Posted in Historical, Uncategorized

Elizabeth Camden’s With Every Breath

About

In the shadow of the nation’s capital, Kate Livingston’s respectable life as a government worker is disrupted by an encounter with the insufferable Trevor McDonough, the one man she’d hoped never to see again. A Harvard-trained physician, Trevor never showed the tiniest flicker of interest in Kate, and business is the only reason he has sought her out now.

Despite her misgivings, Kate agrees to Trevor’s risky proposal to join him in his work to find a cure for tuberculosis. As Kate begins to unlock the mysteries of Trevor’s past, his hidden depths fascinate her. However, a shadowy enemy lies in wait and Trevor’s closely guarded secrets are darker than she ever suspected.

As revelations from the past threaten to destroy their careers, their dreams, and even their lives, Trevor and Kate find themselves in a painfully impossible situation. With everything to lose, they must find the strength to trust that hope and love can prevail over all.

Review

In my opinion, Elizabeth Camden writes some of the best heroes. Somehow her men manage to be unique and different and stay true to themselves no matter what happens. It’s no different with this book, except that this time, the heroine is a complete match.

What I liked:

The heroine!. So rarely do I like heroines. The men always seem like perfection and they are matched very often with whiny women with no backbone. Not here! In this book, all I kept thinking is what would Trevor do without Kate? She was wonderful. She was lighthearted where he was serious. She was thoughtful where he was too focused. And she was equally as brilliant as he was.

The hero. Again, Ms. Camden writes the best leading men and Trevor is no different. He’s brilliant, he’s unfriendly, he doesn’t understand people. He has secrets (which are the most incredible things). And he recognizes and knows the call God has on his life and will not put anything else above it. But most of all, he doesn’t change even as he falls in love with Kate (sometimes unfriendly heroes turn into saps as they fall in love).

The set up. I loved that Kate and Trevor are so smart and have this history of not liking each other, and yet when they start working together it’s magic. You, the reader, believe great things will come out of their fight for a cure. And oh, how the study of Tuberculosis will tug on your heart.

The romance. Because Kate and Trevor have this past, the romance is slow to develop, but in a good way. Their friendship with each other is beautifully established. I loved their conversations. Their back and forth made me laugh several times. Also, I didn’t feel like the author contrived a reason for keeping them a part. Rarely, and I do mean rarely, do I come across reasons that make sense for a couple not getting together, but there was a good reason here.

They mystery. It’s kind of creepy and totally captures my attention.

Spiritually, there is the theme of not allowing fear to dictate your future.

What I didn’t like:

I loved everything about this book. Some people might think the pacing is slow. Not me.

Overall, loved it.

Romantic Scale: 9

**I received this book from BethanyHouse. My opinion was not affected in any way.**

Posted in Historical

Nancy Kimball’s Chasing the Lion

About

From the blood-soaked sand of the Roman arena, a divine destiny will rise.
For as long as Jonathan Tarquinius can remember, everyone has wanted something from him. His half brother wants him dead. His master’s wife wants his innocence. The gladiator dealers want him to fight—and die—for their greed. Rome’s most famous prostitute wants his love. And the gentle slave girl who tends the wounds on his body and the hidden ones on his soul longs for him to return to his faith.

What Jonathan wants is simple. Freedom. But God wants something from Jonathan too—something more than anyone would ever imagine. The young warrior’s journey will push him to the limits of human endurance and teach him that true freedom is found within. The greatest battle Jonathan must ever fight will not come in the arena, but deep within himself as he is forced to choose between vengeance and mercy—with the fate of an empire and the life of the woman he loves hanging in the balance.

Review

I randomly stumbled across this book while actually looking for another book. I noticed that it was about the Romans and after read having Francine Rivers’ A Voice in the Wind, which made me fall in love with Roman-era novels, I decided to read this one. Initially, I found it to be a bit slow, then I noticed that it had shades of the Biblical story of Joseph and I thought it would be predictable, then I reached about 20% on my kindle. Then I fell in love with this book. Here’s why:

What I liked:

The realistic portrayals of Rome. Let’s face it, Rome was about as debaucherous as you could get and authors can either pretend that that stuff didn’t happen or they can tell it like it is. Well, Ms. Kimball tells it like it is. Boy does Jonathan (and some secondary characters) ever go through some things. She didn’t revel in it, but I’m glad she acknowledged that it was there.

