Posted in Book Reviews

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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Posted in Book Reviews

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.

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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

 

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

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.

Posted in Book Reviews

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.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Writing from the Trenches: Tips and Techniques from Ten Award-Winning Authors

400YOU … and an Army of Ten!

TEN-HUT! Gear up for your writing with tried-and-true tips from the trenches. Ten award-winning authors share invaluable tips and secrets they’ve gleaned the hard way, offering a broad range of insights and opinions on the best way to tackle subjects such as the following:

Plotting Techniques
Research
Characterization
Villains We Love to Hate
Dynamic Dialogue
Sigh-Worthy Heroes
The Right Heroine for the Job
Hooking Your Reader in the First Chapter
Scene Endings to Lead Your Readers On
Creating a Movie Set
Making your Readers Cry
Deep POV
Copyediting your Manuscript
Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Marketing for Those Who Hate Marketing

At last … a writer’s tool that provides the experience and expertise of ten authors who’ve been on the front lines of publishing and lived to teach about it: Connie Almony, Lynnette Bonner, Hallee Bridgeman, Louise Gouge, Michelle Griep, Julie Lessman, Elizabeth Ludwig, Ane Mulligan, MaryLu Tyndall, and Erica Vetsch.

My Thoughts: This was a terrific overview of writing. There were so many sections covered that it’s a must-read for aspiring authors. The beauty of it was that it was compiled together by ten different authors so you’re getting the strengths from each author. I found it so helpful that I immediately offered to buy a copy for the aspiring author that I’m coaching.
As a published author, I didn’t really find “new” information but rather a new way of explaining old information which I found really helpful. I kept finding myself quoting something from this book as I pulled my notes together for the aspiring author I was critiquing.
The layout was perfectly arranged so that one point naturally flowed into the next. The beginning opened with all ten authors sharing how they plot their novel. While it did start to feel a tad repetitive with each author giving nearly the same intro, all ten authors had vastly different styles of plotting. I found this section really interesting and I didn’t find any one author who did it exactly like myself, so I certainly walked away with some ideas for things I could try in the future.
I do feel obligated to share a warning for more conservative writers. There’s a section on how to create a great hero which was extremely well thought out and packed full of outstanding material. The author even shares a vast selection of examples from her writing. I’m the sort who learns best by example so I double appreciate that sort of effort. But in this particular case, I found the majority of the examples a bit steamier for my personal tastes. While I wholeheartedly stand by the information, for more conservative writers, I would just caution you that may find yourself skimming. But the information itself should NOT be skimmed over but soaked up instead.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 5 stars and highly recommending it to aspiring authors looking for a solid overview and to published authors looking to finetune some areas or seeking a great teaching aid.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Romancing the Bride by Melissa Jagears

403Marrying a stranger to save a ranch is one thing; losing the land on their wedding day is another.

Desperate to keep the ranch where three of her children and a husband lie buried, Annie Gephart must marry or sell. Which of the few bachelors in town would consider a surprise proposal to wed a plain widow with a rebellious daughter, a spirited boy, and unpaid taxes—without laughing in her face?

Jacob Hendrix has never fully let go of his ranching dreams despite ending up as a small Wyoming town’s marshal. The job wouldn’t be so bad, except he’s more errand boy than lawman. When Annie proposes marriage without a single coquettish bat of an eyelash, can he commit himself to a woman he hardly knows for a choice piece of property he’d be an idiot to pass up?

But taxes aren’t all that threaten Annie and Jacob’s plans. Cattle rustlers, crumbling friendships, and wayward children make this marriage of convenience anything but. When they lose what they’ve sacrificed everything to save, will the love of a stranger be enough?

Romancing the Bride is the first book in the Frontier Vows Series by award-winning Christian romance author Melissa Jagears. If you like heartwarming marriage-of-convenience stories, you’ll love this sweet romance filled with endearing characters.

My Thoughts: One of the things that I came to admire from Jagears’s last series, Teaville Moral Society, was that she took on a difficult subject, creating a novel that was more than simply romance and historic western culture. And while the “realness” featured in Romancing the Bride wasn’t overly in-depth, it does bring a genuine feel to the story. Cattle rustling, corrupt leaders, gangster type of bullying, and land theft were all intricately woven into the tale. Add in a rebellious teen and the death of loved ones and you have something that modern readers can relate to as well.
But I don’t mean to make this sound like a somber book because it wasn’t! That’s the beauty of it. Jagears brings the essence of a tough reality inside of a highly entertaining novel. It was romantic. Jacob and Annie had great chemistry together and their plight was realistic. The supporting cast was authentically crafted.
From beginning to end, the religious content was properly in focus. Accepting Christ’s gift of forgiveness and salvation without earning it was among one of the greater themes, although there were others woven in.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Romancing the Bride 5 stars and highly recommending it to those who enjoy Christian historical fiction, Christian western, or marriage of convenience stories.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Time Will Tell by Anne Mateer

36Returning home after two years at the Buffalo Ladies’ Seminary, Annis Jackson believes God has blessed her with the perfect homecoming: a whirlwind romance with a man she’s loved from afar during her time at school. Except the object
of her affections, Hugh Hylton, is related to her father’s most bitter enemy, a man determined to see Toledo firmly in the grip of the state of Ohio and the very one funding Hugh’s newspaper venture. 

