Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron

21A storied castle. A band of rebels.

A nation chasing a centuries-old dream of freedom.

And three women who rise above it all . . .

When Laine Forrester travels overseas to attend her best friend’s vineyard wedding, she expects to find the bride on the brink of a fairy-tale life. But after a series of unforeseen setbacks, it seems the storybook lives they’d imagined are suddenly ripping apart.

With hopes of resurrecting a happy ending, Laine agrees to accompany the newlyweds to the groom’s home in Ireland—never expecting she’d be the one drawn in by its wide-open moors, backroads bordering the Irish Sea, and a mysterious castle that dares to keep its secrets hidden.

From the storied streets of Dublin to the shores of the Emerald Isle, Laine is drawn in to the land and its rich history. The castle ruins whisper stories of Issy—a photojournalist battling through the 1916 Easter Rising, and Maeve—the castle’s lady of legend, fighting for survival through the 1798 rebellion that started it all.

Spanning more than two centuries, Castle on the Rise unites the legacy of three women who must risk mending the broken places within for life, love, and the belief that even through the depths of our pain, a masterpiece of a story can emerge.

My Thoughts: I’ve been looking forward to the next Lost Castle novel, and I was not disappointed. In fact, I found it a treat to revisit with book one’s couple, Ellie and Quinn, and I loved that the old couple wasn’t the main focus of the new story although we do get to see how their lives are progressing.
The vivid landscape described throughout the novel was certainly a high point. While my personal tastes are to have a little less description, Cambron’s talent here cannot be denied. She really does paint a pretty picture with words.
I only wish the spiritual content was as vivid. For me, that was the one area that I felt was lacking. The contemporary storyline, in particular, felt undone in terms of a spiritutal conclusion. But perhaps we’ll see more growth for Laine in the third book. And I do have to point out the many mentions of pubs and having a pint of Guinness. As a dry Baptist, this was a bit off-putting for me. But I will say that none of the characters were ever seen drunk. But the pub and the pub owners were prominent characters in two of the timelines.
Ahhh and the timelines!! I’m a historian at heart and I adore dual timelines. Cambron lovingly crafted three separate timelines around the same key locations and families. Both of the historical threads featured war or uprisings so they were often action packed. She gained my attention early on and kept it the whole way. Each moment in history felt authentic and rare. I didn’t know much Irish history, so I felt like the chosen eras were lesser known, but they quickly felt like home. For me, it’s the historical aspect that really made the story shine and why I gladly give it 5 stars.

Rating and Recommendation: I recommend it to those looking for Irish Historical novels, dual timelines, lovely castles, or Christian Historical fiction. And I’m giving it 5 stars and eagerly await the conclusion of the series.

~ I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Love Most Worthy by Sandy Ardoin

44She didn’t know which was colder, an Arctic winter or her new husband’s heart.
Hallie Russell believes life should be lived to the fullest. For that reason, she sails to the gold rush town of Nome, Alaska to take her cousin’s place as the mail-order bride of a respected shopkeeper. But when her aloof husband’s wedding-night announcement rocks her plans for their marriage, Hallie sees her desire for a family to call her own vanish as quickly as the dreams of hopeful miners.

Tragedy led Rance Preston to regret his rowdy ways and open a general store for the miners in Nome. He’s content in his bachelorhood, but his two orphaned nephews deserve a proper and serious-minded mother. Duped once by a vivacious female, he’s determined to never again let his heart overrule his head…until the high spirits of his new bride threaten his resolve. 

When a misunderstanding comes to light, will they allow the gale force winds of insecurity to destroy what they each need most?

What I Loved: I was immediately pulled in and sympathized with Hallie. She had such a sweet personality, but desperate to know that someone loved her. I was intrigued by the historical detail of panning for gold in Alaska and the life-like setting. Ardoin offers beautiful detail throughout the story, but in a way that doesn’t put the plot on hold. The story itself was entertaining, and the spiritual message was beautifully handled. I appreciated the way Ardoin weaved scripture into the story in a natural way. It never felt heavy or forced, but just the right verse at the right time for the characters.

Rating and Recommendation: I’d recommend this one to those who enjoy Christian Historical novellas and I’m giving it 5 stars.

~I received a copy from the author. I was not compensated for this review or required to give a positive one. All thoughts are my own.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Curse of Misty Wayfair by Jaime Jo Wright

20Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin, in 1908. When clues lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a post-mortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death. 

