Friday, March 20, 2020

The Runaway Bride by Jody Hedlund

Haunted by mistakes in her past, 
will she ever again trust her heart to another? 


Wealthy Arabella Lawrence flees to British Columbia on a bride ship still wearing the scars of past mistakes. One of the few single women in the boomtown, she immediately has suitors, but she is determined not to find herself trapped again by a poor choice.

Vying for her hand are two very different men. Lieutenant Richard Drummond is a gentleman in the Navy and is held in high esteem. Peter Kelly is the town's baker and has worked hard to build a thriving business. He and Drummond not only compete for Arabella's affections, but clash over their views of how the natives should be treated in the midst of a smallpox outbreak.

As Arabella begins to overcome her fears, she discovers someone in dire need—a starving girl abandoned by her tribe. Intent on helping the girl, Arabella leans on Peter's advice and guidance. Will she have the wisdom to make the right decision or will seeking what's right cost both her and Peter everything?

Publisher: Bethany House, 2020
Genre: historical romance
Setting: Vancouver Island, 1862
Series: Book #2 in The Bride Ship series
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

My Review
I'm a huge fan of Jody Hedlund. Her attention to detail and the masterful way she crafts a story always holds me spellbound. I read A Reluctant Bride, book one in this series, and was delighted to see those characters make brief appearances in this book. Each are written as standalone novels, so reading them in order isn't necessary to understand the series. It just makes it more fun. 

Arabella Lawrence's backstory is dangled in front of the reader from the start and is revealed organically as the story progresses. She is strong and wonderful and flawed and absolutely lovable. Two men are vying for her affection: Lieutenant Richard Drummond of the Navy and Peter Kelly, a humble baker. Both men have their strengths and weaknesses, and I was torn between who I wanted to win Arabella's heart the first half of the book. As the story concludes, her backstory is fully laid out--revealing the true challenges of the day--the reader is left satisfied with her choice, and left eagerly awaiting book three. 

I look forward to the next book in the series, as well as reading more of Jody's books I haven't read yet. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

When Silence Sings by Sarah Loudin Thomas

After the rival McLean clan guns down his cousin, Colman Harpe chooses peace over seeking revenge with his family. But when he hears God tell him to preach to the McLeans, a failed attempt to run away leaves him sick and suffering in their territory. He soon learns that appearances can be deceiving, and the face of evil doesn't look like he expected.

Publisher: Bethany House, 2019
Genre: historical fiction (with light romance)
Setting: West Virginia, 1930

My Review
I love Sarah’s books because of their authenticity. Her characters are so genuine in their triumphs and their flaws. Her settings feel like home. Her plots are relevant with sound Bible teaching stitched throughout like a handmade quilt you want to wrap up in.

When Silence Sings is beautifully written and stays with you long after you turn the last page. I highly recommend this book.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Hope's Highest Mountain by Misty M. Beller

On her way to deliver vaccines to a mining town in the Montana Territory, Ingrid Chastain never anticipated a terrible accident would leave her alone and badly injured in the wilderness. When rescue comes in the form of a mysterious mountain man, she's hesitant to trust him, but the journey ahead will change their lives more than they could have known.

Publisher: Bethany House, 2019
Genre: historical romance
Setting: 1866 Montana Territory
Series: Hearts of Montana, book one

My Review
The first chapter had me hooked. Ingrid immediately befalls tragedy and injury, which hinders a timely delivery of the smallpox vaccines that have brought her to the territory. It also hinders Micah's plan to stay sheltered in the mountains away from other people. Lives are at stake as a town is awaiting the arrival of the vaccines and the longer Ingrid is delayed the more lives might be lost. Micah, former doctor and broken man after losing his wife and child to smallpox a few years earlier doesn't want any part of this mission. But Ingrid is strong and determined and soon talks him into helping her accomplish her task. Relying on each other throughout the rough travel builds a trust and friendship that's essential in the wild Montana mountains. One setback after another interferes with the vaccine delivery and great secondary characters are added along the way. The plot is engaging, the characters relatable, and the romance sweet. This was the first book I've read by this author and it won't be my last. I give this book three of five stars. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden

Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building a successful global spice empire, but it has come at a cost. Tasked with gaining access to the private Delacroix plant collection, Smithsonian botanist Annabelle Larkin unwittingly steps into a web of dangerous political intrigue and will be forced to choose between her heart and her loyalty to her country.

Publisher: Bethany House, 2019
Genre: historical romance

My Review
I love Ms. Camden's books for the way she makes history come alive. Her characters are solid, relatable, and intriguing. Her plot lines are gripping, and she weaves true history into fiction masterfully. I always learn something when I read one of her books.

The Spice King was no exception. Grey Delacroix was flawed yet oh-so-dreamy as owner of a global spice empire, a perfect match for the energetic and driven Annabelle Larkin, a Smithsonian botanist. I enjoyed learning about various spices, the various ways they were formulated and bottled, and the challenge the government had regulating such items.

