My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains by Susan Page Davis – Book Review

My Heart Belongs in the Superstition Mountains  by  Susan Page Davis

Published By Barbour Publishing    March  01, 2017

Genres: Christian

Pages:  256

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Publisher’s Decription

Experience the Wild West as Carmela seeks freedom of body and soul. Forced for years by her uncle to pose as a survivor of an Indian kidnapping so he can profit on the speaker circuit, she longs to end the lies. On a stagecoach in Arizona Territory, Carmela and her uncle are fellow passengers with a deputy US marshal and his handcuffed prisoner. When the stage is attacked, will Carmela’s wish come true, or will she forever be branded by her past?

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Story Notes

Susan Page Davis’s recently released historical fiction story carried good potential for well developed novel but lacks polished characters and a complete ending.

Having read a nice short story by Ms Davis in years past I had reasonably high hopes for this latest story of hers. She began the story well enough with a good amount of suspense and intrigue but as the pages went on, I found that it lacked much that I look for in a good book. A well-developed plot is essential to a good story in my opinion but while this had a good beginning and okay middle, the end was one of the worst I’ve read – it just stopped, leaving the story hanging in some ways that were slightly angering. I am always of the opinion that everyone in a story gets their just rewards by the conclusion if you do not intend a story to become a series; however Ms. Davis allowed a central character to remain unpunished and able to live the life he wished to live. Although I know that is often the case in real life, this incompleteness to a story never endears me to an author. And the supposed love story in this book was just sad in its attempt at reality, as I will explain further below.  As to the main characters, I felt that they remained rather shallow. Ms. Davis attempted to have Carmela learn many lessons in her story but they were so multiple and scattered in their telling it was almost dizzying to read. The hero, Freeland,  was a weak sort of character that, in spite of his job as a lawman, seemed rather un-courageous and simple minded. I kept waiting on him to show some “Yumph” but, in spite of coming close a couple times, it just never happened. And with the inclusion of so many substories I found myself wondering when or if Ms. Davis would be able to bring everything to a close – quickly finding out she would not do that. I was further disappointed in her heroine Carmela who she wrote had been so completely controlled and cowed by her uncle for years but somehow had great courage in the face of danger and death. And she also seemed to have a working knowledge of what to do when stranded in the desert. It was so opposite of what one would think this character should know given her background. Add to this the fact that she knew how to cook, despite having been traveling with her uncle from the time she was twelve and they had always stayed in hotels and eaten in cafes. How exactly was she supposed to have gained those skills given her upbringing?? There were a few redeeming qualities from this story: Carmela’s gaining freedom from her uncle and from the lies she was forced to tell, and finding love with Freeland. I was glad to see she was able to gain freedom from her past and  found a new way of life in the town of Prescott. In the telling of this, Ms Davis did well. And even though I was happy to see that Carmela and Freeland found love together, Ms. Davis did not give adequate space to their journey of love. It was thrown in on the last few pages as a sort of afterthought that did not go well with the rest of the story. Maybe there were many fast marriages because of need in American Western history but I found the idea of real love between these two to be rather far fetched as they didn’t spend that much time together other than their two days walk in the desert. Therefore, with all the problems I found in this story I cannot in good conscience recommend this story to anyone who actually cares what they are reading. If it was just a book someone wanted to read to waste time, maybe, but I personally would rather re-read an old favorite that I knew I liked. Knowing Ms. Davis has won awards for several of her former works I hope this book is just a one off for her and any future works will be much better developed and cohesive.

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

Still Life by Dani Pettrey – Book Review

Still Life  by  Dani Pettrey

Published By Bethany House Publishers    January  31, 2017

Genres:  Mystery and Suspense, Christian

Pages:  352

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Publisher’s Description

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Story Notes

Dani Pettrey brings to chilling light the drama of a crime-scene photographer and the realization of her greatest fear – working on a case involving her friend and her past.

