The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz – Book Review

The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz

Published by Revell Publishing January 02, 2018

Genre: Historical Fiction, Drama, Romance

Pages: 253

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

When colonial Williamsburg explodes like a powder keg on the eve of the American Revolution, Lady Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson is abandoned by her fiancé and suspected of being a spy for the hated British. No one comes to her aid save the Patriot Noble Rynallt, a man with formidable enemies of his own. Liberty is left with a terrible choice. Will the Virginia belle turned lacemaker side with the radical revolutionaries, or stay true to her English roots? And at what cost?

Historical romance favorite Laura Frantz is back with a suspenseful story of love, betrayal, and new beginnings. With her meticulous eye for detail and her knack for creating living, breathing characters, Frantz continues to enchant historical fiction readers who long to feel they are a part of the story.

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Story Notes

Laura Frantz brings to her readers a historical, complex story of faith, love and sacrifice that they will want to re-read very soon.

Stories that are placed in the Revolutionary War are some of my favorites as I am fascinated with how this country’s freedom was unexpectedly won. With a Militia that consisted mainly of farmers and shopkeepers and leaders that were firebrands and lawyers, they would not have won without their hard-held belief that everyone should be free to live as they liked. Leaders such as George Washington were who would give the people the training they would need to face the mighty British military while lawyers like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry would give them their battle cries. Laura Frantz begins her story on the eve of this great freedom fight with characters that inspire readers to give as freely, love as deeply and sacrifice all for the sake of those we hold most dear. Lady Elisabeth Anne Liberty Lawson has everything she could ever want – a beautiful home, a wealthy fiance, and the admiration of all she knows. Her father is also a well-known Loyalist who is much liked by the current colonial leadership. But Elisabeth is not as happy as others would think; for one thing, she hasn’t seen her fiance in six months, and for another she is not positive she will ever come to love him given his devotion to gaming rather than her. Enter Noble Rynallt, Patriot, Freedom article writer, cousin to Elisabeth’s fiance and the handsomest man Elisabeth has ever seen. Alarmed by her instant attraction to this enemy of her father’s, Elisabeth sets out to make the best of the time she must spend in his company until her fiance arrives at their betrothal ball. Little does she know that she will soon come to depend on Noble far more than she ever expected. Noble Rynallt is a true Patriot, seeking freedom from a king who wishes complete control over the colonist’s lives. Working alongside Patrick Henry, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Noble is determined to help his fellow countrymen extract freedom even if it costs his life. But meeting Elisabeth will give him pause as he has never truly considered having a wife and family given his dangerous work. When Elisabeth’s world comes down around her ears, it will be Noble who comes to her rescue, providing shelter and safety when all others are questioning her allegiances. Elisabeth soon becomes determined to make her own way in life, using the lacemaking skills her mother taught her from a child. Finding compassion and a new home with unexpected friends in town, Elisabeth mends clothing of the Patriot soldiers and makes lace for their wives’ needs. But when danger comes to her doorstep with rumors that she is a Loyalist spy, Elisabeth will be rescued by Noble once again. This time she refuses to stand idly by and works on a plan to become the spy she is accused of being – but for the Patriots – ensuring that her father and his evil cronies will not succeed in their plans to destroy all Patriot soldiers. Afraid Elisabeth will be unable to defend herself from her many enemies, Noble offers marriage, praying they will move beyond convenience to real love given time together. His prayers will be answered in spite of the many responsibilities that come to pull them apart because there will be far more that will bring them together as a true family at last. I really enjoyed the way Ms. Frantz wove true history into her fictional story. Giving Patrick Henry a voice in this story made him more real and relayed a vein of truth to the main story. I was pleased to see that she also showed how those who stood behind the soldiers on the front lines of battle felt and thought. How much faith it would have required to let your father, brother, sweetheart or husband go off to fight in battles they were ill-equipped to win. And the joyous celebrations that took place when they came home safe each time were exactly as those that happen today. I was also glad to see that Ms. Frantz gave her characters a faith journey throughout the book, one that would teach them deep trust and faith not only in each other but in God to supply all they needed. My only problem with the book was that it rushed the timing a bit towards the end. Given that Ms Frantz ended her book right after the start of the war it made sense to not draw out both Noble and Elisabeth’s prison time but seemed that the last few chapters were hurriedly finished and not complete in their descriptions. Otherwise it was a very good book with plenty of danger, suspense, romance and challenges for faith. I have not had the opportunity to read anything from Ms. Frantz before but I’ve got several of her other books on hold at the library. I can hardly wait to read more of her excellent stories. I will most certainly recommend this story to others and I look forward to re-reading it myself.

I received this E-Book free of charge from Revell Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

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Oath of Honor by Lynette Eason – Book Review

Oath of Honor by Lynette Eason

Published by Revell Publishing January 02, 2018

Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Drama, Romance

Pages: 189

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Police officer Isabelle St. John loves her crazy, loud, law-enforcement family. With three brothers and two sisters, she’s never without someone to hang out with–or fight with. And she knows they’ll be there for her when things get tough. Like when her partner is murdered and she barely escapes with her own life.

Determined to discover exactly what happened, Izzy’s investigation sends her headfirst into a criminal organization, possibly with cops on the payroll–including someone from her own family. With her dead partner’s handsome homicide detective brother Ryan shadowing her every move, Izzy’s head is spinning. How can she secure justice for her partner when doing so could mean sending someone she loves to prison? And how will she guard her heart when the man she’s had a secret crush on for years won’t leave her side?

With her signature fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat action, Lynette Eason invites readers into a captivating new series where justice is a family affair.

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Story Notes

Lynette Eason brings a fast-paced new series to her readers with a non-stop first story that will have you holding your breath and flying through the pages to see what  will happen next.

