Monday, June 14, 2021

Come Back to Me by Jody Hedlund

The ultimate cure that could heal any disease? Crazy.

That's exactly what research scientist Marian Creighton has always believed about her father's quest, even if it does stem from a desire to save her sister Ellen from the genetic disease that stole their mother from them. But when her father falls into a coma after drinking a vial of holy water believed to contain traces of residue from the Tree of Life, Marian must question all of her assumptions. He's left behind tantalizing clues that suggest he's crossed back in time. Insane. Until Marian tests his theories and finds herself in the Middle Ages during a dangerous peasant uprising.

William Durham, a valiant knight comes to Marian's rescue and offers her protection . . . as his wife. The longer Marian stays in the past, the more she cares about William. Can she ever find her father and make it back to the present to heal her sister? And when the time comes to leave, will she want to?

Bestselling author Jody Hedlund is your guide down the twisting waters of time to a volatile era of superstition, revolts, and chivalry in this suspenseful story.

Publisher: Revell, 2021

Genre: Time travel fiction, romance

Series: Waters of Time, book one

Setting: present day and England 1381

My Review

First off, I have to say that time travel books and movies are not my thing (even though I LOVE historical novels). I think it's hard to take a character from present day with all the technology and medical advancements, drop them into a historical world that's entirely different from what they're used to, and make their existence in that new world work. That being said, for some reason, I've read two time travel novels this year. The first one I did not enjoy at all (poorly written and bland), so I was hesitant to pick up Come Back to Me because I was afraid I would be disappointed. However, I'm a HUGE fan of Jody Hedlund, and I know her writing is stellar, so I gave it a try. 

I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED! I was engrossed from the first page and read the book in three days. I had a hard time putting it down. As always, Jody's writing was phenomenal, her characters were complex and delicious, the science and fantasy-science within the plot were easy to follow, and the romance was sizzling. 

This book was a pure, pull-me-out-of-the-stress-of-life-and-entertain-me kind of book. Different, but fun. I am eagerly awaiting the second book in the series, as Jody set the upcoming main characters up so well as secondary characters in Come Back to Me

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves to escape into a good story. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

A Cowboy for Keeps by Jody Hedlund


Greta Nilsson's trip west to save her ailing little sister, Astrid, could not have gone more wrong. First, bandits hold up her stagecoach, stealing all her money. Then, upon arriving in Fairplay, Colorado, she learns the man she was betrothed to as a mail-order bride has died. Homeless, penniless, and jobless, Greta and her sister are worse off than when they started.

Wyatt McQuaid is struggling to get his new ranch up and running and is in town to purchase cattle when the mayor proposes the most unlikely of bargains. He'll invest in a herd of cattle for Wyatt's ranch if Wyatt agrees to help the town become more respectable by marrying and starting a family. And the mayor, who has promised to try to help Greta, has just the candidate in mind for Wyatt to marry.

Publisher: Bethany House, 2021

Genre: historical romance

Setting: Colorado Territory, 1862

Series: Colorado Cowboys, book 1

My Review

I thoroughly enjoy all of Jody's books. I was surprised to see that she'd written a western series, but she's a master of genres so I gave it a try. First, I love marriage of convenience stories and this one was satisfying as the hero and heroine are thrown together in marriage, immediately become aware of their attraction for one another, and then it's a slow burn (and sizzling) romance from there. The characters and plot are complex, and there's a great twist 3/4 of the way through, however, I did feel that the "twist" worked itself out too easily and perfectly. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I recommend it to anyone who likes historical romance, especially in a western setting. I look forward to the next book in the series. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz


Selah Hopewell, Virginia Colony's most eligible woman, is busy matchmaking for a ship of brides, though she has no wish to wed.

Xander Renick is perhaps the most eligible tobacco lord in the settlement, but he is already wedded to his business and still grieves the loss of his wife, daughter of the Powhatan chief.

Can two fiercely independent people find happiness and fulfillment on their own? Or will they discover that what they've been missing in life has been right in front of them all along

Publisher: Revell, 2021

Series: standalone novel

Genre: historical romance

Setting: James Towne, Virginia Colony, 1634

My Review

Many books I've read set in Virginia Colony have been too dry for my taste, but not so with Tidewater Bride. The plot is rich with adventure, the characters are complex and deep, and the romance is sizzling! The storyline is original and true to Ms. Frantz's poetic and engaging prose. This book gave me all the feels. Truly the best book I've read in a long time.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas


Thirteen-year-old Loyal Raines is supposed to stay close to home on a hot summer day in 1934. When he slips away for a quick swim in the river and finds a dead body, he wishes he'd obeyed his mother. The ripples caused by his discovery will impact the town of Beverly, West Virginia, in ways no one could have imagined.