Dani Pettrey’s second book in the Chesapeake Valor series will help to cement her as one of the best new writers featuring the world of criminal investigations. I have always enjoyed reading these types of books but have really come to appreciate authors who think outside the expected and focus on those who are often overlooked at a crime scene – CSU techs, anthropologists, and, in the case of this story, crime scene photographers. I had grown rather attached to Ms. Pettrey’s characters through her first book in the series, Cold Shot, and was glad to see this second book offered for review. Ms. Pettrey brings a unique style to her series, choosing to allow multiple characters beyond the two primaries to have a point of view in the story. This allows readers to better connect with everyone in the story and I, for one, was drawn into the action faster and felt like I was walking alongside them through the story scenes. Ms. Pettrey has adopted an essential element for her writing that I am always glad to see when I read a book – that of making her characters relatable and real by giving them life-like backstories and tragedies that have shaped them into the characters they are now. All of the male characters in the series have grown up as best friends until the murder of Griffin McCray’s sister Jenna threatens to separate them. Add to that the disappearance of Luke and the remaining three friends are struggling to work through blame while also working crime scenes together. Parker Mitchell was in love with Jenna for years and when she was kidnapped, tortured and killed on her way to meet him one night, he takes all the blame on himself. Guilt still burns deep inside and colors his view of love – keeping him from developing deeper relationships with any of the women he has dated in the years since. Parker carries a deep seeded fear that anyone else he might love will be taken from him too. But when he begins to feel attraction to his new crime photographer, Avery Tate, he will have to decide if he can let go of fear enough to fall in love. Avery Tate carries many secrets from her childhood – secrets that she knows she should move past but just cannot seem to let go of yet. Having found forgiveness and acceptance in Christ, she has moved beyond her broken past and become a successful photographer. When her career is derailed by a photograph that exposed a corrupt political official’s crimes, she finds herself blackballed by the photographic community of Baltimore. Hired by Parker Mitchell as a crime photographer was an answer to prayer and she has enjoyed the work and getting to know Parker. But his guilt over Jenna keeps them from exploring a deeper relationship, causing her to seek work elsewhere. However, when Avery find herself in the middle of a missing person’s case involving her former best friend, she calls on Parker, Griffin and the others for help to discover if the incredibly real looking “death” picture of her friend is an actual picture of her demise. What follows is a case so creepy in details and facts that it will leave readers with desire to double check the locks on their doors at night. Ms. Pettrey did an excellent job of keeping the reader engaged not only in the crime solving aspects of the story but the criminal aspects of  it as well by giving short conversations and thoughts of the person(s) committing the crime. She gave just enough clues to keep me thinking I had discovered the culprit but then would throw in a twist that made me realize I was wrong. Add to this the multiple self-seeking characters Ms. Pettrey included and I was thinking “man, I hope all these selfish jerks get what they deserve!” And, thankfully, most of them did. But Ms. Pettrey kept a couple of them out of consequences – to use later on in the series, I’m thinking. Ms. Pettrey also added wonderful elements of faith to her story, showing a journey that would help both Parker and Avery move passed their tragic pasts into a incredible future filled with love and forgiveness. The sub story of Declan and Taylor was a good touch too, setting the scene very well for the next book the the series. I am excited to see where this series will go next and how everything will be worked out between the rest of the friends/investigators. I will most certainly recommend not only this book but the series to my friends and family; this is one they will not want to miss out on. Well done, Dani Pettrey!!

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.

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexandra – Book Review

A Note Yet Unsung  by  Tamera Alexander

Published By  Bethany House Publishers   January  31, 2017

Genres: Historical, Romance, Christian

Pages:  432

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

__________________________________________________________________

Publisher’s Description

A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to wheedle her way into an audition with the new maestro at the Nashville Philharmonic. But women are “far too fragile and frail” for the rigors of an orchestra, and Rebekah’s hopes are swiftly dashed when the conductor–determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music–bows to public opinion. To make matters worse, Adelicia Cheatham, mistress of Belmont Mansion and Rebekah’s new employer, agrees with him.

Nationally acclaimed conductor Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville’s youngest orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head, he must finish composing his symphony before the grand opening of the city’s new symphony hall. Even more pressing, he must finish it for the one who first inspired his love of music–his dying father. As Tate’s ailment worsens, he knows Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how can he win back her trust when he’s robbed her of her dream?

As music moves us to tears yet makes our hearts soar, A Note Yet Unsung captures the splendor of classical music at a time when women’s hard-won strides in cultural issues changed not only world history–but the hearts of men.

__________________________________________________________________

Tamera Alexander’s final story in the Belmont Mansion Series brings the world of classical music and composing to readers to share the beauty and pain that often goes into creating a true “Masterpiece”.