Gladiators. Ever since the film Gladiator, I kinda sorta am interested in them and we get a lot of Gladiatorial happenings in this book.

The romance. It had this slow burn to it that was done fabulously. You could see Nessa and Jonathan falling in love with each other. And the sacrifices that he made on her behalf….

It was sweeping. This is not just one story, not just a year in someone’s life. It spreads across more then 10 years and Jonathan manages to affect everyone he comes into contact with.

Spiritually, the theme is forgiveness. Jonathan has a lot of people who treated him wrongly, and yet we are required to forgive. It’s beautifully portrayed throughout the whole novel. There is also another theme on not turning back on God when your prayers don’t get answered the way you want them to.  Good stuff.

What I didn’t like:

Again, it took a minute for me to become invested, but once I did, I couldn’t put this book down.

Romantic Scale:9

Overall, loved it!.

Posted in Historical

Beth White’s The Pelican Bride

About

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.

Gulf Coast native Beth White brings vividly to life the hot, sultry south in this luscious, layered story of the lengths we must go to in order to be true to ourselves, our faith, and our deepest loves

Review

I happen to enjoy Beth White’s novels and though I usually read her contemporary novels, I may or may not have been influenced by the cover of this book and read it. Here’s what I thought:

What I liked:

The history. My knowledge of American history pre-1776 is a bit fuzzy so I found it fascinating to learn about these Pelican Brides and their arrival to America, as well as the American Indians that had to deal with all of these foreigners I learned a lot and yet the history just flowed naturally throughout the book.

The premise. I kind of like the “mail-order” bride story.

Tristan. He’s a complex man, but one the reader trusts intrinsically, no doubt because he is a survivor. I liked his back story, and the way that he interacted with Genevieve.

Genevieve. She’s a strong heroine, but she’s not a stupid one. I like that she realizes that she has to survive and play by the rules of this town, and yet she doesn’t have to just go with the flow. I think that she’s a great match to Tristan.

Spiritually, the novel deals with the persecution of the French Protestants and how brave they are to read the Bible and trust God when it could very well be a death sentence. It just brought out the seriousness of our faith that we sometimes forget.

What I didn’t like:

It seems to be fairly common to make siblings of the heroine total meanies. I mean, if I was an only child who read books like these, I would be thanking God. Fortunately, I have two awesome sisters who would never treat me the way Genevieve’s sister treated her. It just kind of bothered me that her sister was so consumed with herself.

The romance happened a bit fast mostly because Tristan and Genevieve spent a lot of time a part from each other. I saw that this book was a series, and initially, I thought that meant that we would see Genevieve and Tristan really get to know each other over the space of the series, but I’m fairly certain that this is their book.

Overall, a very good read and written so well that I got lost in the pages.

Romantic Scale: 7.4

 

 

Posted in Historical

Tracey Groot’s The Sentinels of Andersonville

About
Near the end of the Civil War, inhumane conditions at Andersonville Prison caused the deaths of 13,000 Union soldiers in only one year. In this gripping and affecting novel, three young Confederates and an entire town come face-to-face with the prison’s atrocities and will learn the cost of compassion, when withheld and when given.

Sentry Dance Pickett has watched, helpless, for months as conditions in the camp worsen by the day. He knows any mercy will be seen as treason. Southern belle Violet Stiles cannot believe the good folk of Americus would knowingly condone such barbarism, despite the losses they’ve suffered. When her goodwill campaign stirs up accusations of Union sympathies and endangers her family, however, she realizes she must tread carefully. Confederate corporal Emery Jones didn’t expect to find camaraderie with the Union prisoner he escorted to Andersonville. But the soldier’s wit and integrity strike a chord in Emery. How could this man be an enemy? Emery vows that their unlikely friendship will survive the war—little knowing what that promise will cost him.

As these three young Rebels cross paths, Emery leads Dance and Violet to a daring act that could hang them for treason. Wrestling with God’s harsh truth, they must decide, once and for all, Who is my neighbor?

