Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Stranger at Fellsworth

181In the fallout of her deceased father’s financial ruin, Annabelle’s prospects are looking bleak. Her fiancé has called off their betrothal, and now she remains at the mercy of her controlling and often cruel brother. Annabelle soon faces the fact that her only hope for a better life is to do the unthinkable and run away to Fellsworth, where her estranged uncle serves as the school’s superintendent. Upon arrival, Annabelle learns that she must shed her life of high society and work for her wages for the first time in her life.

Owen Locke is unswerving in his commitments. As a widower and father, he is fiercely protective of his only daughter. As an industrious gamekeeper, he is intent on keeping poachers at bay even though his ambition has always been to purchase land he can call his own. When a chance encounter introduces him to Annabelle Thorley, his steady life is shaken. For the first time since his wife’s death, Owen begins to consider a second chance at love.

As Owen and Annabelle grow closer, ominous forces threaten the peace they thought they’d found. Poachers, mysterious strangers, and murderers converge at Fellsworth, forcing Annabelle and Owen to a test of fortitude and bravery to stop the shadow of the past from ruining their hopes for the future.

What I Loved: Sometimes a novel is just so perfectly smooth and entertaining that you can’t even begin to explain its awesomeness. A Stranger at Fellsworth was that novel for me. From the very beginning,  I was pulled into a story of adventure, romance, and that classic Regency setting. Ladd kept my attention throughout the entire novel with a story that kept pace and the characters evolved.
I read this one without having read the first two novels of the series and it read as a standalone. If there were any characters who crossed over, I didn’t know about it so there doesn’t appear to be any obvious spoilers.

I also had the pleasure of listening to this one in audio and can highly recommend the audio version. The narrator was easy to understand and pleasing to hear.

Rating and Recommendation: I highly recommend this one to those who enjoy Christian Regency and am giving it 5 stars.

~I received a copy from The Fiction Guild. I was not required to review. All thoughts are my own. 

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Posted in Book Reviews

Cover Reveal and GIVEAWAY: A Mother for His Family by Susanne Dietze

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I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Dietze’s Regency novel, The Reluctant Guardian last week, and I’m already looking forward to her next. Take a look at her upcoming release and hear some of the inspiration behind the cover. 
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About the Book/Synopsis: Lady Helena Stanhope’s reputation is in tatters…and she’s lost any hope for a “respectable” ton marriage. An arranged union is the only solution. But once Helena weds formidable Scottish widower John Gordon, Lord Ardoch, and encounters his four mischievous children, she’s determined to help her new, ever-surprising family. Even if she’s sure love is too much to ask for. All John needs is someone to mother his admittedly unruly brood. He never imagined that beautiful Lady Helena would be a woman of irresistible spirit, caring and warmth. Or that facing down their pasts would give them so much in common. Now, as danger threatens, John will do whatever it takes to convince Helena their future together—and his love—are for always.
About the Author: Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she’s the author of several historical romances who’s seen her work on the ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. You can visit her at: Web Page // Facebook // Twitter // Goodreads // Pinterest
Inspiration Behind the Cover: 
Susanne shared her Inspiration behind the cover in saying: “I love marriage of convenience stories and always wanted to write one! It’s always fun for me to read a book where the wedding happens at the beginning and things progress out of order with the couple: marriage first, then love. I was able to offer three scene suggestions for the cover, and the wedding was my first choice so I’m thrilled the amazing art department at Harlequin chose to work with it. It’s a hopeful scene, since both the hero and heroine, John and Helena, think getting married will be the answer to their problems: he needs a mother for his three kids and niece, and she needs a respectable home. However, they learn right away that saying “I do” might provide solutions to their immediate issues, but not all of them, and forging a family can be a challenge—one that both breaks and heals their hearts! I love looking at them in this scene and knowing they have adventures ahead that will bring them closer together!”
Bloggers Participating:
You can pre-order your copy today!
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Susanne Dietze is offering a giveaway just for the event! Follow the link to enter. 
Here’s a quick word from Susanne: Don’t forget to enter to win the giveaway! It’s a Spa Moment (alas, a moment is all I can afford with a kid in college.). You can win a copy of The Reluctant Guardian, which takes place in the same story universe as A Mother for His Family; a Beauticontrol Regeneration Pure Hydration Sheet Masque (over $10 value for this lovely masque), and a signed bookplate.
Posted in About the Book

