Posted in Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Historical Christian Fiction, Inspirational

To Treasure an Heiress (2022)

About the Book

Book: To Treasure an Heiress

SeriesThe Secrets of the Isles #2

Author: Roseanna M. White

Release Date: January 18, 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian Historical Romance

Beth Tremayne has always been drawn to adventure. During her childhood, she fed that desire by exploring every inch of the Isles of Scilly. As an adolescent, she dreamed of love in London’s ballrooms. Now, stumbling across an old map on her family’s property, she’s found more adventure than she ever craved in the hunt for pirate treasure. Unfortunately, Beth can’t escape the attention of her family’s guest, Lord Sheridan.

Sheridan has spent years pursuing whatever archaeological interests caught his imagination. And when he discovers that Beth’s search connects with one of his favorite pirates of history, he can’t help getting involved. Plus, he finds her irresistible, even though she insists he stole a prized possession of hers.

As they work together following different clues and drawing closer to danger, they start to piece together a story of tragic love and piratical adventure. But the true surprise is the treasure they discover in each other.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

To Treasure an Heiress by Roseanna M. White is AMAZING! I know I say this every time I read a novel by White, but I really, really mean it this time. As with all of her novels, this book is fast-paced and highly engaging. The prose is perfection. The plot is unique and interesting. The setting is magical and gorgeous. And the historical aspects are fascinating. I had to pause a time or two to conduct my own research on the Scillies and Rupert the Pirate Prince. I adore when historical novels get me to expand my educational horizons.

White’s characters are exceptional and the BEST aspect of this novel. In this story, readers are treated to Beth’s, Sheridan’s, and Senara’s points of view. Beth is the best kind of heroine — she doesn’t need anyone but realizes how those in her life are a true gift from God. She is brave and daring and so, so adventurous. Senara is lovely. Her guilt and shame and pain resonated deeply with me. Of the three main characters, Senara is the character I can relate to the most. And, did I mention already that she’s lovely? Cause she is. Sheridan is PERFECTION. He is, hands down, the best hero ever. I don’t think I’ve laughed so hard as I did reading this story and that is all because of Sheridan. His internal monologues are the stuff of comedic gold, and then he opens his mouth and says the quiet parts out loud … SO, SO good. His instant devotion and attraction and love for Beth is the stuff of dreams. Then there are the secondary characters: Ainsley is the voice of reason, Bram is the cantankerous, not-a-morning-person who’s there for the adventure and to support his sister, Libby (from book 1), there’s the all-knowing and wise Mamm-wynn, and Sheridan’s sisters, the hilarious, commanding, and exceptionally intelligent Ladies Abbie and Millicent. And, then there is Lady Emily — poor Lady Emily. Her family situation breaks my heart. I cannot wait to get to her story in book 3.

Families are as unique as an individual’s fingerprints. No two families are the same. And, no two families’ dysfunction is the same. I really appreciate the juxtaposition of families in this story. On the one hand, we have Beth’s, Libby’s, Senara’s, and Sheridan’s families. They are all unique, but they are all wonderful examples of good, supportive people who love each other. It is abundantly clear that these people — brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents — adore each other and have one another’s back. These characters have beautiful families that illustrate love and acceptance no matter what. It’s wonderful, and it’s the way families should be. But on the other hand, we have Lady Emily’s family. Her family is devastatingly bad and hurtful and selfish. They stoop to any lengths to get what they want, and it shreds Emily’s heart. She is the black sheep in her family, and her family’s behaviors towards her and others have hurt her so deeply that she changes. She’s lost her hope of ever belonging to a good, loving family and it weighs her down physically. But that’s the cool thing about family. If you aren’t lucky and blessed to be born into a loving and supportive family then you can create one. We all have the power to give the love and support we wish to have in our own lives. We all have the power to be different in the new families we make. We can break old, destructive cycles. I think that is pretty cool, and I’m hopeful that Emily will come to realize this in book 3.

To Treasure an Heiress is an excellent Historical Romance that I highly recommend. This is a book that must be experienced. Please put this book on the top of your TBR pile today. You do not want to miss this outstanding story.

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Bethany House Publishers, via NetGalley in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Christian Romance, Historical Christian Fiction, Inspirational

Her Darling Mr. Day (2022)

About the Book

Book: Her Darling Mr. Day

SeriesAmerican Royalty, #2

Author: Grace Hitchcock

Release Date: January 4, 2022

Jilted in front of all New York, Theodore Day decides to lose himself in his family’s luxury riverboat business in New Orleans and compete against his brother to become the next company head. The brother with the most sales by summer’s end will win the position. Thanks to Theodore’s fame as a suitor in Willow Dupré’s outlandish competition to find a husband, he has become very desirable royalty in southern society and thus has an advantage.

It took Flora Wingfield’s best work to convince her family to summer in New Orleans, but with Teddy Day a bachelor once again, she’s leaving nothing to chance. Desperate to stand out from all the clamoring belles, Flora attempts a bold move that goes completely awry, only to find it’s her interior design skills that finally catch his notice.

