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Catherine Finger’s Anchored by Death

A Dead Body, A Cryptic Clue—Will Jo Oliver Solve the Riddle in Time? Police Chief Jo Oliver needed a little time to herself. But when her escape to Wisconsin turns deadly, she teams up with FBI agent Nick Vitarello, hoping to catch the Bow Tie Killer. Their romantic past and complicated present leads them into uncharted territory as they match wits with a psychopath bent on destroying everything they hold dear.

Review

I’m always up for a romantic suspense novel and so I decided to give a new author a chance! My thoughts:

What I liked

The characters. This is not a super long book, yet the author somehow managed to introduce all of these different characters and flesh them out. By the time I finished the book, even though it wasn’t the first one in the series, I really felt like I had a finger on everyone’s personality. I didn’t get confused and I wasn’t overwhelmed.

Relationship focused. I will admit that I like my romantic suspense to be more relationship focused (doesn’t have to be romantic relationship) than mystery focused and we get that here. A little too much, but it was definitely more my cup of tea.

The romance. Alas this is book three, so I didn’t see the romance develop, but that actually didn’t bother me. I enjoyed watching Jo and her guy together. I will be honest and say that because it was the third book, at times I didn’t get why there was any hesitation on Jo’s part. But Jo and her guy together made the book shine. I really like when couples can respect and work together.

Spiritually, Jo is learning what it means to trust the Holy Spirit and I loved how several times throughout the book, she stops what she is doing and prays and seeks guidance.

What I didn’t like:

The mystery. It’s not so much that I didn’t like it. It’s that Jo seemed less concerned about the mystery and more focused on personal relationships…unless the mystery got in the way. And thus, I as the reader was less focused on the mystery unless it reared it’s head. I was never worried about Jo or concerned it wouldn’t be solved. And then, it was solved rather early on and so I wasn’t focused on who-done-it (though it takes them a minute to catch the guy). It kind of felt like Jo’s job got in the way of the story…

Crime-solving Jo. Again, this is not necessarily something I disliked, but Jo was portrayed as this awesome detective, and yet she continually needed rescuing and technically, she didn’t really solve the mystery. And let’s not address all the men who were in love with her. This might be because I jumped into the middle of the series, but I really wanted to see her get things done so-to-speak.

Romantic scale: 7

Overall, a very cute series. If you like romantic suspense, check this one out!

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

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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.**