off in pursuit, not just to save the manuscript but to save the vulnerable girl, who was previously trafficked and has no idea what she's getting herself into.

Joining forces with Alaska State Trooper Nolan Long, Ivy must battle a blizzard, sabotage, and the worst of an Alaskan winter as the search goes on. But every answer they find only raises more questions--and the danger to their lives and to the missing girl may only be the tip of the iceberg.

Don't miss this breathtaking race for truth set amid the glorious--and deadly--Glacier Bay from USA Today bestselling author Elizabeth Goddard.

Revell Publishing, June, 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook:

 

Saturday, May 25, 2024

FLAT DECEPTION by Paige Edwards, Reviewed by Winnie Thomas

With plenty of suspense and romance and a setting in modern-day Scotland, Flat Deception is a captivating tale of horses, racing, deceit, and the triumph of good over evil. Talented author Paige Edwards has filled this book with interesting, multi-layered characters. Lady Sophie Henderson is independent and determined to establish her horse breeding business. Zander Matthews is a fantastic main character and hero who wants to help Sophie and win her heart. It was so delightful to see their relationship grow and change. 

The suspense was well done and kept me guessing to the last. I recommend this book to those who enjoy clean and wholesome contemporary romantic suspense. 
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.4.5 stars

 

BackCover Blurb:
Lady Sophie Henderson has worked tirelessly to establish a breeding stable for racehorses on her family’s Scottish estate. But when her father cuts her funding, she’s desperate to find a way to achieve her life’s ambition. Selling precious heirloom jewels enables Sophie to care for her thoroughbreds, though it’s a temporary solution—and one that does not go unnoticed.

Zander Matthews is painfully aware of the role he played in Sophie’s loss of sponsorship. Now, he’s determined to use his hard-earned wealth to help her achieve her dreams. When Zander shocks Sophie with the offer of a business investment, it seems her aspirations are finally within reach. But the new partners discover that finding success will not be simple. There is a dark side to the posh British racing community, and Sophie and Zander have captured the attention of an enemy whose greed knows no bounds. Even as their partnership develops into something more, their happy ending is just beyond reach. Because in a world where people are willing to do anything to win, it’s impossible to know who to trust.
 
Covenant Communications, May 2024
Available in digital ebook, paperback, and audiobook:
Buy FLAT DECEPTION at Amazon

 

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