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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!

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Monday Musings…Through the Rivers

through-the-rivers-combo-1

1963, Katherine “Kate” Tate is known for many things: her stunning singing voice, her exquisite taste in fashion, and her striking personality. But when God tells her to pack her bags and go back home, she wants to be only known for her faith in God.

The last thing Kate expects to do upon her return home is to solve a decades old mystery with the help of friends old-enter Reverend Jesse Waters- and new alike. The mystery isn’t supposed to have anything to do with Kate, so then why does every clue seem to lead right back to the doorsteps of the Tate family?

Can Kate do it all? Represent her new faith? Right the wrongs of her past? Fix her family’s problems? And figure out the curse?

Just got it back from my editor and beta readers. Should be out in a few weeks! I’m very, very excited about this book. Kate is so different from any other heroine that I’ve ever written. I can honestly say that most of my heroines have a little bit of me in them…except for Kate. I deliberately wrote her to do exactly the opposite of just about everything I would do. It was fun. She’s fun. And I hope you like her just as much as I do. Because of the delay. Here’s an excerpt:

Chapter 1

 

Fame, like most addictions, is tough to quit. I knew I had to end the cycle, but the desire for glory kept tapping me on the shoulder, asking me if I wanted to dance. And oh, how I wanted to dance.

Behind the faded velvet curtain, I closed my eyes and inhaled the stale, warm scent of nicotine and beer. On stage, the drums began to pound out a steady beat. My blood hummed and my hips began to sway of their own volition.

I loved the adrenaline rush of standing before a packed house and hearing them chant my name as they waited for me to take the stage: “Cor-i-na! Cor-i-na!” I swayed in time to the syllables. Somers’ was always packed on a Saturday night. Tonight was no different.

“Oh, Katie!” my assistant Betty shrieked. She rushed up to me and fluffed up my hair. “I can’t believe this is the last time,” she said in her shrill voice I had come to hold dear. Betty pulled out a spray can, misting a cloud of hair oil over me. “There. Now, you’re ready, Katie.” She giggled. “Oh, I mean Corina.”

Corina was my stage name, my alter ego. She was exciting, worldly and sophisticated. And so very stupid. And this was the last time she would be making an appearance in this life.

I reached out and gripped Betty’s hands, suddenly overcome with doubt. I knew this life, this world of show business. I didn’t know anything about the life that was coming next.

“We’re going to miss you so much,” she gushed. “Me, Bobby, Yvette, Jimmy…”

The bubble popped. I let go of her hands. She had said the magic word: Jimmy. “I’ll miss you too, Betty,” I said softly. I blinked back the tears that clouded my eyes. It had taken me almost an hour to get my makeup just right.

“And here’s Corina,” Bobby sang out from the stage. That was my cue. I walked out slowly, sashaying to the beat of the drums in my skintight red dress. It hugged my curves, and I had many of them. Folks saw me coming. And they saw me going. I made my way to the center of the stage.

“Are we ready to have fun tonight?” I asked, making sure my voice was deep and throaty. “Hit it, boys,” I said to the band and swayed to the familiar intro of Billie Holiday’s “Easy Living.” I looked out into the audience searching for the one person I was singing this song for tonight: Truitt Tate.

Finally I spotted him lounging at the bar in the back of the room, no doubt drinking a Coke. I gave him my brightest smile, winked, and started singing. He would like the song; it had been our mama’s favorite… once upon a time.

—–

“I’m ready,” I said, striding toward the bar with my clutch under my arm. My hair was hidden beneath my scarf due to the summer-in-Chicago humidity. I twirled the sunglasses I didn’t need, seeing as it was dark out.

“Going to miss you, Katie,” Bobby said and dropped my suitcase down at my feet. He shuffled a bit, still hot and sweaty from being the master of ceremonies earlier for the show. I reached out and patted his cheek.

“Take care, dear,” I told him. He pulled me into a hug and then left abruptly. Bobby didn’t like goodbyes. I looked at Truitt. He was still sitting on his stool from earlier in the show. I was pretty sure he hadn’t moved an inch. He looked me up and down before shaking his head. I had exchanged my skintight red dress for a fitted, low-cut white blouse with flowers on it and a bright yellow skirt. I raised my eyebrows at him. If it wasn’t tight, it wasn’t right. Truitt turned, tossed back the rest of what had to be his fifth Coke of the night, and stood up.