But when Flora learns her father has matchmaking schemes of his own, Teddy will have to decide where his happiness truly lies and what he is willing to sacrifice for it.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Her Darling Mr. Day by Grace Hitchcock is a delightful read. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute spent in this story. I found the plot engaging — I was turning pages well into the night. I loved the characters, but I knew I would because I loved them from book one, My Dear Miss Dupre. In this book, we get to really know Flora, her great-aunt, her parents, and her many, many sisters. And, we meet Teddy’s brother and the many, many women who want desperately to make Teddy a husband. There are plenty of silly hi-jinks moments that had me chuckling — it is interesting to me the lengths a woman is willing to go to get a man — and a few moments that had me shaking my head. These characters sure do get themselves into unique troubles. From almost run-ins with the law, to a band of pirates that commandeer a boat, to physical altercations that lead to fisticuffs, and other sundry shenanigans, it’s no wonder I read this book in just a couple of days. And, if this isn’t quite enough reason to get you interested in the story, Hitchcock also includes timely and thoughtful themes throughout her exciting novel. Not only is Her Darling Mr. Day an excellent read for the average lover of Historical Romance, but I think it would make for a fun book club read, too.

There are a few moments in this story where Flora is difficult to relate to. She comes from a world I have NEVER experienced. Her access to wealth and resources is beyond anything I can comprehend or imagine. I mean, her father gifted her with a personalized, gold collapsible ziplock-style baggie so she can enjoy street-vendor treats without having to take a regular-person paper bag. I cannot relate to that. If I have anything golden it’s probably plated. LOL! I just want to clarify that I have NO issue with people being rich. Richness is WAY more than the $$$ in our bank accounts. If people want a personalized, gold lunch baggie, and they can afford that, more power to ’em! But, as far as relating to characters go, I felt I was having a difficult time with this story — until the age ol’ father-daughter power struggle came into play. Then, I was like, “Yep, I know this story. I’m here for you Flora.” And, I have to say, that Hitchcock does a fantastic job illustrating the heartache that comes from feeling like you will never measure up to the expectations of a father, which beautifully played into one of Hitchcock’s themes — that we ALL have a Father who loves us no matter what. I really loved this discussion and in it realized that regardless of status and/or wealth, daughter-hearts are really all the same. We all crave a Father who will see us, hear us, and love us for the women we are.

Her Darling Mr. Day is a really fun read. I loved my time with these characters and I am sad my time with them is up. This is a story I highly recommend. If you are in the mood for a well-written, highly engaging Historical Romance with timely themes then Her Darling Mr. Day is the book for you!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Bethany House Publishers, via NetGalley in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Historical Christian Fiction, Inspirational

Tomorrow’s Constant Hope (2021)

About the Book

Book:  Tomorrow’s Constant Hope

SeriesTexas Promise #3

Author: Naomi Rawlings

Genre: Christian Historical Romance; Western Romance

Release Date: November 15, 2021

The last thing a woman on the run needs is to find herself married to the richest rancher in Texas…

Keely O’Brien has spent the past five months on the run, but no matter what she does, she can’t seem to evade the ring of dangerous criminals that killed her brother in Chicago. When she spots an ad for a wife from the owner of a small ranch on a remote stretch of Texan desert, she knows she’s found the perfect hiding spot. The Wolf Point Ring might be searching far and wide for her, but they wouldn’t think to look in the tiny, sun-scorched town of Twin Rivers, Texas. Now if she can just keep her new husband from finding out why she really married him…

Agamemnon “Wes” Westin’s feet might be firmly planted in West Texas soil, but his heart is running… Running from the loss of his first wife and stillborn daughter, and running from the fear of suffering loss again. Unfortunately, he has little choice about needing to marry, but he does have a choice about who he marries. If he has to share his roof with someone, he wants a woman who works hard and doesn’t complain. That’s why he decides to run an ad for a bride, claiming that he owns a small ranch, rather than the sprawling cattle empire he inherited from his father. After all, what woman is going to be upset when she finds out her husband is one of the richest men in Texas?

When Wes discovers Keely is hiding from criminals who want her dead, he can’t help but protect her—even if she’s irate with him for lying about the size of his ranch. When danger arrives in Twin Rivers, both Wes and Keely find themselves facing their deepest fears. Will they let their pain and past losses ruin their dreams? Or will Wes and Keely find a way to forge a new life together?

From jagged mountains and green river valleys to cattle ranches and vivid sunsets, Tomorrow’s Constant Hope offers a meaningful story about simpler times, sincere faith, and learning to love again after loss.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

OK, so Naomi Rawlings is completely incapable of writing a bad story. Tomorrow’s Constant Hope is FABULOUS! I have loved every story by Rawlings, but it’s official, Tomorrow’s Constant Hope is my favorite to date. This book is SOOOOOOOO good! First, it’s just so well-crafted. The pacing is superb. I read this beautiful story in less than 24 hours. I was hooked from page one and simply could not put this book down. The setting is glorious. I live in the high desert in California, so I have a soft spot for desert settings. They really do have a beauty unlike any other place on earth, and Rawlings captures this perfectly in her book. Rawlings’s characters are also quite special. She has a wonderful way of creating heroes and heroines who get under the reader’s skin and worm their way into our hearts. I love Wes, and Keely is simply amazing. Both are totally endearing and relatable. And, the themes that Rawlings discusses in her novel are thoughtful and timely. All in all, Tomorrow’s Constant Hope is spectacular and I cannot recommend it enough.