Cover Reveal: The Birth of Grace by A.M. Heath

Grace Final 1600x2400

This is one of those surprise projects that fell into my lap and stole my heart all at once. I didn’t expect to tell this story anytime soon and yet here I am!

The Birth of Grace is special to me for two reasons: It carries a Pro-Life message and it’s inspired by my grandmother, Anita Vasquez.

My grandmother was adopted, and I’ve always been curious to know the story behind it. As it turns out, there are multiple adoption stories floating around. When I found out that more than one story existed, I was at first frustrated and then inspired. I began to feel the familiar tug of a novel buried deep within and soon crafted one about a granddaughter searching for the truth.

Because I want to guard my family, I’m choosing to separate the truth from the fiction. The fictional family does not resemble my real family in any purposeful way, and neither do the fictionalized adoption stories.

The cover and the title may be a tad misleading so allow me to explain. The character featured on the cover is Kaitlin Jefferson. She’s seeking the truth behind her grandmother Grace’s adoption. The adoption stories appear as short stories weaved into Kaitlin’s story. So throughout the novel, we move from the present day to the 1940s. Besides searching for the truth about her grandmother, Kaitlin is also dodging unwanted matchmaking schemes from her entire family and trying to get to know a certain handsome stranger better. This is a story of heart and comedy combined.

While my grandmother may have been viewed as a product of a bad choice or even a burden, she was offered life. And with her life, she loved. I don’t know what my great-grandmother faced. I don’t know if she chose to give her daughter away out of selfish reasons or necessity. But because she chose life, I’m alive today. Her one decision has given life to 8 children, 20 grandchildren, and 22 great-grandchildren and counting. To my great-grandmother: We may not know your name, but we thank you all the same.

DedicationFinal

Projected Release Date: Sadly, this novel is still in the early stages of its first draft. Lord willing, I’ll be releasing 2 novels in Fall of 2018 as part of my new series, A Season Passed. Unless the Lord changes my course, my goal is to publish The Birth of Grace in Aug of 2019. I know it seems like forever away but you’ll catch me talking about Grace quite a bit in the months to come.

I’d appreciate your prayers as I continue working on all three upcoming novels. You can keep up with my progress by following me here on the blog as well as on Facebook.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Reluctant Guardian by Susanne Dietze

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Under the Spy’s Protection 

When Gemma Lyfeld inadvertently interrupts a dangerous smuggling operation in her English village, she’s rescued by a mysterious Scottish spy. Now with criminals after her and her hopes for an expected marriage proposal recently dashed, she will make her society debut in London. But not without the man tasked with protecting her…

Covert government agent Tavin Knox must keep Gemma safe from the criminals who think she can identify them—a mission he never wanted. But as he escorts her and her rascally nephews around London, the lovely English lass proves braver than he ever imagined. Suddenly, the spy who works alone has one Season to become the family man he never dreamed he’d be.

What I Loved: I enjoy a good Dietze novel. They’re always perfect for a quick, light read and The Reluctant Guardian was a prime example of that. Dietze engages the reader with vivid historical detail and authentic lingo. I appreciate the captivating mystery as well as a very interesting side of the Regency era that I had not heard about before now. And Dietze wraps this up with tons of playful banter and a solid message for the soul.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving The Reluctant Guardian 4.5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Regency fiction.