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother–who is battling dementia–compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman who haunts the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns–and with it, Heidi’s fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, can they overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined?

What I Loved: The Curse of Misty Wayfair is quite a blessing for the reader! From the moment I opened the book, I was drawn into Pleasant Valley alongside both heroines. The legendary curse intrigued me as much as the heroines did. And the heroes! Sigh. They were both so real and flawed. The tension between the couples was so thick you could cut it with a knife, and yet the lustful tones were at a minimum. It was a very clean and chaste romance and beautifully written.
I didn’t find Misty Wayfair to be as suspensful as Foster Hill, but that’s not a bad thing! I’m not a big suspense reader so I found it to be the perfect amount. The mystery itself was wonderfully crafted. I felt like I had a good understanding of how it would pan out, but the conclusion was more in-depth than I had expected, so I was very pleased.
The spiritual content was a surprising blessing. The theme centered around being lovingly crafted with a purpose. However, it was the struggle Heidi had with her family that convicted me. Sometimes a parent’s love isn’t understood very well. Being able to experience and sympathize over Heidi’s hardships through her perspective opened my eyes to see that there may be things that I say or attitudes that I carry that isn’t understood well by my teen.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving The Curse of Misty Wayfair 5 stars and gladly recommend it to those who enjoy Christian mystery/suspense, dual-timeline novels, or just a great novel.

~I received a copy from Bethany House. I was not compensated for this review or required to give a positive one. All thoughts are my own.

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Book Review: A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

339Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning–together.

Laura Frantz’s prose sparkles with authenticity and deep feeling as she digs into her own family history to share this breathless tale of love, exile, and courage in Colonial America.

What I Loved: From the moment I opened the book, I felt as if I had stepped into another world. Frantz has a beautiful gift for using words to create a setting that is equally as lush and vibrant as the real-life areas she portrays. The characters were so endearing and it was easy to sympathize with their plight. The spiritual content was weaved into the story in the most natural and effective way. Both of the main characters had a strong relationship with the Lord. It was refreshing to find that the story revolved around how their trust in Christ was the anchor through the difficult storms in their life. While readers aren’t likely to find themselves in the same set of circumstances, they will be able to relate to the helpless feeling of a life spinning out of control.
A Bound Heart was stunning from start to finish and a great way to start your new year!

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving A Bound Heart 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction or fiction centered around Scotland, the later 1700s, Colonial America, and slavery.

~ I received a copy from Revell. I was not compensated for this review or required to give a favorable one. 

 

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Book Review: My Heart Belongs in Blue Ridge by Pepper Basham

36Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom?

What I Loved: I’m still new to Pepper’s work, but I’m already a huge fan! I’m not even sure what to say aside from that I loved this one and recommend it to everybody. The setting comes to life as well as the culture of the Appalachian mountains. The characters are well developed. The chemistry between Laurel and Jonathan is the stuff of perfection. Jonathan’s initiation in the mountains had me rolling from the start. There’s a sound message about trusting Christ with the details of your life and the salvation of your loved ones. All in all My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge was a delightful novel from start to finish.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Historical Christian Fiction or fiction set in the Appalachian Mountains.

~ I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review. 

 

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Book Review: The Bride of Ivy Green by Julie Klassen

42Much has happened in idyllic Ivy Hill in recent months, and while several villagers have found new love and purpose, questions remain–and a few dearly held dreams have yet to be fulfilled.

Jane Bell is torn. Gabriel Locke is back and has made his intentions clear. But Jane is reluctant to give up her inn and destine another man to a childless marriage. Then someone she never expected to see again returns to Ivy Hill. . . . 

Mercy Grove has lost her school and is resigned to life as a spinster, especially as the man she admires seems out of reach. Should she uproot herself from Ivy Cottage to become a governess for a former pupil? Her decision will change more lives than her own.

A secretive new dressmaker arrives in the village, but the ladies soon suspect she isn’t who she claims to be. Will they oust the imposter, or help rescue her from a dangerous predicament?

In the meantime, everyone expects Miss Brockwell to marry a titled gentleman, even though her heart is drawn to another. While the people of Ivy Hill anticipate one wedding, an unexpected bride may surprise them all.

Don’t miss this romantic, stirring conclusion to Tales from Ivy Hill.

