Posted in Contemporary

Susan May Warren’s Take A Chance on Me

About

Darek Christiansen is almost a dream bachelor—oldest son in the large Christiansen clan, heir to their historic Evergreen Lake Resort, and doting father. But he’s also wounded and angry since the tragic death of his wife, Felicity. No woman in Deep Haven dares come near.

New assistant county attorney Ivy Madison simply doesn’t know any better when she bids on Darek at the charity auction. Nor does she know that when she crafted a plea bargain three years ago to keep Jensen Atwood out of jail and in Deep Haven fulfilling community service, she was releasing the man responsible for Felicity’s death. All Ivy knows is that the Christiansens feel like the family she’s always longed for. And once she gets past Darek’s tough exterior, she finds a man she could spend the rest of her life with. Which scares her almost as much as Darek learning of her involvement in his wife’s case.

Caught between new love and old grudges, Darek must decide if he can set aside the past for a future with Ivy—a future more and more at risk as an approaching wildfire threatens to wipe out the Christiansen resort and Deep Haven itself.

Review

If I had to describe this novel in one word I would use: Touching. Ms. Warren does a fabulous job of capturing people’s emotions.  Her characters are always rich and vivid and ready to step off the page.  And sometimes that can be a bit of a problem, because just like you can’t really know people, I felt like I couldn’t really know these characters. This novel seems to start right in the middle of things. You have all of this backstory that is so relevant to the present. The first chapter starts off interesting it took me a minute to really get into the novel, but once I got into it I had to finish it. Darek was an interesting hero. He was flawed, but he was real. Ms. Warren has been doing this thing where she kind of writes two love stories in one so the love stories are a bit shorter than I would like. And personally, there are some characters who I just want to know more about than others. I wanted to see more of Darek and to really watch him fall in love with Ivy on the pages. But I felt that it was a bit stunted at time. A lot seemed to happen off screen.  My heart went out to Jensen though. Boy did he have it rough. I would say the best part of Jensen was when he came to a realization that he needed to let go of the past and that God loved him and never stopped loving him.  Claire’s situation, though noteworthy, was one that I felt could have been a bit more developed. I knew who she was, but I still felt like I didn’t know where she came from. Overall, the novel has a lot going on, but you won’t get lost. The novel is engaging and recommended. And I for one, look forward to seeing what happens in the next book!

Update: I was told that this was a confusing review, so to clarify: Ms. Warren is a fabulous author. You won’t be disappointed with her books, and though this is not one to be missed, it was not especially my favorite.

Posted in Contemporary

Mary Jane Hathaway’s Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits

About

Shelby Roswell is a history professor on the fast track to tenure until her new book is crushed in a review by the famous historian, Ransom Fielding. She struggles to regain her momentum only to discover that Fielding has taken a visiting professorship at her college. The place that was once a refuge from the poverty of her past is now a battlefield of Civil War proportions.
Ransom is still struggling with his role in his wife’s accidental death six years ago and was hoping a year at Shelby’s small college would be a respite from the reminders back home. He never bargained for falling in love with the one woman who would give anything to make him leave. Together Shelby and Ransom learn that home is never very far away, and when you least expect it, love arrives.
With a cast of Civil War re-enactors, an evil wedding planner, antebellum mansions, and several mysterious diaries, ‘Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits’ will take you on a touching and hilarious ride through a modern South you haven’t seen before.

Review

So cute! Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books and films (the five hour version thank you very much). And therefore I’m not very fond of modern retellings. To use the same formula generally seems like a lack of creativity. So, yes, I was very hesitant to read this book, but it had so many positive reviews I bit the proverbial bullet. First off, let me say that the Jane Austen’s story was merely a template. I could see traces of Darcy and Elizabeth, but the author was most definitely creative  because had the author changed the title I would not have immediately guessed that this book was influenced by P&P.

