Saturday, August 3, 2019

Until the Mountains Fall by Connilyn Cossette #Reviewed


Book Description:

Recently widowed, Rivkah refuses to submit to the Torah law compelling her to marry her husband's brother and instead flees Kedesh, hoping to use her talents as a scribe to support herself. Without the protections of her father, Kedesh's head priest, and the safety of the city of refuge, Rivkah soon discovers that the cost of recklessness is her own freedom.

Malakhi has secretly loved Rivkah for years, but he never imagined his older brother's death would mean wedding her himself. After her disappearance, he throws himself into the ongoing fight against the Canaanites instead of dwelling on all he has lost. But with impending war looming over Israel, Rivkah's father comes to Malakhi with an impossible request.

As the enemies that Rivkah and Malakhi face from without and within Israel grow more threatening each day, is it too late for the restoration their wounded souls seek?


My thoughts:

In Until the Mountains Fall, Connilyn Cossette gives us a fresh look at the account of the prodigal son, only in her book, the prodigal is a woman.

We journey with Rivkah as she discovers a world outside the one that chafed her as a young woman and follow Malakhi as he matures from an impetuous teen and betrothed groom into a wise, battle-scarred warrior. Their love story is beautiful, Malakhi's heart for her an example of Christ's love for us, but just as beautiful is the love Rivkah's father carries for her as he never gives up hope that she will return to him.

The characterization is jaw-dropping, and the prose so poetic, the reader can't help but be transported with each page. There are many twists and turns in the plot, each one ratcheting up the stakes and keeping the story tension above the boiling point.
This is the book I'd been waiting for all year. It's been a while since a story took me so far and demanded so much of me, leaving my perspectives changed--or at least giving me a broader perspective on things I already believed to be true. I'm going to have a hard time doing the book justice with this review. Having started at the beginning of the series, re-reading the first and second titles straight through to the newest, there are no words for some of the emotions provoked by this story.

Thrilled to revisit familiar characters from previous books, I'm amazed at just how interconnected these characters really are, going all the way back into the Out From Egypt Series. (Is there a chart of family trees, please!) It's been some time since I've enjoyed a series as much as I have these books.

One of my favorite quotes from the book gives us a glimpse into the character Rivkah:
"The dance of ink over finely woven fibers became an act of worship, a connection to the Creator of language himself, especially when the words of a new song spilled from my heart onto a sheet of papyrus."


Check out the Pinterest board for the book. Amazing stuff there!






 *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and have stated my honest opinion in this voluntary review. 

August 2019 Fiction Releases from #ACFW

August 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:


The Butterfly Recluse by Therese Heckenkamp -- Lila finds solace in her sheltered world by raising butterflies and surrounding herself with their gentle beauty. They’re all she needs—until a motorcycle-riding stranger roars up her driveway, invading her safe haven, throwing her life off-kilter, and forcing her to question everything. What exactly is he after, and what is he not telling her? In one intense night of desperation and revelation, Lila must confront her darkest fears—and hopefully discover that with faith and courage, shattered dreams can be restored, damaged hearts can love again, and broken wings can heal . . . maybe even fly. (Contemporary Romance from Ivory Tower Press)



A Glitter of Gold by Liz Johnson -- Anne Norris moved to Savannah, Georgia, for a fresh start. Now her pirate-tour business is flagging and paying the rent requires more than wishful thinking. When she discovers evidence of a shipwreck off the coast of Tybee Island, she knows it could be just the boon she needs to stay afloat. She takes her findings to local museum director Carter Hale for confirmation, but things do not go as planned. Carter is fascinated with the wreck, the discovery of which could open the door to his dream job at a prestigious museum. But convincing Anne to help him fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle is no easy task. And working with Carter means that Anne will have to do the one thing she swore she'd never do again: trust a man. (Contemporary Romance from Revell-A Division of Baker Publishing Group)



Hometown Healing by Jennifer Slattery -- She’s home again, but not for long… Unless this cowboy recaptures her heart Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

General Contemporary/Women's Fiction:


Grace in Deep Waters by Christine Dillon -- William Macdonald is at the pinnacle of his career. Pastor of a growing megachurch and host of a successful national radio programme. Clever and respected, he’s a man with everything, including a secret. His wife has left him and he can’t risk anyone finding out. Blanche Macdonald is struggling. Her once rock-solid marriage is showing cracks. She promised to love her husband for better or for worse, but does loving always mean staying? Blanche desires to put God first. Not William. Not her daughter. Not herself. When is a marriage over? When do you stand and fight? (Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)



When Mountains Sing by Stacy Monson -- Mikayla Gordon loves nothing more than sleeping under the stars, reeling in the “big one,” and long hikes in the wilderness. A medical crisis reveals a 30-year-old secret that turns everything she’s known and believed upside down, unraveling her dreams and her identity. In search of answers, she follows a trail from Minnesota to Colorado and discovers more unwelcome secrets even as she falls in love with the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains, and a wilderness camp leader who shares the greatest secret of all. Knowing her life can never go back to what it was, she must make decisions that will impact far more than just her future. (Contemporary from His Image Publications)



