Roseanna M. White’s A Soft Breath of Wind

About

A gift that has branded her for life

Zipporah is thirteen when the Spirit descends upon her, opening her eyes to a world beyond the physical goings-on of the villa outside Rome she has always called home. Within hours, she learns what serving the Lord can cost. Forever scarred after a vicious attack, she knows her call is to use this discernment to protect the Way. She knows she must serve the rest of her life at Tutelos, where the growing Roman church has congregated. She knows her lot is set.

Yet is it so wrong to wish that her master, the kind and handsome young Benjamin Visibullis, will eventually see her as something more than a sister in Christ?

Samuel Asinius, adoptive son of a wealthy Roman, has always called Benjamin brother. When their travels take them to Jerusalem for Passover, the last thing he expects is to cross paths with the woman who sold him into slavery as a child the mother he long ago purged from his heart. His sister, Dara, quickly catches Benjamin s eye, but Samuel suspects there is something dark at work.

When Dara, a fortune-teller seeking the will of a shadowy master determined to undermine the Way, comes into the path of Zipporah, a whirlwind descends upon them all.

Only the soft wind of the Spirit can heal their scars…with a love neither divination nor discernment could foresee.

Review

Anyone who reads my blog ought to guess that Roseanna M. White is a favorite of mine. I’ve read every book she’s written. When I heard that there was a sequel to A Stray Drop of Blood, I was too excited. Here’s why:

What I liked:

Writing is fabulous. When the book downloaded on my kindle, I decided to read the first chapter even though I was reading something else. I didn’t return to something else. I immediately connected to Zipporah, and she easily became one of my favorite heroines.

Zipporah. She’s a trustworthy heroine in a sea of complicated people. To a certain degree she seems perfect, but her own insecurities and certain people’s perceptions of her keep her from falling into that category. I will be honest, a couple of times she reminded me of Hadassah from A Voice in the Wind, though the stories are different (and A Voice in the Wind is one of my favorite stories ever so it was kind of a given I would love her).

The setting. I love Rome and the early church. There’s always this tension when you consider that so many Christians were persecuted at that time and yet, they had such great faith. It’s portrayed so well here.

The love interest. I rooted for him from page one. My romantic-radar went off as soon as I met him, and I voted for him from the start.

The romance. It was slow, but it was sweet. Zipporah and her guy were friends first who really cared for each other and then one day looked up and fell in love. Loved the pacing here!

The drama. It’s not a Roseanna White novel if it doesn’t have any. And boy is there some drama, but I must say, it’s tied up into spiritual things, so it doesn’t feel like it’s tossed in their just to create a soap opera. And it was handled well.

Spiritually, this book taught me a lot of things, but nothing more important than the power of prayer and listening to the Holy Spirit. As soon as I finished the book I just went to praying because sometimes I don’t give it the respect its due.

What I didn’t like:

It’s not so much what I didn’t like, but it’s Rome. And the early church. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. It’s not a light novel, but totally worth reading.

Romantic Scale: 8.9

Overall, I loved it. It’s even better than the first novel I think, and if she wrote anymore about these people I would purchase every book.

Jody Hedlund’s Love Unexpected

About

1859
Presque Isle, Michigan

What Is the Secret That Could Shipwreck Both of Their Lives?

All Emma Chambers ever wanted was a home, but when her steamboat sinks just outside Presque Isle, she’s left destitute and with no place to stay.

An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper arrives in town. He’s just lost his wife and is having a difficult time caring for his child. So a traveling preacher gets the idea that the keeper and Emma might be the answer to each other’s dilemma. After a hasty marriage, she finds herself heading to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger. Nothing in her aimless life, though, has prepared her for parenting a rambunctious toddler, as well as managing a household.

Emma soon suspects Patrick may be hiding something from her, and then she hears a disturbing rumor about the circumstances surrounding his late wife’s death. It seems as if her wish for a home and family of her own could end up leading her once more into turbulent waters.