“All right. Let’s go then, Katie.”

“Katherine,” my now ex-boss said from behind me. I turned and looked at Jimmy Somers. He was tall, dark, handsome, and a whole mess of trouble.

“James,” I said, trying to keep my voice level. I met his eyes. I wasn’t sneaking out of here. I had nothing to hide.

“That’s it, baby? You’re just going to leave?” His expression was both harsh and pleading.

“She’s not your baby,” Truitt said. He reached forward, grabbing my arm. “And yes, she’s just going to leave.”

Jimmy looked at Truitt, his teeth clenching. Any softness he had previously had on his face was gone. “I don’t know who you think you are, just waltzing in here—”

“I’m her brother and you were her employer and she quit,” Truitt broke in, using that familiar hard-edged voice of his. He was going to explode soon if I didn’t get him out of here. And believe, me there was nothing I wanted more than to see Truitt put a hurting on Jimmy, but Truitt had already done enough for me.

I patted Truitt’s hand, looked up at him, and smiled. He grunted.

“Jimmy. My contract is up. It’s over. And I’m leaving,” I said, meeting his eyes. I was leaving his club, I was leaving Corina, and I was leaving him.

Jimmy’s head went back as though I had physically struck him. “Katherine,” he said softly, in that voice he had used on me so many times. “If you just give me some more time, I’ll marry you. We’ll be together. Just like I promised.”

“That’s enough,” Truitt cut in. “You stay away from my sister. Go home to your wife.” Truitt pulled on my arm. “Let’s go, kid.”

Truitt reached down and picked up my lone suitcase. I had packed up everything else earlier in the week, sending it ahead to Truitt’s house. I had wanted this to go as smoothly as possible. I followed behind Truitt. I didn’t look back.

Coming Soon….

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Mary Connealy’s Long Time Gone

Long Time Gone (The Cimarron Legacy Book #2) by [Connealy, Mary]

The Boden clan thought their problems had ended with the death of a dangerous enemy, but have they truly uncovered the real plot to take their New Mexico ranch? Rancher Justin Boden is now in charge. He is normally an unshakable and rugged man, but with his brother, Cole, shot and in mortal danger, even a tough man faces doubts. And it doesn’t help that Angie DuPree, the assistant to the doctor trying to save Cole, is as distracting a woman as Justin ever laid eyes on.

With her and the doc’s timely skills, Cole looks to be on the mend, and Justin and the rest of the Bodens can turn their attention back to the dangers facing them. It’s clear now that everything that’s occurred is part of a much bigger plot that could date back to a decades-old secret. Can they uncover all the pieces before danger closes in on them, or is the threat to the ranch even bigger than any of the Bodens could imagine?

Review

I enjoyed the first book of this series, so naturally I had to read book two. My thoughts:

What I liked:

The Boden family. The Boden family is fully fleshed out by this point. I know how Justin and Cole and Sadie think and react. Most importantly, I enjoy watching them interact with each other. Connealy does a lovely job of showing how siblings can love and support each other and still want to annoy each other at the same time.

The mystery. I like that the mystery is spanning the entire series. Little bits and pieces get solved in each installment, but you know it’s all leading to something bigger.

Ranching/Cowboying. I’ve never been on a ranch and I’ve never met a cowboy, but Connealy writes about this kind of work effortlessly. It feels real. She never forgets the horses and the cattle and the things that need to be done on the ranch no matter what the Boden family is facing.

Romance. One thing I can absolutely count on in a Connealy novel is the couple working together against an outside force. The couple is never torn a part by miscommunication. There is no contrived drama. All adversity comes from the outside.

Spiritually, characters pray and trust God throughout the novel.

What I didn’t like:

I do think this book was a bit slow in moments. It started off with a bang, but slowed down towards the middle. There just wasn’t any real twist or surprise.

Romantically, I do wish that we could actually see the H/h fall for each other. It’s very insta-love.

Some of the characters are a bit over the top in their reactions, but that’s a personal opinion.

Romantic scale: 7

Overall, a good second book. It’s not super exciting, but it’s not bad either.