The side plot and supporting characters in this story were so well written, I'm impatiently waiting for Ms. Camden's next book.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Summer By The Tides by Denise Hunter

From the bestselling author of The Convenient Groom (now a beloved Hallmark Original movie) comes a heartfelt story of family secrets, forgiveness, and unexpected romance.

Following a painful betrayal, Maddy Monroe's love life is a wreck, and her restaurant career is in shambles. When her grandmother goes missing, she and her estranged sisters converge at the family beach house in Sea Haven, North Carolina. Being with uptight Nora and free-spirited Emma at the place where their family broke apart is a struggle, and undercurrents of jealousy and resentment threaten to pull the sisters under. In the midst of the storm, sparks begin to fly between Maddy and Gram's maddening neighbor, Connor Murphy.

As the sisters pack up the family belongings, memories of idyllic, slow-paced summers are resurrected. But long-buried secrets also come to light as Maddy discovers that all was not as it appeared that last summer in Sea Haven--nor today in the seemingly perfect lives of her sisters.

As family tensions rise and Connor causes tumult in Maddy's heart, the sisters must find a way to accept each other for the women they've become before the bitterness of the past destroys their hope for a future.


My Review
If Hallmark doesn't turn this book into a made-for-TV movie I'll be severely disappointed. Hunter goes beyond her typical romance plot and incorporates a splash of women's fiction and a drop of family saga (yes, puns intended....). However, since this is a standalone novel, every side plot is nicely tied together by the end. The romance between Conner and Maddy is strong and satisfying (and a little angst-y at times, which keeps the pages turning). The setting made me wish I was there. I'm a big fan of Ms. Hunter's, and I can't wait to see what she brings her readers next!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Powerful Prayers for Your Son: Praying for Every Part of His Life

Parents know that their children need their prayers. But sometimes, they aren't sure where to start. For moms and dads who long to lift their kids up in prayer, Powerful Prayers for Your Daughter and Powerful Prayers for Your Son offer hope, encouragement, and practical help.

Rob and Joanna Teigen assure parents that just because they don't always understand their son or daughter, that doesn't mean that God doesn't. Collecting specific prayers parents can use, along with stories from other parents about how God has answered their prayers, Rob and Joanna give readers a strong foundation to build a lifelong habit of praying for their kids. They also explain what boys and girls need to learn as they grow up, including character, courage, modesty, self-control, forgiveness, and more, so parents can pray for every part of their kids' lives.

Publisher: Revell, 2014
Genre: non-fiction, parenting, prayer
Authors: Rob & Joanna Reuben

My Review
I requested this book because I have three sons, two of which are teenagers. As we're diving into new territory with first jobs, driver's licences, college scouting, and dating, I've upped the intensity of my prayers. Will they make the right choices when Mom and Dad aren't around? Will they stand up for what's right when the pressure is on? Are they taking their relationship with God seriously? I know I'm not alone with these thoughts feelings. So I was delighted when I got the opportunity to read and review this book. 

With 77 short prayers, the authors guide readers to the various topics specifically geared to young men. Using their own son's life as an example, they share their expertise, fears, and lessons learned. The book also contains stories from other moms and their testimonies of faith. 

This is a book I'll keep on my shelf and come back to offen, I'm sure. I give this book four stars. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper asking readers to send rocks in honor of loved ones to create something life-giving but the building halts when tragedy strikes. Decades later, Annie returns to the coastal Maine town where stone ruins spark her curiosity and her search for answers faces a battle against time.

Publisher: Bethany House, 2019
Genre: historical fiction, time slip novel

My Review
First of all, this cover is stunning. The color tones and title were the first to catch my attention. Then, I read the blurb and discovered it was set in Maine, and I was all in. With a unique premise and the time-hopping plot, I was excited to get my hands on this book. 

And it did not disappoint. 

This author’s prose is poetic and graceful and unlike any voice I’ve ever read. She wrote a perfect balance of setting details (so I felt I was really in Maine), character authenticities, and plot pacing. At times I wondered how the two stories would connect and then they did, and it was magical. 

I enjoyed finding little nuggets of similarity between her Maine story and my Cadence of Acadia series, also set in Maine. Like the fact they’re set in a small town in basically the same area, near Machias. The town meetings, the broken heroine who returns to Maine for healing without realizing that’s what she’s really there for, etc. It’s clear we both have a love and passion for the area, and it feels as though I’ve found a kindred spirit in the writing world. 

I have definitely found a new favorite author in Amanda Dykes and will be suggesting this book to others for months to come. I look forward to reading what she brings readers next. 

*I recommend this book to anyone looking for deep, soul-stirring read. For those who don’t like heavy romance, this story is light in those regards. For those who enjoy heavy romance, there’s enough love stories of substance throughout the book to make it completely satisfying