The first person those ripples disturb is Loyal's absentee father. When Creed Raines realized his infant son was deaf, he headed for the hills, returning only to help meet his family's basic needs. But when Loyal, now a young teen, stumbles upon a murder it's his father he runs to tell--shaping the words with his hands. As Creed is pulled into the investigation he discovers that what sets his son apart isn't his inability to hear but rather his courage. Longing to reclaim the life he abandoned, Creed will have to do more than help solve a murder if he wants to win his family's hearts again.

Publisher: Bethany House, 2020
Genre: historical fiction
Series: standalone novel

My Review
Ms. Thomas is a master storyteller. Her folk-inspired characters are every bit as warm and flawed as a decades-old quilt pieced together by the colorful members of the communities she creates. I look forward to her books every year, knowing a part of myself will be whisked away to a home I’ve never visited.

The Right Kind of Fool is both beautiful and heartbreaking. A community is shaken. Misplaced love is found again. Relationships are rebuilt even stronger than before. Set against the backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains, The Right Kind of Fool is a wonderful reminder to embrace differences (even our own), hold our loved ones close, and stand for truth no matter how difficult the circumstances.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

The Key to Love by Betsy St. Amant



The only thing Bri Duval loves more than baking petit fours is romance. So much so, she's created her own version of the famous Parisian lovelock wall at her bakery in Story, Kansas. She never expects it to go viral--or for Trek Magazine to send travel writer Gerard Fortier to feature the bakery. He's definitely handsome, but Bri has been holding out for a love story like the one her parents had, and that certainly will not include the love-scorned-and-therefore-love-scorning Gerard.

Just when it seems Bri's bakery is poised for unprecedented success, a series of events threaten not just her business but the pedestal she's kept her parents on all these years. Maybe Gerard is right about romance. Or maybe Bri's recipe just needs to be tweaked.

Novelist Betsy St. Amant invites you to experience this sweet story of how love doesn't always look the way we expect--and maybe that's a good thing.

Publisher: Revell, 2020

Genre: contemporary romance

Series: this is a standalone novel

Setting: Kansas

My Review

The Key to Love was a fun, light-hearted romance to offset the current chaos of 2020. I liked how the author combined Parisian culture and elements with small-town Kansas, and the desserts mentioned throughout the book had me craving baked goods. The "opposites attract" trope is one of my favorites, however, the hero and heroine were a bit too extreme in their viewpoints at times for my taste, which made them come across as harsh with one another at times. Their well-written, witty banter helped smooth their bumpy relationship as a whole, especially after they began softening toward one another. The secondary characters added a layer of depth and fun to the story. The author did a good job at reminding us that love is much more than giddy feelings or perfect events set into place--sometimes it's hard, sometimes it gets ugly, but love is a choice and can overcome the odds. I rate this book at 4 stars. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jamie Jo Wright



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The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the "Watchman," she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa's search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

Present Day
The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk's shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot's history, she's also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

Publisher: Bethany House, 2020

Genre: romantic suspense

Series: standalone novel, not part of a series

My Review

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus hooked me at page one. This split-time novel switches from Pippa Ripley's story in 1928 to Chandler Faulk's story in present day. Both women are stronger than they realize, let their physical ailments hold them back,  and come to care for men outside of their circles. But both women also face a moment when they have to set their fears aside, release their courage, and do what is right. 

Jaime Jo Wright's writing is deep and captivating. Her characters are realistic in their flaws. Her plots are twisted and unique. Both eras in this book told a story all its own, yet they came together beautifully in the end. I highly suggest this book to anyone who enjoys suspense that isn't predictable and/or circus-related stories. 

I give this book four stars! 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

An Appalachian Summer by Ann H. Gabhart

In 1933, most people are focused on the Great Depression but all Piper Danson can think about is how to get out of being a debutante and marrying Braxton Crandall. In an act of defiance, Piper volunteers as a frontier nursing courier in the Appalachian Mountains where adventure awaits.

Publisher: Revell, 2020
Genre: Historical Romance
Setting: Appalachia, 1933

My Review
This is the first book I've read by this author. The premise intrigued me, the characters were likable, and the beginning of the book started off strong. While well-written, my excitement for the story waned the further I read. I felt that some parts slowed the story enough that it caused me to lose my interest. I, honestly, did not finish the book. I was halfway through. It's a book I will hang onto and try again at another time in case my current mood affected my reading.