Posted in About the Book

Preview: Dance With Me by A.M. Heath

We’re only a week away from the release of the first book of the Art of Love series. Dance With Me releases April 8, 2019. I’ll share links to the blog tour, chat, and giveaway on the release day. But for now, here are the first two chapters of the novel. 
Enjoy! And remember, you can visit the companion post to the novel, featuring dance videos. This can be viewed before, during, or after reading the novel. 

Dancers Banner with date

1

Neil Fox:

2010; Marlow, Tennessee

    A lifetime of ballroom dancing had not only earned me countless awards, but today it was also offering an interview and a grand party to celebrate. I opened the door and held it for Arleen.
    She thanked me as she passed through, and together we stopped at the hotel desk, before being ushered into a private office.
    Upon entering the office, a young woman stood with a bright smile on her face. We swapped handshakes and introductions before settling down on the offered couch.
    Mackenzie Henderson typed out a few notes, then set up her recorder.
    “Miss Henderson,” I started, but the woman waved me off.
    “No, please just call me Mackenzie.”
    I gave her a nod. “With a lifetime of dancing, I’m not even sure where to start.”
    “I understand you were both competitors before 1959. I have a list of your accomplishments here in front of me. But what we’d really like to know is what happened in 59?”
    I flipped my gaze to Arleen. That was a loaded question.
    Arleen sent me a look that said she, too, was still uncertain of how to begin.
    We both looked to Mackenzie for direction.
    “Why don’t we start at the beginning?” she said. “Can you share with me your early impressions of Arleen?”
    I paused a moment.
    Arleen laid her hand on my arm. “Go ahead,” she gently prodded. “I’m not afraid.”
    I pulled in a breath and hoped I wasn’t making a mistake. “Alright, the truth is …”

2

Neil Fox:

1959; Marlow, Tennessee

    The truth was, I knew better than to look twice at Arleen Thatcher. That gal was trouble, if there ever was trouble.
    The temptress in heels sashayed past me, bumping me as she did so. She looked over her shoulder to be sure I’d noticed.
    I had. I wasn’t dead. But I also wasn’t stupid, which was more than I could say for my chums.
    Albert Jones groaned beside me, “That is some doll.”
    I rolled my eyes–eyes that were fixed onto the dance floor and not on Queen Arleen. Like I said, I knew better than to look twice.
    “If I had just one shot with her–”
    “You’d choke,” I cut in.
    Albert nudged my side with his elbow. “I betcha I could get farther with her than you.”
    I snorted. “I got better things to do.”
    “Well, I can’t think of any.”
    “What are you fellas talking about?” Ed Dower asked, wedging between us.
    “Arleen Thatcher,” Albert said, sounding more and more like a lovesick gal with each passing second.
    I didn’t have to look at Ed to know that the mention of Arleen’s name caught his attention. Ed had been her fan for some time now.
    “She purposely bumped into Neil a minute ago, but he’s still claiming he’s unaffected.”
    Ed jerked his head to me.
    I met his look.
    “She bumped you?” He sounded more jealous than curious.
    I didn’t have to work to downplay the moment. I knew what she was really after, and it wasn’t me. “You know how she is.”
    “No, but I’d like to,” Albert said in a throaty moan.
    I cut my eyes to him, a scowl tugging on my lips.
    “She was just trying to get in my head.”
    “I’d let her in my head,” Albert chimed in. “I’d let her in my bed–”
    “Give it a rest!” I cut in.
    Albert looked taken aback. “You got dibs on her or something?”
    I clenched my teeth, nostrils flaring.
    “Come on,” Ed said, gripping Albert by the shoulder. “You oughta know by now, he’s a square when it comes to talking about the babes.”
    Albert eyed me for a moment. “Well, I’m not a square. I’m gonna go talk to Arleen.”
    I watched him saunter off in her direction and rolled my eyes again.
    Ed looked at me, at Arleen, then back to me. “I know what you’re thinking, but, foolish or not, I’m going with him.”
    “Idiots,” I mumbled under my breath, as Ed jogged to join Albert. Couldn’t they recognize what was plain for everyone to see? Right this moment, Arleen stood on the arm of her current dance partner, Jett Finnegan, while she flirted and teased the throng of men surrounding them. Jett, as her boyfriend, should have been offended, but he wasn’t. The arrogant fool actually stood taller, knowing that everyone here wanted what he had. But he wouldn’t have her for long. She’d be bored of him soon enough, and she’d cut him loose, same as she had all the ones before him.
    I didn’t see the logic in getting mixed up with a gal like her. You couldn’t tame her.
    I strolled to the refreshment table, accepted a cup of water, and tried to put my focus back on the dance floor. It wasn’t much of a distraction, since we were between heats. A flurry of activity caught my attention from the right. And just like Moses parting the water, Queen Arleen parted the group of men and started in my direction. My instincts said to up and run like Joseph, but I liked to think I was made of stouter stuff, so I stood my ground. Who knows, maybe I was just dumber than Joseph.
    Arleen reached the table. She cast me a glance out of the corner of her eye and requested a cup of water from the uniformed attendant. Arleen stood in heels and a calf-length dress. Lavender tulle made an impressive bell shape that started around her slender waist. A tight bodice topped it off. Her dark brown hair was swept back, curls pinned in sparkling clips, and tiny white flowers woven through her locks like a crown. She eyed me with–if I were willing to be honest–the sharpest, most stunning shade of blue eyes I had yet seen. Her makeup, thick around the eyes, forced the color to practically pounce on you from across the room, competing only with the most kissable shade of red lips known to man. It was little wonder she had a following, but I was determined not to be numbered among them.
    “Where’s your partner?” she asked, eyes traveling across the room. I started to answer, but she added, “I sure hope she corrected that final spin.”
    I laughed, a short sort of laugh with my mouth closed and lips only tipped up on one side. “You’ll find out soon enough. What about your partner?”
    “What about him?” she asked, one brown brow perked up.
    “He looked a little shaky on his feet during your jive. Do you think he’s ready to waltz?”
     She snickered.
     It might have been a musical sound if I was willing to let myself fall for her charms, which I wasn’t.
    “Say, where is he anyway? I’ve never known you to be without male company for so long.”
     Arleen eyed me coyly. “I’m not without male company. I’m with you, aren’t I?” She batted her long lashes at me.
    “So you are. Why is that exactly?” Something sure smelled fishy.
    She shrugged her shoulder, an innocent–overly innocent–look in her eyes.
    My gut dropped. “They wouldn’t …”
    She grinned and wagged her head. With polished nails, she patted me on the chest, her touch burning, not comforting. “Now, now. Don’t have a cow. You know we agreed never to prank during a competition. Finnegan’s Studio likes to win fair and square.” Arleen gave a slight nudge of her head toward the back door. “The guys are out back having a smoke, and I thought I’d take the water with you instead,” she said, raising her paper cup in the air.
    Right. Smokes. That made sense. Arleen didn’t smoke. She was known for staying glued to a man’s arm the entire time, except when he smoked. I only knew that because I didn’t smoke either and often saw her when the room cleared. It was almost comical, really. People often smoked in the room, but somehow Queen Arleen had coaxed them into smoking outdoors. For the past five years, there hadn’t been a single smoke at one of these quarterly competitions. Like the Pied Piper, she had entranced them all into doing her bidding, and they did it happily. Not that I was complaining. I sure breathed easier since they had changed their smoking locations.
    I angled my cup to the attendant, and he refilled it and handed it back. “So, which one of you left the dead fish in our studio last week?”
    Arleen’s eyes sparkled. “Couldn’t say.”
    Despite myself, I laughed and shook my head. It was always the same between our studios. No one gave up the guilty. If we had lived in Chicago or New York City, our two studios might not have noticed one another. But in a small town such as Marlow, we couldn’t help but compete. Our rivaling studios were always trying to steal better dancers from one another, and, when that didn’t work, some other prank did.
    Arleen set her paper cup down and turned to me, sucking in a sharp breath. “Good luck out there.” We were both up for the waltz next.
    “You don’t have to pretend with me,” I said with a smirk.
    “Oh, I wasn’t pretending.” She leaned in. “When I beat you, I want to know I was beating you at your best.”
     I tipped my head back and laughed. “Darling, we’re about to sweep the floor with you and that lavender gown of yours.”
     Her trilling laughter followed after me as we parted ways, both to our respective corners and back to our partners. I had a competition to win.

2010; Marlow, Tennessee

     Mackenzie stared at me, mouth agape. Clearly, that wasn’t what she was expecting.
     Arleen grinned. “He’s only telling you his half of the story, don’t forget. I’m here to tell you the rest.”
     Mackenzie nodded her head numbly. “Well, let’s hear it.”

Dance With Me
Copyright © 2019 A.M. Heath
All rights reserved.

Dancer Friends

Dance 2 F

 

Will a new partnership tear their worlds apart … or will it be the piece they never knew was missing?