Now, Ransom. He was suitably prideful and yet endearing. I will say, that unlike Shelby, I found him to be rather annoying. And yet, he grows on you. Shelby, was such a relatable heroine. I found her actions to make complete sense. I will say that at the end, for once I wanted a heroine to give a hero a bit of a harder time. I will admit that as a Civil War lover, I loved every little Civil War tidbit so I found even the fact that they were history professors to be engaging.  Spiritually, you see Ransom began to open his heart to God and see Shelby’s faith get strengthened. This novel was a joy to read and very romantic. Recommended!

Posted in Uncategorized

Carol Cox’s Trouble in Store

About

Fired from her most recent governess position, Melanie Ross must embrace her last resort: the Arizona mercantile she inherited from her cousin. But Caleb Nelson is positive he inherited the mercantile, and he’s not about to let some obstinate woman with newfangled ideas mess up all he’s worked for. He’s determined to get Melanie married off as soon as possible, and luckily there are plenty of single men in town quite interested in taking her off his hands.
The problem is, Caleb soon realizes he doesn’t want her to marry up with any of them. He’s drawn to Melanie more every day, and he has to admit some of her ideas for the store unexpectedly offer positive results.

But someone doesn’t want the store to succeed, and what used to be just threatening words has escalated into deliberate destruction and lurkers in the night. When a body shows up on the mercantile steps–and the man obviously didn’t die from natural causes–things really get dangerous. Can Melanie and Caleb’s business–and romance–survive the trouble that’s about to come their way?

Review

I found Trouble in Store to be a delightful book to read! Melanie Ross was a terrific, no nonsense kind of heroine who makes reading a book a pleasure.Throughout the novel, I admired her spirit and the way in which she got things done. Caleb was an interesting hero, particularly because he did not necessarily play by the rules. At times he was stodgy and interfering, and yet there was something about him that I just liked. I thought Ms. Cox did a fabulous job with his character. He stayed true to who he was the entire novel. I will say, though, that the romance seemed a bit lacking in the story. I could see it, but it just didn’t come together for me the way it should have. I wouldn’t have changed anything about the book, except to maybe have one more chapter added to it. As far as secondary characters go, Levi was a dear. And that’s surprising because I am not terribly fond of children in novels. The mystery was not intense, but it provided another reason to turn the pages. I also liked that the novel took place in Arizona and that the author provided tidbits that could only arise from that location. Spiritually, you see Melanie and Caleb turn to God in their troubles and their faith arises naturally out of their circumstances. Overall, it was a very good read. 

**I received a copy of this novel from BethanyHouse. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

Posted in Uncategorized

Monday Musings…Cover Love!

Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman, resorting to a mammoth hat pin for protection on her way to and from the school where she teaches. But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast she quickly discovers she is no match for rum-soaked brute strength. 

Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this petite socialite jiu-jitsu, but it seems he has little choice in the matter. Sparks fly every time the two meet until a grudging friendship develops into something deeper. But when Nick suddenly leaves town, Allison realizes he’s a fraud just like all the rest of the men she’s cared for. Does she dare love again?

The lushness of the glorious Gilded Age beautifully showcases Lessman’s passion as a writer in this engaging love story written with humor and heart. From the glamour of San Francisco’s Nob Hill to the seedy gambling dens of the Barbary Coast, Dare to Love Againis a journey to find a love that never fails. Fans will love revisiting the world of the cousins McClare, and new readers will seek more of Julie’s passion-filled novels.

Beowulf—a hulky, brindle-coated bullmastiff—is the only “boy” for Timbrel Hogan. And she has a history to remind her why. But when Timbrel, a handler at A Breed Apart, embarks on a mission to detect WMDs in Afghanistan, she reunites with Tony “Candyman” VanAllen and her no-other-man philosophy is challenged. While tension mounts between Timbrel and Tony, the team comes under fire after Beowulf gets a “hit.” When tragedy threatens Tony’s career and Timbrel’s courage, they must maneuver through an intricate plot and a mission like no other. . . .