Tamera Alexander is an author that often brings stories of the Victorian era into delightful light that both entertains and challenges her readers. Not content with simply sharing a “good” or “wonderful” story, Ms. Alexander invites her readers to examine the situations and problems that face her characters and, as in my own case, challenge oft-held assumptions or beliefs. The Belmont series is one that I had come across last year and enjoyed the first in the series but had not be able to continue with until being offered this book for review. I have loved Ms. Alexander’s style of writing and depth of characters in other stories she has written and was intrigued to see how she would navigate the world of classical music. Like a number of children  growing up, I took piano lessons and although playing never became a passion for me, I do love to listen to those who have true talent with this and other instruments. As is often said “Music brings people together in a way that ignores all lines of race, gender, belief or creed”, and Ms. Alexander will show this truth most clearly in her excellent story. Her main female character, Rebekah Carrington is a woman that everyone can relate to in some way. She is possessed of great skill in playing not only the piano, but the violin and oboe as well – a skill that is not valued as it should be for the simple fact that she is a woman. Long held societal beliefs when it comes to the acceptable roles that proper women can hold has kept her passion and talent from being heard by the world and she is determined to break that mold, for herself and those who will come after her. But to do that she will have to convince Maestro Whitcomb that she should be allowed to join the Nashville Philharmonic Orchestra. But the Maestro is dependent on the opinions of his supporters for his livelihood and is unwilling to allow Rebekah to join the orchestra, in spite of being most impressed with her talent. When the opportunity presents itself for Rebekah to work as Maestro Whitcomb’s assistant to help him complete his symphony, she will take the job -albeit reluctantly – hoping to prove to him she has what it takes to be acknowledged in “men only” world of classical music. Maestro Nathaniel “Tate” Whitcomb possesses great talent for a man so young – he is not yet 35. He has spent many months composing his own symphony but upon being plagued by crippling headaches and ringing ears he has become blocked in finishing the work that he believes God made him to do. Tate is afraid of what these headaches will mean for his future in music but is determined to complete his symphony – even if he has to beg Rebekah to work with him. Together Tate and Rebekah will create a piece of music unlike any that has been heard in the world of classical music – a symphony that will appeal to everyone, no matter their standing in society. Ms. Alexander will use Tate and Rebekah to break societal norms in several ways that I applaud, from showing that a person’s background does NOT define their talent or future, to showing that a person’s gender should not decide their inclusion or exclusion in an opportunity when they show incredible talent and passion for the task. And it will be the the fleshing out of these breaks that make Ms. Alexander’s book one of my all-time favorites. The grace and acceptance that she has Rebekah maintain throughout the story, while still feeling anger and disappointment, made me think back and question my reactions to disappointments I’ve experienced. And Rebekan’s steadfast faith that God would bring beauty from the ashes of her relationship with her mother and stepfather was thought provoking to say the least. I questioned whether I would have had the humility to accept what God gives or allows and use it to fuel the passions and gifts He also gave me. Tate, likewise found his faith challenged when he received the news of his  impending deafness – why would God give him such talents if he will soon be unable to use them? And how will he be able to honor his family heritage of music if he is unable to finish the symphony he is writing to applaud his father’s legacy.  Humility and grace were the two main themes I saw woven throughout this incredible story and know that I have learned much through what Ms. Alexander has written. And to be reminded again that a person’s acceptance by others should not be determined by where they are from or their level of education was an excellent way for Ms. Alexander to bring all of the characters in her story together at the end. She chose a wonderful topic to close her series and I will most certainly be adding a copy of this story to my own shelves. I will also pass it along to my friends and family highly recommended, and look forward to her next works with anticipation.

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.

 

 

Behind The Scenes by Jen Turano – Book Review

Behind the Scenes  by  Jen Turano

Published By  Bethany House Publishers   April  04, 2017

Genres:  Christian

Pages:  352

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

____________________________________________________________________

Publisher’s Description

Miss Permilia Griswold may have been given the opportunity of a debut into New York high society, but no one warned her she wasn’t guaranteed to “take.” After spending the last six years banished to the wallflower section of the ballroom, she’s finally putting her status on the fringes of society to good use by penning anonymous society gossip columns under the pseudonym “Miss Quill.”

Mr. Asher Rutherford has managed to maintain his status as a reputable gentleman of society despite opening his own department store. While pretending it’s simply a lark to fill his time, he has quite legitimate reasons for needing to make his store the most successful in the country. When Permilia overhears a threat against the estimable Mr. Rutherford, she’s determined to find and warn the man. Disgruntled at a first meeting that goes quite poorly and results in Asher not believing her, she decides to take matters into her own hands, never realizing she’ll end up at risk as well.

As Asher and Permilia are forced to work together and spend time away from the spotlight of society, perhaps there’s more going on behind the scenes than they ever could have anticipated. . . .

____________________________________________________________________

Story Notes

Jen Turano’s latest foray into the world of 1880’s New York Society takes a different point of view that will enthrall and entertain readers immensely.