All In by L. K. Simonds -- Cami Taylor: a blackjack dealer, a bestselling author, and a fraud. Cami's boyfriend, Joel, loves her in spite of her flaws. He wants to marry her, buy a house on Long Island, and raise a family--a life that's a million miles from Cami's idea of happiness. Her therapist suggests compromise and trust, but Cami bolts like a deer. She breaks off the relationship and launches on a new quest for happiness, not knowing that a nasty surprise waits around the corner. What follows is a fight to the death. Who will be the one left standing? (Contemporary from Morgan James Fiction)

Historical:


Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano -- A rag girl accepts an invitation to become the lady she's always dreamed of being, but some dreams turn out to be nightmares. (Historical from Revel - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Historical Romance:


Lady and the Lawman by Crystal L. Barnes, Vickie McDonough, Annette OHare, and Kathleen Y'Barbo -- Four historic stories of lawmen and the ladies who love them. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)



The Farmer’s Daughter by Mary Davis, Kelly Eileen Hake, Tracie J. Peterson, Jill Stengl, and Susan May Warren -- Enjoy five historical novels by some of Christian fiction’s bestselling authors. Meet daughters of prairie farms from Montana south to Kansas who find love in the midst of turbulent life changes. Marty’s nieces are kidnapped. Rosalind’s town is overrun by a railroad company. Amy’s jealousy comes between her and her twin. Beulah’s answer is needed to a marriage proposal. Lilly’s choice puts her at odd with her neighbors. Into each of their lives rides a man who may only make their situations worse. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)



The Cowboys by Sandra Merville Hart, Cindy Ervin Huff, Jennifer Uhlarik, and Linda W. Yezak -- Taming the West--one heart at a time. Healing Heart: A physically scarred cowboy finds solace with a ranch girl who is hiding from her past. Becoming Brave: A cattle drover wants to get his boss’s heard safely through Indian Territory...as soon he figures out why a bloodstained woman is holding a gun on him. Trails End: Waiting for his boss’s cattle to sell, a cowboy takes a kitchen job at a restaurant where the beautiful and prickly owner adds spice to his workday. Loving a Harvey Girl: To improve the local preacher’s opinion of career women, a Harvey Girl makes it her mission to redeem a wayward cowboy, but finds herself longing for a husband, hearth, and home. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)



Lost in the Storm by Tamera Lynn Kraft -- Lavena, a journalist during the Civil War, wants to become a war correspondent. She finally gets her chance, but there's a catch. She has to get an interview from a war hero who has refused to tell his story to every other journalist, and she has to accomplish this impossible task in a month or she'll lose her job. Captain Cage, the war hero, has a secret that will destroy his military career and reputation. Now, a new journalist wants him to reveal what he's been hiding. He’d prefer to ignore her, but from the moment she came into camp, he can't get her out of his mind. Leading up to the turbulent Battles for the city of Chattanooga, will Lavena and Cage find the courage to love and forgive, or will they be swept away by their past mistakes that don't want to stay buried? (Historical Romance from Mt Zion Ridge Press)



Love's Allegiance by Linda Shenton Matchett -- Inspired by the biblical love story of Rebekkah and Isaac, Love’s Allegiance explores the struggles and sacrifices of those whose beliefs were at odds with a world at war. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)



The Brightest Hope by Naomi Musch -- Five years after the Great War, Holly Allen is a well-adjusted war widow with a knack for running the family press. She’s over the days of waiting for a white knight to ride in and sweep her away from her cares. Besides, if Hugh Phelps is a knight, he's certainly a black one—with his prison record, personal demons, and the ghosts of war that haunt him. When Holly hires Hugh, despite her reservations, it isn’t long before she sees the man he could really be, and as Hugh finds his niche at Allen’s Printing, he finds his lady boss equally appealing. Despite the attraction, however, Holly won’t let herself fall for a faithless man, and Hugh isn’t on gracious terms with God. Then, just when new beginnings seem possible, old heartaches from the war come calling. Now it might only be in letting go of everything dear that they both discover what real love is. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)



Annabelle’s Joy by Betty Thomason Owens -- She's waited too long. When Tom proposed last year, Annabelle wasn't ready to open her heart to another man. Pain still held a thin crust around it. Time has healed her heart, but with a new woman in town, one who clearly has her sights set on Tom, does it matter if Annabelle's heart is ready to love again? Folks in town are keeping a close eye on their pharmacist, hoping to be the first to hear the good news. He’s been courting the widow Cross for nigh on two years now. Annabelle Cross better wake up and put her dancing shoes on. Mr. Tom is prime real estate. (Historical Romance from Write Integrity Press)

Mystery/Cozy Mystery:


Hidden Secrets by Janet Sketchley -- When an online vendetta against the Green Dory Inn escalates to physical threats, a cryptic message about a tunnel points to the property’s original owner, a notorious Prohibition-era sea captain rumoured to have left hidden wealth. (Mystery, Independently Published)



Murder at Rendsburg Resort by C. L. Wells -- Trapped in a remote resort with a killer on the loose, the body count piling up, and no one else to save them, mystery writer Jill Pemberton must help find the killer before they claim their next victim. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:


Two Steps Forward by Luana Ehrlich -- When CIA operative Titus Ray has an unexpected encounter with a Jihadi terrorist while he and Nikki are on their honeymoon in Morocco, he assumes it’s a coincidence, but when they travel to Israel for the second half of their honeymoon and encounter him again, he takes action, which takes him to Baghdad to prevent the assassination of a high-profile government official. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)



