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Connilyn Cossette’s Wings of the Wind

Wings of the Wind (Out From Egypt Book #3) by [Cossette, Connilyn]

Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can’t ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.

Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage–for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape. But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she’s found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core. Can Alanah’s fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she’s come to love?

Review

I’ve been enjoying the Out From Egypt Series…so naturally I had to read the last one in the series. My thoughts:

What I liked:

The premise. Once again Cossette is able to take something from the Bible that was kind of vague and make it real. In this case, she deals with marriage between an Israelite and a captive woman. I thought she showed really well how this would come about as well as the dynamics such a relationship would have on the community.

Tobiah. He’s a sweetheart. I almost immediately connected to him as a character. He has faced some rough times, but he doesn’t let it control him.

Secondary characters. Several characters from the first two books are in this book. It was like catching glimpses of old friends. I found myself still worried about them.

Spiritually, the novel deals with love and forgiveness and what that looks like.

What I didn’t like:

Alanah. She was hard for me to connect to. She was too independent for a woman of her day. I could understand her lack of desire to marry an Israelite. I could not understand her lack of desire to marry and have a home. I’m not saying every woman wants that, but her reasons for not wanting them felt a bit too modern to me.

It did feel like Cossette tried to throw in every event the Israelites experienced. I’m not saying she was wrong Biblically speaking, but it felt like a bit too much.

Also, again the romance didn’t quite work for me. I enjoy watching characters fall in love, but in this series it just kind of happens; it’s less about how the couple gets together and more about the ramifications of their relationship and how that relationship would have worked in that day in age.

Romantic scale: 7

Overall, this wasn’t my favorite in the series. Nevertheless, this is not a series you want to miss out on!

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

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Connilyn Cossette’s Shadow of the Storm

Shadow of the Storm (Out From Egypt Book #2) by [Cossette, Connilyn]

Having escaped Egypt with the other Hebrews during the Exodus, Shira is now living in freedom at the foot of Mt. Sinai, upon which rests the fiery glowing Cloud containing the shekinah glory of God. When the people disobey Yahweh and build a golden idol, the ensuing chaos gives Shira an unexpected opportunity to learn the arts of midwifery. Although her mother wishes for her to continue in the family weaving trade, Shira’s gifts shine brightest when she assists with deliveries. In defiance of her mother, Shira pursues her heart’s calling to become an apprentice midwife.

When a delivery goes horribly wrong, Shira finds herself bound to a man who betrayed her, the caretaker of three young children, and the target of a vengeful woman whose husband was killed by Shira’s people, the Levites. As contention between the Hebrew tribes and the foreigners fans the flames of another dangerous rebellion, Shira will come face-to-face with the heartbreak of her past that she has kept hidden for so long. How can she let go of all that has defined her to accept the love she’s denied herself and embrace who she truly is?

Review

I really enjoyed the first book in this series, and since the second book was about one of my favorite secondary characters I was excited to read it. My thoughts:

What I liked:

One thing that I really like about this series, is that if you’re very familiar with the Bible regarding the Israelites flee from Egypt and time in the desert, you’re very much rewarded. The author has done a fabulous job of having a story that integrates what is happening in the Bible and teaching you about the Israelite culture—all at the same time. I like the lense that we get–through Shira–of what’s happening with the Israelites. You get to see how events not only possibly affected them, but how they lived day by day.

The writing. Honest to goodness, I sat down to read one chapter and pretty much finished the book. Kudos to the author for writing a book that drew me in and kept my attention.

Shira. I really liked her as a character because she’s kind and caring and thoughtful. And there just aren’t that many heroines out there like that. I will say, there were times I wish she had a stronger backbone, but I recognize that that was part of the journey that she was on in this book.

Spiritually, the novel focuses on not allowing fear to hold you back and what love and forgiveness looks like.

What I didn’t like

The romance. It didn’t work for me for several reasons. One, Shira is very cautious of men and has a good reason to be, however, she gets over her cautiousness very quickly with the hero. It’s not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just that it appeared that one second she was afraid of him and the next she really liked him.  I didn’t know why. Secondly, the relationship started off based on misconceptions and lies. This meant that Shira and her hero fell for each other over long extended looks and sighs. That just didn’t work for me. Several times a character was like, ‘let me tell you something’, and then someone would randomly enter the tent, stopping the conversation. This just doesn’t work for me. If most of your problems in a relationship can be solved with one conversation than their is no problem in your relationship, ergo, it drags upon reading. Lastly, the hero was a bit of a loser. I’m sorry, but it’s true. It’s alright to have a past, but it works better for the hero if he steps up and owns it rather than being all sneaky. I kind of didn’t trust him.