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

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Kristi Ann Hunter….Mini-Reviews

Earlier this month (or was it last month) I did a review on Kristi Ann Hunter’s novel An Uncommon Courtship. I mentioned that I wanted to read the rest of the books in the series…so I did! Here are some mini-reviews of the rest of the series:

A Lady of Esteem (Hawthorne House): A Novella by [Hunter, Kristi Ann]

The first book in this series is a novella. I found that I was a fan of both of the characters. I loved the idea of Amelia growing up forgotten amongst her servants and Anthony coming back to London, a reformed rake. What didn’t work for me was that Amelia would be so familiar with her servants. I think if she was raised by them, they would be well-known to her, but I also think, that for her sake, they would have enforced the rules of the regency. Nevertheless, a very good start to the series

A Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House Book #1) by [Hunter, Kristi Ann]

When you start this book, if you’re like me, you’ll think ‘I know where this is going.’ And yet, the book took some surprising twists and turns. I completely fell in love with the family in the Hawthorne House. I love that each sibling is complex and fascinating. They love God and each other. I really enjoyed the romance in this book and didn’t want to put it down. The only thing that didn’t work for me was the insertion of Miranda into Ryland’s mystery. It felt a bit like an overreach. However, I really enjoyed this book, so I continued to the next.

An Elegant Façade (Hawthorne House Book #2) by [Hunter, Kristi Ann]

This was the last book I read. I will admit to being very excited to see how Colin and Georgina got together considering how Georgina feels about non-titled men. However, a portion of this book was a rehashing of the last book…from Georgina’s point of view. I will admit to skimming that section as the plot of the novel didn’t really change. But, once the book stepped into new territory, I found myself completely immersed in the story. There’s nothing like a bad girl becoming good and Colin was such a steadfast hero that I really enjoyed watching him fall for what seems like, a flighty Georgina.

Overall, a really enjoyable series. I cannot wait for the last book in this series!

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Stephanie Morrill’s The Lost Girl of Astor Street

The Lost Girl of Astor Street (Blink) by [Morrill, Stephanie]

When her best friend vanishes without so much as a good-bye, eighteen-year-old Piper Sail takes on the role of amateur sleuth in an attempt to solve the mystery of Lydia’s disappearance. Given that Piper’s tendency has always been to butt heads with high-society’s expectations of her, it’s no surprise that she doesn’t give a second thought to searching for answers to Lydia’s abduction from their privileged neighborhood.

As Piper discovers that those answers might stem from the corruption strangling 1924 Chicago—and quite possibly lead back to the doors of her affluent neighborhood—she must decide how deep she’s willing to dig, how much she should reveal, and if she’s willing to risk her life of privilege for the sake of the truth.

Review

I really enjoyed Stephanie Morrill’s contemporary YA (though I’m still burned about the romance in one series), so I decided to try her historical novel. So glad I did!

What I liked:

History. I loved the historical element of this novel. It’s not at all overwhelming and the addition of mobsters really adds a fun dimension to this story.

Piper. She’s described as kind of wild and out there, but she isn’t. She’s brave. She’s a hard-worker, but she never makes a decision without using some wisdom first. It made Piper a wonderful, relatable heroine.

Romance. I was worried for a second this book would be a romantic quadrangle. That’s right, quadrangle. However, it becomes clear early on which guy Piper is drawn too. I am concerned that if this is a series (and I hope it is!) that Piper will have time to date all of them. But I hope that’s not the case. I hope she sticks with her guy. Speaking of her guy, you know he’s the one for her because he works with her and not against her, though I do still wish we could have learned more about him.

Mystery. It was good. It was sad. But it was good in the sense that it was complicated and it wasn’t obvious who-done-it. It also made sense for Piper to get involved. Her presence did not feel contrived.

Family dynamics. Piper has siblings and a father who is in the process of getting remarried and it adds fascinating layers to who Piper is. I love that her siblings are siblings, they get along, but they fight too. Piper loves and respects her dad, but she’s not thrilled with her possible step-mother…and rightly so. Piper also learns so big family revelations that really forms to create a fascinating family.

Spiritually, Piper goes to church and questions God, but this book is a bit light spiritually. If this is a series (and I hope it is), I could see Piper growing in this aspect.

What I didn’t like:

I liked this book. The only thing that would have strengthened this book would have been to get to know Piper’s love interest more. He is interesting and yet so mysterious.

Romantic scale

7.9

Overall, I could not put this book down and I thought about it days later. Definitely worth reading.