How many of us have longed to join the popular people and be included in the fashionable set everyone else seems to be looking to for advice? Jen Turano takes this question on in her latest book about New York society – but focuses instead on those who would have been considered the “fringe holders” rather than the “forerunners”. And this focus will allow her to delve deeper into those who are a very-real-but-unacknowledged part of society – the merchants that clothe and accessorize society, and the wallflowers that know all of its well kept secrets . Jen Turano is one of my favorite writers, given her excellent phrasing and sharp-witted dialogue, and her latest book met then surpassed my expectations. She has her characters be those who think and act outside the box seemingly assigned them which always makes for fun adventures and conversations crackling with sarcasm and laughter. Ms. Turano presents her readers with a wonderfully smart and confident character named Permilia Griswold – a 6th year debutante who is firmly situated the the “wallflower” category of society. This condition suits Permilia fine as she is more interested in her career as a society news writer than in finding a husband. And this career also allows her to be the main benefactor of a school for girls that works to find them genteel jobs well away from the factories and workhouses where they are usually employed. It will be at one of the biggest parties of the season that Permilia will stumble across her best story yet, although it will be one she will not be free to submit for printing – a death plot against Mr. Asher Rutherford. Asher is Ms. Turano’s chosen hero for this story and he is one of her best yet. His well-established family’s wealth has become non-existent and, in an effort to save face in society, Asher has opened a department store under the guise of a new hobby. The irony of it being one of the most visited fashion stores outside of the House of Worth makes things all the better for Asher. And his latest endeavor to open a tea room on the top floor of his store will, unintentionally, make him the target of a very nasty death plot. Having been on the receiving end of Permilia’s confusing sense of logic and ideas before Asher is loath to accept her telling of a plot she overheard involving his demise. But when several attempts are made on his life, often while his is with friends, Asher begins to see that someone means him real harm. What follows will be a hilarious romp through the streets and homes of New York, ending with a conclusion that all readers will find most satisfying indeed. Ms. Turano’s way of looking at circumstances through the eyes of her characters is one that I find most enjoyable. She makes both Permilia and Asher so very real in her writing that one almost feels like they are actually walking alongside them as they go about their lives. I laughed so much at her description of Permilia’s mistaken belief that the “Go-As-You-Please” quadrille meant that the dancers involved dance however they wished rather than following known steps. And the many escapades Permilia and her friend Gertrude find themselves in as they go about trying to keep Asher safe almost brought me to tears in their hilarity – as did the accompanying explanations. And Ms. Turano does not leave all the best lines to the main characters either. Rather, she has some really wonderful sub-characters included that help the main characters (and readers too!) see the whole truth, instead of what is plainly seen. I also find the way in which Ms. Turano includes faith in her stories to be one of the best – faith is as much a part of her character’s lives as breathing but they are not fanatical in the sharing of their faith. And Ms. Turano always make sure that her characters find a challenge put to their faith within the story so that they are continually on a journey to grow closer to God. Additionally, I liked very much that she kept the identity of the intended murderer secret until the last few pages. She gave just enough clues to keep the reader guessing but never enough that one could figure it out well before the end of the story. And the fleshing out of the ending was very good – one that allows Ms. Turano the freedom to either leave the story as a single novel or turn it into a series, which I know she intends to do. I will most certainly recommend this book to my friends and family and will be purchasing a copy of this book for my shelves. Ms. Turano continues of offer excellent stories with well-developed characters and sparkling dialogue that will keep all readers highly engaged and entertained. I’m very much looking forward to her next story in this Apart From The Crowd series.

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.

An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter – Book Review

An Uncommon Courtship  by  Kristi Ann Hunter

Published By  Bethany House Publishers   January  03, 2017

Genres: Romance, Christian

Pages:  352

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

__________________________________________________________________

Publisher’s Description

Life for Lady Adelaide Bell was easier if she hid in her older sister’s shadow–which worked until her sister got married. Even with the pressure of her socially ambitious mother, the last thing she expected was a marriage of convenience to save her previously spotless reputation.

Lord Trent Hawthorne couldn’t be happier that he is not the duke in the family. He’s free to manage his small estate and take his time discovering the life he wants to lead, which includes grand plans of wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he doesn’t know, his dream of a marriage like his parents’ seems lost forever.

Already starting their marriage on shaky ground, can Adelaide and Trent’s relationship survive the pressures of London society?

__________________________________________________________________

Story Notes

Kristi Ann Hunter proves she’s “up to the mark” on writing regency romance with her latest story in the Hawthorne House series.