My Thoughts: The Bride of Ivy Green is the happy conclusion that fans of the series have been waiting for. We’re back to the cozy Regency setting with the friends that we had made in the previous books. Klassen has several surprises and unexpected turns in store for the readers. The drama unfolds at a steady rate, but I couldn’t help feeling like it was stretched thin compared to my favorite Klassen novels. But I appreciated the solid gospel message weaved into the storyline.
*This series is a continuation and should be read in order.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving The Bride of Ivy Green 4 stars and recommending it Christian Regency fans.

~ I received a copy from Bethany House through NetGalley. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review or required to give a favorable one. 

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Book Review: Who I Am with You by Robin Lee Hatcher

45

For these two broken hearts, the first step toward love will be a huge leap of faith. 

Jessica Mason isn’t looking for love when she meets Ridley Chesterfield. Instead she is still reeling from the tragic, unexpected loss of her husband and daughter—and awaiting the arrival of her unborn child. Harboring the secret of her husband’s betrayal, her pain is deeper than anyone knows.

Ridley Chesterfield is hiding out in Hope Springs, Idaho, avoiding a political scandal and the barrage of false media headlines that have tarnished his good name. The last thing Ridley wants is a relationship—but when fate leads Ridley to form a friendship with his reclusive and pregnant neighbor, he wonders if this small-town hideout might be more of a long-term destination. 

When Jessica begins to read her great-grandfather’s Bible, she finds a connection with a man she never knew. Somehow the verses he marked and the words he wrote in the margins open her heart to healing. And as Ridley and Jessica help each other forgive the people who have wronged them, they must decide if the past will define them or if they will choose to love again. 

Who I Am With You weaves together a modern-day romance with Jessica’s great-grandfather’s story from the 1930s, reminding us that some truths can cross generations and that faith has the power to transform families forever.

My Thoughts: I was smitten by the concept and the cozy remote setting. There’s a dual-timeline story taking place here so the reader can learn more about her grandfather whose Bible she’s now reading. His portion of the story was my favorite.
While I did feel like the conversations and personalities in the contemporary portion of the story was rather dull, I did highly appreciate Hatcher’s attention to spiritual matters. She used Scripture in a natural way. And her message on ultimate forgiveness in spite of adultery was inspiring and very well done.

Rating and Recommendation: I’d recommend it to Christian fiction fans, especial those who enjoy dual-timeline or contemporary. I’m giving it 3.5 stars.

~ I received a copy from NetGalley. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

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3 in 1 Book Review: Three Titles from KindleUnlimited

If you’re like me, you probably jumped on the opportunity to enjoy Kindle Unlimited for 3 months at the price of 99 cents. And … if you’re like me, you likely started browsing the selection and loading your precious Kindle up with terrific reads. So today, I want to share 3 quickie reviews for 3 novellas that I found and adored on KU.
For those unfamiliar with KU, each of these novellas are for sale in ebook form but also available to read for free to KU subscribers. 

45The last person Calil Deane expects to find trapped in an elevator in Siberia at 2.a.m is Peter Samuelson—the man who broke her heart. Peter Samuelson can’t believe the one woman he can’t forget is the one who rescues him in the backwoods of Russia. But can love be reignited, or will the fears – and mistakes – of the past drive them apart again? And can Calli forgive him and embrace a future she never expected—and isn’t sure she still wants? 

Just how do you measure the love of a man? Calli and Peter are about to find out.

 

Measure of a Man by Susan May Warren:

I adore Warren and this novella is a prime example of why. She has such a natural way of incorporating Christian elements into her novels. This particular novella includes a missionary and the man who left her behind. It’s romantic, edifying, entertaining, and set in a foreign country. What’s not to love?
Find it on Amazon or Goodreads.

31

 

He likes streamline. She prefers embellishments. His forte is business. Hers is atmosphere. Will they realize each has what the other needs most to create the perfect romance with a touch of Jane Austen flair?

When a country girl travels to Bath, England to visit Jane Austen country, will a serious businessman ruin her regency-dream?

 

 

Second Impressions by Pepper Basham: 

Love, love, AUSTEN LOVE! I’m new to Basham, but she has a whole collection of stories waiting for me on KU, and I plan to indulge myself with more of her lovely work. For the Austen lover, this is a must-read. For everyone else: you’re gonna adore it too! The chemistry between these two is spot-on. The bulk of the story takes place in England around the Regency convention.
Find it on Amazon or Goodreads.