Grief and trauma do terrible things to a person’s heart and psyche. They can make us utter vows we really have no business uttering. My heart hurt so deeply for Wes, the hero of this outstanding story. At the start of this novel, Wes is still reeling from the loss of his first wife and unborn child when he marries Keely. He is reeling so deeply that he marries Keely in name only. He swears he will never ever love a woman again, and he will never ever get a woman pregnant as long as he lives. To many, Wes’s vows appear completely over the top. I mean how can anyone stop the heart from loving? How can anyone predict what the future holds? We aren’t God, so how can Wes utter these silly vows with so much fervor and certainty?

My husband and I have actually walked a mile in Wes’s shoes. When we got married we wanted to get pregnant right away. I was 30 and he was 40. We weren’t spring chickens! So we got pregnant right away. Everything was going as planned until I reached the 6-month mark. Then things got bad. I got very sick, our daughter came three months early, I almost died the night of her birth, and she almost died three times over the course of 3 1/2 months. To say my husband and I were traumatized would be an understatement. We may have uttered oaths similar to Wes. It happens. We want so badly to control things, to protect those we love, to protect ourselves, that we say things we very much mean in the moment. Yes, we play God. We don’t mean to put ourselves in God’s place, but we do so while in the fog and haze of trauma and deep-seated fear.

It has taken my husband and me many, many years to actually place our trust in God and give our lives, and the life of our daughter, over to God completely. It’s not easy and we still have days where PTSD strikes and we say and do dumb things. We’re human! What I love so much about Tomorrow’s Constant Hope is how we get to see things through Wes’s perspective. We get to see WHY he feels the way he does. We get to see him wrestle with his trauma and his fears, and we get to see him work all this out with God and with Keely. I can personally attest that Wes is one of the most real heroes I’ve ever read. And, it is pretty cool to see myself and my husband reflected through this character. This book, in many ways, is an exceptionally cathartic read and I am very blessed to have read it.

As with all her novels, Tomorrow’s Constant Hope is absolutely phenomenal. It is a story I will never forget. If you are a fan of well-written, heart-gripping Western Romances filled with well-crafted characters and timely themes, then Tomorrow’s Constant Hope is the book for you!

***Recommendation*** Tomorrow’s Constant Hope can easily be read as a standalone novel; however, I personally feel that to get the best reading experience you should read Tomorrow’s First Light first.

I received a copy of this novel in eBook form from the author, Naomi Rawlings, in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Historical Christian Fiction, Inspirational

Lost in Darkness (2021)

About the Book

BookLost in Darkness

Author: Michelle Griep

Release Date: November 1, 2021

Genre: Regency-Era Gothic Romance

Even if there be monsters, there is none so fierce as that which resides in man’s own heart.

Enchanting Regency-Era Gothic Romance Intertwined with Inspiration from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein  
 
Travel writer Amelia Balfour’s dream of touring Egypt is halted when she receives news of a revolutionary new surgery for her grotesquely disfigured brother. This could change everything, and it does. . .in the worst possible way.
 
Surgeon Graham Lambert has suspicions about the doctor he’s gone into practice with, but he can’t stop him from operating on Amelia’s brother. Will he be too late to prevent the man’s death? Or to reveal his true feelings for Amelia before she sails to Cairo?

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Frankenstein is my #2 most favorite book in the whole world. I adore Shelley and her novel more than words can say. So, as soon as I saw that Michelle Griep was publishing a Frankensteinesque novel I knew I had to have a copy of this book. I am SO glad I read Lost in Darkness — it is EXCELLENT. I love all the nods to Frankenstein; original character names used throughout for secondary characters in this book, a letter from Mr. Walton to Amelia, the fact that a young Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (before she was Shelley) takes tea with Amelia, Colin’s monstrous form, a mad doctor, etc. OH! It was so fun to read. I love when modern-day writers extrapolate meaningful, timeless themes from works that came before and create new and outstanding pieces of literature, yet humbly give credence and recognition to those remarkable authors of the past. I find it to be a sign of respect, and Michelle Griep does this perfectly in Lost in Darkness. Griep also perfectly tells a unique story all her own. Lost in Darkness is an excellent read. The pacing is superb. The storyline is mesmerizing. The characters are excellently crafted. My heart hurt for Colin, I fully related to Graham’s innate need to do right but not fully knowing how, and I loved watching Amelia journey from “modern” woman needing no one to “modern” woman realizing she needs to pay attention to her heart’s yearnings. Then there are all the timely and thought-provoking themes that Griep addresses. There are so many quality things to discuss — this book would make an excellent book club read! Truly, Lost in Darkness is an unputdownable book, one I just cannot recommend enough.

You know what frustrates me the most about being a follower of Jesus? All those moments I think I’m doing things right only to realize I’ve totally stepped off His path. When Jesus says in Matthew 7 that the path to Him is narrow and only a few traverse it, He ain’t kidding. So, there is this scene in Lost in Darkness where Amelia steps out of her church and looks across the street to where a small street girl is desperately attempting to sell flowers. Almost every person walking out of the church ignores this girl, but for some reason, she calls to Amelia’s heart. As she contemplates how to help, Amelia accidentally walks into Mr. Lambert — so wrapped up in getting to the girl she just doesn’t see his handsome form before her. While they are gathering themselves and engaging in another round of romantically charged chit-chat, a very Pharisaical church-goer screams at the young girl to get out of his way and pushes her to the ground where she is at the mercy of his horses’ hooves as he has pushed her under his carriage. Mr. Lambert rushes to the rescue — he is the hero of this story in more ways than one for sure. Unbidden, as I was reading this moment, a thought popped into my brain: Jesus would never have gone into that church. He would have stayed outside with the people the church members didn’t even recognize as human. WHOA! For a second I had to pause. Clearly, Jesus needed me to see that image of Him refusing to go into a church. Then I got God-bumps — you know, those goosebumps that come when it’s super clear God is talking to you? Yeah, those bumps. I started to get really sad. I was then reminded of Matthew 8:20 where Jesus says that “the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” Then I got to thinking about myself. Am I the “good” girl who goes to church every Sabbath, but then treats people like garbage the rest of the week? Am I the Pharisee in this scene? Do I value life or only my own? Would Jesus want to come to me or would He realize that I am not one of His kids? Would He find a place to rest His head with me? What about you, dear reader? Would Jesus find a place to rest His head with you, or are you guilty of Pharisaical moments too? What a wonderful story to get the reader to contemplate such important and profound questions!!!

