Posted in Historical

Tamara Leigh’s The Kindling

About

“’TIS SAID FAMILY CREATES A MULTITUDE OF SINS.”

Helene of Tippet is not her father or her brother’s keeper. Yet when she is enlisted to use her healing skills to aid a fallen knight, the secret she holds close threatens to visit her family’s sins upon her. Now she is in danger of loving where she should not—a man of the nobility, and one who has cause to despise her if ever he learns of the blood that courses through her veins. Dare she reveal herself? Dare she trust a warrior so bitter and intent on revenge? Dare she love?

Sir Abel Wulfrith, a man bred to battle, has the scar to prove one should never trust a woman. But when he is wounded by his family’s enemy, he finds himself at the mercy of one who could prove his undoing. Now he faces a battle against which no strategy can prevail, no blade can defend, no heart can escape unscathed. Can he forgive Helene the sins of the father—more, the sins of the brother? Can he reclaim his faith? Can he love?

Review

What I Liked: I’m always so excited when Ms. Leigh releases a new book and I now know that I can count on her for good medieval romance. But I will say, that initially, I thought that Abel and Helene didn’t really need their own book because clearly there was something going on between them in book three.

However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they were entitled to their own book. Helene is probably one of my favorite heroines in the series. She’s smart, capable and extremely straightforward. Have I mentioned that I love straightforward heroines? They have a hard time keeping a secret and Helene does have one. Abel was an interesting hero because at times he was hard to like. There were many times when I wanted to say get over it already! But he well redeems himself in the end.

Spiritually, I enjoyed watching Helena pray and even struggle at times to be obedient. Her faith felt realistic. And Abel has to learn to turn to God particularly when things don’t go his way.

What I Didn’t Like: It did seem a bit longer than it needed to be in the sense that I felt like a certain someone was creating a problem that wasn’t really there.

Overall, enjoyable. I so like the Wulfriths and I am really excited about the last one that comes out next year!

Romantic Scale: 8.5

Posted in Historical

Liz Tolsma’s Snow on the Tulips

About

The war is drawing to a close, but the
Nazis still occupy part of the Netherlands. After the losses she’s endured, war
widow Cornelia is only a shadow of the woman she once was. She fights now to
protect her younger brother, Johan, who lives in hiding.

When Johan brings Gerrit Laninga, a wounded Dutch Resistance member, to Cornelia’s doorstep, their  lives are forever altered. Although scared of the consequences of harboring a wanted man, Cornelia’s faith won’t let her turn him out.

As she nurses Gerrit back to health,
she is drawn to his fierce passion and ideals, and notices a shift within
herself. Gerrit’s intensity challenges her, making her want to live fully,
despite the fear that constrains her. When the opportunity to join him in the
Resistance presents itself, Cornelia must summon every ounce of courage
imaginable.

She is as terrified of loving Gerrit
as she is of losing him. But as the winter landscape thaws, so too does her
heart. Will she get a second chance at true love? She fears their story will
end before it even begins.

Review

This novel is gripping right from the start. I can think of very few scarier situations than living in countries occupied by the Nazis in WWII. And this novel manages to convey that feeling of constant urgency and fear right from the first page.

Gerrit is a hero in more than one sense of the word. His willingness to work on behalf of his country in the face of such intense danger made him someone who was easy to love on the pages. There were a few moments when I felt he was a bit too fearless and often demanded too much of that same spirit from others. That said, you can’t help but like Gerrit.

My heart just went out to Cornelia. She’s just trying to survive in a tough time. Watching her grow and develop over the course of the novel really made her feel real. Though Cornelia and Gerrit fell for each other a bit quickly for my taste, I like that the novel did not just end there and you got to see some real development.

Spiritually…where to begin? I loved the way Gerrit memorized scripture and meditated on it in regularly. You would have to, I think, to face such dangers on a regular basis. Piet brings up the complex issues of when to obey your government and when not to. Cornelia has to learn to trust God and lean on him in times of trouble; learning when to act and when not to act. And yet, none of these issues are forced down your throat. It’s all very subtle, but rings so true.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. It captured my attention from the first page and had me thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it. If you pick this book up, you will enjoy it.

Romantic Scale: 8.5

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

Posted in Historical

Lisa T. Bergren’s Glittering Promises

About

For Cora Kensington, the Grand Tour was to be the trip of a lifetime. She discovered the family she never knew she had, and may have even found the love she longs for in Will. And yet her life has just become infinitely more challenging …
Hounded by journalists chasing the beguiling story of the newest American heiress, Cora fights to remain true to her past, reconcile her present, and still embrace her future. But as Will struggles with her newfound wealth, she begins to wonder if their love is strong enough to withstand all that threatens to pull them apart.
Complicating matters is the stubborn pursuit of Pierre de Richelieu and the increased demands on her time and attention. Cora must stand up for what she believes—regardless of how that might challenge current family and cultural norms—in order to remain true to who she really is.
And as she glimpses the end of the tour, Cora knows it’s time to decide Who and what defines her … and who and what does not.