Review

I always enjoy a Jody Hedlund historical romance. Here’s why:

What I liked:

The writing is so engaging you will read it quickly. I mean before I looked up I was more than halfway done with the book. It starts off with excitement and then leads into a quick marriage and I just wanted to know what happened next.

Patrick. Jody Hedlund can write some good heroes and I just liked me some of him. Patrick has a past, but he has also done everything he can to become a godly man since then. And one thing that I really liked was that when his past comes to face him, he doesn’t get lost in it, but quickly tries to figure out what God would have him to do.

The romance. I will admit that arranged marriages and hasty marriages are something of a favorite of mine to read. But I am particular about them because they can quickly become cheesy or ridiculous. Ms. Hedlund had written a book with one previously (The Doctor’s Lady) and it was probably my least favorite book that she had written, so I was a bit nervous. But don’t be! I found their marriage to come off with some real authenticity as they slowly acknowledge their attraction to each other and began to get to know each other well. My only concern is I felt like since they were married they could have spent more time together, but it all worked out in the end.

The suspense. There was just enough suspense to keep the novel going without taking over.

Spiritually, Patrick learns what grace really means and looks like while Emma comes to trust God.

What I didn’t like:

There is the trope of miscommunication in this book which to me is always strange, particularly when the hero and heroine live in the same house together, but it could have been worse! And yet, I kind of wish it wasn’t there at all.

Romantic scale: 8

Overall, I really enjoyed this romance. It was a light, quick read without all the angst.

**I received a copy from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

Monday Musings…Books That are Hard to Read

The other day I read a book ( a very good book!) but boy was it hard to read. You see, I’m one of those people who likes Happy Ever After endings and minor problems. Not problems that are overwhelming for my protagonists to get through. When that is not the case, I’m usually faced with a dilemma: skip to the ending to see if I can relax, or muddle through it. I hate muddling through it, but if the ending is terrible I may not finish the book. What’s a girl to do?

What’s even worse, in my opinion, is if the author writes a series. An example of this would be Liz Curtis Higgs Thorn in My Heart Series (a very good read, but you’ll be gnashing your teeth the whole time). With series, you know the issue hasn’t been completely dealt with and in order to find out what happened you have to purchase a whole ‘nother book and go at it again.

I’m a firm believer that books should be relaxing, unless I can count on the author to always make me happy in the end. That’s not saying I want a boring book, for there are many out there. I just don’t like certain types of drama. Personally, familial drama where siblings are usually in love with the same person or had relations with the same person or did anything with the same person are a complete turnoff and/or usually make a novel just too hard to read for me. Maybe because I love books where family members have each others back, even if they don’t always get along.

What about you? Like to live on edge and read heart-palpitating books? Or do you prefer things to be toned down a bit? Is there a certain topic in a book that you would prefer to avoid because it will make you nervous? Thoughts….

Feature Friday…Elaine L. Schulte

Years ago, (before Amazon was invented), my mom would take me to the Christian book store almost every weekend, and I always had to leave with something. And that is how I stumbled across Elaine L. Schulte and ended up reading just about every book in the California Pioneer Series. Ms. Schulte is a wonderful author who wrote a lot of historical romance novels. The California Pioneer Series encompasses the stories of one family, some as they travel to California, and others as they learn to live there.

This one is probably my favorite. It’s a little bit Christy by Catherine Marshall and a little bit of a mystery as well.

I very much recommend this series if this time period in history interests you. I have reread several of these books many times! I started the series out of order, but if you read these, you might want to start from the beginning!

Julie Klassen’s The Secret of Pembrooke Park

About 

Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister.

Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll’s house left mid-play…

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem acquainted with the manor’s past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.

This catches Abigail’s attention. Hoping to restore her family’s finances–and her dowry–Abigail looks for this supposed treasure. But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn’t the only one secretly searching the house.

