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Book Reviews: February’s Backlist: 2 in 1 Review

Alongside my usual new release reviews, I’m trying to squeeze in more books from my backlist. Here are the books I read this month. Have you read any of these books yet or are you planning?
*All links unless otherwise stated will take you to Goodreads

219A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears
Impatient to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store, mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell sets out on her travels a week early. But her plan goes sadly awry when her train is held up by robbers who steal her dowry and Axel, her groom-to-be, isn’t even in town when she finally arrives.

Axel’s business partner, William Stanton, has no head for business and would much rather be a doctor. When his friend’s mail-order bride arrives in town with no money and no groom in sight, he feels responsible and lets her help around the store–where she quickly proves she’s much more adept at business than he ever will be.

The sparks that fly between Will and Eliza as they work together in close quarters are hard to ignore, but Eliza is meant for Axel and a future with the store, while Will is biding his time until he can afford medical school. However, their troubles are far from over when Axel finally returns, and soon both Will and Eliza must decide what they’re willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams–or if God has a new dream in store for them both.

My Review: I absolutely loved this one!!! The first one was good, but this one was my favorite of the series so far. I was surprised at the twists and turns the story took along the way.
Rating: 5 stars

222Pride and Prejudice in AUDIO

Pride and Prejudice is a beloved classic for a reason. You either love it, or you don’t, or you know you need to give it a try, so I’m not going to review the book. Suffice it to say that all things Austen rank highly with me. I enjoy the romance and the old-fashioned language. But I do want to share the audio version that I’m listening to and the great deal I had found.
If you’ve looked at the classics in audio, you would have found SEVERAL versions for a single book. Many reviews will point out that the more expensive versions are best. But I picked up this one dirt¬†cheap and I’m loving every minute of it.
The original audible price is $14.95. But they had an option of buying the kindle version with it (which turned out to be free) THEN buying the audible version at a discount. My records show that I paid less than $2 for the audio. And I have I mentioned that I’m loving it?! I’d give this audio 5 stars but at this price, I’d give it 10 stars! ūüėČ
Here are the two links I used when buying. Always, always, always preview the audio to make sure the narrator is pleasing to your ears. Be sure to double check prices before pushing any buttons because prices can change. And if you’re looking to¬†pick up the audio at a discount, be sure to pick up the ebook version first and click on “add the audio.” Ebook and Audio

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Mistaken by Karen Barnett

175Since booze and prohibition have made criminals out of every man in her world, Laurie Burke resolves to find at least one honorable man to fill her life. Convinced that handsome newcomer Daniel Shepherd is connected with her brother’s rum-running gang, Laurie quickly scratches his name off her list. Daniel has mixed feelings about returning to the dirty mill town of his youth, but grudgingly agrees to manage his grandfather’s drug store until a replacement can be found. The moment he meets Laurie on the windswept bluff overlooking the beach, he knows that if he can earn her love, he might have a reason to stay. But when Laurie pushes him away–for none other than Federal Agent Samuel Brown–Daniel wonders if Laurie really is the upstanding woman he thought her to be. The Strait of Juan de Fuca, just off the beaches of Port Angeles, Washington, was treacherous water for reckless rum-runners‚ÄĒand the agents who tried to catch them. So when she realizes her brother is in danger, romance is the last thing on Laurie’s mind. Yet the people she believes she can trust, may not be so honorable after all.

What I Loved: What a ride!!!! I absolutely LOVED this novel! Let me try to put into words why . . . I think one of the things that quickly jumped out at me was the setting. While the prohibition setting isn’t “new,” it’s not a common setting used in Christian Fiction. Not as common as the Wild West anyways. So finding a¬† well-written book in this setting is always a treat. It is the small details of the era and nature walks the characters went on that beautifully builds on the setting, making it come to life.
The characters were complex and realistic, but the plot is where this novel really shines!! It wasn’t until I had picked up Mistaken that I realized I hadn’t had my hands on a novel with a truly sticky plot in quite some time. It seemed like the characters¬†were constantly being backed into this impossible corner where either direction spelled disaster.
The passion level on this one was a slightly more than expected. It stayed well within the bounds of Christian fiction, but for those who don’t appreciate romance or passion, they’d like to know that there was a character who had a habit of putting his hands on the lady. Again, it never went too far but the character was meant to make you uncomfortable, and he did just that.