Dutiful Jessamine Barry is tired of waiting patiently for a man to decide her future. So even though Lancelot Marfleet, second son of an aristocrat, is taking an interest in her during the London season, she refuses to consider him as a suitor. Instead, she’s ready to take fashionable society by storm–and finds a rakish young man all too willing to help her do it. When things go too far, Jessamine will learn that the man who is faithful through thick and thin is more worthy than the one who speaks pretty words. But will her disgrace keep Lance from reconsidering her as a wife? And when tragedy strikes and Lance becomes his father’s heir and a titled gentleman, will he think she only wants him now because of his title?

Fans old and new will love this lush Regency London story of discovering one’s true self and finding one’s true love.

It is 1704 when Genevieve Gaillain and her sister board a French ship headed for the Louisiana colony as mail-order brides. Both have promised to marry one of the rough-and-tumble Canadian men in this New World in order to escape religious persecution in the Old World. Genevieve knows life won’t be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and family without fear of beheading. But when she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer whose courageous stand for fair treatment of native peoples has made him decidedly unpopular in the young colony, Genevieve realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace. And a secret she harbors could mean the undoing of the colony itself.

Elizabeth Harding arrives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to establish her medical practice thanks to the wooing of her two older sisters who extolled the beauty of the land. She’s certain she’ll have a line of patients eager for her expertise and gentle bedside manner. However, she soon discovers the town and its older doctor may not welcome a new physician. Even more frustrating, the handsome young attorney next door may not be ready for the idea of a woman doctor. For his part, Jason Nordling has nothing against women, but he’s promised himself that the woman he marries will be a full-time mother.

Despite their firm principles, Elizabeth and Jason find that mutual attraction–and disdain from the community–is drawing them ever closer. And when the two find themselves working to save the life and tattered reputation of a local woman, they’ll have to decide how far they’re willing to go to find justice–and true love.

This exciting and adventurous romantic spy novel is the third book in the Culper Ring series from Roseanna M. White. Circle of Spiescombines fascinating cloak-and-dagger secrets with a tale of love and intrigue at the end of the Civil War.

Baltimore, 1865–Marietta Hughes never wanted to be a spy…but espionage is thrust upon her as the War Between the States rolls on. Unbeknownst to her, a Confederate secret society bent on destroying the Union she loves has been meeting in her basement. When she discovers the plots and papers covering her walls, she feels as though she is losing her world.

Shade Osborne, an undercover Pinkerton agent, is determined to do whatever is necessary to help end the conflict between the North and the South. When he infiltrates this secret cell, it isn’t just their inner workings that baffle him–it’s the beautiful woman who seems to be a puppet for the new leader and yet…somehow not an enemy of the Union.

Can he trust her? Will she trust him? Will their shared faith sustain them? And can Mari and Shade stymie the enemy long enough without being discovered to see their beloved country reunited?

 

 

Who is excited? Me! Is there any novel that you are especially looking forward to reading?

Posted in Fantasy/Sci-Fi

Patrick Carr’s The Hero’s Lot

About

When Sarin Valon, the corrupt secondus of the conclave, flees Erinon and the kingdom, Errol Stone believes his troubles have at last ended. But other forces bent on the destruction of the kingdom remain and conspire to accuse Errol and his friends of a conspiracy to usurp the throne.

In a bid to keep the three of them from the axe, Archbenefice Canon sends Martin and Luis to Errol’s home village, Callowford, to discover what makes him so important to the kingdom. But Errol is also accused of consorting with spirits. Convicted, his punishment is a journey to the enemy kingdom of Merakh, where he must find Sarin Valon, and kill him. To enforce their sentence, Errol is placed under a compulsion, and he is driven to accomplish his task or die resisting.