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Hold the Light by April McGowen

171To an artist, the light is everything. So what is Amber supposed to do when facing blindness?
Amber spent her life adapting—first to being abandoned by her birth mother as a toddler, and then to the death of her adoptive father in her teen years. Now she’s moved past all that, loving life as an independent woman: she has a job as an art instructor and the perfect apartment.
But when a routine eye appointment reveals she’s losing her sight, life comes to a halt. Pressures come at her from all sides. Her mother, her boss, her boyfriend and her closest friend, Shannon, all have ideas about what’s best for her.
Even after her blindness counselor, Ethan, befriends her and opens her eyes to new opportunities and the possibility of a deeper relationship, one haunting question remains: How could the God she loved all her life turn everything upside down—again?

What I loved: Hold the Light was beautiful! Memorable! I can’t say enough good things about this one. While I did feel like there were areas where the secondary characters or Amber’s reaction came across as a tad shallow, there was so much more working for this novel.
My favorite aspect of the novel was McGowan’s ability to show real hardships and real emotions. She had crafted a story that tugged on my heart without making me feel broken inside. She also excelled at bringing the reader to face a new reality, something very few, if any, of her readers would face in their lifetime. But I walked away enlightened and I know you will too. Hold the Light is more than a story of hard reality, it’s a story of real hope and the peace that comes from knowing The Light of the World.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Hold the Light 4.5 stars and highly recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Fiction or fiction containing characters with a disability.

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

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Name Unknown by Roseanna White

159Edwardian Romance and History Gains a Twist of Suspense

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered. 

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

What I Loved:  A Name Unknown contained so many of my favorite fiction aspects: There is something so right about meeting a flawed character in a novel, and White nails it with her stuttering hero.
There was a touch of mystery and suspense. Just a touch to keep those pages turning but not so much that you have to leave the light on at night.
I find the noble thief an endearing storyline. It’s always interesting to see the realities of a lifestyle that I have no experience in such as Rosemary’s history as an orphan on the streets of London.
And then there’s the author character. I enjoyed being able to relate to him as well as watching his thoughts and his stories unfold throughout the story.
One can’t neglect the historical angle! The series started before WWI so we’re seeing the climate heat up as the nations are on the brink of war and people begin to suspect each other of being traitors. Most war fiction novels feature the war or the aftermath and few look at what is taking place before the start of it.
And most importantly, of course, is the spiritual message. White does an excellent job walking her character through salvation and repentance, as well as growing her Christian character.
Needless to say, this will be one of my highlights for the year. And I can’t wait for the next book in the series.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving A Name Unknown 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction, Pre-war, or WWI setting.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin

158Page-Turning Intrigue and Romance from an Up-and-Coming Historical Romance Talent

In 1917, Evelyn Marche is just one of many women who has been widowed by the war. A British nurse trapped in German-occupied Brussels, she spends her days working at a hospital and her nights as a waitress in her aunt and uncle’s café. Eve also has a carefully guarded secret keeping her in constant danger: She’s a spy working for a Belgian resistance group in league with the British Secret Service. 

When a British plane crashes in Brussels Park, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to discover she recognizes the badly injured pilot. British RFC Captain Simon Forrester is now a prisoner of war, and Eve knows he could be shot as a spy at any time. She risks her own life to hide him from the Germans, but as the danger mounts and the secrets between them grow, their chance of survival looks grim. And even if they do make it out alive, the truth of what lies between them may be more than any love can overcome.

My Thoughts: Confession. I struggled to get into this one for some unknown reason. I think it was just one of those rare things that happened. But BELIEVE me, there was PLENTY here to get wrapped up in. So my struggle may not be yours.
Breslin does such an excellent job at packing you up and dropping you off overseas in 1917. The history is rich but easy to understand. She brings so much light to life in occupied Europe during WWI. There was also so much detail and insight into underground networks during the war. I found this fascinating. Couple that with the excitement of an unknown double agent, well-developed characters, a solid message on faith and Christ’s forgiveness, and unexpected twists along the way and you’ve found yourself a worthy war fiction novel.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving High as the Heavens 4.5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction or Christian war fiction.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep

167A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger…and love?

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series–a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale–by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite.