After several years of newspaper work in Buffalo, New York, Hugh Hylton jumped at his uncle’s offer of financial help to start a newspaper on the opposite shore of Lake Erie. And when he discovers during the steamship voyage to his new home that the woman he’s been dreaming about for the past year, Annis Jackson, loves him back, his future seems secure. He arrives in Port Lawrence, part of the newly named town of Toledo, ready to approach her father and declare his intentions toward her. 
But Annis fears Hugh doesn’t understand the depth of the personal conflict over the positioning of Ohio’s state line and persuades him to conceal their relationship until she can prepare her father to accept Hugh in spite of his family connections. Then the Michigan militia arrives in the Toledo Strip, determined to prevent Ohio elections, and the situation gets out of hand, making their secret more difficult to guard. Suddenly the future of the newspaper—and their relationship—is as unstable as the fate of Toledo itself. 

Will Hugh and Annis survive their feuding families? Only time will tell. 

What I Loved: This is the Anne Mateer that I love and miss! I thoroughly enjoyed the historical detail about a conflict that I knew nothing about. The creator in me geeks out at the thought process behind developing a story based on a microscopic moment in history. The characters were endearing and well-crafted. I especially adored the relationship between the sisters and the “Whoa, Philly” remarks. I wasn’t sure if the romance would keep my attention as well since it was about an established couple trying to navigate the difficulties surrounding them versus falling in love for the first time, but I found myself really enjoying it. And Mateer weaves all of this together with a solid message on repentance and trusting Christ to care for even the details of your life.

Rating and Recommendations: I give it 5 stars and recommend it to those looking for a Christian historical novella or those interested in Michigan/Ohio history.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Sparkle of Silver by Liz Johnson

15Ninety years ago, Millie Sullivan’s great-grandmother was a guest at oil tycoon Howard Dawkins’ palatial estate on the shore of St. Simons Island, Georgia. Now, Millie plays a 1920s-era guest during tours of the same manor. But when her grandmother suggests that there is a lost diary containing the location of a hidden treasure on the estate, along with the true identity of Millie’s great-grandfather, Millie sets out to find the truth of her heritage–and the fortune that might be hers. When security guard Ben Thornton discovers her snooping in the estate’s private library, he threatens to have her fired. But her story seems almost too ludicrous to be fiction, and her offer to split the treasure is too tempting to pass up . . .

Get ready for a romantic escapade through dark halls and dusty corners that will have you holding your breath and sighing with delight as two charming characters get caught up in the adventure of uncovering the past and finding their way to an unexpected future.

My Thoughts: A Sparkle of Silver was absolutely delightful! It was romantic. Millie and Ben had great page-turning chemistry together. The mystery was engaging and had snagged me completely. I really enjoyed watching Millie’s great-grandmother Ruth’s story unfold and the romance and intrigue that went along with it. Johnson hooked me with the prospect of dark halls and dusty corners being the setting of a fascinating puzzle and she did not let down! I thoroughly enjoyed slipping away into a world, both past and present, that Johnson had created for us. And beyond all the romance and mystery was a sound message centered on trusting Christ with your needs and forgiving yourself. Johnson became a new favorite author with The Red Door Inn and she secured that spot with A Sparkle of Silver.

Rating and Recommendation: I highly recommend this one to Christian fiction fans who enjoy dual-timeline novels, great escapes to vacations along the shore, and light mysteries. I’m giving it 5 stars.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear

401Thomas Bledsoe and Kate Gruener are traveling the Wilderness Road when conflicts between natives and settlers reach a peak that will require each of them to tap into a well of courage.
A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

Love and Adventure Are Discovered on the Wilderness Road
In 1794, when Kate Gruener’s father is ready to move the family farther west into the wilderness to farm untouched land, Kate is eager to live out her own story of adventure like he did during the War for Independence and to see untamed lands. And she sets her sights on learning more about their scout, Thomas Bledsoe. Thomas’s job is to get settlers safely across the Kentucky Wilderness Road to their destination while keeping an ear open for news of Shawnee unrest. But naïve Kate’s inquisitive nature could put them both in the middle of a rising tide of conflict. Is there more to Thomas’s story than he is willing to tell? Is there an untapped courage in Kate that can thwart a coming disaster?

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear.

More in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:
The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)
The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)
The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)​
The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)
The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)

My Thoughts: The Cumberland Bride is a strong historical novel with a strong plot twist. The depth of research and attention to detail struck me almost immediately. McNear weaves in such an authentic feel to the everyday lifestyle as well as the scenery. I did feel like it took me longer to get into, but once I was hooked, I was WAY in. I don’t want to ruin anything but wow! The plot twist was remarkable and it completely changed the course of the story. I was enthralled by the new tidbits of Shawnee culture that I had never heard of before. And McNear brings all of this together with a strong Christian message of saving faith and living out your faith in Christ. I appreciated all the Scripture she weaved in for the reader.