Review

Let me start of by saying that I love all things Civil War. I’ve been to battle sites, I’ve toured plantation homes, I watch every new documentary on the history/military channel, I read all kinds of books on it, etc. So naturally when I heard about this book I had to read it. And it was so worth it! I’ve read a lot of Civil War novels, but only a few to me, really do the era any justice and this is one of them. Was this novel completely, historically accurate? No. Did the author take a few liberties? Yes. Did that bother me? Not at all. She managed to shine a light on a place that most people don’t even realize ever existed. Without further ado:
What I liked:
-Andersonville is a tragedy. And Ms. Groot does a beautiful job of showing how it has affected so many people. It reaches far and affects more than those who were suffering in the prison. Yet, this novel has some of the funniest lines I’ve ever read in a book. Though the novel is at times heavy, it doesn’t stay that way all the time.
-The characters were so well-developed. And as soon as I met them, I cared about them. There’s Violet (the way she was described stayed with me for days), Dance (love his name), Emery (such a big heart), Lew (my heart went out to him) and let’s not forget Posey.
-Friendship. I’m rarely pulled into a novel because of friendship, but a war novel is not a good war novel if it lacks friendship. And I became invested in this friendship.
-The romance was subtle, slow, but still very sweet.
-I learned about a different kind of soldier. The sentinel.
-Spiritually, the novel is not very overtly spiritual, but there is this beautiful message that you need to just be the Good Samaritan. Stop waiting for others to act.
What I didn’t like:
-I will admit that it’s not all flash and bang, and sometimes slow in parts. But to me, this added more credibility to the story. Things moved slowly back then.
Overall, a wonderful book. Deep and moving. And you will laugh out loud.
Romantic Scale: 7.5
Posted in Historical

Roseanna M. White’s Circle of Spies


About
1865—Marietta Hughes never wanted to be a spy, but the family legacy of espionage is thrust upon her as the War Between the States rolls on. Unknown to her, the Knights of the Golden Circle—a Confederate secret society bent on destroying the Union her brother died for—has been meeting in a hidden lair beneath her home. Faced with the secrets of her late husband and his brother, whom she thought she could trust with anything, Marietta’s world tilts out of control. Can she right it by protecting a Union agent infiltrating the KGC?

Slade Osborne, an undercover Pinkerton agent, is determined to do whatever is necessary to 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…so much more.

Do they dare trust each other in this circle of intrigue? Will their shared faith sustain them? And can Mari and Slade stymie the enemy long enough to see their beloved country reunited?

Review
I have read all of Roseanna M. White’s books.  Her first two novels (Jewel of Persia & A Stray Drop of Blood) are the epitome of drama. However, I noticed that after those two, she dialed things back for a while. Oh, but this one brings some of that ole drama back and I loved every minute of it. From the first page I was thoroughly engrossed in this novel and probably gasping for the first half of the book. You will be on the edge of your seat figuring things out. So:

What I liked about it:

The drama (obviously). It’s good drama. The kind that surprises you without making you queasy as you wonder how everything will work out.

Marietta. Boy is this girl something. She’s kind of like a reformed Scarlett O’Hara, the best part being that she is reformed. She’s got a special talent that is so unique and original and makes incredible sense for a spy.

I love how she also takes the theme of the Alpha male (which is so popular in secular romance novels) and flips it on its head.

I really liked the complexity of the villain. He had moments of goodness and moments of pure evil. He was in no way one note.

The Lane family. They were very well incorporated in the story without making it feel crowded.

Spiritually, there is a beautiful theme of grace and forgiveness balanced with the concept that just because you’re forgiven doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences.

What I didn’t like:

Okay, I liked Slade and I liked his back story, BUT, somehow the other guys (yes there’s two others) managed to have more charisma and somehow managed to stand out in my mind more. Or maybe someone else who is not supposed to be a contender managed to slip in there and be one. I think it has to do with the fact that they had such terrific back stories that connected with Marietta that it almost felt like who is this new guy. Then again, Marietta needed a new guy on the scene. All I do know is Slade didn’t connect to Marietta as well as I would have liked.

Overall, I had so much fun with this book. To be honest, this one didn’t seem as interesting to me as the others in the series at first, but I think it may have been my favorite in the series.
Romantic Scale: 8

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

Posted in Historical

Kate Breslin’s For Such a Time


About
Powerful Retelling of the Story of Esther

In 1944, blond and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz.

Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy.

Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?

Review
Can I just admit that I think retellings are generally cop-outs? To me, they can lack a certain amount of imagination. But. This. Book. I loved her retelling. It was just enough hints of Esther so that you could see the similarities (particularly with the names) and more than enough creativity on Kate Breslin’s side of things (to the point  where I could not predict how things would turn out). A wonderful, engaging novel. It’s one of the many WWII novels that are coming out this year, but this one is a definite success.

What I liked:

Colonel Aric was my favorite person because he was so deliciously complex. Was he nice? Sometimes. Unstable? All the time. I loved that you couldn’t figure him out and that you didn’t always know who he would side with. For me, personally, he gave me a greater understanding of how Xerxes probably was in the Bible and the risk that Esther took in approaching him. I will say that his character development sped up towards the end, but he didn’t change the essence of who he is.

Stella/Hadassah was also a bit, unstable (emotionally). But, considering what she’s already lived through by this point, it makes a bit of sense. Generally speaking, I find heroines who are just amazingly beautiful to lack something, but here, her beauty was almost a character itself and just fit the narrative.

The secondary characters were wonderful. They were fully developed and each and every one of them tugged on my heart strings. Everyone knows the Jewish people really went through at that time, but oh how they went through.

Spiritually, Stella and Aric both have some heavy pasts and feel like God failed them to some degree. To watch them trust again is a process well worth going through.

What I didn’t like:

Again, it felt like things sped up towards the end.

Overall, I really enjoyed it. I connected with the characters and I cared about them. Constantly, I was asking myself what I would have done. Though this is a retelling, it’s also incredibly unique. I won’t tell you it’s fun, because there are some hard parts, but it’s well worth reading.

Romantic Scale: 8.7
**I received this novel from Netgalley. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

Posted in Historical

Siri Mitchell’s Love Comes Calling

About

A girl with the best of intentions.
A heart set on Hollywood.
An empty pocketbook.

That’s all it takes for Ellis Eton to find herself working as a telephone operator for a look-alike friend. For Ellis, this job will provide not only acting practice but the funds to get her a start in the movies. She’s tired of always being a disappointment to her traditional Boston family, and though she can’t deny the way he makes her head spin, she knows she’s not good enough for Griffin Phillips, either. It’s simple: avoid Griff’s attentions, work, and get paid. But in typical Ellis fashion, her simple plan spirals out of control when she overhears a menacing phone call…with her very own Griff as the target.

Review

Siri Mitchell does a fantastic job of picking up small historical facts and really running with them. I really felt like I had been transported to the 1920s with this one. There’s telephone operator girls, speakeasies, and flappers. There’s also Ellis. Ellis is an interesting heroine that, for the most part, I really liked. I will say, that someone let me in on a spoiler that I felt like I was glad to know ahead of time.* I will post said spoiler at the end of my review in case you want to go into this novel blind, but I will say, because I knew the spoiler, I was able to find Ellis endearing as opposed to annoying. Okay, now for the rundown:

What I liked:

The dedication (and really the theme of the whole novel): for everyone who has ever wished they could just be like everyone else. Um, yes. Who hasn’t wished that at some point? This really made Ellis easily identifiable and lovable.

The time period. It’s just on the edge of modern with old school ways. I’m really beginning to enjoy books written in the 1920s.

The romance. It’s a different kind of romance. This is not boy meets girl and likes her. This is boy already likes girl. Therefore, I will say, this novel is not romance centered, but I still loved every moment that Griff was with Ellis.

It’s a very easy read. I found myself surprised that I was almost finished with the book at one point.

Spiritually, I love that the novel shows that you are just who God created you to be. It also deals with whether or not you can legalize morality since it is really a heart issue. Good thinking points.

What I didn’t like:

Ellis decides to solve a mystery that potentially has murder at the root of it…by herself. I just wasn’t sure what she was hoping to accomplish half the time. Also, at times, it did feel that Ellis acted years younger than her age because she seemed to have almost no concept of how others think (unless this was because she was wealthy…I haven’t decided).

Overall, a very cute story.

Romantic Scale: 7.5

**I received this novel from BethanyHouse. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

 

 

*[Spoiler Alert: Ellis has ADHD.]