 

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Sarah Sundin’s When Tides Turn

When Tides Turn (Waves of Freedom Book #3) by [Sundin, Sarah]

When fun-loving glamour girl Quintessa Beaumont learns the Navy has established the WAVES program for women, she enlists, determined to throw off her frivolous ways and contribute to the war effort. No-nonsense and hoping to make admiral, Lt. Dan Avery has been using his skills to fight German U-boats. The last thing he wants to see on his radar is a girl like Tess. For her part, Tess works hard to prove her worth in the Anti-Submarine Warfare Unit in Boston–both to her commanding officers and to the man with whom she is smitten. When Dan is assigned to a new escort carrier at the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, he’s torn between his lifelong career goals and his desire to help Tess root out a possible spy on shore. The Germans put up quite a fight, but he wages a deeper battle within his heart. Could Tess be the one for him?

With precision and pizazz, fan favorite Sarah Sundin carries readers through the rough waters of love in a time when every action might have unforeseen world-changing consequences.

Review

Sarah Sundin is one of my auto-buy authors. I love the combination of WWII, romance, and friendship. My thoughts:

What I liked

Quintessa. While she had some flaws, I loved her joie de vivre. She was very excited about life and you could see that on the pages. I loved that she got excited to help others and was just generally a friendly person.

Dan. He’s the complete opposite of Quintessa as he is very focused and driven and doesn’t care too much for being distracted. And yet, he is also a very kind person.

The romance. Opposites attract in this book and quite honestly, the romance was the best part of this novel. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Dan and Quintessa first become friends and then slowly fall in love.

The friendship. This is the third book in the series which means that a lot of friendships have already been established and characters met. It was good to spend time with the previous characters.

Spiritually, Dan and Quinetessa each have spiritual issues that they have to address and I think it’s done really well.

What I didn’t like:

The mystery. Quintessa decides to solve a mystery and honestly, I didn’t know why. It kind of felt like there had to be a mystery and so the author created one. It made the heroine seem foolish and naive. She gets called on it, but still, I failed to be pulled into it.

The war. Whenever Dan was on the ship, I kept thinking hurry up, hurry up and I say this as someone who reads war novels on the regular. Maybe it’s just that it was a ship.

Romantic scale: 8

Overall, a very nice conclusion to a good series!

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

 

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Elizabeth Camden’s To the Farthest Shore

To the Farthest Shores by [Camden, Elizabeth]

It has been six years since army nurse Jenny Bennett’s heart was broken by a dashing naval officer. Now Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher has abruptly reappeared in her life at the Presidio army base but refuses to discuss the inexplicable behavior that destroyed their happiness.

Ryan is in an impossible situation. One of the few men in the world qualified to carry out a daring assignment, he accepted a government mission overseas that caused his reputation to be destroyed and broke the heart of the only woman he ever loved. Honor bound never to reveal where he had been during those six years, he can’t tell Jenny the truth or it will endanger an ongoing mission and put thousands of lives at risk.

Although Ryan thinks he may have finally found a solution, he can’t pull it off on his own. Loyalty to her country compels Jenny to help, but she never could have imagined the intrigue she and Ryan will have to face or the lengths to which they will have to go to succeed.

Review

I like Elizabeth Camden. She somehow manages to write different heroes and heroines every time she writes a book. And not just any kind of heroes and heroines, but incredibly smart heroines and gifted heroes. My thoughts:

What I liked:

The premise. Jenny is jilted by Ryan…but you know he has a good reason as to why. I loved being in Jenny’s head and trying to figure out what was happening.

Jenny. She’s tough and smart and yet vulnerable. Her character was complex and I could see where she was coming from every time she made a decision. I loved Jenny.

Interesting facts. I know that doesn’t sound interesting, but seriously Camden taught me about pearls, opium addiction, sailing, Japanese culture, the war, without ever making me feel like I was being taught.

Suspense. There’s a bit of a mystery here. Two really. Watching both of them unravel kept me invested in the story.

Secondary characters. I adored all of them: Lily, Finn, Simon. They each managed to make the novel rich and come to life.

Spiritually, the novel deals with forgiveness. Forgiving others and forgiving yourself and how ultimately you have to accept the grace of God.

What I didn’t like:

Ryan. I wanted to like Ryan. I usually adore heroes. But. Ryan messed up. A lot. I kid you not, what didn’t this guy do? He should have chased Jenny down. He should have been on his knees begging. He didn’t. Instead it felt like Jenny chased him down.

Romantic scale: 7.5

Overall, a very interesting read. It’s not my favorite of Elizabeth Camden’s but it’s worth reading.

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