In 1959, Arleen Thatcher and Neil Fox are fierce competitors on the dance floor, so they’re the least likely pair to enter a televised competition together. But when rivaling studio owners decide to team up, the two find a partnership they never thought possible. 
Arleen’s reputation around town is reason enough for Neil to keep his distance from his new partner. But as Neil gets to know Arleen, he discovers a side of her few others have seen, one of dark family secrets and carefully-constructed facades.
God’s plan for their partnership may involve more than a single dance; it may be the key to the healing Arleen so desperately needs. 

The Art of Love series is compiled of stand-alone novels where the characters tell their own stories and love means so much more than passion.

You can pre-order your copy from Amazon or add it to your Goodreads’ shelf. 

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The White City: True Colors: Historical Stories of American Crimes by Grace Hitchcock

452Mysterious Disappearances Taint the Chicago World’s Fair

Step into True Colors — a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a policeman, for bodyguard.

Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim?

My Thoughts: This was an interesting read. I did a little research on Holmes before reading the novel, and I really appreciated the various facts she was able to weave in. Because Hitchcock is dealing with a real figure in history during a specific time in history, I was curious to see how she’d tell her story while keeping with the historical timeline. And I think she did an excellent job here. I was impressed. The White City is a story that almost could have played out in real life.
Considering the extreme nature of the crimes, Hitchcock did an excellent job of simply nodding toward reality without shocking her audience at all.
But besides crime and mystery, you’ll find a sweet love story — a love triangle, actually! — and an authentic historic setting.

Rating and Recommendation: I give it 4 stars and recommend it to Christian Historical Suspense/Mystery fans.
~ I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for this review.
Posted in About the Book

Dance With Me: Companion Dance Videos to Accompany the Novel

I’m putting together a little something extra for the readers. This is not a spoiler. This post is meant to be a companion to my novel Dance With Me.
You can view these videos before, during, or after you read the book. I hope you enjoy! 

*Note: Ballroom dancing can, at times, be rather steamy. I worked to bring you videos that showed off the elements of the dance but stayed low on the “steam meter.” It was important to me that my readers feel comfortable reading or viewing anything that I post. While I could never promise that no one would be offended, I feel comfortable saying that you can view these videos with confidence. 

Dance 2 FWill a new partnership tear their worlds apart … or will it be the piece they never knew was missing?

In 1959, Arleen Thatcher and Neil Fox are fierce competitors on the dance floor, so they’re the least likely pair to enter a televised competition together. But when rivaling studio owners decide to team up, the two find a partnership they never thought possible. 
Arleen’s reputation around town is reason enough for Neil to keep his distance from his new partner. But as Neil gets to know Arleen, he discovers a side of her few others have seen, one of dark family secrets and carefully-constructed facades.
God’s plan for their partnership may involve more than a single dance; it may be the key to the healing Arleen so desperately needs. 

The Art of Love series is compiled of stand-alone novels where the characters tell their own stories and love means so much more than passion.

Ballroom dancing in 1959 had looked a bit different. Just take a look at those dresses! There are a couple of places in the novel where Neil mentions Arleen’s poofy dress, and he would have been seeing something along these lines.

THE JIVE: 

The jive was something that I wanted to highlight because it’s iconic to the period. In reality, in terms of competitive ballroom dancing, the jive wasn’t included. Yet. But I felt that the book couldn’t be complete without it so I chose to include it.

The video above is a short crash-course into the jive. It explains the rock step (which is mentioned by name in the novel) and it highlights the various handholds. It’s 3.5 minutes well spent.

Below are two full routines for your viewing pleasure. The first one is to “Jailhouse Rock” and the second one features the “theme” song of the novel, “Great Balls of Fire.” 

 

THE WALTZ:

The waltz is probably the most recognizable dance, but I still want to share some videos with you.
Above is a short beginners’ look at the waltz. It showcases the iconic square circles.

And here is a full routine to enjoy. These two aren’t professionals but they did a great job and I loved the song since it’s on the Dance With Me playlist.

 

THE QUICKSTEP: 

 

The quickstep is probably one of my absolute favorites. It’s elegant similar to the waltz, but it’s fast paced like the jive. Before and during the 1950s, the quickstep was a simplistic dance. But there was one couple in particular who began to shake things up a bit and it would soon become the standard. Once again, I hit the fast forward button on history and allowed Neil and Arleen to dance the faster version even though it was just a tad early.

The chasse is mentioned in the novel by name so you’ll want to see the video above and the basic breakdown of the most iconic moves making up the quickstep.

And below I have a full routine for you. I hope you find a new favorite style of dance here and pick up on the elegance and fun that makes up the quickstep. 

 

THE TANGO: 

 

This is another dance that we often see used in movies, typically danced with two people who are at odds with one another.