Edge of Truth by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- The DEA sends two of its best agents, Kara Nelson and Jeff Clark, to Central Oregon, to shut down a major drug ring. Kara and Jeff usually work alone, but Operation Trail Ride throws them undercover together in a way neither of them expected. A notorious Miami drug lord wants Kara dead. Can these agents pull off the greatest acting job of their lives—and manage the sparks flying between them? Or will they die trying? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Speculative:


Redemption by Jacques R. Pye -- Sterling Newman and Armena Sandal face death as they struggle to help the Alesandrans and the Kirilleans combat a force seeking the destruction of both worlds. (Speculative, Independently Published)

Young Adult:


Shards of Light by Susan Miura -- Sometimes the pieces of a shattered dream can transform into something extraordinary. (Young Adult from Vinspire Publishing)


*All authors whose books are included on the ACFW New Releases list attest that their book meets CBA standards for clean, Christian content. The posting of this list on the Sweet South Blog is not a review or an endorsement of any book on the list.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

More Than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer #Review #SurpriseBookGiveaway




Book Description:

After fulfilling a pledge to a dying friend, Zacharias Hamilton is finally free. No family entanglements. No disappointing those around him. Just the quiet bachelor existence he's always craved. Until fate snatches his freedom away when the baker of his favorite breakfast bun is railroaded by the city council. Despite not wanting to get involved, he can't turn a blind eye to her predicament . . . or her adorable dimples. Abigail Kemp needs a man's name on her bakery's deed. A marriage of convenience seems the best solution . . . if it involves a man she can control. That person definitely isn't the stoic lumberman who oozes silent confidence whenever he enters her shop. Control Zacharias Hamilton? She can't even control her pulse when she's around him. When vows are spoken, Abigail's troubles should be over. Yet threats to the bakery worsen, and darker dangers hound her sister. Can she put ever more trust in Zach without losing her dreams of independence?


The Main Characters:

After viewing the cover, more than one person asked me if this was an Amish book. It is not. But the heroine, Abigail, is a successful baker and businesswoman, who is fighting to save her bakery while some unknown person seems to be planning her downfall. With Abigail and Zacharias, a lumberman and son of a famous Mississippi River gambler, Karen brings us a unique story full of hope, humor, sweet moments, and lessons learned. The food-lover in me enjoyed all the bakery references and metaphors--and the fact that Abigail isn't your run-of-the-mill "thin and delicate" heroine. The story of Zacharias, the quietest Hamilton and the last to wed, tugs at the heartstrings, especially of readers who know his backstory from page one.


The Romance:

I enjoyed watching these characters learn how to communicate with each other and work through hard times together. The use of love languages brought interesting facets to their relationship, and the heroine's insecurities about her body type and the circumstances of the marriage underscore the attraction with realistic conflict. I liked how Zacharias initiated open communication in their marriage from the start, leading the way to a clearer understanding between them. Prior to their wedding, they discussed everything except their compatibility in matters of faith, which serves as the main conflict in their marriage for the second half of the story. I come from a different background than either of these characters, but seems that's the first thing I would have settled when considering marriage, no matter the circumstances. Overall, Zacharias' quiet protectiveness and Abigail's supportive encouragement turn this marriage of convenience into a love match where both want to honor the other and the Lord, which makes for a great story if you ask me.


The Pace:

The book keeps a pull-you-along pace and was hard to put down once I started reading. I love how Karen gives introspection and character insight without slowing the story too much.


The Faith Element:

With her husband's gentle leadership, Abigail grows from a place of insecurity into a woman who can focus on joyfully helping others, even while facing hard times of her own. She learns to appreciate Zach, even with all his gruff ways. Zacharias has to come to the place where he sees his sin as God sees it, no excuses, and learns to put family responsibility above his own quest for footloose "freedom." As a whole, I enjoyed the way these threads wrapped up and brought cohesion to the story.


Favorite Quotes:

"Perhaps he felt a touch of gratitude too for the fact that they had each other, for better or worse. They might be facing the worse right now, but the fact that they could lean on each other in the midst of it moved it into the better category."

"Helping a woman make biscuits should not make a fellow this happy. But when the woman was the fellow's wife, and she smiled at him as if he were the noblest hero of her acquaintance--well, it couldn't be helped."

"Tremors hit, quaking her hard enough for him to feel them. He wrapped his arms around her and bent his face close to hers. He might not understand what was going on in her head, but a mighty squall was battering her hull, and if he couldn't figure out how to shelter her from it, he aimed to be her anchor until it passed."

"'I had a long talk with my husband last night," Abigail explained, "and he made me realize that I have to choose which voices to believe. I can believe the ones that tell me I'm not good enough or brave enough or pretty enough and let them skew my perception of events, or I can push aside that clamor and seek out the voice that tells me I am fearfully and wonderfully made.'"

"'I've chosen fear over faith more times than I can count,' she admitted. 'And every time I did, I ended up with regrets.'"


The More Factor:

I've heard tell that Abigail's sister, Rosalind, will be featured in her own story, a Harvey House tale in the upcoming novella collection, Serving Up Love (Bethany House Publishers, November 2019). Can't wait to read her story, More than Just a Pretty Face.
Comment Fodder:
  • More Than Words Can Say is a marriage of convenience story. What are some of your favorite books with this trope? 
  • What is your favorite thing about marriage of convenience stories? 
  • Have you ever read Karen's books before?