From the first reading of Jane Austen’s “Persuation” I have been a great fan of the regency period. And with her Hawthorne House series, Ms. Hunter is quickly becoming one of my most favorite authors writing of this time period. The first two stories in this series made me laugh and cry for the characters and I was so excited to find this third book available for review( a prequel novella comes before the first book but is not full length). And I was not disappointed at all – Ms. Hunter created a tasteful and biblical way of looking at a marriage that did not come from love but from circumstances. Ms. Hunter chose to focus this third story on Trent Hawthorne, younger brother of Griffith, Duke of Riverton, and after finding him such a solid and funny character from the two past books I was glad to see her choice. And Ms. Hunter also took on the somewhat difficult task of showing how a couple might make a marriage together when their match came from necessity rather than love. After Trent Hawthorne and Adelaide Crampton found themselves trapped overnight in a crumbling tower, Trent does the only honorable thing  – requesting for Adelaide’s hand in marriage. That they were trapped there because of Trent’s failed attempt to rescue Adelaide makes Trent all the more determined to repair Adelaide’s reputation. What follows is a wonderful story of love that grows when a couple is determined to make it work and let God be the center of their marriage. I truly enjoyed reading this story of Ms. Hunter’s, not only for the romance that she brings in such a lovely way but for the challenges to one’s faith that she includes. Ms. Hunter created wonderful main characters supported by interesting, funny, and Godly sub-characters that will leave readers considering how they would have handled the situations presented. Trent Hawthorne  was unready for marriage and quite resents the fact that it came upon him without love or the timing he thought would be better. But as he knows that is not in keeping with the ways of God, he determines to “court” his wife in order to give them a chance to fall in love. And to do this he believes its best to move out of their home until they both wish to live as a married couple. The problem is he didn’t ask Adelaide her opinion or consent, not realizing she would consider it presumptuous and rather embarrassing – given Trent isn’t very discrete in his courting efforts. Trent also didn’t count on his staff being upset with his avoidance of his new wife; several of them outright berating his cowardice and lack of care. Not knowing what else to do, he sets out to win his wife’s affections by giving her the Season in London she was denied before now. Ms. Hunter’s Adelaide is everything Trent needs in a wife, if only she had the confidence and knowledge of society she was never taught by her mother. Having been so focused on getting her oldest daughter Helena the best match possible, Lady Crampton neglected to spend any time teaching the same to her younger daughter. This has left Adelaide with a well-developed brain from all the reading she has done but with little skills to apply to her new social position. She also has a tendency to become disheveled in small ways every day – though she isn’t always sure how it happens. It will be for these traits that Trent begins to develop true affection for her, finding her fresh and different way of looking at the world deeply endearing. But there is still the matter of discretion in their situation so neither will be embarrassed by Trent’s courting of his wife. Enter Trent’s sisters and mother – all of whom are thrilled that Trent has taken such a lovely and sweet wife and are shocked at his blatant disregard for her new position in society. Oh, how I laughed at how quickly and decisively Lady Blackstone and her daughters set this to rights. Their quick wit and teaching would provide Adelaide with the confidence she will need to take her place in society and to take on her mother. And Trent, upon learning of the scheming ways of Lady Compton, will make it his greatest mission to protect and defend his wife against her spitefulness. As they progress in their love, Trent and Adelaide will decide to consummate their marriage – with what they view as disastrous results. I so appreciated the careful and tasteful way in which Ms. Hunter  took on this issue. There was nothing overly descriptive in the way Ms. Hunter told of their night together, leaving it with Trent carrying his wife into their room. And even the next day when Trent tried to ask a married friend for advice for why everything didn’t go as he thought it should, Ms. Hunter took care to keep everything very clean. I was glad to see she did not shy away from this as others have, rather she brought to light the awkwardness that a virgin couple faces when they first come together. And when things did not go as expected, Ms. Hunter had Trent and Adelaide turn to those around them that would give them the best advice – that marriage and all its inclusions takes work and time to get right. Their family and friends were kind and helpful – pointing out that everything in marriage goes better when there is love bringing you together. So they both began, not without mistakes, seeking out the good of each other and finding ways to build love by doing for each other. And Ms. Hunter had this serve them well as a couple when they began to be tested in their relationship. Lady Crampton still hopes to use Adelaide’s marriage into the Duke of Riverton’s family to help Helena rise in societal position and will do whatever necessary to make that happen. When her plans for making Trent jealous enough to do whatever Adelaide wants is uncovered, Lady Crampton finds out that Trent and his family are not people one would care to be at odds with. They have all come to know and love the newest member of their family and will not allow her to be bullied – giving her the confidence to place limitations on her mother’s future presence and influence. And her confidence will, in turn, allow her to encourage Trent to use his God-given talents that he had hidden away so long, bringing them even closer together. I know that Ms. Hunter will have another book in this series as she would not leave such a great character as Griffith Hawthorne without his only tale of love, but I feel that Ms. Hunter has done exceptionally well with this story. It challenged and entertained me and I enjoyed considering what I would do if placed in these circumstances. I have no doubt I would have reacted much the same as Trent, but I pray I would have also tempered my resentment with grace as Adelaide did and be assured that God would not have given me the situation if he had not prepared me and provided support to carry me through. Ms. Hunter reminds her readers in a gentle and fun way that God does not always do what we expect but He always does what is best for His children. I cannot wait to read however many more books Ms. Hunter will include in this series and any others she will choose to write. I will most certainly share this book and the rest of the series with my friend and family and recommend them most highly. Well done, indeed!

I received this 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.

Because You’re Mine by Colleen Coble – Book Review

Because You’re Mine  by  Colleen Coble

Published By  Thomas Nelson Fiction   January  10, 2017

Genres:   Christian

Pages:  336

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

____________________________________________________________________

Publisher’s Description

Maybe Its You by Candace Calvert – Book Review

Maybe Its You  by  Candace Calvert

Published By  Tyndale House Publishers   February  03, 2017

Genres:   Romance, General Fiction( Adult)

Pages:  448

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

___________________________________________________________________

Publishers Description

ER nurse Sloane Ferrell escaped her risky past—new name, zip code, job, and a fresh start. She’s finally safe, if she avoids a paper trail and doesn’t let people get too close. Like the hospital’s too-smooth marketing man with his relentless campaign to plaster one “lucky” employee’s face on freeway billboards.

Micah Prescott’s goal is to improve the Hope hospital image, but his role as a volunteer crisis responder is closer to his heart. The selfless work helps fill a void in his life left by family tragedy. So does a tentative new relationship with the compassionate, beautiful, and elusive Sloane Ferrell.