Rating and Recommendation: I’d recommend this one to Christian Historical fans, especially those interested in Native American stories. I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Interview and Book Review: Bittersweet by Krista Noorman

262He owns a food truck. She owns a bakery. He walked out on her four years ago without a word. Will his return bring them a second chance or is it a recipe for disaster?

Harper Hensley’s greatest joy is baking. She’s co-owner of a cute little bake shop, creating delicious treats to her heart’s content, and happily dating a successful lawyer. Life seems perfect. Until Logan Riggs, the man who walked out on her without a word four years ago, rolls into town in his new coffee food truck, living the dream they were supposed to share together.

The last thing Logan ever wanted was to leave Harper, but unforeseen circumstances forced him to make that choice. He never meant to hurt her or ruin their plans of starting a food truck. Now he’s back to make things right, hoping to convince her to work with him, and longing for a second chance with the woman he loved from the start.

Coffee and cupcakes belong together. But is the truth about Logan’s disappearing act too much to forgive? Can Harper move past the bitter to get to the sweet?

*****

Second Chance with You is a series written by a group of sweet, clean romance authors connected by the the idea that past loves, broken apart for a myriad of reasons, can be brought back together—some by chance, some by circumstance, some by choice.

Bittersweet is part of the Second Chance with You series. All books in this series are standalone and can be read in any order.

My Thoughts:

If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you would have already been introduced to Krista Noorman. She’s one of my favorite Indie authors, and not just because we’ve become friends, but because she happens to write a particular style of story that I’m quite fond of. I thoroughly enjoy a good friction-filled romance. And once again, Noorman delivers! Here are 3 quick reasons you should give Bittersweet a try:

Cupcakes and Coffee really do go together! If you enjoy those novels that involve your favorite foods and that make you hungry and cozy all at the same time, you’ll feel right at home here!

Friction. Filled. Romance. 🙂 These two really start off with a bang. Logan wants her back, but Harper isn’t ready to forgive him. If you like to witness the sparks, you’ll want to grab this one … and any all the other Noorman novels while you’re at it. 😉

If you like your romance plot to contain unexpected twists and turns, you’re in for a treat! I’ve read a lot. And I’ll be honest, there was one point about a third of the way in where I questioned what in the world she was intending to do with the rest of the pages. LOL I wasn’t questioning for much longer! She truly did fill out every one of those pages and some of those ways, I didn’t see coming!

Disclaimer: I typically review Christian fiction, so I feel better about pointing out that Bittersweet was written for the clean fiction genre. The main difference is that clean fiction doesn’t require a faith element. The characters in this book did allude to Christian beliefs but their faith never became a focal point. One disclaimer to point out is that there is a single use of the phrase, “Go to H…” Otherwise, the language content was clean. And the romance was clean as well. I’d still gladly recommend it but to the right reader. 🙂

I took the chance to interview Krista about her latest release, and I was surprised to learn something new about my friend. Check it out: 

Now let’s talk, cupcakes and coffee, shall we!! In your novel, Harper runs a bake shop. Is this something you’ve ever considered doing?

Not at all. Though I love cute little shops like this and always enjoy their yummy treats, I am not much of a baker.

Likewise, Logan runs a coffee food truck. If you weren’t writing, would you consider opening a coffee shop?

I don’t think I’d ever want to run a coffee shop or food truck. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes logistics, permits, and business stuff that just don’t sound like very much fun. But maybe working in one might be fun to try for a day. 😉

One of my favorite scenes is when Harper had a lot on her mind and kept messing up her cookies. Lol We’ve all been distracted cooks at some point or another. Can you tell us one of your own personal mishaps in the kitchen?

Oh goodness. One time, I made peanut butter cookies and I’m not sure if the baking soda was bad or I put too much in, but it left the nastiest aftertaste ever. I also made homemade biscuits once and they were dry and nasty—pretty much paperweights. My husband has teased me often over the years about both of these little mishaps.

I understand there’s a whole collection of second chance romance novels in the works. Who are the other authors we’ll be hearing from and where can we find them?

The series is called Second Chance with You. There are nine authors, including myself, and the common theme of our novels is a second chance at love. Each is a standalone story, so the series can be read in any order. You can learn more about the books and authors on our Amazon series page here:
https://www.amazon.com/author/secondchancewithyou

Which character did you most relate to? Why?

I think Savannah, Harper’s business partner. She’s kind of the mom figure to Harper, being a little older than her, and her reactions were a lot like mine would’ve been in the situations Harper finds herself in.

Lightning Round:
If you were forced to open a food truck, what would sell?

Can you sell toast in a food truck, because that’s pretty much all I can make. haha! Kidding. I think the coffee food truck idea would be fun. I’d go with that.

Do you watch Food Truck Race or baking challenges on Food Network?

I don’t (we don’t have the Food Network), but when we used to have cable years ago, we watched Cake Boss all the time and the occasional cooking competition show.

Favorite flavor of cupcake?

CHOCOLATE!

Favorite coffee?

Mocha latte, please.

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You can pick up your copy from Amazon today. And it’s on sale this week only! 

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