Then Abigail begins receiving anonymous letters, containing clues about the hidden room and startling discoveries about the past.

As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?

Review

I’m always excited to get my hands on a Julie Klassen novel because I know that she knows her time period so well and she write such terrific romances. Well, I wasn’t disappointed with this one! Here’s why:

What I liked:

The eerie gothic feel to this novel. To be considered a gothic (in my book) is to have not only creepy characters and a creepy mystery, but to have a creepy house. Yes to all three. There was someone running around in a cape, villagers who kept secrets, and a house with a story it didn’t want to tell. Loved it!

Abigail. She’s a terrific heroine because she’s smart. She starts off in the book a bit humbled by her circumstances, but it never really keeps her down. She manages to come across as brave instead of stupid and wise instead of frustrating. Abigail has a few insecurities I thought that are almost universal and really made me root for her as a person.

The romance. It was done slowly, but believably for those times, and by the time that Abigail and her guy got together, I had confidence that they were good together, that they loved and respected each other, and that there romance would last.

The secondary characters. They kept me guessing the whole time. Are they lying? Are they telling the truth? Are they who they really say they are?

Spiritually, there’s a beautiful theme of grace and forgiveness and starting over that reverberates throughout the tale.

What I didn’t like:

I enjoyed it all!

Romantic Scale: 8.8

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. It had a great heroine, that lovely gothic feel, a swoony romance, and it managed to stay true to its time.

**I received a copy of this book from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

Monday Musings…Cover Love!

As preparations for the 1893 World’s Fair set Chicago and the nation on fire, Louis Tiffany—heir to the exclusive Fifth Avenue jewelry empire—seizes the opportunity to unveil his state-of-the-art, stained glass, mosaic chapel, the likes of which the world has never seen.

But when Louis’s dream is threatened by a glassworkers’ strike months before the Fair opens, he turns to an unforeseen source for help: the female students at the Art Students League of New York. Eager for adventure, the young women pick up their skirts, move to boarding houses, take up steel cutters, and assume new identities as the “Tiffany Girls.”

Tiffany Girl is the heartwarming story of the impetuous Flossie Jayne, a beautiful, budding artist who is handpicked by Louis to help complete the Tiffany chapel. Though excited to live in a boarding house when most women stayed home, she quickly finds the world is less welcoming than anticipated. From a Casanova male, to an unconventional married couple, and a condescending singing master, she takes on a colorful cast of characters to transform the boarding house into a home while racing to complete the Tiffany chapel and make a name for herself in the art world.

As challenges mount, her ambitions become threatened from an unexpected quarter: her own heart. Who will claim victory? Her dreams or the captivating boarder next door?

It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges–and dangers–await them.

Sarah Sundin takes readers to the tense months before the US entered WWII. Readers will encounter German U-boats and torpedoes, along with the explosive power of true love, in this hopeful and romantic story.

Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.

Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan’s Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the little girl entrusted to her care after her mother’s death. Charlotte promised Lily’s mother she’d keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.

When the teacher he’s after produces documentation that shows she’s the little girl’s legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he’s been led to believe. Is Miss Atherton villain or victim? She acts more like a loving mother than an abductress, and the children in her care clearly adore her. Should Stone break his perfect record?

Then a new danger threatens, and Charlotte is forced to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone becomes determined to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he’s ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte’s heart.

Matthew Tucker survives a grizzly attack by jumping over a cliff into a rushing river. Unexpectedly, Shannon Wilde takes the plunge with him. Going through a series of waterfalls and rapids turns into a bonding experience.

By the time they battle their way back to civilization, Shannon has been thoroughly compromised, and only a wedding will do. A mountain man who loves to wander in the wilderness far from other people finds himself hitched to a young woman with a passel of relatives, a homestead, and a flock of sheep to care for.