Above you’ll find a slower breakdown of the dance. And below is a full routine. This one had inspired the lift featured in the book. 

 

THE PASO DOBLE:

 

This one is similar to the tango in that it appears to be a fight between the dancers. The dance is actually taking place between a bull and a bullfighter. In the novel, Neil and Arleen put their paso doble together by incorporating battling dance moves and loads of passion. And like the tango, the paso doble is known for its passion and high energy. I’m sharing two full-length examples. 

 

THE INSPIRATION: 

The moment I saw this video, I wanted to tell the story of a pair of dancers who were still dancing together in their golden years and still bringing people to their feet.

I was already writing the first draft of Dance With Me when 2018’s Winter Olympics started. But I was struck by the chemistry between Tessa and Scott. While I didn’t create Neil and Arleen with them in mind, the two certainly nailed the sort of chemistry I envisioned between my characters. 
Neil doesn’t favor Scott, but oddly enough Arleen favors Tessa a great deal. 

 

Dancer Hiding

You can read Neil and Arleen’s story on April 8, 2019. It will be available on Amazon in ebook and paperback and FREE on Kindle Unlimited. It is available for pre-order today. You can also add it to your Goodreads list. 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Between Two Shores by Jocelyn Green

47The daughter of a Mohawk mother and French father in 1759 Montreal, Catherine Duval finds it is easier to remain neutral in a world that is tearing itself apart. Content to trade with both the French and the British, Catherine is pulled into the fray against her wishes when her British ex-
fiance, Samuel Crane, is taken prisoner by her father. Samuel asks her to help him escape, claiming he has information that could help end the war. 

Peace appeals to Catherine, but helping the man who broke her heart does not. She delays . . . until attempts on Samuel’s life convince her he’s in mortal danger. Against her better judgment she helps him flee by river, using knowledge of the landscape to creep ever closer to freedom. Their time together rekindles feelings she thought long buried, and danger seems to hound their every mile. She’s risked becoming a traitor by choosing a side, but will the decision cost her even more than she anticipated?

What I Loved:  Green is one of those historical authors that I always look forward to reading and never regret picking up. Between Two Shores was a stunning novel. Green’s understanding of the history, setting, and the various cultures help the story to leap off the pages. She’s a very gifted historical author and I highly recommend her work if you haven’t picked up one of her novels yet.
I’m gonna be honest, this was not a fluffy story. Far from it, actually. But it’s the sort of story that causes the reader and the character to grow. Now, when I say this wasn’t fluffy, I don’t mean that it was graphic or outside the Christian bounds. I only mean that there was a plot twist that I found as painful as the character did. Readers don’t need to proceed with caution, but they should expect a heavy, yet beautiful, story when they pick this one up.

Rating and Recommendations: I recommend this one to Christian Historical fiction fans, those looking for a deep, challenging story, and for those wanting to delve into the British, Native American, or French conflicts in the 1700s. I’m giving it 5 stars.

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin

49Numbed by grief and harboring shameful secrets, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group in 1943. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe in treacherous dogfights in the skies over France as the Allies struggle for control of the air before the D-day invasion.

Violet Lindstrom wanted to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment for the men of the 357th in the Aeroclub on base and sets up programs for local children. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her work and urges him to reconnect with his family after a long estrangement.

Despite himself, Adler finds his defenses crumbling when it comes to Violet. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever.

Bestselling author Sarah Sundin returns readers to the shores of Normandy, this time in the air, as the second Paxton brother prepares to face the past–and the most fearsome battle of his life.

What I Loved: I’ve been invested in the Paxton family since page one of book one. The Sky Above Us was just as remarkable as The Sea Before Us, and I’m eagerly waiting for book 3 of the series.
The Sky Above Us was everything I’ve come to expect from Sundin: a sound message for the soul, endearing characters, a timeless romance, an accurate WWII setting, and all the historic details your heart can hold.
I always appreciate Sundin’s characters because they’re often humble Christian role models. Violet and Nick were two of those characters. Her heart longed to go out into the missionary field, and yet there was room for sweet Violet to grow. Sundin did an excellent job with this character. There’s something satisfying about rescuing the bad boy, and we get a dose of that here too! Adler was a terrific bad-boy-turned-good and a great lesson in accepting God’s forgiveness.
If you’re familiar with Sundin’s work, then you already know that she brought out all the stops to create a novel that you feel as if you can step into. And if you haven’t picked up one of her novels yet, then you’re really missing out.

Rating and Recommendations: I gladly give it 5 stars and recommend it to WWII fiction fans and Christian Historical Fiction fans.

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

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.

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: 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. 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

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. 

 

Posted in Book Reviews

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.