Review

Glittering Promises concludes Cora’s grand tour. And what a tour it was. I will admit, if I was Cora, I would have wanted it to end a long time ago. The group faced kidnappings, deaths, illness, exhaustion and the list goes on. I felt a bit tired myself and more than a little thrilled when they finally got on the boat for America. To a certain degree the series felt a bit longer than it needed to be. That said, Cora was a wonderful heroine and I enjoyed watching her grow and fall in love.

I found the romance to be realistic even as it dealt with the issues that would surely occur in such a situation. Will was a terrific hero though a tad bit insecure (understandable). However, I will say that he was probably strongest in the earlier novels. The resolution to the kidnappings, however, did manage to surprise me.

Spiritually, I love Cora’s dependence upon the Lord and the fact that she listened to the Lord. You could really see her grow throughout the entire series and I liked who she became.

Overall, the novel was written really well, intriguing, and very much needed to read to bring closure to the series . I am not sure if it was my expectations (I wanted to see Cora back in Montana) that were disappointed or what, but, having read the whole of the series, it perhaps could have been condensed a bit.

Romantic Scale: 8

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

Posted in Historical

Anne Mateer’s A Home for My Heart

About

Sadie Sillsby works as the assistant to the matron at the Raystown Home for Orphan and Friendless Children and dreams of the day she’ll marry her beau, Blaine. But when the matron surprises everyone by announcing her own engagement, Sadie is suddenly next in line for the job. For a young woman who was once an orphan herself, a shot at such an esteemed position is a wish come true.

But the matron of the Home cannot be married. Is Sadie willing to give up her dreams of a life with Blaine and a family of her own? Is she prepared to forgo daily involvement with the children as she instead manages the financial, legal, and logistical aspects of the orphanage? And when it’s revealed that the Home is spending a lot more money than it’s taking in, can Sadie turn things around before the place is forced to close forever?

Review

Ms. Mateer does a beautiful job portraying a young woman’s love for those in need of it. By the time I finished the novel, I felt like I had been right there at the orphanage watching Sadie work on behalf of the children. I thought Ms. Mateer does a fabulous job of growing Sadie up. Sometimes it wasn’t easy to read, but by the end of the novel, I really liked who Sadie had become. The setting of this novel was fantastic and wonderfully done. This novel really works well as a historical fiction novel and if that is how you approach it, you won’t be disappointed.

The romance wasn’t that exciting for me. You already know that she has a beau from the ‘back of the book’, but the issue that gets between them seems a bit contrived. As a result, it made Sadie look bad because she came across as unnecessarily harsh to Blaine. That said, it all makes sense in the end, but since it doesn’t come together until the end, the romance, for me,  was not the driving force of the novel.

Spiritually, Sadie has to learn a lesson or two on trusting God and more importantly stopping to hear what it is that He says about situations. Beautifully portrayed.

This novel is written very well with well developed characters, though it’s not going to keep you on the edge of your seat, it is a nice treat to read.

Romantic Scale: 6

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

Posted in Historical

Mary Connealy’s Fired Up

About

Dare Riker is a doctor who saves lives, but someone seems determined to end his. It may have something to do with the traitors he dealt with during the Civil War, or it might be related to the recent incident with Flint Greer and the ranch. Whoever the culprit is, he or she seems really fired up, and Dare can’t let his guard down for a moment, which is a challenge, since right now he’s trying to win the heart of the recently widowed Glynna.

Glynna Greer came west as a mail-order bride and ended up in a bad situation. Now her husband, Flint, is dead, and she’s determined to care for her son and daughter on her own. She wants to believe Dare Riker is as decent as he seems, but she’s terrified to lock herself into another marriage. She plans to support her small family by opening a diner–never mind that cooking is not her greatest talent. The men in Broken Wheel, Texas, are so desperate for home cooking that they seem willing to overlook dried-out beef and blackened biscuits.

Glynna can’t help but notice that danger follows Dare wherever he goes. There’s the avalanche. And then the fire. But things really get out of hand when someone plunges a knife from Glynna’s diner into Dare’s back. Are Flint’s cronies still plotting revenge? Is Glynna’s son engaged in a misguided attempt to protect his mother? Is a shadowy outsider still enraged over past injustices? And can Dare survive long enough to convince Glynna to take another chance on love?

Review

Fired Up picks up right where Swept Away finishes and I found this sequel to be a very good read. Like in her other series, this novel gives you insight to all the characters in the first book, so it was nice to see Ruthy and Luke and the other Regulators.