As they learn to live with each other, strange things begin to happen on Shannon’s land. Someone evil clearly wants to drive them off, but whoever it is apparently didn’t count on Tucker. Trying to scare Matthew Tucker just makes him mad–and trying to hurt the woman he’s falling in love with sets off something even Matthew never expected.

After her father’s death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren’t supposed to have such roles, so it’s only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper–even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her.

Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He’s been given the post as lighthouse keeper, and the isolation where he can drown in drink and hide from his past is appealing. He’s not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who’s none-too-pleased to be giving up her position. They both quickly realize he’s in no shape to run the lighthouse, but Ryan’s unwilling to let anyone close, ravaged by memories and guilt. Caroline’s drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope…and possibly love?

Johnny Paynter flees Denver to escape being hanged for a murder he didn’t commit. At his brother’s ranch in Texas, where he thought he could take refuge, he finds his brother, Mark—dead. Taking advantage of his strong resemblance to his brother, Johnny assumes Mark’s identity. Soon Johnny discovers that Mark had been corresponding with a widow named Sally in St. Louis, and she’s en route to be a mail-order bride to Mark. Seeing no other option, Johnny makes a fateful decision to go through with the wedding, posing as his brother. But Sally has secrets she’s hiding, too. How will a marriage survive with so much deception?

So much coming out next year. It should be fun!

Melanie Dickerson’s The Princess Spy

About

Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha—one of the few who speaks his language—understands the wild story.

Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin’s message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself “Lord Colin” is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy—not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she’s sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook’s wicked plot.

Review

I’ve really enjoyed Melanie Dickerson’s fairytale re-tellings and I really like how they all generally surround one family. But I think lately there’s been a bit of difference between her last couple of books and the earlier books. To me, it felt like the earlier novels could almost be adult fairytales, but these last few have felt distinctly YA. The characters feel young, the villains a bit Disney, and the way the story unfolds very cutesy. Here’s my thoughts on this one:

What I liked:

Margaretha (for the most part). She was a very unique heroine and her personality was such that it was different than the other girls. At times it was a bit annoying, and yet I liked that it was who she was.

Colin. He felt younger than most of the heroes we’ve come across, but I liked that he was English and there was a nice contrast between him and Margaretha, particularly in the beginning of the book.

The premise. I was very involved and very concerned on behalf of those in Hagenheim. I kept thinking, these are my people who does this evil guy think he is?

Coming across the Duke, Rose, Valten, and Gisella again.

The way the writing is done to make you feel like you’ve stumbled across a fairytale.

Spiritually, the way its emphasized that God loves you the way your are and just how important it is to pray.

What I didn’t like:

Colin comes to Hagenheim because he’s chasing after the villain…by himself. I just wasn’t sure exactly what he thought he was going to accomplish.

At one point Magaretha is on the run, and I felt more anxiety than she did. I mean, the girl kept stopping and all I could think was Hurry! This is when she got frustrating to me as a character.

Romantic scale: 7

Overall, it was a bit too cutesy for me, and I love YA, but this almost could have been middle school. There’s nothing wrong with this per se, it just didn’t meet my expectations.

Paula Vince’s Picking Up the Pieces

About

One terrible decision leads to another and the Parker and Quinlan families find out what it means to be in total despair. In a moment of recklessness, Blake Quinlan does something he never should. The bitter consequences of his impulse will reverberate through the rest of his life unless he learns to deal with his past. Without warning, Claire Parker’s world shatters. One horrific event leads to a choice that she can never forget. She must find a source of strength and forgiveness to help her recover or she will never again be the happy person she once was. Moving forwards there is still hope. A triumphant story about forgiveness, new beginnings and the power of love that cuts straight to the heart.