 
GIVEAWAY:
I love the mystery factor in marriage of convenience stories. With core values established, all the things that are yet to be discovered about the other person's personality, likes, dislikes, habits, skills, and talents, are often surprising and so interesting as they come out in the story. In the spirit of that mystery component, I'm hosting a surprise book giveaway, the story will be Christian romance, not necessarily marriage-of-convenience, but will definitely include a love story. For U.S. readers, I'm offering a paperback. For international readers (please specify in comments), I'm offering a Kindle e-book. Giveaway Ends July 22, 2019.


To enter:
  1. Comment on this blog post with an answer to one of the above questions and your email address in a spam-deterrent format (address at server dot com). 
  2. Two extra entry points if you become (or are) a subscriber to Karen's e-newsletter and my e-newsletter. Say so in the comments to get the points.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and have stated my honest opinion in this voluntary review.

July 2019 Fiction Releases #ACFW

July 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:


Hometown Hope by Laurel Blount -- In the three years since her mother’s death, widower Hoyt Bradley’s daughter, Jess, hasn’t spoken—until she suddenly begs him to save her favorite bookstore from closing. Hoyt is desperate to hear his daughter’s voice again, but he and the bookstore’s pretty owner, Anna Delaney, share a less-than-friendly past. Working together is complicated enough…but can they avoid falling in love? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])



A Heart Surrendered by Joy K. Massenburge -- Since her teens, pastor’s daughter Sharonda Peterson devoted her life to church service and solitude after the one night she gave Carl Ray Everhart everything. Sobered by a near-death experience, prodigal Carl returns home from an acting and singing career to serve as the worship leader at Sheronda’s church, and she finds that it takes every ounce of her resolve to resist his pursuits … not to mention memories that threaten to overturn the delicate balance she’s created. Can she finally surrender the one thing she’s tried all these years to protect: her heart? (Contemporary Romance from Harambee Press [Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas])



Starting Anew by Melanie D. Snitker -- He's afraid to trust. She has a secret that could change everything between them. Will they let go of their fear, or allow it to rob them of their chance at happiness? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


Historical:


Underestimating Miss Cecilia by Carolyn Miller -- Can shy, sweet Cecilia overcome her family's prejudice to see a future with the recently returned prodigal son from next door? (Historical from Kregel Publications)




Benaiah: Might Man of God by PH Thompson -- A novel of Biblical, historical fiction about Benaiah, one of King David's mighty men, examining the premise: What happens when the king's most obedient soldier is issued a wicked command? (Historical/Biblical from Word Alive Press)


Historical Romance:



Waltz with Destiny by Catherine Ulrich Brakefield -- When the men and women of World War II marched off to war, they didn't know what lay ahead. All they knew was that upon their young and inexperienced shoulders rested the plight of the free world. (Historical Romance from CrossRiver Media Group)




Thimbles and Threads by Mary Davis, Grace Hitchcock, Suzanne Norquist, and Liz Tolsma -- Enjoy four historical romances that celebrate the arts of sewing and quilting. When Tilly, a schoolteacher; Alice, a bridal shop owner; Sarah, a seamstress; and Melissa, a rag doll designer, put needle and thread to fabric, will their talents lead to the surprising gift of love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)





Refiner's Fire by J.M. Hochstetler --
Will the promise their hearts cling to finally find joyful fulfillment, or will war’s refining fire separate them forever? (Historical Romance from Sheaf House Publishers)





Where Dandelions Bloom by Tara Johnson -- To escape an arranged marriage, Cassie Kendrick enlists in the Union army as a man, taking the name Thomas Turner. On the battlefields of the Civil War, keeping her identity a secret is only the beginning of her problems, especially after she meets Gabriel Avery, a handsome young photographer. Anxious to make his mark on the world and to erase past guilt, Gabriel works with renowned photographer Matthew Brady to capture images from the front lines of the war. As Gabriel forges friendships along the way, he wonders what the courageous, unpredictable Thomas Turner is hiding. Battling betrayal, their own personal demons, and a country torn apart by war, can Cassie and Gabriel forgive themselves and trust their futures to the God who births hope and healing in the darkest places? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])




The Express Bride by Kimberly Woodhouse -- Jacqueline Rivers manages a Pony Express station in 1860 Utah territory after her father’s death. There are daily stresses placed on her in this unconventional role—and now a government official is asking her to sniff out counterfeiters. When Elijah Johnson passes through on the stage while on an exhausting quest to find his boss’s heir, he doesn’t want to leave the beguiling station manager. In fact, he may never leave when caught in the crossfire of the territory’s criminal activities. Can she remain strong when secrets of the past and present are finally unearthed? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


Romantic Suspense:


Legacy Rejected by Robin Patchen -- She's not giving up her home, no matter what threats come against her. Realtor Ginny Lamont's family has abandoned her, leaving her with nothing but a warning that she’s in danger. But Ginny's built a home in New Hampshire. After a childhood of nomadic living, she’s not running again, certainly not because of some nameless, baseless threat. Real estate developer Kade Powers is thrilled to go out with Nutfield’s beautiful new real estate agent. But the prowler they surprise after their first date offers a glimpse into Ginny's past and the legacy of lies her parents left her with. She brings a mystery, one he’s determined to help her solve. With Kade’s help, Ginny searches for the truth of her parents’ criminal activity while her enemies close in. When mobsters show up in her quaint New England town, will she find a way to bring them down, or will she lose the home—and the man—she’s come to love? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)


Suspense:


Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig -- Mentioned in the pages of the Old Testament but lost to history, the Book of the Wars has resurfaced, and its pages hold secrets--and dangers--never before seen on earth. Tasked with capturing the ancient text, former Navy SEAL Leif Metcalfe is once more given command of his own team. But their best efforts are ruined when a notorious Bulgarian operative known as Viorica snatches the volume right out from under them. Iskra "Viorica" Todorova is determined to use the book to secure the thing that matters most--freedom. But a series of strange storms erupts around the globe, and the coming dangers foretold in the text threaten crops, lives, and entire nations. Though both are haunted by secrets of their past and neither trusts the other, Leif and Iskra must form an uneasy alliance to thwart impending disaster. However, the truth hidden in centuries-old words could unleash a storm of their own destruction. (Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])


Speculative:


The Story Raider by Lindsay A. Franklin -- Deceiving an empire is a treacherous game. Tanwen and the Corsyth weavers race to collect the strands of an ancient cure that might save Gryfelle. But Tanwen has a secret--Gryfelle isn't the only one afflicted by the weaver's curse. As Queen Braith struggles to assert her rule, a new arrival throws her tenuous claim to the Tirian throne into question. Braith's heart is turned upside down, and she's not sure she can trust anyone--least of all herself. The puppet master behind Gareth's rise to power has designs on Tanwen and the story weavers, and will stop at nothing to reclaim the throne. A plot to incite the angry peasants of Tir takes shape, and those dearest to Tanwen will be caught in the crossfire. As the fight for Tir consumes the realm, no one can remain innocent. (Speculative from Enclave Publishing)

*All authors whose books are included on the ACFW New Releases list attest that their book meets CBA standards for clean, Christian content. The posting of this list on the Sweet South Blog is not a review or an endorsement of any book on the list.

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Crossing at Cypress Creek by Pam Hillman #Reviewed


Book Description:

Sailing and soldiering around the world has taken Caleb O’Shea far from his native Ireland, so he never imagined that a promise to see a fellow crewman safely home would practically land him on his brother’s doorstep. After spending years away from his family, Caleb isn’t certain what kind of reception he will receive when he steps foot in Natchez, Mississippi. The one thing he knows for sure is that he won’t stay long.
Since her sister was kidnapped by river pirates six months ago, Alanah Adams has taken special care to avoid drawing attention to herself. Those living in the rough-and-tumble settlement of Cypress Creek might even think she’s addled. But when she stumbles into Caleb and his friends in Natchez, she appears to be the picture-perfect lady.
Caleb only catches glimpses of the mysterious and beautiful Alanah before she disappears. But a chance encounter with her at his brother’s logging camp near Cypress Creek leaves him uncomfortable at the thought of the young woman traversing the dangerous area alone. At a crossroads in his life, Caleb must decide whether he wants to give up the worldly adventures he’s been seeking for one closer to home.


Overview:

This novel is rich in historical detail, setting, unique characters, and themes of redemption.


The Main Characters:

I read along, fascinated, as "Addled Alanah" foraged for healing herbs and brightly colored mushrooms to sell so she could provide for herself, her mentor, Lydia, and her Uncle Jude and sister Betsy. I felt strong compassion for her as an older sister, given the plight of her sister. 

Having met all the other brothers in the O'shea clan, I was eager to meet Caleb, the soldier-for-hire who left home amid flared tempers and broken hearts. Alanah's "forest warrior" persona and Caleb's mercenary background make them an excellent team. They both grow in character-specific areas and this book takes them on that journey.


The Secondary Characters:

The secondary characters in The Crossing at Cypress Creek are all gems. I loved reading about "Looney Lydia," the healer of mixed Native American and African American heritage, and her level-headed approach to tough situations. The farce that she and Alanah play to protect themselves from river pirates added a fun and adventurous aspect to the story, and her interactions with Tiberius, the mercenary moor, sprinkled humor across the pages. 

Betsy brings us the initial conflict with the river pirates, bloody and ruthless men, the leader of whom is Micaiah Jones. Micaiah is a well-rounded villain and a great foil for our hero, Caleb. 

One of the most interestingly conflicted characters is Uncle Jude, a preacher much like the Biblical Jonah, who is called to cry against the wickedness taking place around him. His struggle to offer mercy to the ones who destroyed his family prompts the reader to look inward at their own motives and actions. Jude's role in the ending of the story had me turning pages into the small hours of the night.

Readers will be delighted to have all the characters from earlier books in the series reunited in this book. Pam included throwback moments with Connor and Isabella and Kiera and Quinn that made me smile.


The Romance:

Caleb and Alanah share many kisses and moments of attraction throughout the book. Caleb is a wanderer and offers little commitment to go along with his kisses, which provides conflict in his and Alanah's character arcs. My favorite aspect of their romance was his protectiveness toward her whenever she was in danger and his willingness to sacrifice to save her sister--and then her as well.