Rating and Recommendation: Mistaken is an older novel by Karen Barnett, but I highly recommend Christian Historical fans to go back and pick this one up if they haven’t already. I’m giving it 5 stars.

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Book Review: Lady Jane Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano

187When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies in debtor’s prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company.

When Aurelie decides to complete her father’s unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother’s disappearance–and perhaps even her father’s death.

Author Joanna Davidson Politano’s stunning debut set in Victorian England will delight readers with its highly original plot, lush setting, vibrant characters, and reluctant romance.

What I Loved: Lady Jayne Disappears was one of those fantastic novels that leave you speechless and wanting to gush all at the same time. I seriously loved everything here. The characters: There was a wide range of complex characters making up the cast.
The plot: This was such a fun ride from start to finish. The plot twisted and turned in unexpected ways. The mystery evolved at a slow and steady pace. And where the title may lead you to think it will be a suspenseful read, that wasn’t the case at all. It was mysterious but not life-threatening.
Politano brings a new, fresh voice to the Christian Historical Fiction genre and I can’t wait to see what she has for us next! Lady Jayne Disappears was delightful in every way and I plan to keep it on my re-read list.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 5 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah by Angie Dicken

169Schoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Good riddance to coal dust, rugged men, and the fatal mine that took her husband’s life.

Until the widow meets a widower who awakens her heart…and she finds herself inexplicably falling for miner Alex Pappas which stirs up a whole heap of trouble.

Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him.  When the schoolteacher’s association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Gate. . .though she will be leaving her heart behind.

More from¬†My Heart Belongs in¬†Series…
My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss: Priscilla’s Reveille¬†by Erica Vetsch (January 2017)
My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains: Carmella’s Quandary¬†by Susan Page Davis (March 2017)
My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca’s Plight¬†by Susanne Dietze (May 2017)
My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island: Maude’s Mooring¬†by Carrie Fancett Pagels (July 2017)
My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley: Lily’s Dilemma¬†by Andrea Boeshaar¬†(September 2017)

My Thoughts: I’m a sucker for a mining camp story, so I was drawn to Dicken’s Castle Gate and wasn’t let down. The story didn’t focus on life inside the mines quite so much but was rich on the difficulties of the immigrant miners, namely the Greek miners. The place where this story really shined was in immersing¬†the reader into the Greek culture and traditions. This is an area that I haven’t run across often in Christian Fiction and found it delightful. It’s always sobering to witness prejudices being played out in a story, and I leave with so much respect for those who traveled the hard roads earlier in our nation’s history as well as leave with a lesson or two about how to respond to it in today’s climate.
My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah was a delightful read with a delightful cast! I enjoyed my time with the Pappas family and only wish we could expect more from these friends.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah 4 stars and recommend it to those who enjoy Christian Historical Fiction or mining camp settings.

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

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Book Review: To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer

172Do They Have a Fighting Chance at Love?

After completing his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade he learned at his father’s knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past.

Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs in the town her father founded. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she’s reluctant to trust him. Yet as the mysteries of the town’s new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.

Eden believes she’s finally found a man of honor and integrity. But when the truth about Levi’s prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian’s affections?

What I Loved: One of the aspects that stood out the most was the hero. There’s something so special and so unique about a flawed hero. It was endearing to watch Levi struggle with his speech and the creative way he worked around it. Equally endearing for me was watching Eden’s spiritual growth. She has a righteous judgemental problem that so many Christians have fallen victim to and it was encouraging to see how Witemeyer brought her from one idea to the other. The reader can easily glean lesson while they were being entertained.

Rating and Recommendation: If you’re looking for another Christian historical or Christian western that you haven’t read yet, you’ll enjoy To Win Her Heart. I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

 

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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.