Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron

21A storied castle. A band of rebels.

A nation chasing a centuries-old dream of freedom.

And three women who rise above it all . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: A Love Most Worthy by Sandy Ardoin

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: 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. 

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: 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 About the Book

RELEASE DAY: Yesterday’s Christmas by A.M. Heath

Every release sparks a measure of excitement. But this one sparks something a little more. This is my first full-sized Christmas story. It contains all the warm, cozy Christmas moments someone could hope for. There’s a sweet romance set in 1954 that will thrill the heart of any Hallmark Christmas movie fan. But there’s more … Yesterday’s Christmas is also a love story about a couple on the brink of divorce after thirty years of marriage. 
Ouch. 
Divorce and Christmas are two things we don’t want to see together. But they’re two things that often are together in our fallen world. And that’s what makes this story so beautiful. Along with the warm, fuzzy, entertainment is a story for the heart and a lesson for the soul. 
The characters, Betty and Glenn, do not represent my life and marriage, however, I did draw inspiration from the personalities and differences found in my own marriage. And the Lord has blessed it greatly. Readers are messaging me with these comments (actual quotes): “It was like she wrote it for me.” “It has spoken to me especially the part about God changing Betty not Glenn. It was like God was saying that to me. Thank you for this story.” “I could relate to her feelings and emotions.” “I’m a Betty married to a Glenn.” 
I don’t glory in so many struggling marriages but I do glory in the ability to pen a story with a message that was clearly needed. 
I think this is a story that readers can enjoy whether they’re married or not. And for those who are, I pray it blesses your heart in a special way. With every release, there is a slew of exciting activities happening, so let’s take a look: 

Betty Party

There’s a party taking place today! You can join me on Facebook. If you’re unable to make it at 10 a.m. (central) you can join me later that day or the next. I prefer to keep my parties extended for those who aren’t able to make the specific hour. Did I mention that I’ll be giving away two paperback copies at the party? 

There’s also a blog tour. You can visit other bloggers to hear their thoughts on the novel, as well as earn bonus entries for the grand prize giveaway. 

Betty Tour

Tour Schedule: 
Nov. 5: 
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny
Spotlight

Nov. 6:
A. Kaylee Harrison @ Kaylee’s Kind of Writes
Plus Interview!

Nov. 7:
Becky Dempsey @ Blossoms and Blessings

Nov. 8: 
Raechel Lenore @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae

Nov. 9:
Debbie Curto @ Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations
Plus Interview!

Nov. 12: 
Deana Dick @ Texas Book-aholic

Nov. 13:
Robbie Pink @ Captive Dreams Window

Nov. 15:
Alicia G. Ruggieri @ A Brighter Destiny
Plus Interview!

Nov. 16:
Faith Blum @ Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections
Spotlight and Interview

Betty Grand Prize copy

You can enter the grand prize giveaway here. It closes Nov. 16, 2018.
I’ll announce the winner here on the blog.
I’m sorry, the giveaway is only open to Continental U.S. residents. 

Final 1600x2400During a snowstorm, Betty Tanner finds herself stuck with her estranged husband. Spending Christmas with Glenn wasn’t what she had in mind, and her thoughts reluctantly travel back three decades to their first Christmas together, when another snowstorm caused her to wreck her car outside the Tanner home … 

1954: Stranded with the Tanners over Christmas, Betty is forced into the company of Glenn, who has spurned her for years. But as the snow falls outside, the walls between Betty and Glenn begin to melt, revealing a side of him she never knew existed. A side she longs to know better.

Pride and bitterness can make a beast out of anyone. And the hardships they face in their relationship are of their own making. But can following Christ’s ways lead Betty and Glenn to the reconciliation they long for?

A.M. Heath invites you to spend Christmas with the Tanners in a dual-timeline novel loosely inspired by Beauty and the Beast. You’re sure to fall in love again and again.

Christmas Ebook Sale

You can add Yesterday’s Christmas to your TBR list on Goodreads or pick up your copy today at Amazon. You’ll find both novels in A Season Passed on sale for a limited time.

Hold on with date

 

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: 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.