Lynette Eason just can’t help but write a complex and pulse pounding story. She has the rare ability to write with complexity that doesn’t overwhelm but refuses to let the reader go until they finish the story. Such is the case with the first book in her new series about a family of law enforcers and medical workers. Izzy St. John and her long time friend/new partner Kevin Marshall are on a stakeout of an abandoned warehouse gathering information and photos  of a group of local gun runners the city would love to see removed from the streets. Kevin is determined to get the best evidence possible for those who will take these criminals down and goes in for a closer look, without taking Izzy for backup. But things quickly turn deadly when Kevin is seen and shot by those inside. Izzy rushes in, dodging bullets and covers her fallen partner. But she’s too late to do more than take the phone he’s pressing into her hand and pray as he almost dies in her arms, gasping out a garbled name. Kevin’s brother, Ryan hears the call of”officer needs assistance” and “officer down” over the scanner and rushes to the warehouse, praying its not someone he loves. His heart drops when he sees his brother on the ground and Izzy St. John covered in blood. As they let the paramedics load Kevin in the ambulance, Ryan turns to Izzy and demands to know what happened. Grief stricken and angry, Izzy lashes out at Ryan, telling him Kevin made the choice to go in without her or any other backup. Both unable to think clearly without knowing what will happen to Kevin, they head to hospital to wait. But the truth comes fast and hard – Kevin didn’t make it. With much more riding on this case and a new determination to find out who is responsible, Izzy and Ryan will team up to bring down whoever is behind the warehouse killing and the guns that are flooding the streets. Add to all this the fact that there is a Mayoral race that is heating up with promises from both sides to clean up the city and it will be a real race against time and a determined killer for Izzy and Ryan to discover who is the real target and who has just been in the way. Ms. Eason did a wonderful job of making this story both real and very smart. Her way of weaving in the “cop-talk” seamlessly with the rest of the conversations is a gift she has developed well throughout her many books. I, myself, so look forward to reading her books because I also come away challenged, both in faith and in my determination to help others. The situations that Ms. Eason’s characters are often involved in are not my everyday situations but I find myself relating to them nonetheless as they are a magnification of happenings from my life. Granted, I’ve not lost someone close to me to crime violence, but the pain of loss is not lessened by the circumstances. And the struggle of faith when all the world seems to be weighing on you is one that all Christians will face in their journey with Christ. I found myself praying these characters would make it out of a fire-fight, gasping for breath as they ran after a suspect and crying as they felt the deep loss of their friends and family. To say this book felt like a marathon to me is an absolute truth. When you finish the last page and feel completely exhausted you know it was a good story. And then you can’t wait to have time to re-read it so you can pick up on all the little things you might have missed – man, is it hard to set down this kind of book! I will most certainly HIGHLY recommend this book to others. I hope they will get as much enjoyment out of it as I do and find themselves challenged as well as entertained. I can hardly wait for the next story in this series as I know it will be a great continuance of this literal fire-ball of a story. Thank you Ms. Eason for writing such excellent and well-developed stories!!

I received this E-book free of charge from Revell Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

Catching A Man by Elizabeth Corrigan – Book Review

Catching A Man by Elizabeth Corrigan

Published by Elizabeth Corrigan via Xpresso Book Tours  November 12, 2014

Genre: Mystery/thriller, Sci-fi fantasy

Pages: 194

Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

There’s more than one way to catch a man.

Kadin Stone’s life is finally going according to plan. She’s starting her new job as a homicide detective’s aide at one of the premier criminal investigation companies in Valeriel City, the capital of a 1950’s-style kingdom. Kadin is certain her new position will introduce her to any number of eligible men, so she’ll finally be able to get married and stop burdening the brother who insists on supporting her.

On Kadin’s first day, the royal family calls in her team to investigate the murder of gossip-rag cover girl Queen Callista. Kadin’s superiors think it’s an open and shut case. The queen’s jilted lover Duke Baurus DeValeriel had motive, means, and opportunity, but Kadin can’t help but spot holes in their theory.

After checking into a few leads of her own, Kadin inadvertently ends up in the confidence of Duke Baurus. When she tries to share what she knows with the rest of the team, she finds them unwilling to listen to the opinion of a girl who they know is only after a ring on her finger. In order to see justice served, Kadin finds herself doing the last thing she expected when she started working for a homicide detective—solve a murder!

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Story Notes

Elizabeth Corrigan brings to her readers a new mystery series based in an alternate reality that falls a bit flat and requires little of the readers imagination or logic to solve the mystery.

I’m just gonna be very honest right here: this book was not very good. I felt like I was reading the diary entries of a high-schooler that had been printed in book form. Ms Corrigan offers readers an alternate world in which women are only allowed importance if they are married. Single women must be virgins ( not a bad idea in itself) to work in this kingdom called Valerial, but it is assumed that these women are only working until they can find someone to marry – preferably as soon as possible. Heaven forbid if they actually try to do their job! Enter Kadin Stone, newly graduated detective aid who is determined to do her job, and do it well, before she resigns herself to marriage. Problem is, Kadin is smarter than the detectives would like and this makes things twice as hard for her to find a place to belong. And because she is kind, she will find herself the confidant of more than one person involved in the case as well as the first to discover how the murder was committed and by whom. There was a lot of potential here for a good story, unfortunately Ms. Corrigan chose to make her story obvious and juvenile. As soon as the suspect who turned out to be the murderer was introduced to the main character I knew it was him. And then the rest of the story was Kadin bumbling around trying to find clues to an oversimplified case. And the whole inclusion of “sideways” men ( used as a euphemism for gay men) throughout the story was unnecessary and just silly. It was like the story wasn’t sure if it wanted to offer a mystery story or promote the gay lifestyle. I personally would have found it much better if Ms. Corrigan had spent more time “beefing up” her characters and the suspense of the book rather than using the majority of the pages to discuss the social habits and conversations of Kadin and her friends. As I already know, few authors who self-publish are really going to make it big in the world of writing. If a publishing company doesn’t like the story then I probably won’t either because it has no depth. I did give this story one star, however, because I liked the idea that this woman was not going to let others tell her how to live and work. And she had enough brains to try to find someone to marry who would treat her well rather than just give her a home and provisions. So, perhaps Ms. Corrigan can try again and create characters that have depth and personality that readers will connect with better. I will not recommend this book to others and will offer my review as a warning to avoid only. I will give Ms. Corrigan another chance in the future perhaps, if her next book comes from a real publisher and with a real, engaging plot.