Lost in Darkness is a FANTASTIC story that I won’t soon forget. There is something truly special about this book. Please, purchase yourself a copy today. You will not regret spending your hard-earned money on this gem.

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Barbour Fiction, via NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Inspirational, Suspense

Trust Me (2022)

About the Book

Book: Trust Me

Author: Kelly Irvin

Release Date: February 8, 2022

Genre: Christian Mystery and Suspense

When Delaney Broward finds her best friend stabbed to death a decade after her brother suffered the same fate, she must confront her painful past in order unmask a killer who isn’t done yet.

How can this be happening again?

Delaney Broward has spent the last ten years rebuilding her life after finding her brother brutally stabbed to death in his art studio, leaving her without a single living family member. His death even took away her boyfriend, Hunter Nash, who was convicted of the murder. Convinced it’s too dangerous to trust her heart to anyone again, Delaney lives alone. She pours herself into her frame shop in the historic art district in San Antonio. She doesn’t have the husband and children she once dreamed of, but her heart is safe.

Until she walks into her best friend Ellie’s shop and finds she has suffered the same fate. Once again Delaney’s life is shattered by violence, tragedy, and loss.

Hunter Nash leaves prison a free man that same day. He’s determined to prove his innocence, win Delaney back, and restore her faith in God.

Delaney’s mission is to bring Ellie’s murder to justice while protecting her heart. They forge an uneasy alliance, both certain the truth will win out. Both are willing to accept the outcome—if they survive.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Trust Me by Kelly Irvin is the first novel I’ve read by this author, but it will not be my last. Having never read a story by Irvin before I really didn’t know what to expect. What I got was one crazy ride! The first thing that drew me to this book is its cover. The slash marks through the title and author name, the spooky colors, and the blurry solitary figure all combine to create an image that really captures a reader’s eye. Then I read the premise and I knew I had to get my hands on a copy of this book. For me, I found the story highly engaging and quite unputdownable. I will admit to guessing the villain pretty quickly, but that did not ruin my enjoyment of the book. In fact, this book reminds me of classic Greek literature. Take Oedipus Rex by Sophocles for example. Everyone goes into that story knowing poor Oedipus’s background and his horrible demise. In the grand scheme of things, none of that really matters. What matters is the journey to his end. It’s the same here with Trust Me. Yes, I figured out who-done-it pretty quickly, but I didn’t care because the journey is FANTASTIC. The twists, the turns, the action, the suspense, the clues that emerge — it’s all such fun reading. And, I love how this story is a character journey as much as it is a murder mystery. Hunter and Delaney are excellent protagonists. They’re both older, wiser, more cynical, and dealing with some serious traumas and heartbreaks. I love Hunter’s dogged determination and his steadfast faith in God. No matter how bad things get he turns to God for help — he knows turning to God is the best response in any situation. Delaney’s story is heartbreaking. Man, the bad just keeps pummeling her. It’s like she is a human punching bag, so I really appreciate how she uses boxing as a way to channel her anger and fear and frustration and loneliness. She takes what life viciously throws at her and she throws a few punches back. I enjoyed how Hunter and Delaney’s relationship progresses over the course of this story. Is this novel the greatest love story every told? Is the passion fierce? No. BUT, this isn’t really a story about romantic passion. Trust Me is about rebuilding trust and friendship after all of that has been lost. I feel that Hunter and Delaney’s relationship progresses exactly as it should considering their crazy past. All in all, Trust Me is an outstanding Romantic Suspense story that I HIGHLY recommend. This is a book that should go to the top of your TBR pile.