The Faith Element:

Jude's story thread, mentioned above, brings continuity and a deep contemplative message to the story. What a character, and what a journey! The redemption message is clearly offered through repentance and faith in Jesus--one thing I deeply appreciate about Pam's books.


The Author's Trademarks:

Adventure, historical grit, gentle humor, and Biblical truth are trademarks that make Pam Hillman's stories go-to fiction for me.


The Stakes:

Life and death stakes are strong in this book. In the 1700s, medicine was primitive, and early settlers in the South undertook dangerous tasks to carry out their everyday livelihood. One particular swamp scene with an alligator paints this aspect in living color. Illness and work-related accidents being common enough, these characters face the added dangers of greedy, bloodthirsty river pirates looking for any victim whose possessions might bring a fine price.


The Setting:

This story's setting is so unique. Unlike any I've read in the Christian Fiction genre. If you've enjoyed the film Davy Crockett and the River Pirates or Distant Drums, starring Gary Cooper, you'll like this adventurous historical tale. 


Comment Fodder:
Have you ever read a story set in the 1700s South? Did the book feature any swamps? What were your favorite things about the setting?


Check out the Pinterest board for The Crossing at Cypress Creek!





 
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher and have voluntarily provided my honest opinion in this review.

Friday, June 14, 2019

June 2019 Fiction Releases from #ACFW



June 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

The Art of Rivers by Janet Ferguson -- Can a woman whose life has been damaged by addiction trust her heart to a man in recovery? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


Cross My Heart by Robin Lee Hatcher -- Horse rescue farmer Ashley helps Ben start an equine therapy barn on his great-great grandfather’s farm. When they consider a relationship together, her bitter experience with her opioid addict brother reins in any hope for a future with Ben, who is five years in recovery from alcoholism. Ben knows that with God, all things are possible—but will Ashley find it within herself to give love a chance? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Risking Love by Toni Shiloh -- Nikki lives with a perfect trifecta of noes. No guys. No dates. No way. After years of keeping men at bay, Nikki Gordon has it down to a science. No one, not even sweet, hunky Shorty Smalls can change her mind. Period. So if she’s got it all figured out, why does her heart sink to her toes when she sees Shorty with another woman? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)


General:

Uncharted Destiny by Keely Brooke Keith -- When Bailey sets out to rescue her lost friend in the Land’s dangerous mountain terrain, she discovers more about the Land—and herself—than she bargained for. (General from Edenbrooke Press)

Six Houses Down by Kari Rimbey -- Two days after Sharon Webster’s distant husband returns for a surprise visit, their autistic son slips out of the house and is lost in historic Washington D. C. As they search for their boy, Sharon is forced to rely on the husband she believes no longer loves her. An elderly black couple down the street seems to understand her unspoken hurts. Has God sent them to help her find trust again? (General Contemporary, Independently Published)


Historical:

In the Shadow of the King by Melissa Rosenberger -- Beset by doubts and jealousy about prophecies spoken over her brother Yeshua, Hannah struggles to see the truth before her eyes until it is too late…or is it? (Historical from Carpenter's Son Publishing)


Historical Romance:

This Healing Journey by Misty M. Beller -- An adventure-seeking wilderness girl and an ex-cavalryman looking to settle down fall in love while caring for a wounded Indian child that shows up in his barn. Will their differences keep them apart or become their greatest strengths? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Cameo Courtships by Susanne Dietze, Debra E. Marvin, Jennifer Uhlarik, and Kathleen Y'Barbo -- In 1851, a special cameo is gifted by Queen Victoria to Letitia Newton, who though considered an old maid, meets the perfect gentleman minutes after donning. Told by the Queen the cameo is to be shared, Letitia gifts the "Victoria Cameo" to a woman in her family, hoping adventure and romance will follow each of its subsequent wearers. Adventure indeed follows two competing journalists, one of whom carries the cameo while looking to expose a smuggler, a trouser-wearing frontierswoman and a reverend who are on a mission to ransom the cameo from a manipulative brothel owner, two Pinkertons who are charged with the care of the cameo but must rely on one another when the cameo is once again stolen, and a young woman who doubts the cameo can help her when a handsome Scottish library administrator ruins her dream of overseeing the new Carnegie Library children’s department and keeps a social chasm between himself and her father. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Mail-Order Refuge by Cindy Regnier -- Carly Blair from Baltimore buys a train ticket to Kansas where she will become the wife of a man she’s never met. She must leave Baltimore to escape the evil plans her ex-fiance has for using her artistic talents for a counterfeit operation. Rand Stafford, Kansas cattle rancher is looking after his two orphaned nieces, but knows they need a mother. He’s not interested in love since being left at the altar so he advertises for a mail-order bride, willing to do whatever it takes to give Mary Jo and Jenna a proper home and upbringing. Can Carly and Rand find love where they least expect it, or will the shadows of the past dash their hopes for the future? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turansky -- Between the years of 1869 to 1939 more than 100,000 poor British children were sent across the ocean to Canada with the promise of a better life. Those who took them in to work as farm laborers or household servants were told they were orphans—but was that the truth? (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])


Romantic Suspense:

