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Kathryn Springer’s The Hearts We Mend

The Hearts We Mend (A Banister Falls Novel) by [Springer, Kathryn]

Planning and Post-It notes are the epitome of Evie’s life. But when she meets Jack, her life gets more than a little complicated.

Thirteen years ago, Evie’s firefighterhusband was killed in the line of duty, leaving her to raise their young son, Cody, alone. Now, Cody is marrying the love of his life, and as he packs up his belongings, the house feels as empty as Evie’s heart. But for all her planning and mad organizational skills, Evie could never have anticipated the dramatic shift her life is about to make.

Tattooed, rough-around-the-edges Jack raises quite a few eyebrows in the tight-knit community of Banister Falls. Where Evie’s life is stream-lined, Jack’s approach to living is moment-by-moment. But as Evie gets drawn into Jack’s world—a world that isn’t as safe or predictable as the one she’s worked so hard to create—he challenges her to open her eyes to the problems outside the walls of the church.

Jack doesn’t make Evie feel comfortable, but he definitely makes her feel something. Something she hasn’t felt since Max passed away—or, maybe ever. Because even though Jack isn’t anything like her late husband, he just might be everything she needs.

Review

I randomly stumbled across this book, bought it (cause it was a deal!), read it, and was pleasantly surprised. I will admit that I was a bit hesitant at the age of the heroine since her son is getting married in the novel, but I was won over with the description of Jack. I’m a huge fan of the unusual hero. My thoughts:

What I liked:

Evie. I don’t usually like heroines, but I liked her. I understood her. She’s a planner who is learning how to deal with some big surprises…the main one being that her 18 year old is getting married and going to be a father. On the outside she looks like she has everything together but on the inside life doesn’t feel so great. Watching Evie walk through this season in her life was a joy. She’s kind and compassionate, and even though she may not understand, she tries.

Jack. I love me a good hero and Jack delivers. He’s a man with a past who is doing his best to live right and lead his family to Jesus. In some ways, he’s kind of all over the place, but you still manage to get that sense that he’s someone you can count on. The author does a lovely job of introducing him and making me root for him right away.

The romance. I feel like it’s been so long since I’ve just really enjoyed a Christian contemporary romance novel, but I really liked this one. Evie and Jack are so different and so it’s easy to see why there was hesitation on both sides, but what I loved was that when there was conflict or confusion, they confronted it. They learned who the other was and then worked together.

Spiritually, characters pray and learn to rely on God even when things don’t turn out the way that they think they should.  Also, there’s a lovely theme on showing what love in action really looks like.

What I didn’t like:

I think I pretty much loved this whole book. It was weird that Evie’s kid was 18 and married but Evie thought it was weird too.

Romantic scale: 8.9

I can’t think of the last time that I’ve enjoyed a contemporary Christian novel as much as I enjoyed this one. I didn’t want to put it down!

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Tessa Afshar’s Thief of Corinth

Thief of Corinth by [Afshar, Tessa]

First-century Corinth is a city teeming with commerce and charm. It’s also filled with danger and corruption—the perfect setting for Ariadne’s greatest adventure.

After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father’s home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage: though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city’s corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.

Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father’s apprentice. As her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits, Ariadne discovers that she secretly revels in playing with fire. But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future—and very lives—hanging in the balance.

When they befriend a Jewish rabbi named Paul, they realize that his radical message challenges everything they’ve fought to build, yet offers something neither dared hope for.

Be transported back in time by this gripping tale of adventure, bravery, and redemption, and discover why Debbie Macomber says, “No one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”

Review

I always read Tessa Afshar’s books when they come out and I was very excited about this one. My thoughts:

What I liked

History. Tessa Afshar really is able to bring alive cultures and worlds that I’ve read about in the Bible in such a way as to make them real. I think it’s easy to forget that these were real people with real lives and it’s so fascinating to see it come alive on the pages. I always learn so much.