I received this E-book free of charge from Elizabeth Corrigan/Xpresso Book Tours via NetGally in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either of these companies for this review.

Redeeming Honor by E. A. West – Book Review

Redeeming Honor by E. A. West

Published by Pelican Book Group December 01, 2017

Genre: Romance, Christian, Military

Pages: 268

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Publishers Description

Meghan Carpenter loves God, her yarn business, and her twin brother Ryan—a former marine who currently lives with her. When she agrees to let his wounded buddy live with them on her small Indiana alpaca farm, she expects an American marine. What she gets is a former Afghan interpreter who’s painfully shy around women. Scarred from the war, both physically and emotionally, Basir Hamidi is grateful for a place to live. But his attraction to Meghan is a problem. With his honor destroyed by events in his homeland, and nothing to offer her but his broken, scarred self, he vows to avoid her and protect her reputation. Yet he is drawn to her with a strength that can only be God’s leading. For a man who has lost everything, letting go of the past is a difficult process. When he must also redeem his honor, his only chance of success is to rely on God.

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Story Notes

E. A. West brings her readers a wonderfully quiet story of love, acceptance and the journey to reclaiming honor that was never really lost.

Every once in a while you are given the privilege of reading a book that doesn’t have a lot of drama, danger or passion but speaks to you in a deliberately quiet way. This book is one of those privileges and I was so glad it was offered to me for review. Ms. West begins her story with a self-employed young woman named Meghan Carpenter who operates an Alpaca farm. She is quickly becoming famous in neighboring areas for the high quality of yarn she gathers and spins but she’s a bit lonely so far out from town. Her twin, Ryan, is a former Marine who is staying with her as he recovers from devastating PTSD. When Ryan requests that Meghan allow a fellow Marine to come stay with them as he recovers from his injuries, she has no idea that her heart’s desire is about to step through her door. Basir Hamidi is an Afghan native who earned his Green Card to the United States for his service alongside the Marines in Afghanistan. A fairly new Christian and American, Basir is struggling to find a place in his new country. Unable to shake all the ingrained traditions and customs of his old life, Basir is trying to find balance between what is of God and what was of the Muslim tradition. Basir is searching for a quiet place to call home and eagerly accepts Ryan’s offer to live with him and Meghan. But Basir is not prepared for his heart’s reaction to the sweet and kind Meghan, who is so opposite of his deceased first wife and the other women of his birthplace. Meghan, too, is surprised at her quick attraction to a man she has only ever known by name from Ryan’s conversations about his time in the Marines. As Basir works to overcome his long-held belief system and the expectations he holds for others, he will find that there is much that falls within the confines of “modesty” and “honor” of which he was previously unaware. And as Meghan begins to understand Basir’s struggle to find resolution, she will make it her mission to help him ease into his new life as comfortably as possible. God will use Meghan to stretch Basir’s faith beyond its known bounds and allow Basir in turn to teach Meghan a deeper sense of honor and respect. I loved reading this book as it opened my eyes to the struggle that former Muslims have when they become Christians and, further when they come to the United States. Mind you, this gentleman came to the United States in a legal manner so his journey to full citizenship is one to be applauded and celebrated. And his spiritual journey towards God is one that offers much to be learned by “Western” Christians, including the understanding of real honor, respect and humility. And while this book was not the most action packed, passion laced story I have read recently, I enjoyed it in a different way as I was able to appreciate its concepts in a contemplative manner. I will most certainly recommend this book to others as it has much to teach and share. I’m also looking forward to reading other works by Ms. West as soon as I am able.

I received this E-Book free of charge from Pelican Book Group in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from Pelican Book Group for this review.

Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren – Book Review

Troubled Waters by Susan May Warren

Published by Revell Publishing  January 02, 2018

Genre: Drama, Romance, Christian

Pages: 352

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Billionaire Ian Shaw can have everything he wants–except a happy ending. Or at least that’s what it feels like with his fortune recently liquidated, his niece, Esme, still missing, and the woman he loves refusing to speak to him. In fact, he doubts she would date him even if they were stranded on a deserted island.

Despite her love for Ian, Sierra Rose knows he has no room in his life for her as long as the mystery of his missing niece goes unsolved. The only problem is, Sierra has solved it, but a promise to Esme to keep her whereabouts secret has made it impossible to be around Ian.

When the PEAK chopper is damaged and Sierra lacks the funds to repair it, Ian offers a fundraising junket for large donors on his yacht in the Caribbean. But the three-day excursion turns into a nightmare when a rogue wave cripples the yacht and sends the passengers overboard. Shaken up and soaked to the bone, Ian finally has a chance to test his theory when he and Sierra do indeed find themselves washed up on a strange, empty shore.

It will take guts and gumption for the PEAK team to rescue the duo. But it will take a miracle to rescue Ian and Sierra’s relationship.

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Story Notes

Susan May Warren continues her Montana Rescue Series with the much anticipated story of Ian Shaw and Sierra Rose – a story that brings a literal tidalwave of emotion and a chance at real forgiveness.