At the end of the story in the Q+A section, there is one question that really caught my attention and I would like to address it here in this review. The question does not pose any threat of spoiling the storyline because all the info in the question is learned at the very beginning of the book. But if you would rather not know the details, you can skip this paragraph and go purchase a copy of Trust Me for yourself, or you can read after the italicized/bold question. In no way will I spoil the story in my response. Here is the question: Delaney lost her parents in a car accident as a child, then her grandparents, and years later her brother was murdered. The man she loved was convicted of his murder. She lost her faith in God. As Christians what should we say to those who suffer about God’s plan, where God’s goodness is, and what the reasons might be for their suffering? This is a great question that can really elicit some deep responses. All of them well-meaning. As a woman who has been through some serious trauma and recently lost three very close, very important people in her life one right after the other, I can say with great authority that the best thing you can do in this situation is say nothing at all. When you have a hurting friend or loved one who is struggling with his/her relationship with God because of the many, many traumas that seem to keep happening the best thing to do is say nothing. Nine times out of ten, the words that come out of well-meaning people’s mouths are the absolute wrong things to say to someone shrouded in grief. The worst question ever is, “How do you feel?” Don’t ask it! I once heard a pastor who was discussing Job say, “The best thing Job’s friends did was sit with him for one week and say nothing. The worst thing they did was start talking when that week was up.” Truth!!! The thing is it’s not anyone’s place to proselytize or assert some kind of “God does all things for the good of those who love Him” message when someone is in the throes of devastating and debilitating grief. It just makes the person angry and makes them more strongly turn from God. It’s an assault and an insult to be told that God killed off your loved one for a good purpose. I have to say that I appreciate HOW Irvin deals with this topic in her novel. Hunter is a fantastic model of what to do when someone you love has moved away from God because of trauma. He’s patient, he prays, and he NEVER pushes. He gives Delaney space and lets her take the wheel so to speak. When she is ready, he is there for her. But in the meantime he prays and he prays and he prays. This is the way it should be always. God will show the way when it is actually the right time to broach with your loved one the subjects of trauma, loss, and getting back into a relationship with Him. All you need to do in the meantime is just be present in whatever way the loved one needs. They’re the boss in this situation, not you!

There is a lot more that I could say about Trust Me. This book is excellent and my review can’t do this story justice. Add this book to your TBR pile now, pre-order yourself a copy, and read it ASAP when it comes out in February. You will love it!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Contemporary Christian Fiction, Inspirational

Riverbend Gap (2021)

About the Book

Book: Riverbend Gap

Author: Denise Hunter

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: October 19, 2021

She came in search of the family she’d always wanted—and found the kind of love she’d never dared to imagine.

When Katelyn Loveland’s car veered off a winding Appalachian Mountain road, she thought she was done for. That is until Cooper Robinson, local sheriff’s deputy, came to her rescue. And though Katie narrowly escaped her brush with death, she still fell. Hard.

She wasn’t the only one. But soon Cooper learns that the woman he’s more attracted to than any he’s ever met is his brother’s new girlfriend—and therefore unquestionably off limits. Yet, despite his best efforts, Cooper and Katie can’t seem to avoid running into each other. Or ignore the undeniable chemistry between them.

As they grow closer, Katie shares the secrets of her past and the real reason she moved to their small North Carolina town. She also wins over Cooper’s welcoming and bighearted family. But they don’t know that her feelings for Cooper keep growing—all while she’s dating his brother. Soon the stakes of their emotional connection become higher than either of them could have imagined. Katie stands to lose the first family she’s ever had, and a scandal could doom Cooper’s campaign for sheriff’s office. Suddenly they find themselves on the edge of another precipice—and they’re forced to make a decision that could change their lives forever.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Denise Hunter writes the BEST stories. Riverbend Gap is FANTASTIC. I loved every second with this story and I am so sad my time with these characters is over. This story is so engaging I read it well past my bedtime. It is an unputdownable book! If you know me, you know I’m not a fan of the love-triangle trope. Riverbend Gap is a love-triangle story, BUT it works so well. It’s a testament to Hunter’s masterful storytelling skills. In fact, I don’t think this story would work as well if it didn’t have the love triangle. The love-triangle in this story lends to the perfect blend of angst and tension between the protagonists, Katie and Cooper. I love how respectful Katie and Cooper work to be towards the third character in their triangle. They do everything in their power to refrain from feeling the chemistry and love towards one another in order to not hurt the feelings of someone else. This restraint, this romantic tension, is what kept me turning pages well into the night. I needed to know how Katie and Cooper would get to their happily ever after.

I loved two things about this story. Well, I loved more than two things, but for the sake of this review, I will limit myself to only two. First, I love that this story revolves around unique family blends. There is Katie who was part of a loving and nurturing foster family. Then there is Cooper who grew up in a step-family situation. What I LOVE about this is that both childhoods illustrate healthy love and respect and nurturing relationships. The stereotype that blended families and foster families are somehow less than or filled with violence has always bugged me. I come from a blended family and my step-dad was the BEST father a girl could have ever wanted. So I do take it personally when step-families are shown as being less than or ugly. In Riverbend Gap, Hunter does an excellent job of illustrating just how blessed a child can be in families that look different or are structured uniquely than what is typical.

The second aspect to this story that I loved is the discussion on blessing. There is a moment in this story where Cooper is having a man-to-man with his stepfather and Cooper tells his stepfather that he knows God blessed him in the family department. Yeah, Cooper would have loved it if his biological father never ran out on him, his brother, and his mother, BUT he recognizes that God used that bad and turned it into good because it brought Cooper’s stepfather and sister into his life. God turned a broken situation into one that could become something that produced a beautiful family. If this isn’t a blessing, I don’t know what it. Not only does this remind me of my own blessings where God brought my stepfather, stepsister, and stepbrother into my life, but it also reminded me of Genesis 50:20 — “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” There are so many “bad” moments in life that God uses to turn to good, to abundant blessings. The issue is one of perspective. Are we looking back and recognizing all of God’s blessings in our lives? Or are we choosing to only see the bad? What a great set of questions for us all to consider today.