Review

I have been waiting for this book since I put the first one down! And it was well worth the wait. This novel picks up right where the last one ended…and sends Errol on another adventure. Unlike the first novel, however, you get more than Errol’s point of view. Normally, I would have wanted to skim the other person’s point of view, but their story, in my opinion, was equally as fascinating. I found that this novel shed more light on the past, allowing you to get a clearer picture of everything that had happened up until Errol. This novel also had a wee bit more romance than the last one, which I found to be particularly nice. Errol, as usual, was a character that I could empathize with. He learns some crazy things and goes through some dangerous situations and you can’t help but love him. And yet, all of the mysteries were not solved, and in fact, the book ended on such a note that I almost screamed when I finished. Sigh. I must wait some more (but fortunately the wait isn’t too long!). We lose some people along the way and gain some new faces on this adventure and  I am highly interested to see how Mr. Carr will work everything out. Spiritually…well, I kind of don’t want to give it away, but you begin to see Errol develop his own faith in God. Great follow-up! Didn’t suffer from book twoism and highly recommended!

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

Posted in Historical

Tessa Afshar’s Harvest of Gold

About

The scribe Sarah married Darius, and at times she feels as if she has married the Persian aristocracy, too. There is another point she did not count on in her marriage-Sarah has grown to love her husband. Sarah has wealth, property, honor, and power, but her husband’s love still seems unattainable.

Although his mother was an Israelite, Darius remains skeptical that his Jewish wife is the right choice for him, particularly when she conspires with her cousin Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Ordered to assist in the effort, the couple begins a journey to the homeland of his mother’s people. Will the road filled with danger, conflict, and surprising memories, help Darius to see the hand of God at work in his life-and even in his marriage?

A hidden message, treachery, opposition, and a God-given success, will lead to an unlikely bounty.

Review

First off, I LOVED the first book in this series and book two did NOT disappoint. Never have I read a more character driven novel than this one. I didn’t care about anyone else except Sarah and Darius. Nehemiah got a few pages of his own in his point of view, but I’m not going to lie, I quickly flipped those pages because, hey, I’ve read the book of Nehemiah, so I didn’t feel like I missed much. Sarah was still her usual brilliant self, though she does make a mistake that kept me on the edge of my seat. And Darius is hands down one of my favorite male characters ever. In this novel, you begin to see why he is the way he is, as you learn more about his background. Spiritually, we begin to see Darius’ need to know God and Sarah ‘s relationship with God getting deeper. I loved this book and I’ve already reread it twice!

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

Posted in Uncategorized

R.J. Larson’s King

About

Against his wishes and desires, Akabe of Siphra has been chosen by his people to be King. But what does a warrior know of ruling during peacetime? Guided by the Infinite, Akabe seeks to rebuild the Temple in the city of Munra to give the sacred books of Parne a home. But dangerous factions are forming in the background. To gain the land he needs, Akabe must forsake the yearnings of his heart and instead align himself through marriage to the Thaenfall family.

Meanwhile, Kien Lantec and Ela Roeh are drawn still closer together…while becoming pawns in a quest to gain power over the region. As questions of love and faith become tangled with lies and murderous plots, each must seek the Infinite to guide them through an ever more tangled web of intrigue and danger.

Review

Reading this book was bittersweet because it brought resolution, but it was also the last book in I think, a fabulous series. Ela is back and though she is completely obedient to the Infinite, you can see that she still has some trust issues going on. Kien, who is my absolute favorite character, still manages to shine in this novel despite some harsh things he goes through. This novel actually focuses less on Ela and Kien and more on Akabe. Akabe is really interesting, but I did miss Ela and Kien, and at times, I wished for the novel to slow down when they were together. Too often, time passed too quickly for them. That said, I enjoyed the political intrigue, the Infinite showing up and showing out, and watching people develop and change over the series. This series does a fantastic job of showing the importance of obedience to God and the benefits of following Him. So enjoyed it. Highly Recommend the series!

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

Posted in Uncategorized

Monday Musings…Rating Scales

Lately I’ve been thinking about the way that I rate the books I blog. When I first started blogging, I did not set up any kind of rating scale. Initially, I had decided when I started blogging that I would not review a book I did not like….but then I started reviewing books for Netgalley and BethanyHouse and I realized that I may have to blog about a book that didn’t quite strike my fancy. I have spent some time perusing other blogging websites and some have rating scales and others don’t. To be perfectly honest, I do appreciate the rating scale more often than not. What do you think? Should I start a rating system? Or is the review simply enough?