First off, I really liked Glynna. Sometimes heroines in Ms. Connealy’s book are either too dominating or too weak. Glynna to me was right down the middle. She managed to come across as both strong, but wasn’t afraid if she was in need of something. I also really liked Dare and his desire to heal people. The romance was nicely done in my opinion. I loved how you could see Glynna being drawn to Dare even though she still had two bad marriages hanging over her head. It was really nice not to have instant love here.

However, I think the person that made this book stand out from her other novels was Paul. Having read all of Ms. Connealy’s books, I think Paul is the first son that a main character has had and you can really see the struggle that he was having with his mother considering remarriage and his past with some terrible men. He was my favorite character.

The mystery in this book is not really the focus and to be honest, is fairly obvious from the beginning, but this did bother me as a reader at all.

Spiritually, I love the theme of forgiving people, particularly if they don’t ask for it. This novel isn’t heavy on spiritual things, but this point comes across beautifully.

Overall, I really enjoyed  this book. The pages turned quickly and there were some laugh out loud moments that only Ms. Connealy can deliver. If you’re looking for a light-hearted, fun romance, this is where it’s happening.

Romantic Scale: 8

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

Posted in Historical, Mystery/Suspense

Elizabeth Ludwig’s Dark Road Home

About

Ana Kavanagh’s only memories of home are of fire and pain. As a girl she was the only survivor of a terrible blaze, and years later she still struggles with her anger at God for letting it happen.

At a nearby parish she meets and finds a kindred spirit in Eoghan Hamilton, who is struggling with his own anger–his sister, Cara, betrayed him by falling in love with one of his enemies. Cast aside by everyone, Eoghan longs to rejoin the Fenians, a shadowy organization pushing for change back in Ireland. But gaining their trust requires doing some favors–all of which seem to lead back to Ana. Who is she and who is searching for her? As dark secrets from Ana’s past begin to come to light, Eoghan must choose which road to follow–and where to finally place his trust.

Review

First off, let me say, if you enjoyed the first book in this series, you will enjoy the second. I didn’t realize that the mystery in book one wasn’t completely over, so it continues through book 2 (and most likely a book 3?).

The writing in this novel was so well done and engaging that I found myself flipping through the pages faster than I had anticipated. I was really fascinated to see what would happen between Eoghan and Ana and how all would be revealed to Cara. However, I will say that I felt like the romance lacked a bit of something. While they did take time to get to know each other, something about the relationship felt like it happened speedily. There were also a few moments were I felt like Ana and Eoghan kind of contradicted themselves a bit and I know it was to create tension, but I was slightly confused. That said, this novel is the kind of mystery I like, heavy on the romance and light on the mystery.

The mystery is pretty interesting because it has one single culminating event that has spiderwebbed into other people’s lives. I think it’s very clever how Ms. Ludwig is unraveling it slowly.

Spiritually, I love the theme of trusting God and just acknowledging that He is so much bigger than us. I also like the realization that one character has about how he made the church his god and not actually Jesus.

Overall, I found this novel to be enjoyable. It’s not weighed down with a lot of details and facts and is very people driven. Though the romance wasn’t particularly what I like, I don’t think you will be disappointed if you pick this one up!

Romantic scale: 7

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

Posted in Historical

Jessica Dotta’s Born of Persuasion

About

The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.

Review

What I liked about this book:

The setting. I thought Ms. Dotta did a fabulous job of taking the reader back to 1838 in Great Britain. Her knowledge of the times led a credibility to the story. I also think she managed to capture the gothic lean of the novel that happened towards the middle of the book with the recluse and the house and locks on doors, etc.  I also found her premise to an original and fresh look at Merry old England.

What I didn’t like:

The main character. Julia was not very kind. She based her decisions off of her feelings rather than on what was logically in front of her, and she just wasn’t trustworthy as a narrator. Let me just premise this with the fact that I love gothic fiction. I’ve read Victoria Holt, Daphne Du Maurier, T.E. Huff, to name a few. A huge part of gothic fiction is secrets and trusting people who may not be what they seem, but there was a certain person that she trusted in this book who was glaringly off on so many different levels. In fact, there was no one person in the novel that made me sigh with relief when they stepped on the pages. All of the characters seemed to make me more hesitant to read the book than excited.

I will say, the book ends and implies that in the sequel, Julia will have it all together. Perhaps. But in this one she had me simply confused.

Spiritually, you have one person who is supposed to be the kind of spiritual rock. Except he kept charging into things head first without seeking God. I loved his passion for the things of God. I loved how he wanted to change the world. He was, perhaps, not very wise in his doings however.

Now, let me just say, that I generally like novels where I can kind of see where they are going. I could not see where this one was going and that might be why I didn’t enjoy it as much. If that doesn’t bother you, than you will probably enjoy this much more than I did.