Riverbend Gap is another home run by Denise Hunter. I loved this book so much and HIGHLY recommend it. Make sure to put this book on your To-Be-Read list and grab a copy as soon as it releases on the 19th. You will not want to miss this story!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, via NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Historical Christian Fiction, Inspirational

Crossed Lines (2021)

About the Book

Book: Crossed Lines

Author: Jennifer Delamere

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Release Date: August 31, 2021

Genre: Historical Romance

Emma Sutton knows she should be satisfied with her position at London’s Central Telegraph Office. But ever since she was orphaned young, she’s longed for a family of her own. Things look up when a handsome engineer is thrown into her orbit and he sends Emma the love note of her dreams.

Mitchell Harris’s sharp wit and facility with a pen have enabled him to thrive despite serious obstacles. That the woman of his dreams works just one floor above his should make life perfect. But a childhood accident has left Mitchell convinced he’ll never draw a woman like Emma Sutton’s attention. When his best friend–who once saved his life–falls in love with Emma, too, and asks for help writing her love letters, Mitchell is torn between desire and loyalty.

Believing the writer of the letters is the answer to her prayers, but confused over her growing attraction to Mitchell, Emma’s heart must decide where to call home.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

Writing this review is a bit of a struggle for me. I am not a fan of love-triangle tropes and I really don’t like Cyrano de Bergerac. Because of this, Crossed Lines by Jennifer Delamere took me two weeks to read. I want to be crystal clear — Crossed Lines is a very well-written and engaging story. The plot is well paced and the action throughout is constant. In no way is this story boring. I found the characters well crafted, unique, and endearing. Mitchell’s feelings in regards to his deformity are extremely relatable and very realistic. Emma’s desire to be loved and her want for a permanent, loving, stable home is the stuff of most every girl’s dreams. And, Christopher’s infatuation with the pretty girl is quite typical of early romantic feelings. The various conflicts each character deals with in this story are all relatable and realistic. Overall, Crossed Lines is a great Historical Romance that I wholeheartedly recommend. To me, Crossed Lines is a must-read sequel in what is a very excellent series.

My issue with the love-triangle trope is the lack of depth to the lovers’ romance. Because authors have to give time to each pairing (boy #1 + girl and boy #2 + girl), and typically their books are roughly 300 pages in length, there is not enough “time” for real feelings to develop in a believable manner. Generally, it’s just lusty chemistry rather than deep, true love. There are some ways around this. For example, one of the couplings, say boy#1 + girl, have been good friends for most of their lives. Establishing a preexisting relationship in the love triangle helps make romantic feelings a little more believable. In Crossed Lines, Emma has not known either Mitchell or Christopher for any real length of time. For me, the brief time of knowing two very unique men ruins believability when it comes to a love match. It’s more a lust match or a relationship-of-convenience match. Yes, there is such a thing as love at first sight, but that doesn’t really work when there are two men to get to know in a 300-page book. This is just my opinion. I know a lot of people love the love-triangle trope.

My issue with Cyrano de Bergerac has always been with the shallowness of the characters and the lying they’re OK with doing. When I was six years old, my parents took me and my brothers to the drive in. I loved going to the drive in. That particular night was a two-for one special. The first movie was some kiddie movie that I can’t remember, but the second movie was Roxanne starring Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah. I was supposed to be sleeping during the second movie cause that was the rule. Kids get the first movie, then we go to sleep in the car for the second. Well, I didn’t sleep. I watched the “adult” movie instead. I can remember being very disturbed by the film. The girl only liked the pretty boy because he was handsome. I was totally offended that she couldn’t see how dumb the pretty boy was. I also hated how she made the star of the movie, the real love interest, a second choice. I was offended for this man. I was disappointed that he was OK with being the girl’s seconds. And, I really hated the lying. Nothing good comes from lying no matter how you spin it, especially when it’s lying during the brand-new, baby stages of a relationship. I just did not like the themes of the story. When I was older I had to read Cyrano de Bergerac for a class. I had no idea Roxanne was based on this play. I started to read the play and images of Roxanne came rushing to my brain. I tried really hard to like the play, but I just couldn’t. I felt the same as I did when I was six. In Crossed Lines, I struggled the same as I did with Roxanne and Cyrano de Bergerac. I will say that Delamere does a great job addressing the lying issue, and she even acknowledges the 2nd-choice problem. In Crossed Lines, the best man for Emma wins her hand and it doesn’t feel like she is resigning herself to a second-best option. I appreciate that Delamere rectified these issues in her story.

Jennifer Delamere did an excellent job taking the Cyrano de Bergerac storyline and making it her own. Crossed Lines is a good book; one I do highly recommend. If you are a fan of well-written, engaging Historical Romances, if you appreciate the love-triangle trope, or if you love stories with happy endings then Crossed Lines is the book for you!

I received a copy of this novel in eBook form from Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Historical Christian Fiction, Inspirational, RomCom, Suspense, TBR Challenge

The Mistletoe Countess (2021)

About the Book

Book: The Mistletoe Countess

Author: Pepper Basham

Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Suspense, Christmas Lit, Historical Rom-Com

Release Date: September 1, 2021

Will the magic of Christmas bring these two newlyweds closer together, or will the ghosts of the past lead them into a destructive discovery from which not even a Dickens’s Christmas can save them?