I was so thrilled to be offered this book for review as this series is one I’ve loved from the first page of Wild Montana Skies. And Ms. Warren is finally going to tell the whole story of Ian Shaw and Sierra Rose. In the past three books, they have gone from co-workers to good friends,  and Sierra was hoping that Ian could love her in the same way she has come to love him. But since the disappearance of his niece, Esme, Ian refuses to move on with his life. Sierra is tired of waiting for love from a man who cannot let go of his past demons so she give him an ultimatum: move on or I will. Angry that she doesn’t seem to understand his drive to find Esme, Ian fired Sierra and is trying to find solace in the rescue work he loves. When fines and retribution fees from a forest fire that started his land decimate Ian’s finances, he will have to find a way to fund PEAK rescue or it will have to be absorbed by local rescue services. Sierra comes to his “rescue” once again, suggesting that he offer his yacht to his wealthy friends for a weekend of relaxation and fundraising. Ian agrees rather reluctantly, not planning to attend given his fear of water and inability to swim. But he quickly changes his mind when he realizes that he is still in love with Sierra and is afraid she might fall in love with one of his friends. Determined to face his fears, move on from the past and show Sierra he loves her, Ian puts himself forth as Sierra’s assistant for the trip. Unable to understand this “new” Ian who is helpful and kind, Sierra hopes he is finally going to move beyond his troubled past. But the trip is far from the relaxing luxury cruise they had hoped to enjoy. Triple rogue waves strike the yacht off the coast of the Florida Keys and all passengers are flung in multiple directions. Reeling with the impact of the waves, Ian and Sierra manage to make to a nearby island. But things go from bad to worse as a Catagory 3 rakes the island less than 12 hours after they make landfall. Injured, starving and with little drinkable water accessible, Ian and Sierra will have to find the courage to survive and forgive each other for past mistakes. They also find another member of their yacht party after the storm passes who is near-fatally injured and rescue will have to come soon if they are going to make it home alive. Ian and Sierra will both have to placed their faith in God to bring about the rescue they need. I really enjoyed reading Ian and Sierra’s story and seeing how Ms. Warren grew her characters through the situations in which they found themselves. Ian was so sure of his ability to “fix” things, either with his brains or his money that he could not find a way to surrender to God. But Ms. Warren found a way to bring this brilliant man to his knees as he faced losing the most precious thing in his life – Sierra. Sierra has longed for Ian’s love for a long time but she will have surrender her love to God if she is to have any hope of it becoming reality. Ms. Warren used her to show how God can take the desires of our hearts and bring them to fruition in a greater and better way than we could ever imagine. Ms. Warren didn’t pull her punches when it came to speaking truth and it made me consider the ways in which I ask God for my heart’s desires. Her way of sharing the need to be one with the Will of God was carefully crafted to point to the truth without alienating her readers, a talent that few possess. Ms. Warren also included the complicated sub-story of PEAK rescue members Pete and Jess. They’ve been skating around their attraction to each other but neither is willing to fall in love until they have dealt with the past. Pete has been running from his mistakes for years, preferring to forget rather than deal – a further mistake as he is nothing but miserable.  Jess carries the burden of her father’s mistakes and is seeking restitution through her work with PEAK rescue. When the past reaches out into her new life, Jess must find the courage to face the past and put it to rest if she is going to have real love with Pete. But Ms. Warren doesn’t give the answer to the question of their relationship in this story – a good move as it will give her a thread of continuance for the next book. I can’t wait to see how she will play out their story as well as Ty and Brette’s. I know she will bring more truth and greater faith however she chooses for their relationships to grow. I’ve already got the last PEAK rescue book on my “to read” list and know it will be an excellent ending to a wonderful series. I will certainly recommend this story to others and be adding it to my shelves soon so I can re-read it. Well done, indeed, Ms. Warren!

I received this E-book free of charge from Revell Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright – Book Review

The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright

Published by Bethany House Publishers  December 05, 2017

Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Christian

Pages: 360

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description
Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious death fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters and, even as she works together with a man from her past, can she unravel the mystery before any other lives–including her own–are lost?

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Story Notes

Jaime Jo Wright debuts her novel writing career with deeply complex story that stretches over 100 years – and its one you won’t want to miss or put down.