32Christmas is coming to Romance, Oregon…but for Andy McKay, it’s only a reminder of the day the love of his life walked away. Guilted into playing Scrooge as a young man in the town’s production of A Christmas Carol, Andy unexpectedly finds himself acting alongside his girlfriend of romance past.

Cassie Winston has spent the past year traveling, writing, and regretting that she left the man she loved behind her. She’s afraid the old adage about how you can never go home again might be true. It’s hard enough to convince Andy to consider giving them a second chance, and acting with him in Scrooge and Belle’s breakup scene certainly doesn’t help.

As ghosts from the past resurface, can they find a way to create a new future together?

A Christmas Carol in Romance by Franky A. Brown: 

Sigh. This is one is perfect for your Hallmark Christmas movie fan. There isn’t a Christian message in this one, but it is absolutely clean and absolutely adorable. Everything, from the cast to the setting, had the cozy Christmas feel to it. There was Dickens and the Christmas Carol everywhere in this novella, which made me love it even more.
Find it on Amazon or Goodreads.

 

I’d love to hear your recommendations for Christian (or clean) reads that are also available in Kindle Unlimited. I highly recommend all 3 of these titles and have given them all 5 stars. 
AND in case you weren’t aware. All of my novels are available in KU. 😉 And I can highly recommend them to you as well. You’ll find my collection on Amazon and Goodreads

 

 

 

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Book Review: The Lieutenant’s Bargain by Regina Jennings

7Hattie Walker dreams of becoming a painter, while her parents want her to settle down. As a compromise, they give her two months to head to Denver and place her works in an exhibition or give up the dream forever. Her journey is derailed when a gunman attacks her stagecoach, leaving her to be rescued by a group of Arapaho . . . but she’s too terrified to recognize them as friendly.

Confirmed bachelor Lieutenant Jack Hennessey has long worked with the tribe and is tasked with trying to convince them that the mission school at Fort Reno can help their children. When a message arrives about a recovered survivor, Jack heads out to take her home–and plead his case once more.

He’s stunned to run into Hattie Walker, the girl who shattered his heart–but quickly realizes he has a chance to impress her. When his plan gets tangled through translation, Jack and Hattie end up in a mess that puts her dreams in peril–and tests Jack’s resolve to remain single.

What I Loved: Well… I devoured this in 24 hours! I absolutely loved it! The story kicks off and doesn’t stop until you hit the last page. It was hilarious, romantic, fast-paced, and even had a lovely Christian Christmas message tucked inside. These two had great chemistry together and they kept the pages moving. The entire cast of personalities came to life. It was also a treat to revisit old friends from previous books. I’m not sure what else you need to hear from me other than a command for you to pick this one up ASAP! I adored it and I think you will too!

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 5 stars. I recommend it to those looking for a fun western and to Christian historical/western fans.

~ I received a copy from Bethany House through NetGalley. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

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Book Review: At First Glance by Susan Tuttle

17Estate planner Penny Thornton loves dusting off items others gloss over, especially since she relates to feeling tossed aside for the “bright and shiny.” When her younger sister’s approaching wedding launches Penny back into the throes of her dysfunctional family, she decides to use the festivities to close the gap in their relationships even if it means appeasing them and finally losing the few pounds they’ve hounded her about for years. 

But she doesn’t expect to meet two very different men in the process: East Fisher, the personal trainer who personifies everything she believes she could never attain, and Jonah Black, a man who reminds her so much of herself. Both men are more than they appear at first glance, and each seems interested in her romantically. 

As Penny uncovers their hidden layers, she discovers when it comes to love and matters of the heart, she’s got a lot to learn about estimating value.

What I Loved: Wow-wee! At First Sight will certainly be a highlight of my reading year. The characters were easy to relate to and their chemistry was spot-on. The overall writing style was smooth and enjoyable. I’m under the impression that Tuttle spend years studying the craft and her debut novel shows it.
But for me, the real highlight was the theme of the story and it’s summed up nicely in this quote from the novel: “My potential has nothing to do with my waistline.” Tuttle shows the realistic struggle of trying to fit into society’s, or sometimes our family’s, perfect image. Our worth in Christ and showing love, kindness, and offering forgiveness to others were themes woven in from start to finish.

Rating and Recommendations: I highly recommend At First Glance to Christian Contemporary romance fans or to anyone who has ever focused on their outward appearance. I’m giving it 5 stars.

~ I received a copy from the publisher. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own.