Romantic scale: 6.5

Overall, a very good book. I will admit that I’m not a fan of the way the author wields romance in her books, but I love the way she tells a Biblical fiction story. Definitely worth reading.

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Jody Hedlund’s With You Always

With You Always (Orphan Train Book #1) by [Hedlund, Jody]

When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She’s had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children’s Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn’t want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance.

The son of one of New York City’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother’s shadow and is determined to win his father’s challenge. He doesn’t plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.

Review

I’m a fan of Jody Hedlund. I will admit that I haven’t loved every book that she’s written, but I’ve really loved some books she has written. That said, I was hesitant to read this one. Reading the premise, I thought, here’s another book based on lies and misconceptions that’s going to follow the usual formula. But it doesn’t! I so enjoyed in this book. Here’s why:

What I liked:

Elise. I could appreciate her hard-working ethic and her desire to keep her family together. Elise doesn’t start off in the book with the best outlook on God, but it made sense. She wasn’t overly bitter, she was just incredibly frustrated. Life had dealt her some hard cards and things don’t appear to be getting easier. Nevertheless, she’s really easy to like. She’s extremely caring and extremely loving–even to her own detriment at times. But she was a reliable heroine in the sense that you could trust her to fix her mistakes if she made them.

Thornton. He was a sweetheart. He’s clearly placed in a ridiculous position (what kind of parent does that to a child?) and he does his best to get-her-done. I really liked that Thornton isn’t about keeping secrets and lies, in the beginning, it just sort of happens because he never thought to meet someone like Elise. But, I also like that once he sees where things are going, he comes clean. He changes and he grows into a wonderful hero.

The plot. I will admit, I saw orphan train and thought: yawn. But it’s not about a bunch of little kids. This book is about people surviving in a Depression and working hard and making sacrifices and learning that just because people are different doesn’t mean that they are not worthy of an opinion. While it was predictable in parts, it was thoroughly enjoyable.

The romance. Thornton and Elise are obviously attracted to each other from the first, but they still take time (or rather or forced to take time) to become friends. Their relationship is grounded on trust and conversations and facing hard situations together. Loved it.

Spiritually, the themes of the book are learning that God is trustworthy and I would say, taking a leap of faith.

What I didn’t like:

The only thing I didn’t like was the ending. It literally just ends. The only way this works is if book two picks up right where this one finished because otherwise that was a disappointing end.

Romantic scale: 8.7

Overall, read this book! Start this series! You won’t be disappointed.

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

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Connilyn Cossette’s Counted with the Stars

Counted With the Stars (Out From Egypt Book #1) by [Cossette, Connilyn]

A Story of Love, Desperation, and Hope During a Great Biblical Epoch

Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.

To save her older brother and escape the bonds of slavery, Kiya flees with the Hebrews during the Great Exodus. She finds herself utterly dependent on a fearsome God she’s only just beginning to learn about, and in love with a man who despises her people. With everything she’s ever known swept away, will Kiya turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?

Review

I will admit that I am not a huge fan of Biblical fiction. It almost sounds like an oxymoron to me. However, after having read Tessa Afshar (who I love) I decided to give it a second chance with Cossette. So glad I did! My thoughts:

What I loved

History. The author did her research. I learned so much about the Egyptian culture…from the big things like their use of the Nile, to the small things like the way in which they used makeup. The author was able to teach me without stopping to have a paragraph explain why things were the way they were. Also, her focus on the details really made her come across as credible.

Kiya. Kiya experiences a lot. She becomes a slave, has a hard mistress, and experiences all ten of the plagues. I enjoyed being in her head. The author could have written her as a bitter heroine, and while she wasn’t always happy, what came across was grit and tenacity.

Spiritually, Kiya comes to realize that the God of the Hebrews cares for her. That He is not a god who ignores his people.