Have you ever read a book that you had to sit and think about for a while when you finished it? That was this incredible book from new author Jaime Jo Wright. Not only was the story completely riveting, but it was crafted as if Ms. Wright had been a much published author for years. The content was masterfully woven together in a way that made the two separate time periods the book focused on an extension of each other, which was her intent, I’m sure. Ms. Wright begins her telling in 1906 with Ivy Thorpe, the daughter of Oakwood, Wisconsin’s physician and a woman most in town view as odd. Ivy has seen death pass through her father’s office many times and cannot help but seek out a way for those without “history” to not be forgotten by the passing of time. So she keeps a journal of  the lives all those she has seen pass on but none have affected her like Gabriella. As Oakwood is a small town, the occasion of murder is a rarity, but this unknown deceased woman (whom Ivy names after the Biblical angel) will be the start of an investigation that will bring to horrible light all the terror that is to be found in Foster Hill House. Kaine Prescott, the great-great-great granddaughter of Ivy Thorpe, has made her way to Oakwood from San Diego in search of peace and assuagement of guilt. Two years prior, Kaine’s husband Danny was killed in what the police ruled an accident. However, the circumstances surrounding the “accident” and the investigation that followed gave Kaine very  little reason to accept the findings as truth. And in the subsequent two years she has filed many reports with the police for odd happenings in her apartment that they tell her are simply her own PTSD. So, feeling guilty that she allowed her work to keep Danny from fulfilling his dream of house flipping and hoping for a new beginning, Kaine buys a decrepit house, sight unseen, in the town of her ancestors. But all the trouble she hoped was left behind in San Diego seems to have followed her to Oakwood. From the sudden appearance of her deceased husband’s picture, to the scary phone calls warning her to leave, Kaine will have to draw on all her courage, faith and the help of her new-found friends to discover the secrets held so long in the Foster Hill House. The main two themes of this book were, I believe, faith and trust. While those two words might be used interchangeably by some, they do not have the same meaning. Faith is believe without sight, while trust is belief in someone or something that is earned. Ms. Wright strove to show that while many people are able to “trust” in God or other people, it is a whole other concept to have faith in them. Ivy and Kaine both trust that God cares for His children but neither were able to have real faith in Him, or in others really, because of what they had experienced. And it is this lack of faith that will be challenged and answered through the situations that both characters will face. When Ivy lost her brother Andrew, she was heartbroken and lost quite a bit of herself in his death. To further deepen her heartache, Joel Cunningham, her and Andrew’s best friend, disappears without a word the day after Andrew’s death. Never letting go of her hurt and disappointment, Ivy turns from her own dreams to help her father in his work. When the circumstances and succeeding investigation of Gabriella’s death bring Joel back to Oakwood as a detective, Ivy will have to decide if she can let go of her assumptions and hurt so Joel can tell the true story of what happened the day after Andrew died. She must also find the courage to have faith in him again, both to protect her and bring justice for Gabriella. It will be through all the situations of the case that God will bring about true faith and peace in both Ivy and Joel’s lives. Kaine is looking for the hope and peace she sees in Gabriella’s life through the hidden diary she found under the floorboards of Foster Hill House. She cannot understand how a woman who has endured such great suffering can still praise God and hold on to hope of a better future. Having lost a good bit of her spiritual self through Danny’s death and the bungled investigation afterwards, Kaine is desperately seeking resolution and surrender to a God that seems so far away. But God is working in her life to bring that which she so earnestly seeks as well as those things she didn’t realize she needed – the acceptance of a “family” and the love of a good and honest man. Please read this book and discover for yourself the incredible power of faith and trust. And along the way you might just find two of the best mysteries you’ve ever read. I’m loath to put much of the rest plot in this review as I just can’t bear to spoil it for other readers. But, suffice to say, it did earn my rarely-allowed 5 star rating and I am very much looking forward to Ms. Wright’s next works. Well done on your first book!!

I received this book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from Bethany House Publishers for this review.

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen – Book Review

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage by Julie Klassen

Published by Bethany House Publishers December 05, 2017

Genre: Drama, Regency Romance, Christian

Pages: 285

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Return to Ivy Hill in The Ladies of Ivy Cottage as friendships deepen, romances blossom, and mysteries unfold.

Living with the two Miss Groves in Ivy Cottage, impoverished gentlewoman Rachel Ashford is determined to earn her own livelihood . . . somehow. When the village women encourage her to open a subscription library with the many books she has inherited or acquired through donations, Rachel discovers two mysteries hidden among them. A man who once broke her heart helps her search for clues, but will both find more than they bargained for?

Rachel’s friend and hostess, Mercy Grove, has given up thoughts of suitors and fills her days managing her girls’ school. So when several men take an interest in Ivy Cottage, she assumes pretty Miss Ashford is the cause. Exactly what–or who–has captured each man’s attention? The truth may surprise them all.

Meanwhile, life has improved at the coaching inn and Jane Bell is ready to put grief behind her. Now if only the man she misses would return–but where is he?

As the women of Ivy Hill search for answers about the past and hope for the future, might they find love along the way?

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Story Notes

Julie Klassen takes her readers back to Ivy Hill for a complex story that will bring to pass the desires of some character’s hearts and create new ones in others.