What I Loved: You’re in for a Christmas treat with this one! Griep has a charming, yet quirky, story to offer for your Christmas reading. I really enjoyed the insight into the Victorian Christmas traditions. There were several that I had never heard of. Griep’s guide to the Christmas traditions in the back came in handy.
There was an intriguing mystery here alongside the romance that kept me engaged. There’s also a timeless lesson on the power of kindness and on not seeking revenge.
This is something of a shorter novel, so it’ll fit right in with your busy holiday season.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving 12 days at Bleakly Manor 5 stars and recommend it to fans of Christian Historical Fiction or Christian Christmas stories.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Audio Book Review: Within the Veil by Brandy Vallance

170They never should have met. But they might be made for each other.

Feya Broon, a Scottish half Gypsy, knows what it is to go hungry. Trapped in the Edinburgh tenements with a father lost to his past and only the faded memory of her mother’s faith, Feya is desperate to provide for her siblings. When an ill-conceived plan leads to thievery, she finds herself in the last place she’d ever want to be–captured by a palace guard. But there’s something about this man that tears at every preconceived notion she’s even had about the haughty English.

Alasdair Cairncross never dreamed he’d be forced to transport a Gypsy woman halfway across the wilds of Scotland. The timing is disastrous, considering his fiancée’s imminent arrival and his father’s political goals. Not only that, but the fiery young woman threatens to lay bare secrets Alasdair would rather keep hidden. And yet the farther they travel together, the less concerned he finds himself with duty–both to the crown and to the plans his family has for him.

As their walls begin to crumble, Feya and Alasdair must fight to survive a decades-old feud, a Highland kidnapping, and the awakening of their own hearts.

My Thoughts on the Story: I was hooked from the moment it started. This one felt so outside of the box in terms of standard Christian Fiction. And I mean that as a great compliment! I loved it!! The characters were properly developed, even down to the villain. The setting was rich and easy to envision. Vallance stepped out and gave her hero a unique ability or disability, depending on your viewpoint. This helped to set him, and the entire novel, further apart from the norm.
The one thing I would caution is that while Vallance didn’t go too far in terms of passion for a Christian Fiction novel, she went plenty far enough. Within the Veil would be more appropriate for a mature audience.

My Thoughts on the Audio Version: Everyone’s idea of an enjoyable reading voice will be different but this narrator was among my favorites. I liked her overall speaking voice and appreciated how she was able to slip into thicker Scottish accents when needed.
However, it takes a little time to adjust to her speech and be able to follow the story. I had to find some quiet time when I could focus on the story more than anything else.
One thing I would have liked to have seen differently is a longer pause when switching between view points.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Within the Veil 5 stars and recommend it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction, a clean Gypsy story, or a Scottish setting.

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

And if you don’t listen to audio books, fear not! Within the Veil is available in paperback and e-book form! Enjoy!

*Note for those following the blog: I accidentally released this review before it was finished. My apologies!!

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: With You Always by Jody Hedlund

160A Riveting Look at the Orphan Train from Historical Novelist Jody Hedlund

When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She’s had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children’s Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn’t want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance. 

The son of one of New York City’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother’s shadow and is determined to win his father’s challenge. He doesn’t plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.

My Thoughts: I struggled a bit in the beginning with this one, but once I was hooked, I was really hooked and couldn’t put it down! I always appreciate historical fiction for the insights into lesser known areas of history, and Hedlund is a master at her research. The setting comes to life with a hard look at the plight of the poor and the destruction of the gangs of New York City. A new-to-me lesson was that they sent workers out west as well as young orphans. I enjoyed seeing more on the development of a new town.
The spiritual lessons were just as strongly woven into the story as the history lessons were. We’re treated to themes such as fighting fair, finding strength in humility, not judging those beneath you, and trusting God for your needs and at to be with you in the dark times.
There were some great twist and turns along the way, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next with this family.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving With You Always 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Historical Christian Fiction or stories about the Orphan train.

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