What I didn’t like:

The romance. I loved the idea of it, the Hebrew and the Egyptian. And it wasn’t bad, but it was definitely the secondary story as Kiya and Eben spent most of the book exchanging long looks instead of really talking and developing a relationship. Mind you, this is my own pet peeve and doesn’t take away from the book. I just enjoy books where the romance has a strong foundation.

Romantic scale: 6.5-7

Overall, so glad I picked up this book and I’m excited to start the next one!

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Becky Wade’s True to You

True to You (A Bradford Sisters Romance Book #1) by [Wade, Becky]

After a devastating heartbreak three years ago, genealogist and historical village owner Nora Bradford has decided that burying her nose in her work and her books is far safer than romance in the here and now.

Unlike Nora, former Navy SEAL and Medal of Honor recipient John Lawson is a modern-day man, usually 100 percent focused on the present. But when he’s diagnosed with an inherited condition, he’s forced to dig into the secrets of his past and his adoption as an infant, enlisting Nora to help him uncover the identity of his birth mother.

The more time they spend together, the more this pair of opposites suspects they just might be a perfect match. However, John’s already dating someone and Nora’s not sure she’s ready to trade her crushes on fictional heroes for the risks of a real relationship. Finding the answers they’re seeking will test the limits of their identity, their faith, and their devotion to one another.

Review

I love Becky Wade books. I really do. Not every Christian romance writer can write contemporary fiction, but Becky Wade can and she does it so well. This book reminded me of all the reasons why I fell in love with her writing. My thoughts:

What I liked:

Nora. There are so many times when I read novels where I love the hero and cannot stand the heroine. Not here. Nora was completely relatable; there was everything from her obsession with a British show, to her relationship with her sisters and family, to her love for her job, to her hopes and fears as a single woman. I liked that she was an older single (late 20s) woman. These women do exist too! I liked that she saw a man who was attractive and really liked him. There were no games played here, which I really appreciate (okay John definitely has a girlfriend at the start of the book, but come on, he wasn’t married yet. I could understand why she still wanted to know him.)She had insecurities, but at the same time they didn’t drive her. She had something in her life (her town and research) that she was passionate about, but it didn’t own her. She wasn’t perfect, but when she made mistakes she fixed them.

John. Come on now, retired Navy Seal? Yes, please. I liked how serious and focused he was. I was able to appreciate his honor and how he treated and cared for those around him. John is facing quite the problem, but he doesn’t let it get him down.

Romance. It was wonderful. Nora is taken with John right away, but him not so much. To see him fall in love with her on the pages was so lovely. They spent time together, they became friends. They argued. They made up. Nothing felt superfluous. Just lovely.

Secondary characters. Nora’s sisters are so interesting. I eagerly await their romance novels!

Spiritually, the novel deals with identity. It doesn’t matter where you came from or what the past looks like, once you become a believer, your identity is in Christ.

What I didn’t like:

Okay, this is not necessarily something I didn’t like. But there is an interesting twist that’s thrown in here…one I should have seen! But somehow managed not to. I’m still not sure what to think about the twist. It was neither good nor bad, I’m just not sure what to think.

Romantic scale: 9.5

Overall, I just loved this book. Loved it!

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

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Irene Hannon’s Sandpiper Cove

Sandpiper Cove: A Hope Harbor Novel by [Hannon, Irene]

Hope Harbor police chief Lexie Graham has plenty on her plate raising her son alone and dealing with a sudden rash of petty theft and vandalism in her coastal Oregon hometown. As a result, she has zero time for extracurricular activities–including romance. Ex-con Adam Stone isn’t looking for love either–but how ironic is it that the first woman to catch his eye is a police chief? Yet wishing for things that can never be is foolish.

Nevertheless, when Lexie enlists Adam’s help to keep a young man from falling into a life of crime, sparks begin to fly. And as they work together, it soon becomes apparent that God may have a different–and better–future planned for them than either could imagine.

Review

There’s something about an Irene Hannon novel that is comforting. She has solid characters, suspense, and a good message. My thoughts:

What I liked:

Characters. I have complained before that Irene Hannon’s characters kinda feel all the same to me. The only difference is that they face different circumstances. However, this book tosses that theory on its head. Instead of the police figure being a male, its a female. And instead of that male being the smart, intelligent, gun-toting person, he’s sweet, quiet and very hesitant. Adam is extremely beta while, dare I say it, Lexis is Alpha. It’s a very strange dynamic, and for the most part I liked it.