Ever since I received Ms. Klassen’s book The Lady of Milkweed Manor, I have been a constant fan with her upcoming books marked for purchase/review as soon as they are available. So it is no surprise that when this story came up in my queue I was very excited to immerse myself in her world of regency romance once again. She begins this story practically where The Inn-keeper of Ivy Hill left off and jumps right into the drama of village life. Mercy Grove has long hoped to marry but that has not been her fortune as yet. She has made a contented life for herself with her Aunt Matilda, teaching school to her six boarding pupils and opening her home to her friend Rachel Ashford, who lost her home and income upon her father’s death. But her contentment will be upended with the discovered parentage of her favorite student and the arrival of Mercy’s own parents. Alice is the unknown great-granddaughter of  well-respected village members, Mr and Mrs. Thomas, who’s age and situation will not allow for her to reside with them. Upon the death of Mrs. Thomas, Mr Thomas offers to sign Alice’s care over to Mercy permanently to ensure she will never have want. Mercy will have much to consider before she agrees and decides she will seek the advice of friends and family as she considers her answer. Her parents appear in person to give their answer and bring along for her further consideration a man they believe is perfect for marriage to their daughter. Embarrassed and slightly angry at her parents blatant attempt to marry her off, Mercy refuses to give Mr. Hollander her answer quickly. And after he returns to his work at Oxford, she will be even more dismayed at the ultimatum her parents give – marry Mr. Hollander or lose Ivy Cottage for her home. Heartsick over the impending loss of her God-given work, Mercy will have much to pray about and decide. And with all this trouble, she must figure out why her heart and mind return often to thoughts of her new friend, Joseph Kingsley. Could it be she has more chances at love than she thought? Rachel Ashford has lost everything – her home, her income and her only love. The cherished and somewhat spoiled daughter of Lord Ashford spent her life in want of nothing and with no reason to be in need,  has no marketable traits in her possession. Needing to find a way to earn her living, Rachel seeks the advice of her closest friends – who remind her she is in possession of a large collection of books from her father’s library. Not able to sell said books according to the terms of her father’s will, Rachel settles upon the idea of a subscription library for Ivy Hill and neighboring villages. But the applications and needed certifications for her library will bring her back into more frequent contact with the local Magistrate – Sir Timothy Brockwell – whom Rachel has secretly loved for several years. However, Rachel will find that although it is painful to be so often near Timothy again, she is able to bring joy and knowledge to others through her venture. Timothy Brockwell carries his own secrets and his most painful is that he loves Rachel Ashford. But to pursue her would be in opposition to his mother’s wishes and could expose the darkest secrets of his father’s life.  As Timothy and Rachel work together to help out their friend and neighbors, they will discover that true love doesn’t fade with time, rather it grows and deepens when God is in the middle. Rachel’s best friend, Jane Bell is flourishing in her role as the mistress of The Bell inn. Having moved beyond her grief over her deceased husband, Jane is working to make her inn as comfortable and welcoming as possible. She longs for a new love but is afraid of what re-marriage might mean, so Jane throws herself into her work and seeks to make the lives of those around her better with her talents. But Jane will have to face some hurtful areas of her past if she is going to truly move on with her life. And it will be the arrival of an old employee that will show her that second chances are possible and quite often, bring new love into one’s life. I cannot wait to see how Ms. Klassen will bring about the futures of these ladies in her next book. I loved reading this story and although I was sad not to see the resolution of everything included, I know there is more that needs to happen to bring about the coming happy endings. Ms. Klassen also used her characters to teach the tough lessons of resentment, real forgiveness and accepting help when you need it. Jane and her mother in law, Thora, were both carrying around un-forgiveness and hurt from the past and they had to let go of that so they could experience the new joys to be had in their current lives. Jane will also have to work through her fear of losing another child if she will be able to accept the love that Gabriel Locke is offering her. Mercy, too, has to deal with her own resentment towards her parents and God, who she thinks are out to destroy her comfortable life. But while things are not staying the same, Mercy will come to realize that God has better for her than she has previously imagined and to obtain those blessings she must give up old desires. Rachel will be the one who must accept the generosity of her friends and neighbors and allow them to bless her in her time of need. Having always avoided the need for charity, Rachel struggles to accept with grace the help of those who love her. She knows she should be grateful for the kindness of friends, but it is hard for a woman who is used to being the giver to so suddenly become the receiver. But God will use this new humility to bring the greatest desire of Rachel’s heart to pass – the love of the man she has never been able to forget. I’m so pleased when authors like Ms. Klassen bring real truth to their writings so that readers can also look to themselves to see if they carry some of these hurtful practices. I find myself praying as I read that the Lord will look in my heart and show me any ways in which I might be guilty of the same sins Ms. Klassen points out. This helps me engage better with the story and with the characters – which I’m sure was Ms. Klassen’s intent. I also love that she includes passages or phrases from her own favorite authors – like Jane Austen – in this book. She used two of my favorite Jane Austen books to bring about the love scenes and I was quoting them right along with the character speaking them. This inclusion just made the book even better in my opinion as it brought to mind the BBC dramatizations of those stories that I have watched multiple times. Oh how I wish people these days spoke like those people did – what deep emotion they were able to convey with their words!! I will most certainly be recommending this book to others; they need to have such a good book in their lives. I am also very much looking forward to the next book in the Ivy Hill series so I can find out what will happen with Mercy and Jane’s stories. Well Done, Ms. Klassen!

A received this e-book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

Operation Hail Storm by Brett Arquette – Book Review

Operation Hail Storm by Brett Arquette

Published by Lulu.com June 01, 2017

Genre: Techo-thriller

Pages: 321

Rating: 4.0 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Marshall Hail was a husband, a father, a Physics Nobel prize winner and industrial billionaire. But when Hail’s family was killed in a terrorist attack, he became a predator and redirected his vast industrial assets toward one goal

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Story Notes

Brett Arquette brings an explosive new series to the world of techno-thrillers with his book Operation Hail Storm – telling the story of one man on the hunt for the terrorists who stole his family.