Secondary characters. Theo, Justus, Dionysius, the Claudias, the rest of Ariadne’s family…all of them are very unique and present a different look into the times and place in which they lived. Not to mention the hero in this story. Afshar writes great heroes! Though this book isn’t necessarily romance focused, it has a very sweet romance that envelopes slowly on the pages.

Spiritually, I thought the way the author incorporated a faith in Jesus really worked seamlessly with the narrative. I particularly liked how the book doesn’t just end with salvation…the characters must learn to walk and live it out!

What I didn’t like

For me, it felt like I kept waiting for this book to get started. So much of it in the beginning is the laying out of what’s happened and watching Ariadne grow up. I think because the book is titled the Thief of Corinth, I read the book waiting for specific events to happen and actually didn’t get them until much later. For this reason, it felt very slow in the beginning.

Also, strangely enough, I did not connect to Ariadne. I think due to some of the author’s detailed explaining, a distance was created there.

Lastly, my favorite character kept getting the short end of the stick in the book. The author tried to put a positive spin on it, but I just wanted him to really win for once.

Romantic scale: 7

Overall, a good book, though not my favorite from the author.

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

 

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Reviews in the Queue

Here are a few books I’ve picked up and will be reviewing soon:

Thief of Corinth by [Afshar, Tessa]

First-century Corinth is a city teeming with commerce and charm. It’s also filled with danger and corruption—the perfect setting for Ariadne’s greatest adventure.

After years spent living with her mother and oppressive grandfather in Athens, Ariadne runs away to her father’s home in Corinth, only to discover the perilous secret that destroyed his marriage: though a Greek of high birth, Galenos is the infamous thief who has been robbing the city’s corrupt of their ill-gotten gains.

Desperate to keep him safe, Ariadne risks her good name, her freedom, and the love of the man she adores to become her father’s apprentice. As her unusual athletic ability leads her into dangerous exploits, Ariadne discovers that she secretly revels in playing with fire. But when the wrong person discovers their secret, Ariadne and her father find their future—and very lives—hanging in the balance.

When they befriend a Jewish rabbi named Paul, they realize that his radical message challenges everything they’ve fought to build, yet offers something neither dared hope for.

Be transported back in time by this gripping tale of adventure, bravery, and redemption, and discover why Debbie Macomber says, “No one brings the Bible to life like Tessa Afshar.”

Take a Chance (The Bridgeport Social Club Series) by [Shelley Shepard Gray]

Kurt Holland wants the best for his younger brother, which is why he moves Sam to Bridgeport, Ohio. It’s a bigger town with a well-known high school. Just the place to give his little brother more opportunities—maybe even a scholarship to college. Kurt hopes his gamble pays off, since Sam’s future isn’t the only thing riding on it. Kurt’s put most of his savings into a new landscaping business there, too. But when Sam gets in trouble for fighting at school, Kurt isn’t so sure it was the right decision … until he meets Sam’s English teacher.

Emily Springer is passionate about helping all of her students succeed, but there’s something about Sam Holland that makes her want to go the extra mile. When he’s caught in a fight at school, she goes to bat in his defense, and during a conference with the principal she meets Sam’s rugged older brother—and guardian. Emily has a strict no-dating policy when it comes to her students’ parents, but Kurt isn’t technically Sam’s parent. It’s OK to bend the rules a little bit, right?

In an effort to make some friends and find a place in the Bridgeport community, Kurt starts up a weekly poker game in his garage. It’s not long before everyone wants in, and they all soon discover that these Friday night poker gatherings are about more than just the game.

Shelley Shepard Gray’s new Bridgeport Social Club series is about men who need a place to call home, a community in need of hope, and a group of women who are special enough to help both things happen. This first installment is genuine and heartfelt. It’s filled with hope, warmth, and the belief that love and acceptance can overcome any tough situation.

 

An Hour Unspent (Shadows Over England Book #3) by [White, Roseanna M.]

Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.

Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence, but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.

As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military edge–and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina’s father soon finds his whole family in danger–and it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape.

Which one are you excited about?