Mystery. This novel is not one of Hannon’s traditional mysteries. No one has been murdered here. No one was kidnapped. What we have is vandalism and pranks. And that’s ok. This is more character focused book, than plot driven. Yet, Hannon still makes me want to know who-done-it.

Romance. I loved the combination of an ex-con and a lady cop. It’s why I requested this book in the first place. I thought the author did a lovely job showing the characters falling for each other. They come from such different backgrounds that it was important to show how they were willing to cross them for each other. While I do wish Adam had been not quite so passive, overall I really enjoyed it.

Spiritually, the novel deals with forgiveness and grace and what that really looks like.

What I didn’t like:

Adam Stone. Okay, I liked him. But there were times when he was a bit too beta. I know he was an ex-con and I could understand why he would be mellow, however, I wish the man had taken some pride in something. Lexie had to prop him up a bit too much. Also, I think it would have made him a richer character if we could have learned more about his crime. It was very vague. I get that the author wanted to focus on the now, but I found him so interesting I wanted more.

Romantic scale: 7.5

Overall, a very enjoyable read. Once I started it, I had no desire to finish it and I love the risk the author took, by presenting a very unique couple.

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

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Monday Musings…Cover Love

I haven’t done one of these in a while! Here are some books to look forward to:

A Time to Stand by [Whitlow, Robert]

In a small Georgia town where racial tensions run high and lives are at stake, can one lawyer stand up for justice against the tide of prejudice on every side?

Adisa Johnson, a young African American attorney, is living her dream of practicing law with a prestigious firm in downtown Atlanta. Then a split-second mistake changes the course of her career.

Left with no other options, Adisa returns to her hometown where a few days earlier a white police officer shot an unarmed black teen who is now lying comatose in the hospital.

Adisa is itching to jump into the fight as a special prosecutor, but feels pulled to do what she considers unthinkable—defend the officer.

As the court case unfolds, everyone in the small community must confront their own prejudices. Caught in the middle, Adisa also tries to chart her way along a path complicated by her budding relationship with a charismatic young preacher who leads the local movement demanding the police officer answer for his crime.

This highly relevant and gripping novel challenges us to ask what it means to forgive while seeking justice, to pursue reconciliation while loving others as ourselves.

Blue Ridge Sunrise (A Blue Ridge Romance) by [Hunter, Denise]

Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe–a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?

Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now—five years later.

As life-changing decisions and a history with Cruz hang over Zoe’s head, tensions rise between her and Kyle. Even as she comes to terms with the shifting relationships in her life, Zoe still isn’t sure if she can remain in Copper Creek with her new responsibilities . . . and her first love.

A Name Unknown (Shadows Over England Book #1) by [White, Roseanna M.]

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered.

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

The Austen Escape by [Reay, Katherine]

After years of following her best friend’s lead, Mary Davies finds a whimsical trip back to Austen’s Regency England paves the way towards a new future.

Mary Davies lives and works in Austin, Texas, as an industrial engineer. She has an orderly and productive life, a job and colleagues that she enjoys—particularly a certain adorable, intelligent, and hilarious consultant. But something is missing for Mary. When her estranged and emotionally fragile childhood friend Isabel Dwyer offers Mary a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in Bath, Mary reluctantly agrees to come along, in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways. But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes that she lives in Regency England. Mary becomes dependent on a household of strangers to take care of Isabel until she wakes up.

With Mary in charge and surrounded by new friends, Isabel rests and enjoys the leisure of a Regency lady. But life gets even more complicated when Mary makes the discovery that her life and Isabel’s have intersected in more ways that she knew, and she finds herself caught between who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who stands between them. Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this triangle works out their lives and hearts among a company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.

These Healing Hills by [Gabhart, Ann H.]

Francine Howard has her life all mapped out until the soldier she planned to marry at WWII’s end writes to tell her he’s in love with a woman in England. Devastated, Francine seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Service.

Deeply affected by the horrors he witnessed at war, Ben Locke has never thought further ahead than making it home to Kentucky. His future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he’s at a loss when it comes to envisioning what’s next for his life.

When Francine’s and Ben’s paths intersect, it’s immediately clear that they are from different worlds and value different things. But love has a way of healing old wounds . . . and revealing tantalizing new possibilities.

There’s a lot to look forward to and this is only scratching the service!