Then a string of brutal crimes makes headlines, summons responders . . . and exposes disturbing details of Sloane’s past.

Can hope spring from crisis?

____________________________________________________________________

Story Notes

Candace Calvert’s third installment of her Crisis Team series is a gritty, raw and real story that will take readers from the bottoms of despair to the heights of hope and everywhere in between.

Having recently finished Ms. Calvert’s Grace Medical series I was very pleased to see that she has another series based in the field of medicine. Her second foray into this series, Step by Step,  was an excellent read and I plan to purchase a copy for my shelves soon. I have really enjoyed reading of the volunteers that are involved with the “Crisis Team” responders and how they assist those who experience tragedy. It is a much needed service for so many and it was interesting to see how Ms. Calvert wove it so well into her stories. And with this latest “Crisis Team” story coming out recently I knew I had to share it with others in a review. Sloane “Ferrell” was a semi-main character in Step by Step but Maybe Its You gives readers the ins and outs of her story. Ms. Calvert gave Sloane a tough facade with a “marshmallow center” that will take determined friends and ‘suitors’ a while to chip away enough to see the real Sloane hidden beneath the layers of self preservation. Sloane has created her own version of Witness Protection for herself after a tragic accident left her and a fellow nurse fighting for their lives. And she’s not about to let anyone take away the safety and comfort she has fought so hard for over the past few months. New to the Los Angeles Hope Hospital ER staff, Sloane just wants to be left alone to do her job, enjoy her new home and stay sober – with the help of AA meetings. When the hospital announces a new campaign to find a new “face” for LA Hope, Sloane knows she will have take care to keep herself off the nomination list. She loves her job but values her privacy more. But when the Marketing director, Micah Prescott, sees Sloane’s compassionate nature in action, he will do all he can to convince her to become the new face of the hospital.  Coming from a family of Christian music singers that experienced a great family tragedy, Micah is seeking to give back to others who are experiencing tragedy by serving on the Los Angeles crisis responders team in conjunction with his marketing work at the hospital. Having been on the receiving end of the comfort and help the Crisis Team provides, Micah hopes to bury his sorrows in his service work and maybe, find a new friend in Sloane. As Micah gets to know Sloane, he starts to feel an attraction for her he has never felt before – if only she would feel the same. It will take time and much conversation for both Micah and Sloane to open up to each other enough to built a precarious relationship. And that relationship will be tested in the most brutal ways when Sloane’s past catches up with her in a terrifying and violent way. I’m always impressed when an author tells their character’s story in such a way as to make them real and relatable. Its okay to read stories about those who seem to make only minor mistakes in life but I find it much more enjoyable to read stories that have characters I can relate to in some way. No one is perfect and although I may not have experienced all the problems or issues a certain characters has, I nearly always find myself identifying with them in their faith journey. And in this story I found myself mostly identifying with Micah, who had placed those who have trouble with drinking and drugs in a category of evil that he found impossible to forgive. I was convicted, yet again, of my tendency to judge those with more visible problems more harshly that I judge myself  – forgetting that my “little white lie” is just as awful as getting drunk or doing drugs –  they all cause destruction to relationships. Ms. Calvert had me racing through the pages of this story to find out just how she was going to bring Sloane to her realization of her need for Christ, and Micah to his need to let go of his grudge and forgive. And I found her final chapters and ending to be one of the best I’ve read – finishing out the story of the characters involved while leaving room to continue the series. Maybe Its You is a story I won’t soon forget and will probably re-read multiple times. I will most certainly pass it on to my friends and family.

I was provided both the E-book via Netgalley and the printed book from Tyndale House Publishers due to doubled request. Both were provided to me free of charge in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

Restoring Love by Jennifer Slattery – Book Review

Restoring Love  by  Jennifer Slattery

Published By  New Hope Publishers   January 02, 2017

Genres:   Christian

Pages:  324

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

____________________________________________________________________

Publisher’s Description

Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. She’s almost his worst nightmare, and she’s also working on restoring something herself. As he struggles to keep his business afloat and she works to overcome mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends soon discover they have something unexpected in common, a young mom who is fighting to give her children a better life after her husband’s incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back or unite them and bring redemption along with true love?

____________________________________________________________________

Story Notes

Jennifer Slattery’s latest book is one of hope and forgiveness born out of tragedies which have consequences that encroach on her two main character’s every sides.