Mistletoe is beautiful and dangerous, much like the woman from Lord Frederick Percy’s past, so when he turns over a new leaf and arranges to marry for his estate, instead of his heart, he never expects the wrong bride to be the right choice. Gracelynn Ferguson never expected to take her elder sister’s place as a Christmas bride, but when she’s thrust into the choice, she will trust in her faithful novels and overactive imagination to help her not only win Frederick’s heart but also to solve the murder mystery of Havensbrook Hall before the ghosts from Frederick’s past ruin her fairytale future.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

My Thoughts

The Mistletoe Countess by Pepper Basham is a wonderfully delightful story. This book has everything a reader could love: a fast-paced and highly engaging plot, realistic and endearing characters, excellent literary allusions and mentions, tons of romantic chemistry, and intrigue and suspense. This story is also hilarious. There are so many moments I chuckled out loud. The Mistletoe Countess is a story the reader will not want to put down. I hated it when pesky chores and sleep got in the way of my reading, so you will definitely want to make sure you secure plenty of reading space in your schedule in order to enjoy and devour this lovely read.

He tipped his head toward her, breathing in the life she brought into these dead rooms. ‘You think I’m strong enough for this?’

‘Of course I do, but not only I. God doesn’t go about placing people haphazardly into their stories. He must think you are strong enough too.’

The Mistletoe Countess

One of my most favorite topics of discussion in this story is the idea that we are all placed in the exact right story. God doesn’t make mistakes. If He places us somewhere that’s where He wants us. It’s reminiscent of Esther 4:14 — we are all where God wants us “for such as time as this.” The thing is though sometimes it feels like maybe we’re not cut out for the place God put us. Maybe we feel too cowardly or too small or too insignificant or too unqualified. Yes, we can accept that God put us where we’re at because He is God and we respect Him, but sometimes it takes a minute or two to understand why He put us where we’re at. Grace is an American who comes from New Money. She is the second daughter, so expectations for her are less stringent at the moment than they are for her beautiful elder sister. Her sister, Lillias, is engaged to Lord Frederick Percy. She appears to be the ideal woman for British Society — she is poised, elegant, and refined. She knows the latest fashions, has impeccable taste, and knows what to say and when to say it. All things considered, Lillias is perfect for Frederick. But, as life would have it, a hiccup happens and Grace finds herself taking her sister’s place and becoming Lady Astley. Grace is an awesome character. Her heart is golden and she is all compassion and kindness. She always considers the feelings of others and loves to bring the best out of them. But, she’s not 100% certain at first that she is qualified to be part of the British aristocracy or a good wife for Frederick, and she does wonder what God is doing especially since this is putting a wrench into her life plans. Grace, however, fully trusts that God has her where she belongs, but it is going to take her a moment to figure out her place in her new world. What I love so much about Grace is that she never doubts God. Never. She is an excellent example of what it looks like to trust God in every facet of one’s life — especially in those moments that don’t go according to our plans. I admit that The Mistletoe Countess came into my life at just the right time. One, I needed this reminder that God doesn’t make mistakes when He places us where He does. And, two, I really needed an illustration of what it looks like to trust God no matter what. I love when a book comes into your hands just when you need it most!

There are like 7,458 more reasons to love The Mistletoe Countess — it’s that chock full of awesomeness. I highly, highly recommend this novel. If you are in the mood for an excellent Historical Romance filled with great characters, tons of fun chemistry, and lots of suspense then you’ve got to put The Mistletoe Countess on the top of your TBR list today!

I received a copy of this novel in eBook form from the publisher, Barbour Fiction, via NetGalley in order to review. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Posted in Celebrate Lit Tour, Christian Fiction, Christian Romance, Giveaways, Historical Christian Fiction, Inspirational

The Ice Swan (2021) — A Celebrate Lit Tour: A Guest Post, My Thoughts, and a Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  The Ice Swan

Author: J’nell Ciesielski

Genre: Historical Romance

Release date: July 6, 2021

Amid the violent last days of the glittering Russian court, a Russian princess on the run finds her heart where she least expects it.

1917, Petrograd. Fleeing the murderous flames of the Russian Revolution, princess Svetlana Dalsky hopes to find safety in Paris with her mother and sister. But the city is buckling under the weight of the Great War, and the Bolsheviks will not rest until they have erased every Russian aristocrat from memory.

Born the second son of a duke, the only title Wynn MacCallan cares for is that of surgeon. Putting his talents with a scalpel to good use in the hospitals in Paris, Wynn pushes the boundaries of medical science to give his patients the best care possible. While treating Svetlana for a minor injury, he is pulled into a world of decaying imperial glitter and underground Russian clubs where drink, culture, and questionable dealings collide on bubbles of vodka.

Out of money and options, Svetlana is forced into a marriage of convenience with Wynn, who will protect her and pay off her debts. It’s the right thing for a good man to do, but Wynn can’t help hoping the marriage will turn into one of true affection. As the Bolsheviks chase them to different corners of the earth, Wynn and Svetlana begin to see they will never be able to outrun the love they have for one another.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages Award and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.

More from J’nell

When we think of the Great War we often only think about events happening right on the battlefield of France, Belgium, and Germany. It was a time of great upheaval for so many people and countries, none more so than Russia. It was during the Great War that the Bolsheviks rose up against the monarchy, assassinated the tsar and his family, and plunged Russia into civil war. The country was in such chaos that they pulled out of the war to deal with their own revolution. The Russian Revolution was the result of centuries of oppression and imperialism that finally boiled over. As the Bolsheviks seized power, nobles and anyone associated or favorable to the monarchy were stripped of their privileges and homes, many killed, and still thousands of others fled in fear of their lives where they became the great wave of White emigres.