I was offered this book by its author who found me on Goodreads. His proffered story was not a genre I had much experience with as I have read very few techno-thrillers before this time. However, I will now be looking for more from this genre, it was very interesting and educational to me. I did not study any type of technology at college outside of what was required for my biology or business classes and it was very little in reference to what is covered in this story. But I found myself learning quite a bit about the world of advanced technology and its role in the defense of our country. Mr. Arquette begins his story in North Korea, at the compound of a high ranking military official who is #1 on the CIA and FBI’s Most Wanted list. Unknown to him, Kim Yong Chang is being observed by a drone disguised as a Golden Eagle which is transmitting video and data to the Hail Nucleus cargo ship in the Strait of Malacca outside Indonesia. Feeling particularly venomous, Kim decides to shoot the eagle out of the air – thereby ending the flight of this observation drone – much to Marshall Hail’s consternation. Hail is an industrial billionaire with a thirst for revenge on the world’s terrorists. Having lost his family in THE FIVE ( Five planes shot down, in five different countries, by five different terrorist groups, using five different surface to air missiles, within five minutes), Marshall has found a new calling: wiping out those who are responsible for any of those acts of terror. Bringing together the top people in drone technology, physics, chemistry and many other fields, he will do his best to remove the threats to world safety without causing political crises. His current target, Kim, will never know who or what killed him, because there will be no people on site completing this mission. Using mother drones, micro drones and pico drones, Hail and his team will very effectively end the life of this mercenary. And this kill will give them the introduction they need to approach the US government about the current surveillance of the rest of the Top Ten targets. But the US leaders are wary of handing over sensitive information to a relatively unknown player. They will choose to test out Hail’s team and his willingness to go along with their parameters before they hand over more high value targets. In conjunction with this new partnership comes an unexpected requirement – a CIA agent present on Hail’s ship to observe/report on missions. Kara Ramey is one of the CIA’s best operatives for retrieving information. Incredibly beautiful with an amazing talent for languages, Kara both fits in and stands out on her missions. Assigned to Hail as the CIA liaison, Kara will find that she might not be as smart as she thinks when it comes to these tech-geniuses. But Kara has her own “skin in the game” as she calls it – her family was killed in THE FIVE as well and she plans to find those responsible by any means. The excitement, danger, and sorrow that are deeply ingrained in the essence of this book are what makes it a good story. When reading it you just can’t help hurting for the loss of the characters involved and you cheer alongside them as they succeed in removing those who caused that loss and deep hurt. And while there was A LOT of advanced technology discussed within the pages, it was not done in a “know-it-all” way given that it was further explained within a characters thoughts or words. It was very reminiscent of Tom Clancy books and that made this book all the better in my opinion. That an author takes time to help their readers understand the knowledge carried by their characters means that the author really cares for their current and future readers. The only issue I took with this excellent book was the inclusion of coarse language. Mind you, the language was not extreme or perverse but I would have preferred if it was left out or mentioned as ” so-and-so cursed” rather than the words written out. I do understand that this book was not intended to be super-clean, but Mr Arquette offered a good balance while offending me very little. I was, however, pleased to see that while it was implied that Kara had slept with the Russian terrorist Victor Kornev, there was no discussion of it beyond her going to his room and then his leaving her to go to a meeting. While I don’t condone what she did, the implication of it is better in my mind as it keeps the readers moving on to the more important part of the story – which was what information Kara was able to obtain from Kornev’s room and devices. And to be honest, this is exactly how people who work for these government agencies function; they are to use any means necessary to obtain their Intel. So, other than the use of unnecessary language I honestly enjoyed the book and am looking forward to reading the next in the series, Hail Warning, which came out last November. I am thankful Mr. Arquette requested that I review his book as he has helped me find a new favorite genre of books.

* A side note: this book was self-published with quite a few errors. I was offered the book with the understanding that I would help the author find/correct those errors. I therefore did not mention the grammatical errors I found in my review as I sent them directly to the author to correct at his convenience. *

I received this E-book free of charge from the author Brett Arquette in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from the author for this review.

Vanishing Point (Nikki Boyd Files) by Lisa Harris – Book Review

Vanishing Point (Nikki Boyd Files) by Lisa Harris

Published by Revell Publishing November 07, 2017

Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Drama

Pages: 173

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

During Garrett Addison’s first week on the job as a criminal investigator for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, his team is called out to a murder scene of a young girl. She’s the third victim in a string of disappearances with one thing in common–a Polaroid photo of each victim left behind at the crime scene.

The FBI is pulled into the case to help, and Garrett finds himself working with Special Agent Jordan Lambert, the woman he once loved. When yet another girl dies–number six–Garrett blames himself and believes he doesn’t have what it takes to be an agent. What he’ll discover is that, while he may be done with the killer, the killer is not done with him–or Jordan.

Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris unveils an unforgettable story of a case that has haunted the public and law enforcement for more than a decade. Fans of the Nikki Boyd Files will thrill to finally discover what actually happened to Nikki’s sister, Sarah. New readers will become instant fans after devouring this chilling tale.

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Story Notes

Lisa Harris finally delivers the long awaited back story to her Nikki Boyd Files readers – what happened to Sarah Boyd?

With a story that spans more than 10 years of time Lisa Harris presents the unsolved case of Sarah Boyd – sister to FBI Agent Nikki Boyd and suspected victim of the Angel Abductor. This case has remained unsolved for many years and is the very reason Nikki Boyd walked away from her teaching career to become a cop. Ms. Harris takes her readers back to 2004 and starts at the beginning – with the first three girls taken and only two bodies found. Instead of focusing on Nikki, however, she will turn to the lead investigator on this case Garrett Addison and tell the story through his eyes. Garrett has been handed the case of the three missing girls his first week as an investigator for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation – a case that has turned deadly with the finding of two bodies. Determined to find the one responsible before someone else goes missing, Garrett jumps in with both feet, praying for the wisdom to see what may have been missed before. As his team investigates the latest crime scene, they find a Polaroid of the deceased girl before she died, great fear evident on her face. They also find the intact wallet of the victim in a nearby trashcan. Shocked at the brazen way in which this killer leaves clues, they quickly realize that whoever this murderer is has a precise and calculating mind. And, in spite of their best efforts, this case will not be closed anytime soon. Working alongside Garrett is his former girlfriend, Jordan Lambert, who works as an case analyzer for the FBI. Jordan spends much of her days behind a desk as she reviews cases and finds new leads to follow. This case will bring an end to that work, as she finds herself both drawn to the field work of the Angel Abductor case and Garrett. Neither of them really got over their breakup but they have tried to move forward with their lives and their work. But this case will take its toll on both of them, teaching lessons and breaking them down to what matters most – justice and forgiveness. And as more girls are taken and found dead, Garrett must keep his focus or he will risk losing his ability to find the killer. Ms. Harris created some very good characters with this back story of Nikki’s life. However, I found that the pacing of this story was a little slow. Her writing was excellent and the mystery well developed but I felt it just dragged a little in the middle of the book. Not to say that this isn’t very likely how cases of this magnitude work, I know that there are many cases that remain unsolved for decades before a resolution is found. I think the main problem I found was that the story was so far removed from the focus of the previous Nikki Boyd stories that I had a hard time connecting this plot to the others. On the other hand, I really loved the way that Ms. Harris developed her main characters to show a deeply human side of these investigators. Walking the fine line between hope and despair is a daily struggle for crime investigators and Ms. Harris was deliberate in showing the toll it takes on them. How often we forget that these men and women have family life outside of their work and it can greatly affect their ability to do their job. Sharing the grief of losing a beloved parent, the pain of a parent who disapproves of career choices, and the loss of true love from the choice to keep feelings inside allowed Ms. Harris to make her story real and relatable. So while there were a few pieces of this story that made it difficult to read there was so much more that made me glad I did. I had been given glimpses into this background of Nikki’s life and was happy to finally get the whole story. It seemed to me that this was one of those “necessary but not the best story” books that comes with every series. The one where there is a lot of information that needs to be told and therefore the plot will be a bit slower. But I have been able to round out my depiction of Nikki better in my imagination through this story so I believe that the next ones will only get better. I have this book on my birthday list and look forward to adding it to my shelves to read again. I will recommend this book to others as an important part of the story of Nikki Boyd – one that is not to be missed for those who are fans of these books. I am hoping there will be another installment of this excellent series soon as I am loving getting to know all of the ins and outs of this character.