Oh my goodness, Ms. Slattery’s main characters of this book are both, for lack of better words, disasters at life! Everything that could possibly go wrong for a person has happened to one or the other of them and they are living with the aftereffects of tragedies that can make or break you depending on where you have placed your faith and trust. Thankfully, Ms Slattery had her characters placing their faith in God, although, like many people, they are finding out that its still hard to deal with the consequences of actions that were taken before one allows God to direct one’s path. I know that the point of this book was for Ms. Slattery to show that there is forgiveness and hope to be found in God but there was so much that had gone wrong for these characters that it was going to be difficult for her to have the story come out with a good and complete ending. And while she did a fairly good job at portraying the road to recovery, I felt that the ending was too rushed and wrapped up too neatly for the numerous circumstances that were described in the story. Her main character Angela would be the “poster-child” of what not to do with your life as a woman – but Ms. Slattery further made Angela the “ideal person” when one thinks of those who need of the grace and mercy of God. I’m not a big supporter of having your stories only be about those who “appear” to need the most help from God but Ms. Slattery handled that well in her story. It was wonderful to see how Ms. Slattery had Angela  living her faith and new life daily by choosing to keep her relationships with any man strictly friendship and even coming off as slightly cold towards men to ensure she didn’t fall into her old habit of constantly hunting for a new boyfriend. And her struggle with dressing in modest, age appropriate attire was laugh out loud funny at times while truly saddening at others – often giving me a sense of true compassion for her dilemma. I was really thrilled to see that Ms. Slattery allowed Angela to have a true journey towards achieving her new life in the pages of this story, making the sense of success at her finding an ideal job and paycheck very real and satisfying to read. Ms. Slattery’s other main character Mitch has all kinds of trouble raining down on him, from his partner looking to dissolve their company, to trying to help one of his renter’s keep a roof over her family’s heads, to his drug and alcohol addicted son and enabling ex-wife, and trying to figure out Angela and her quirky ways. For about 70% of the book, nothing goes right for him and every turn for him is more problems and heartache. Granted, the majority of his troubles came from his own bad decisions in years past but I really felt sorry for him and the load of trouble he had to carry throughout the story. And even though the ending brought about resolution to most of his problems, it was so rushed I had to read the last pages twice to understand everything that was resolved too quickly/neatly for my liking. Therefore, I feel that while this book had many redeeming qualities and good lessons to be taught, there was so many terrible situations and problems that the entire story seemed a mess. Ms. Slattery wrote it well, with the exception of the rushed ending, and encouraged the reader to feel sympathy and compassion for her characters. However, when a story carries so much trouble I feel like the ending needs to be as well developed as the problems that were being faced. Having not read this author before I will be more cautious in the future when considering her work but believe that given other story plots I would better enjoy Ms. Slattery’s writing. It is possible that I might suggest this book to others but it will not be one of my top favorites to share.

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

Guide Me Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer – Book Review

Guide Me Home  by  Kim Vogel Sawyer

Published By  WaterBrook & Multnomah   August 02, 2016

Genres:  Historical Fiction, Christian

Pages:  352

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

_____________________________________________________________________

Publisher’s Description

Working in the massive cave might allow
Rebekah the chance to bring joy back to her family.
But will it claim more than it gives?

After tragedy leaves its mark on Rebekah Hardin’s family, she plans to help her parents and six siblings honor her beloved brother’s memory and alleviate their poverty by working as a guide in the dangerous cave system. Kentucky’s renowned Mammoth Cave presents profitable opportunities in for hardworking, capable men. But Rebekah is determined and if it means presenting herself as a himself, then she’s up to the job.

Under the wing of experienced guide Tolly Sanford, “Reb” begins to learn the complexities of the cave and the two are joined by an aspiring young cartographer, Devlin Bale.

The university student has traveled to the hill country to map tunnels—not to fall for a girl in disguise. Can the God who designed miles of underground astonishment shape Devlin’s ambitious plans and free Reb from the weight from the past?

____________________________________________________________________

Story Notes

Kim Vogel Sawyer’s latest historical romance is a lovely story of redemption, sorrow, and healing found through God’s grace and mercy.