Romantic scale: 6

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

Posted in Historical

Laura Frantz’s Love’s Awakening

About

Ellie Ballantyne, youngest child of Silas and Eden, has left finishing school. But back at her family home in Pittsburgh, Ellie finds that her parents are away on a long trip and her siblings don’t seem to want her to stay. When she opens a day school for young ladies, she begins tutoring the incorrigible daughter of the enemy Turlock clan. The Turlocks are slaveholders and whiskey magnates, envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly tangled with the Turlocks, she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future–and Jack Turlock, a young man striving to free himself from his family’s violent legacy. How can she betray her family and side with the enemy? And will Jack ever allow her into his world?

Masterful storyteller Laura Frantz continues to unfold the stirring saga of the Ballantyne family in this majestic tale of love, loyalty, and the makings of a legacy. With rich descriptions of the people who settled and civilized a wild landscape, Frantz weaves a tapestry of characters and places that stick with the reader long after they turn the last page.

Review

What I loved about this book: the setting, the premise, the love story. The setting was flawlessly written like only Ms. Frantz can right. Her historical facts were presented in such a way that I didn’t feel like there was some public service announcement highlighting to me what was important. I was able to learn so much about a young Pittsburgh without feeling like I’ve been in school. And yes, Silas and Eden are in this book, and there presence is like a breath of fresh air. Loved them! The premise. Who doesn’t love a good Romeo and Juliet story and without the silly premature deaths? I really liked the whole forbidden Turlocks and the wealthy Ballantynes set up. It’s what I was looking forward to reading about the whole time and Ms. Frantz really delivered. And then there is the love story. Every time Jack and Ellie were on the pages it was like time froze. Ms Frantz can really capture a lot in subtle moments. I must say, I really liked both Jack and Ellie. Jack was kind of a different hero for Ms. Frantz, as he was a bit rough around the edges and had no connection with the things of God, but I still found myself loving him just the same. Ellie just seemed to epitomize grace. In other words, they were perfect for each other.

What I didn’t like as much: not enough Jack and Ellie. They fell in love kind of quick for me (either that or I just wanted more of them). Because so much of their relationship was surrounded by other things (i.e. Ellie tutoring Chloe) I felt like they didn’t spend that much time with just them two together.

Also, there is a lot going on. Ellie has several siblings and they each kind of have a little story being told in the wings. I found some siblings more interesting than others, and so I had the urge to skip when certain people were on the page. And, lastly…there’s a lot going on in this book.

Spiritually, I liked watching Jack’s awakening to the things of God. It was handled really nicely and I liked that Ellie is a woman of prayer. The spiritual aspect of the novel unfolds beautifully. Looking forward to the next one!

Romantic Scale: 7

Liftuse’s Blog Tour of Sarah Sundin’s On Distant Shores

About On Distant Shores:Caught between the war raging around them and the battles within, two souls long for peace—and a love that remains true.

Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie’s cozy life gets more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson.

Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancée. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they’ve made?

With her signature attention to detail and her talent for bringing characters together, Sarah Sundin weaves an exciting tale of emotion, action, and romance that will leave you wanting more.

Purchase a Copy: http://ow.ly/nIVWC

Meet Sarah: Sarah Sundin is the author of “With Every Letter” and the Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A “Memory Between Us” was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

Visit www.sarahsundin.com for more information.

Review

I was so excited to get my hands on this novel because I so enjoyed Georgie’s character from With Every Letter. And this novel was so good! First off, as a history buff, I love everything WWII, but I also love how Ms. Sundin (who so far has written strictly WWII novels) has been able to write about different avenues of the same war without making it boring. Another thing I like is how she gives the main characters specific flaws that they have to learn to deal with throughout the course of the book.

First, you have Georgie who is introduced in the first novel of the series. Georgie is bubbly and fun, but she has a hard time making decisions. In my opinion, Georgie was a wonderful heroine. She may have had a hard time making a decision, but when she made it she went all the way. She is very loyal and devoted not only to her friends, but to God. Reading her story was a real joy.

Then you have Hutch. Hutch, what can I say? His struggle was real. I could identify.  And I learned so much about pharmacist in the war I felt like a mini expert (without feeling like I was in school). There were times when he came off a bit more of a Beta male than most male heroes, but that really only made him seem more real.  He did make some decisions that made me want to say “Nooooo”, but watching him grow was so beautifully done that the ending was all the sweeter.

As for the romance, sooo romantic. I know, they’re both already in relationships, but that just means that their friendship is so much the sweeter. No insta-love here. You’ve got that slow development that simmers underneath and leaves you sighing. You won’t be disappointed!

Spiritually, both Hutch and Georgie have a relationship with God, but like any Christian, they have areas that they have to trust God with and Ms. Sundin really shows how you, the reader, can go to God can certain needs and desires met.

If you liked any of her other novels, you will absolutely enjoy this one!

Romantic scale: 9.5