The stories of the ill-fated Anastasia and the evil Rasputin are legendary, but it wasn’t until recently when I watched a Russian miniseries called Road to Calvary that I became fascinated with the nobles and their struggle and from all that an idea sparked that would become my upcoming release, The Ice Swan. It’s about a Russian princess fleeing the Revolution to Paris in 1917 where she meets a handsome surgeon who is breaking new grounds in cardiology. We see the plight of the White emigres who have taken refuge in Paris and founded their own little Russia in the heart of the city, the exhausted City of Light after four years of war, the overflowing hospitals, and highly controversial advancements in surgery. Plus, a romance to prove that true love can overcome any difference and who doesn’t need a little more love these days?

My Thoughts

The Ice Swan by J’nell Ciesielski is an intense story — one that keeps the reader turning pages well into the night. This is an overwhelming story in that SO much happens (this is not a bad thing). A reader going into this 400-page story will need to have their wits about them or they might miss key details. In this story, Ciesielski does an impeccable job of capturing the horrors of war and the evils of Communism. As Svetlana and her mother and sister are forced to flee their beloved Russia in the middle of the night or else die at the tortuous, evil hands of the Bolsheviks, the reader is right there with them. I could feel the fear and tension coursing through Svetlana and her family members. I was terrified imaging all that they had to escape. And, just because they made it to France in one piece didn’t mean they could let their guard down. Nope, it was a constant looking over their shoulders because Bolsheviks came to France purposely searching for Russians who had escaped their wrath. There was never a minute to breathe! In fact, I was so tense reading this story I had to remind myself to breathe from time to time. The historical detail in this novel is AMAZING — I was transported to 1917-1919 Russia, France, and Scotland and I thoroughly loved every terrifying minute.

Because this novel is so intense and in-depth, no review will ever be able to do it justice. The Ice Swan is a book that simply needs to be read. But, there is one idea discussed in this book that I really love. I’m not going to lie, Svetlana kind of drove me crazy. She is a BIG snob. I actually was offended for Wynn throughout a large portion of this novel … OK, like through most of the story. I get Svetlana’s need to put up a wall of protection around her heart. I get that she is a princess and grew up a very particular way. And, I get that war is scary and trusting others can be tricky. But when someone risks his own neck and saves your life and the lives of your family members time and time again, you do what you got to do to show respect and gratitude. It’s not that Svetlana doesn’t say, “Thank you.” She does. It’s that her actions don’t really say, “Thank you.” Some of her words to Wynn are downright mean and she is continually cutting him out of her life. The hardest quality though is her inability to show grace. Everyone has to be perfect and make the right choice, or Svetlana sees you as the villain. Who can live like that? Wynn does something in the story, he thinks out of love, but Svetlana blows it WAY out of proportion and almost destroys their relationship. I kept thinking to myself, “Man, Svetlana, you have got to learn grace or you are going to be one lonely gal.” But this leads to the message I LOVE. There is a lovely older Russian emigre who sets Svetlana to rights: “One time he let down, you cut him out … You have mistake. He have mistake. All us make mistake. Holding on to mistake is pride. Pride enemy to love.” It takes a moment for these wise words to sink in, but once they do, Svetlana sees the error of her ways. What a wise reminder. We are all human and we all make mistakes. As Paul writes in Romans 3:10, “none of us are righteous, no not one.” Because of this we must lend grace and forgiveness to others, not demand perfection. Life will be really disappointing if all we ever do is expect other humans to be perfect in all their interactions with us.

As I stated above, no review can do The Ice Swan justice. The story is just too big to be bound by one blog post. This is a novel I highly recommend devoting some serious quality time to. It’s a historical fiction tour de force you will not want to miss!

I received a review copy of this novel in eBook form from the author, J’nell Ciesielski, via Celebrate Lit through NetGalley. In no way has this influenced my review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.


Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, J’nell is giving away the grand prize of a paperback copy of The Ice Swan.

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway!

Click the link below to enter.

PromoSimple Link


Blog Stops

Rebecca Tews, July 19

Where Faith and Books Meet, July 19

Books and Everyday Life, July 19

Texas Book-aholic, July 19

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 20

Reflections From My Bookshelves, July 20

All-of-a-kind Mom, July 20

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, July 21

She Lives To Read, July 21

The Write Escape, July 21

Lakesdielivingsite, July 22

Remembrancy, July 22

Inklings and notions, July 22

For Him and My Family, July 23

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, July 23

The Christian Fiction Girl, July 23

deb’s Book Review, July 24

Rachael’s Inkwell, July 24

To Everything There Is A Season, July 24

Life, love, writing, July 24

Locks, Hooks and Books, July 25

Life of Literature, July 25

Inside the Wong Mind, July 25

Betti Mace, July 26

Bliss, Books & Jewels, July 26

Older & Smarter?, July 26

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, July 27

Connect in Fiction, July 27

Mary Hake, July 27

Connie’s History Classroom, July 28

Back porch reads, July 28

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, July 28

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, July 29

Blossoms and Blessings, July 29

Genesis 5020, July 29

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, July 30

Splashes of Joy, July 30

Simple Harvest Reads, July 30 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)

Through the fire blogs, July 31

Pause for Tales, July 31

Just Your Average reviews, July 31

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 1

Labor Not in Vain, August 1

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife, August 1