This wonderful story was somehow lost in my device for over 2 months before I discovered its presence in a little used app – quite a sad thing as it turned out to be a really engaging story that I would have hated to have missed. Ms. Sawyer is a favorite writer of mine and I hoped this latest would be up to the mark as well. I found this story to be a little different than those previously written, but not in a bad way. On the contrary, I really enjoyed the way she had multiple main characters rather than one and that each one’s story was told in completion. Ms. Sawyer tells the story of how past tragedy has drastically effected the Hardin family through the eyes of the two oldest daughters and neither story is the same. Rebekah Hardin is the oldest child and carries the guilt of her brother’s death in Mammoth Cave with her daily. She believes that Andy would not have gone into the Cave if she had not told him to leave her alone one afternoon as she read her latest library book. Wanting to help her family purchase a stone marker for Andy’s grave, Rebekah will become a guide for the Mammoth Cave Resort company that takes travelers on tours through the Cave – a job that requires she dress and work as a man. Cissy Hardin, on the other hand, views helping her family as a life of true drudgery. She has become convinced she is not loved by her parents and that the only way to be happy is to find a way to make money and go to the nearest large city in search of a rich husband. Cissy despises the daily work of her family farm and cannot stand the cloud of sorrow that continually hangs over them. Her jealousy over Rebekah’s job and consuming desire for money will lead her to a job helping a photographer on the Mammoth Cave Resort grounds – a job that will give her the money she needs to escape her “terrible” life. With these two drastically different views, Ms. Sawyer creates a story that will leave the reader laughing out loud, feeling deep frustration and, perhaps, crying a few tears of joy over the redemption of the characters involved.I really enjoyed the journey that Ms. Sawyer set her characters on. She was careful to give them each distinctive personalities but also showed that they all had a similar problem – they lacked the forgiveness and joy that is to be found in Jesus. I also found it interesting that she used Rebekah, who was so burdened by guilt, to be a “light” for Devlin in more ways than one. She, along with Tolly, was able to show Devlin that what truly matters in life is not what money or standing you have before others, rather what standing and value you have before God. And, in turn, Devlin was able to help her see that Andy’s death was not her fault, rather it was the will of God. In Cissy’s case, Ms. Sawyer used the several heartbreaking experiences to help her learn she was not unloved by her family and that money would not bring her the peace and joy she was seeking. Ms. Sawyer brought her to the point of ultimate fear in facing death to show the error of her belief in going her own way to have the best life. I enjoyed seeing that Ms. Sawyer also had the Hardin family offer total love and forgiveness to Cissy in an effort to point her to the true Forgiver of her sins. My only issue with this book was that the ending felt a little rushed. Decisions and plans were made by Rebekah, Devlin and the Hardins in a quick fashion that did not exactly fit with the rest of the story. I would have liked to have seen a few more pages added to add details or time that would have rounded out the story better. But, other than this, I found the story to be one of complete development and truly enjoyed reading it.I hope Ms. Sawyer will make a series from this book as I would love to read more about the Hardin family members. I will most certainly recommend this book to others and will be looking for Ms. Sawyer’s future works.

I received this ebook free of charge from Waterbrook/Multnomah via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.

Semi-Precious Christmas by Jan Elder – Book Review

A Semi-Precious Christmas  by  Jan Elder

Published By  White Rose Publishing   December 01, 2015

Genres:  Romance, Christian

Pages:  81

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

____________________________________________________________________

Publisher’s Description

On a bright, crisp December morning, jewelry store manager, Peridot Keaton-Jones, arrives at work expecting to find her beloved uncle Marty. Instead, she’s greeted by the muzzle of a gun pressed to her temple. When thugs assault her, threaten her life, and steal thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, Peri can only pray her uncle is late to work for the first time in his life. Christopher Lane is a TV news cameraman in the right place at the right time. He witnesses the heist, calls the police, and offers help when Peri needs it most. She can’t deny her attraction, but is he really her hero, or is he just after a story? And with Christmas right around the corner, can Peri and Chris avert a holiday disaster?

____________________________________________________________________

Story Notes

Jan Elder’s novella in the Christmas Holiday Extravaganza series is a sweet little romance with enough thrilling action to make it a wonderful holiday treat.

The clever cover of this book grabbed my attention and when I saw it was a bit of a ‘thriller’ as well I knew I had to read it. Ms. Elder throws her readers right into the action with the jewelry store robbery that begins this fast paced story. Her main character Peridot is the niece of a jewelry store owner who is looking forward to a full day of Christmas sales when she finds herself at gunpoint upon entering the store. The two thieves proceed to wreck the store and grab thousands in merchandise, injuring Peri when she hesitates to help them. A “good Samaritan” manages to catch a photo of the thieves in action and further calls the police. And so begins a great story about finding love and trust again. Ms. Elder’s hero, Chris is the good Samaritan who helps Peri in more ways than one. When Peri’s uncle is discovered in the back alley badly beaten, Chris makes it his personal mission to ensure that Peri will stay safe until the thieves are caught. And when the thieves also break into Peri’s home, Peri decides being alone anymore isn’t the best idea. Still grieving over her husband’s tragic death four years before, Peri hasn’t been willing to put much effort into finding love again. And although she and Chris have just met, she is quickly sensing the attraction sparking between the two of them. Chris is also a bit wary of love, given his ex-wife left him and his daughter for someone else “who had more to give”. But Ms. Elder brings them together through all their experiences and shows that there is no time requirement for love. I believe one of the best parts of Ms. Elder’s story was the way in which it was told – from Peri’s point of view. I loved the look into her thoughts and feelings and laughed out loud at her phrase “He kissed me again….and then I kicked him out because I wanted him to stay”. I’m not always a fan of first person since I often find the many  *frowns* and *smiles* to be annoying; however Ms. Elder had a good balance between what her character thought/did and the actions of others going on around her. I especially loved her way of having Peri and Chris “know” each other without having actually met  – Peri had been the reading companion and friend of Chris’s late aunt Margaret. This had given both of them the opportunity to know a lot about each other and their families before they met. And when they both realize that Peri had been praying for Chris and his family for years, including that he would find Christ, they discover the hand of God was preparing them for a life together. It was really nice to read this modern story in which the characters were able to fall in love with each other without falling into bed. I loved that family was important to everyone in the story and a welcoming kindness prevailed in each home. I will most certainly recommend this lovely Christmas time story to my friends and family looking for a good read.

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