Darkwater Truth by Robin Caroll -- Adelaide Fountaine, general manager, is enthusiastically renovating parts of the Darkwater Inn. Her intentions come to a screeching halt when a skeleton is found behind a makeshift wall—an axe beside it. As Adelaide works alongside owner Dimitri Pampalon and Detective Beau Savoie, the two men who have been pursuing her heart, she learns the eerie death has tentacles that reach deep into the seedy past of both the Darkwater Inn and the evil underground of New Orleans. The past and the present collide as the stakes are upped—not only for Adelaide’s heart, but for her very life and her father’s life as well. The threats are deadly, the coils of evil are tightening around everyone involved, and they are more powerful than anyone could have ever imagined. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Over the Line by Kelly Irvin -- Gabriela's brother is missing, he's a suspect in a murder, and she's in the cross hairs of a criminal organization. The only person who can help her is the one man she can't trust. Will Gabby & Eli find her brother before it's too late? (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Long Walk Home by DiAnn Mills -- As an Arab Christian pilot for a relief organization, Paul Farid feels called to bring supplies to his war-torn countrymen in southern Sudan. But with constant attacks from Khartoum’s Islamic government, the villagers have plenty of reasons to distrust Paul, and he wonders if the risks he’s taking are really worth his mission. American doctor Larson Kerr started working with the Sudanese people out of a sense of duty and has grown to love them all, especially Rachel Alier, her young assistant. But despite the years she’s spent caring for them, her life feels unfulfilled. It’s a void noticed both by Paul and by Rachel’s older brother, Colonel Ben Alier of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army. When Rachel is abducted, Paul, Ben, and Larson agree to set aside their differences to form an unlikely alliance and execute a daring rescue. Their faith and beliefs tested, each must find the strength to walk the path God has laid before them, to find their way home. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

The Last Chaplain by Carl M. White -- At the request of Pastor John Grant, the last chaplain of the United States Senate, Lisa Smithy embarks on the adventure of a lifetime: find a former Senate staff member and convince him to reveal to a DC reporter the plot that led to Dr. Grant's removal and the discrediting of his best friend, a United States Senator. From the South, to the West, to the Midwest, evil men are desperate to stop her, and romance surprisingly finds her. Can she bring together the former Senate staffer who knows all and the Washington reporter who can tell all, while eluding the men who would end it all? (Romantic Suspense from Austin Brothers Publishers)

*All authors whose books are included on the ACFW New Releases list attest that their book meets CBA standards for clean, Christian content. The posting of this list on the Sweet South Blog is not a review or an endorsement of any book on the list.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

May 2019 Releases #ACFW

May 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:


When Love Won't Wait by Roger E. Bruner -- Laugh at Pastor Dan’s impulsive efforts to get out of the ministry and marry a woman of his own choosing by going against his domineering widowed mother’s wishes. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)



A Perfect Amish Match by Vannetta Chapman -- After three failed relationships, Amish bachelor Noah Graber would rather disappoint his parents than try again. But when matchmaker Olivia Mae Miller agrees to provide courting lessons, Noah’s perfect match becomes clear—it’s Olivia Mae herself! With ailing grandparents at home, she hadn’t planned on love or marriage. Might a future with Noah be everything she’s been missing? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])



Sing a New Song by Candee Fick -- Songbird Gloria Houghton has always needed to be the center of attention, but the spotlight has shifted. Seeking fame and a fresh start, she finds a new stage in Branson, Missouri...only to risk being replaced by a manipulative rival. If Gloria can’t be the star, who is she? Jack-of-all-trades Nick Sherwood is just one leaf on a vast family tree that includes a restaurant chef, hotel owners, and even the headline act at a family-owned theater. He’s seen how fame can blind a person with jealousy and is more than content to stay in the background thank you very much. If only he wasn’t so fascinated--and irritated--by the newest addition to the staff. After a disaster of a first impression and financial difficulties land Gloria in the humblest of jobs—with Nick as her boss—it might be time for her to learn to sing a new song. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)



Pigtails and a Tool Belt by Janetta Fudge-Messmer -- The Christian Romance where circumstances seem impossible. But with God – all things are possible. (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)




Wooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany Turner -- After four years of dating Will, Cadie questions his love for her and sends him packing. Their breakup only makes Will more determined to become the man Cadie wants him to be. With the help of his work buddies and tactics drawn from Cadie's favorite romantic comedies, he devises a "foolproof" plan. What could possibly go wrong? (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)


General Contemporary:


Over the Waters by Deborah Raney -- As "Dr. Botox" to the bored rich women of Chicago, plastic surgeon Max Jordan was shocked by the decision of his son, Joshua, to focus his medical talent on Haitian orphans. Embittered by Joshua's death, Max searches for resolution in the very place his son called home. The selfless labor of Joshua's coworkers stuns Max. He is particularly taken by American volunteer Valerie Austin, whose dream of a honeymoon on a tropical beach were crushed, replaced by a stint working in the impoverished orphanage. But Valerie's view of Joshua's sacrifice challenges everything Max has lived for. Now Max wonders if he can ever return to his "Max-a-Million" lifestyle, or if the doors to his gilded cage have finally opened. (General Contemporary from Raney Day Press)
Historical:


