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Michelle Griep’ s The Captured Bride

The Captured Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower - book 3 by [Griep, Michelle]

Mercy Lytton, a scout with keen eyesight raised among the Mohawks, and Elias Dubois, a condemned traitor working both sides of the conflict, must join together to get a shipment of gold safely into British hands.
A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

A War-Torn Countryside Is No Place for a Lady
Mercy Lytton is a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause. . .to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not her life that is threatened. It is her heart.  Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he is offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort—but he is the one they stole it from in the first place. It turns out that the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought.   Can love survive divided loyalties in a backcountry wilderness?

Five Reasons You Should Read This Book

  1. Mercy Lytton. I will admit that I struggle with heroines who are self-identified “strong” women. Especially in historical novels. I’m not saying that there weren’t strong women back then, but I think authors often struggle with making them strong for their times vs. strong for our times. Mercy is a woman strong in any time and she’s got the resume to back it. She often made mistakes but she would be the first one to call herself on it and fix it. I enjoyed Mercy. She’s a bit prickly, but she’s smart, sensitive, kind, and fierce without ever feeling like she didn’t fit. She was the kind of heroine a reader could trust.
  2. Elias Dubois. There’s nothing like a really great hero and Elias was a truly fascinating hero. He’s got the mysterious, hidden past without any of the darkness. Usually it’s the heroine who is the “light” in the book. But not so in this one. In spite of his situation, there’s something very lighthearted about Elias that made him a hero that was a bit unique. He is the perfect foil to Mercy. Which leads me to…
  3. The Romance. Due to the nature of how Mercy and Elias meet, there’s not a whole lot of trust on each side. But watching the two of them get to know each other and learn to trust was truly entertaining. Especially since personality-wise they are very different. While I wouldn’t classify this under the banner of “friendship” romance, I would definitely classify it under “partnership” romance. They worked together and where one was weak, the other was strong.
  4. Historical accuracy. Okay, to be fair I can’t say whether this book is historically accurate, but it felt accurate. Everything from the way the characters dressed to the way they spoke or even thought had me convinced the author knew her stuff. I felt completely immersed in the 1760s. Not one thing happened in the book that pulled me out of that era. Also, the book felt incredibly realistic. Half of the time I was on the edge of my seat worried about my characters. Those were some dangerous times and the littlest thing could get you killed.
  5. Spiritually, the novel dealt with the need for salvation and how it can change the course of your life. But the book also referenced how a walk with God is a walk of strength. It may not look like it on the outside, but it is.

Overall, in case you can’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

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Kara Isaac’s Can’t Help Falling

Can't Help Falling by [Isaac, Kara]

A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England.

Emelia Mason has spent her career finding the dirt on the rich and famous. But deep down past this fearless tabloid-reporter façade, there’s a nerdy Narnia-obsessed girl who still can’t resist climbing into wardrobes to check for the magical land on the other side. When a story she writes produces tragic results, she flees to Oxford, England–home to C.S. Lewis–to try and make amends for the damage she has caused.

Peter Carlisle was on his way to become one of Great Britain’s best rowers–until he injured his shoulder and lost his chance at glory. He’s determined to fight his way back to the top even if it means risking permanent disability to do so. It’s the only way he can find his way past failing the one person who never stopped believing in his Olympic dream.

When Peter and Emelia cross paths on her first night in Oxford, the attraction is instant and they find common ground in their shared love of Narnia. But can the lessons from a fantasyland be enough to hold them together when secrets of the real world threaten to tear them apart? Cobblestone streets, an aristocratic estate, and an antique shop with curious a wardrobe bring the world of Narnia to life in Kara Isaac’s inspiring and romantic story about second chances.

Review

A year or so ago, I read the first chapter of another Kara Isaac book, didn’t care for it too much and tossed it to the side. But then, this one was running a sale and I’m a huge British fan and Narnia lover…and it wasn’t fair to judge an author’s collection by a chapter in one book. Thus, I read this one…and was presently surprised. My thoughts:

What I liked

The setting. I love that the novel takes place in Oxford. Even though the main characters are out of school, you still get that university feel and setting with the bonus of it being Oxford.

Narnia. I could totally relate to Emelia climbing in wardrobes and looking for Narnia (at first, the obsession was a bit weird later until it was explained). As a kid, I definitely went to sleep praying I would wake up there. There is something about those books that just connects people.

Peter. He was the star of this book for me. I loved everything about him, even when he got angry and said silly things. He was an ultimate sweetheart. Peter struggled with not liking his brother (he’s very unlikable) very much and yet protecting him at every turn. He struggled with loving rowing and yet coming to the possible conclusion that that part of his life might be over. He was the kind of person who shouldered everyone’s burdens and put himself last. It’s hard not to like a hero like that.

Spiritually, the novel doesn’t go into a lot of detail, but Peter’s faith (and his friends) is very important to him. He’s not willing to compromise for anyone. There is also references to knowing that God is everywhere and in everything.

What I didn’t like

Emelia. And really it’s only because this is a novel based on a secret and it’s a secret she decided needed to be kept. Why? Why? Why? Would that the author had chosen the narrow path and had Emelia confess her sins right away and then she and the other characters could have worked through it. But no. Alas, this book follows the traditional route where secrets are concerned and that meant it was hard to like Emelia when you knew she was keeping things from Peter to save her own skin. She started to come off as flaky and wishy-washy and there were moments I wondered what Peter saw in her. That said, other than this glaring issue, she was a very interesting and moving heroine. I understood where she was coming from, but I did get fed up from time to time.

Romantic scale: 7

Even though this book had a huge flaw IMO, the writing was good. The characters were dynamic, the story original. I’ve already picked up my next Kara Isaac book!

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Shelley Shepard Gray’s Take a Chance

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.

Review

I have been reading Shelley Shepard Gray for years (though not her Amish novels) and so I was super excited to see that she had written a contemporary romance (that was not Amish)! Let’s just say, this book was a bit of a surprise. My thoughts:

What I liked

The characters. I liked Kurt who had so much faith and love for his brother that he would pick up and move for him. Heroes who sacrifice their dreams and desires for others are always a win in my book. Also, Kurt learns to establish male friendships which I think is not something that is necessarily addressed for men past the age of high school. You could begin to see where the series was going with the different men that Kurt knew. I liked Sam, who even though he struggled a bit with the move, recognized and appreciated his brother. I liked Emily who isn’t one to just take stuff. She’s a tough cookie, but in a good way. This was definitely a more character driven novel than plot driven, but the characters were such that you didn’t mind being in their heads. And sometimes it’s nice to read a book about relationship dynamics be it father-son, brother-brother, or teacher-guardian.

The writing. I’ve already alluded to this, but the story, though it’s not complicated, does a lovely job of pulling you in.

The romance. While it wasn’t exactly a forbidden romance, it was a romance that was tinged with possible overtones. You can see Kurt and Emily’s hesitation and reluctance, and that’s what makes it sweeter as they are constantly thrown together. Kurt and Emily worked well together and even though they had their miscommunications and frustrations, those were not the things that drove the book.

What I didn’t like

This is not exactly what I didn’t like, but more like what I didn’t expect. Obviously, I approached Gray’s novel expecting a christian contemporary and while this book was clean and the characters mentioned church…I’m not sure about the christian (at least not mature christians, yes, let’s say that). I’m not knocking the book for this per se, just saying that my expectation was one thing, and what I read was another.

Romantic scale: 8

Overall, I enjoyed this book because Shelley Shepard Gray is a fabulous writer. I’m looking forward to book two.

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