Review

I really enjoyed the first novel I read by Ms. Vince called Imogen’s Chance. So much so, that I began recommending it prior to even finishing it. Then she sent me this one. I looked it up, saw that it dealt with some serious, (and I do mean serious) issues and was like, I’ll wait a minute before diving in. Don’t wait! Here’s why:

What I liked:

The writing is completely engaging. I sat down to just read a chapter and finished the book that same day. I had to read it all. It almost starts off like a fairytale and then things go wrong for a while, but I would consider the latter half to pick up where the fairytale left off.

The characters. I loved Claire, and I so rarely like my heroines. And more so than Claire, the author made me care about Blake. Somehow the boy touched my heart and let me say this is not the first time that I’ve read a story where someone forgives someone who hurt them to the point where they’re best buddies. But in the other novel I read, I just didn’t believe it. I had serious problems with it. But I believed in Blake, and that really carries the novel. I really enjoyed all the other secondary characters as well (with, maybe, the exception of Claire’s dad).

The serious issues. I like my stories light and fluffy. If I want serious, I turn on the news. But they were handled well here. They were handled with hope and love and you knew God was going to take care of them.

Spiritually, there are a lot of things going on here, to the point where you know the author has spent some time with God. Forgiveness, trusting that God has a better plan for your life, learning to walk in love, recognizing who God is, not limiting God, these are only some of the topics the novel covers.

What I didn’t like:

Nothing that I didn’t expect. There was something that happened that I wish didn’t happen, but that’s part of the story.

Romantic Scale: 8

Overall, very good. Worth reading even if you love light and fluffy. Thoroughly engaging without being dramatic. Read it! You’ll be blessed.

**I received a copy from the author. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

Monday Musings…Books That Are Released This Month

Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha—one of the few who speaks his language—understands the wild story.

Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin’s message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself “Lord Colin” is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy—not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she’s sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook’s wicked plot.

Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister.

Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll’s house left mid-play…

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem acquainted with the manor’s past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.

This catches Abigail’s attention. Hoping to restore her family’s finances–and her dowry–Abigail looks for this supposed treasure. But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn’t the only one secretly searching the house.

Then Abigail begins receiving anonymous letters, containing clues about the hidden room and startling discoveries about the past.

As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks…or very real danger?

Abigail Stuart Thought She was Jeremiah Calhoun’s Widow.
But Jeremiah Calhoun Is Very Handsome, Very Alive, and Very Perplexed.
Most Inconvenient Indeed.

With few options of her own, nurse Abigail Stuart agrees to marry her patient, a gravely wounded soldier calling himself Jeremiah Calhoun. They arrange a quick ceremony before he dies, giving Abigail the rights to his Ozark farm and giving Jeremiah the peace of knowing someone will care for his ailing sister after he’s gone–a practical solution for both of them.

After the war, Abigail fulfills her side of the bargain–until the real Jeremiah Calhoun shows up, injured but definitely alive, and wastes no time in challenging Abigail’s story. Abigail is flummoxed. After months of claiming to be his widow, how can she explain that she’s never seen this Jeremiah Calhoun before? How can she convince him that she isn’t trying to steal his farm? And will she find a way to stay, even though this practical arrangement has turned into a most inconvenient marriage?

1859
Presque Isle, Michigan

What Is the Secret That Could Shipwreck Both of Their Lives?

All Emma Chambers ever wanted was a home, but when her steamboat sinks just outside Presque Isle, she’s left destitute and with no place to stay.An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper arrives in town. He’s just lost his wife and is having a difficult time caring for his child. So a traveling preacher gets the idea that the keeper and Emma might be the answer to each other’s dilemma. After a hasty marriage, she finds herself heading to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger. Nothing in her aimless life, though, has prepared her for parenting a rambunctious toddler, as well as managing a household.

Emma soon suspects Patrick may be hiding something from her, and then she hears a disturbing rumor about the circumstances surrounding his late wife’s death. It seems as if her wish for a home and family of her own could end up leading her once more into turbulent waters.

 What do mermaids, curses, evil warlocks, kingdom rebellions, adventure, and romance have in common? They are all part of Tyndall’s new book! A branch into the fantasy world for this best-selling historical romance author!