True Freedom by Carol Ashby -- When a Roman slave rescues his master’s daughter from the kidnapping arranged by her own brother, will his sacrificial service earn the freedom and love he never dreamed possible, or will it only end in death? (Historical from Cerrillo Press)


Historical Romance:


The Daughter's Predicament by Mary Eileen Davis -- Can a patient love win her heart? As Isabelle Atwood’s romance prospects are turning in her favor, a family scandal derails her dreams. While making a quilt for her own hope chest, Isabelle’s half-sister becomes pregnant out of wedlock and Isabelle--always the unfavored daughter--becomes the family sacrifice to save face. Isabelle loves her sister, but with three suitors interested, will she really allow herself to be manipulated into a marriage without love? Or will the man leaving her secret love poems sweep her off her feet? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)



Mail-Order Mishaps by Susan Page Davis, Linda Ford, Vickie McDonough, and Erica Vetsch -- In The Bride’s Dilemma by Susan Page Davis, Eve Martin arrives in Cheyenne to learn that man she came to marry is in jail, accused of a violent murder. But has God brought her here to help save Caleb Blair’s life? In Romancing the Rancher by Linda Ford, Amelia expects a safe home for herself and her niece in Montana as mail-order bride to Zach Taggerty. Only Zach has never heard of her. In The Marriage Sham by Vickie McDonough, Texas mail-order bride Zola Bryant is a widowed newlywed. Worse, they were never truly wed because the officiant was an outlaw not a preacher. What will she do now that her life and reputation are in tatters? In The Galway Girl by Erica Vetsch, a mail-order mix-up sends Irish lass Maeve O’Reilly to the Swedish community of Lindsborg, Kansas. Will Kaspar Sandberg consider it a happy accident or a disaster to be rectified as soon as possible? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)



Lord of Her Heart by Sherrinda Ketchersid -- Lady Jocelyn Ashburne suspects something is amiss at her family’s castle because her father ceases to write to her. When she overhears a plot to force her into vows—either to the church or a husband—she disguises herself and flees the convent in desperation to discover the truth. Malcolm Castillon of Berkham is determined to win the next tournament and be granted a manor of his own. After years of proving his worth on the jousting field, he yearns for a life of peace. Rescuing a scrawny lad who turns out to be a beautiful woman is not what he bargained for. Still, he cannot deny that she stirs his heart like no other, in spite of her conniving ways. Chaos, deception, and treachery threaten their goals, but both are determined to succeed. Learning to trust each other might be the only way either of them survives. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)



Love's Belief by Linda Shenton Matchett -- When the Third Reich implements mandates that require Jewish babies and other “undesirables” to be killed as part of The Final Solution, is midewife Pia Hertz’s new faith in Christ strong enough to defy the laws of man? Dieter Fertig is relieved he’s no longer part of Hitler’s army, despite the reason--a battle that cost his arm. After he returns to Berlin, only to discover the Nuremburg Laws require his best friend’s baby girl to be killed, he must find a way to spirit the child out of Germany before the Nazis discover her existence. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)




Shelter Bay by Pamela S. Meyers -- Adventurous bicyclist Maureen Quinn and her best friend, Preston Stevens, a member of the U.S. Life Saving Service, find love and face life-altering events on the shores of Lake Michigan. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)


Mystery:


Fallen Leaf by Julie B. Cosgrove -- When a DNA kit reveals blond, blue-eyed Jessica Warren is half Cherokee, she confronts her adoptive parents and learns her birth father is in prison...for murder! Now he wants her help in exonerating him. Can Jessica trust the handsome, young Tulsa district attorney to help, or does he have an agenda of his own? (Cozy Mystery from Write Integrity Press)



Bitter Pill by Richard L. Mabry, MD -- Things were going along just fine until the miracle fouled them up. (Medical Mystery, Independently Published)



Latter-day Cipher by Latayne C. Scott -- Kirsten Young, a well-known and rebellious Utah heiress, is found murdered in Provo Canyon. The strange markings carved into her flesh and the note written in 19th century code seem to cast a shadow on ancient Mormon laws. Journalist Selonnah Zee is assigned to cover the story-- and it quickly grows out of control. (Historical Mystery from Moody)


Romantic Suspense:


Running Target by Elizabeth Goddard -- A routine patrol turns deadly when marine deputy Bree Carrington’s boat is sunk by men carrying illegal weapons. Fleeing a barrage of bullets, she’s suddenly rescued by DEA agent Quinn Strand—her ex-boyfriend. Quinn’s return threatens more than Bree’s heart…because he’s the one the men are really after. As criminals hunt her to get to him, can Quinn and Bree take down a drug ring? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Speculative:


The Pages of Her Life by James L. Rubart -- Allison Moore's dad was living a secret life and left her mom in massive debt. As she scrambles to help her mom find a way out, she’s given a journal, anonymously, during a visit to her favorite coffee shop. The pressure to rescue her mom mounts, and Allison pours her fears and heartache into the journal. But then the unexplainable happens. The words in the journal, her words, begin to disappear. And new ones fill the empty spaces—words that force her to look at everything she knows about herself in a new light. Ignoring those words could cost her everything…but so could embracing them. (Speculative from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

*All authors whose books are included on the ACFW New Releases list attest that their book meets CBA standards for clean, Christian content. The posting of this list on the Sweet South Blog is not a review or an endorsement of any book on the list.