I received this E-book free of charge from Revell Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden – Book Review

A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden

Published by Bethany House Publishers October 03, 2017

Genre: Suspense, Historical, Romance, Drama, Christian

Pages: 343

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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Publisher’s Description

Page-Turning Romance and Intrigue in Award-Winning Author’s Next Historical Novel

Lucy Drake’s mastery of Morse code has made her a valuable asset to the American news agencies as a telegrapher. But the sudden arrival of Sir Colin Beckwith at rival British news agency Reuters puts her hard-earned livelihood at risk. Newly arrived from London, Colin is talented, handsome, and insufferably charming.

Despite their rivalry, Lucy realizes Colin’s connections could be just what her family needs to turn the tide of their long legal battle over the fortune they were swindled out of forty years ago. When she negotiates an unlikely alliance with him, neither of them realizes how far the web of treachery they’re wading into will take them.

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Story Notes

Elizabeth Camden begins a new series in the Empire State with a story that brings intrigue, danger, legal fights and a sweet love story that will have to wage war if it is to survive against all its foes.

This story was a welcome change from the past books I had been reading. With its history-packed pages centered around the offices of the Associated Press and Reuters News agencies, Ms. Camden presented a story that had me feeling closely connected to the characters involved. Lucy Drake and her brother Nick are a hardworking pair who are caught up in their family’s legal feud that began with their grandfather Eustace and his brother Jacob. The battle started right before the Civil War: Eustace was a brilliant engineer who had created a pipe valve that would help pump water up pipes in multi-story buildings. He and Jacob had begun selling them before the war engulfed the country but Eustace felt he needed to defend his country and set off for the front lines. Before he left, he signed an agreement with Jacob that allowed Jacob to make all necessary decisions and expansions pertaining to the valve’s manufacture and distribution. When he returned after the war, Eustace approached Jacob, wanting to get back to work and split the profits equally as before. But Jacob had no interest in allowing his brother back into the business. So began a long, grueling court battle that would filter down through two succeeding generations to Lucy and Nick. Still feeling they need to make things right, not just for themselves but for others, they continue to attend court dates, hopeful for a prompt ending. Nick works as a plumber for the city of New York and quietly helps the poor tenement owners provide clean water for their tenants. Lucy works as telegraph operator/translator for the Associated Press and further ensures the pneumatic tube system stays in working order. When her boss notices, not for the first time, that their new stories are being “scooped” by the Reuters newspapers, Lucy is sent to the man in charge: Sir Colin Beckwith. Having some unpleasant history with Colin, Lucy is loath to spend any time with him but knows her job is worth a few minutes of discomfort. What follows is the start of an unexpected friendship that will grow into something more as they get to know each other. Colin has determined to marry an American heiress to save his family home which is in great disrepair but it is Lucy he really wants to spend time with each day. And as he learns her family history, he becomes personally involved, knowing his title and reputation could help her gain the leverage her family needs to win the lawsuit. But Lucy isn’t sure that Colin is all portrays. For one thing, he makes a business deal with her uncle which allows Colin 4% of the proceeds from Drake valves installed in Europe – a move she sees as quite a betrayal, given one of the focuses of the lawsuit is ensuring Eustace’s descendants receive back-payments for valves sold. And for another, in spite of his sweet words towards her, he seems incredibly focused on marrying a woman with money for his English estate. As they walk the dangerous line of truth and lies, both Colin and Lucy will have to decide what means the most to them: money or freedom. And no matter which they choose, either path requires sacrifice. Ms. Camden gave her characters such life and personalities that I often felt as if I were sitting in the same room. The suspense as Colin returned again to Oakmonte was palpable and the events of that visit caused me anger, fear and a deep desire for everyone to get what they deserved. Have no fear, Ms. Camden carries the plot extremely well and brings everything to a most satisfactory end. She requires her characters to grow, stretch and feel real pain so that they can come off the page and into a readers imagination. She is not satisfied with leaving them as they are in the spiritual sense either – her story takes them to the very bottom of their faith so they can break free of their chains of greed, selfishness and revenge. By portraying the fire-cleansing of God in a very vivid way in Lucy’s life, Ms. Camden inspired me to look within myself to see if there is anything I hold more dear than the Will of God. I smiled as I read the final pages of this book and was happy to realize that this was the first of a series that will involve the Drake family. I am most excited to see how Ms. Camden will tell Nick’s story in the following book. If this current book is any indication, it will have much snappy dialogue and good character challenges. I will most certainly recommend this book to others and look forward to adding it to my book shelves soon.

I received this E-book free of charge from Bethany House Publishers via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.