Doomed by the evil warlock Forwin to wander the ancient seas as a mermaid for all eternity, Perdita longs for the release death would bring. Every ten years she has a chance to break the curse when she emerges from the sea fully human for one month. The catch? She must find a man willing to die for her. Yet, after three hundred years, her failures have left her heartbroken and alone.

Savion Ryne wants nothing to do with beautiful women. It was one such woman whose betrayal sent him far away to battle Natas’s rebellion. He longs to return to his father’s kingdom in Nevaeh, but he is destined for a mission, but where and to help whom? He doesn’t know. After Savion falls off his ship during a storm, he wakes on the shores of an island with visions of a dark-haired mermaid tending his wounds. Later, when a woman similar in appearance begs for his protection, he is suspicious.

Perdita has never met anyone as honorable as Savion. Even though he shuns her every advance, she falls for him. But as the end of her time on land approaches, she faces the hardest decision of all: save Savion and remain cursed for all eternity or break the curse and watch the man she loves die.

And I’m sure, many others. I’ve already read Julie Klassen’s novel (which was very good!), but I’m really looking forward to Melanie Dickerson’s fairytale retelling and Marylu Tyndall’s fantasy novel. What’s coming out this month that you can’t wait to read?

Katherine Reay’s Lizzy & Jane

About

Sometimes the courage to face your greatestfears comes only when you’ve run out of ways to escape.

At the end of a long night, Elizabeth leans against the industrialoven and takes in her kingdom. Once vibrant and flawless, evenings in thekitchen now feel chaotic and exhausting. She’s lost her culinary magic, andbusiness is slowing down.

When worried investors enlist the talents of a tech-savvycelebrity chef to salvage the restaurant, Elizabeth feels the ground shiftbeneath her feet. Not only has she lost her touch; she’s losing her dream.

And her means of escape.

When her mother died, Elizabeth fled home and the overwhelmingsense of pain and loss. But fifteen years later, with no other escapesavailable, she now returns. Brimming with desperation and dread, Elizabethfinds herself in the unlikeliest of places, by her sister’s side in Seattle asJane undergoes chemotherapy.

As her new life takes the form of care, cookery, and classic literature,Elizabeth is forced to reimagine her future and reevaluate her past. But can aNew York City chef with a painful history settle down with the family she onceabandoned . . . and make peace with the sister who once abandoned her?

Review

I was so impressed with Katherine Reay’s debut last year and I absolutely could not wait to get my hands on this novel. My thoughts:

What I liked:

The food. This book will make you want to eat, so have some food at hand. Elizabeth is a chef. The kind you see on the food network. Everything about her revolves around food. It’s how she connects with people, how she thinks of people, how she helps people. Elizabeth can even remember every food scene in every book she’s ever read. You cannot escape it, and I didn’t want to.

Austen. Anyone who has ever heard of Pride & Prejudice should know that Lizzy & Jane are the main sisters in the novel, and the author knows this as well. There are tons of Austen references (and Hemingway, go figure). And I love that I could catch them.

Lizzy and Jane. They are sisters who are not very close, but get closer over time. And they are so well developed. I felt like I knew what would upset them, what would make them happy, how they would react to different things. No caricatures here.

Spiritually, the novel stresses that God works everything for the good of those who love him. The novel is not heavy on spiritual things, it’s very subtle, but it’s there.

What I didn’t like:

This book took me days to finish. Not because the writing was bad, but because I got to the fifth chapter and realized that it was women’s fiction and not a romance novel. For me, women’s fiction = women trying to get along with each other. I don’t know if its because I have sisters or grew up with tons of female cousins, but women getting along together is not exciting for me. The book is beautifully done and a treat to read, but I wasn’t as involved in the plot.

Romantic Scale: 7

Overall, a very good second novel, but just not what I was expecting.

** I received this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in any way.**