Friday, June 8, 2018

A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears #REVIEWED

 



Doesn't this cover just grab your heart? Gives me a case of the warm fuzzies. <3


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From the back cover:
In early 1900s Kansas, Mercy McClain, determined to protect Teaville's children from the bullying she experienced as a child, finds fulfillment working at the local orphanage and serving on the school board. When Aaron Firebrook, the classmate who bothered her more than any other, petitions the board for a teaching position, she's dead set against him getting the job.

Aaron knows he deserves every bit of Mercy's mistrust, but he's returned to his hometown a changed man and is seeking to earn forgiveness of those he wronged. He doesn't expect Mercy to like him, but surely he can prove he now has the best interests of the children at heart.

Will resentment and old wounds hold them back, or can Mercy and Aaron put the past behind them in time to face the unexpected threats to everything they're working for?


The Characters:
Both the main characters and the secondary characters in this story are unique and have unexpected qualities.


The Romance:
One thing I love about Melissa Jagears' books is that the romance stories are so unique and unexpected in how they play out. Aaron and Mercy, given their past and present struggles, have to become very vulnerable with one another in order for a relationship to work. Watching them grow brave enough to open up and trust was a joy that kept me turning pages to see what happened next.

The Faith Element:
Melissa always has a practical and challenging Scriptural message for readers, one the characters show organically through their struggle to learn and use the truth in everyday life.

The Author's Trademarks:
There is also such relatability and practical, homey flavor to Melissa's stories. No matter the book is set around the turn of the century, I can empathize with the characters' struggles, their goals, and even the world in which they operate. The conflicts are simple, but so strong and personal, a reader can't help but relate.

Overall Impression:
While I'm sad to see the close of a great series, it was great to revisit familiar characters and see some long, twisted threads tied up into a satisfying resolution. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys clean historical romance filled with hope. The way the characters learn to stand up for truth and for the ones they love is touching and rewarding for the reader. I look forward to seeing what Melissa has coming in the future!


Comment Fodder:
I’d love to know… What are some things you look forward to experiencing in historical novels? Unique historical facts? Simpler times? Chivalry and old-fashioned values? Descriptions of clothing and daily living? A closer look at historical world events? 

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher free of charge. My review is voluntary, and the opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

June 2018 Fiction Releases #ACFW

June 2018 New Releases

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



Contemporary Romance:


The Sleuth’s Miscalculation by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- Librarian Nancy Daley loves a good mystery and enjoys moonlighting as a consultant for the sheriff’s department. When license plates go missing in Tipton County, she’s on the case. But she’s been partnered with the new deputy, Carter Malone, and he’s not interested in her help. When the minor case they are working morphs into something more, things quickly go from harmless to scary. Can they solve the mystery before it’s too late, and more importantly, what will they do about their growing attraction? (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)



Falling for the Cowgirl by Tina Radcliffe -- Hiring Amanda “AJ” McAlester as his assistant at the Big Heart Ranch isn’t foreman Travis Maxwell’s first choice—but his sisters insist she’s perfect for the job. And AJ’s determined to prove she’s just as qualified as any man. But with money on the line, AJ and her innovative ideas could put him at risk of losing everything…including his heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])



Enduring Love by Toni Shiloh -- Belle Peterson is hiding a secret. Seeking sanctuary in the small town of Maple Run, she’s intent on starting her life over—one she hopes honors Christ. The plan was going great until an undeniable attraction to Micah Campbell has her wondering if she’s changed at all. Can love really conquer all or will Belle’s past be too much for Micah to handle? (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit)


General Contemporary:


A Firm Place to Stand by Lori Altebaumer -- Out of options, Maribel takes a safe enough seeming job, but soon finds herself in the middle of a murder, a search for a missing girl, and a race to find a lost treasure. (General Contemporary, Independently Published)



Kuwaiti Seeker by Jim Carroll -- A young Kuwaiti Muslim searches for truth in Islam, but God finds him anyway. (General Contemporary, Crosslink Publishing)

General Historical:


Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett -- Watercolorist Olivia Rutherford has shed her humble beginnings to fashion her image as an avant-garde artist to appeal to the region's wealthy art-collectors. When she lands a lucrative contract painting illustrations of Yosemite National Park for a travel magazine, including its nightly one-of-a-kind Firefall event, she hopes the money will lift Olivia and her sisters out of poverty. After false accusations cost him everything, former minister Clark Johnson has found purpose as a backcountry guide in this natural cathedral of granite and trees. Now he's faced with the opportunity to become a National Parks Ranger, but is it his true calling? As Clark opens Olivia's eyes to the wonders of Yosemite, she discovers the people are as vital to the park's story as its vistas--a revelation that may bring her charade to an end. (General Historical from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])


Historical Romance:


Orphan Train Sweetheart by Mollie Campbell -- Spring Hill is the orphan train’s last stop—a final chance for Simon McKay to find homes for his young charges. When his fellow placing agent quits, Simon enlists help from the frontier town’s pretty schoolteacher. Cecilia Holbrook is as intriguing as she is independent, yet Simon’s devotion to his mission will soon call him back to New York. Long overshadowed by her flirtatious sister, Cecilia is done with waiting for a man to choose her. She’s already fighting the school board to keep her position. Now she’s struggling not to lose her heart to Simon. Could their shared concern for the children show them how to follow a new dream, together? (Historical Romance Love Inspired [Harlequin])



A Love Restored by Kelly Goshorn -- She was nothing like the woman he'd envisioned for his bride, but he was everything she'd ever dreamed of-until a promise from his past threatened their future. (Historical Romance from Pelican Book Group)



The Road to Magnolia Glen by Pam Hillman -- In 1792, Quinn O’Shea leaves Ireland for Natchez, Mississippi, ready to force his oldest brother to reclaim the role of family guardian so Quinn can be free to pursue his own adventures. While aboard ship, a run-in with tenacious yet kind Kiera Young and her two Irish sisters lands him in the role of reluctant savior. Upon arriving in the colonies, Kiera realizes her intended groom never existed and a far more sinister deal has been negotiated for her and her sisters. Quinn offers to escort his charges safely to Breeze Hill Plantation and his brother’s care, fully intending to seek his freedom elsewhere. But the longer he remains, the greater his feelings toward Kiera grow and the more he comes to realize true freedom might be found in sacrifice. (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)



A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter -- When Katherine "Kit" FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she's forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. Graham, intent on finding his friend's missing sister, is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she's telling. After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different, but long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. As much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth isn't worth putting him and everyone she loves in danger. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])



More Than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer -- Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes--one bright blue, the other dark brown--Eva has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. She’s made a safe haven with Seth and Zach, two former orphans she now counts as brothers. Seeking justice against the gambler who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father's death. Instead, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. When Zach's sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time their paths cross, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])


Romantic Suspense:


Justice Betrayed by Patricia Bradley -- It's Elvis Week in Memphis, and homicide Detective Rachel Sloan isn't sure her day could get any stranger when aging Elvis impersonator Vic Vegas asks to see her. But when he produces a photo of her murdered mother with four Elvis impersonators--one of whom had also been murdered soon after the photo was taken--she's forced to reevaluate. When yet another person in the photo is murdered, Rachel suddenly has her hands full investigating three cases. Lieutenant Boone Callahan offers his help, but their checkered romantic past threatens to get in the way. Can they solve the cases before the murderer makes Rachel victim number four? (Romantic Suspense from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)



A Vast and Gracious Tide by Lisa Carter -- After losing his closest friends and now his girlfriend to the ravages of war, Caden Wallis arrives on the Outer Banks for one final mission--to thank the woman who sent him a quilt while he was recuperating at Walter Reed Army Hospital. McKenna Dockery knows about loss. She juggles the family business, her ailing father, and an aging grandmother. Much to Caden's surprise, she--not some elderly lady--is the quilter. The quilt was something she'd begun for her future husband but shipped to the military hospital after the tragic death of her fiancé. When a man is found snared in a net and murdered on McKenna's property, she and Caden must work together to bring the killer to justice. (Romantic Suspense from Gilead Publishing)



Ransom of the Heart by Susan Page Davis -- Police Captain Harvey Larson’s exhausting day takes a big detour when a teenaged girl approaches him at the diner, announcing that she is his daughter. When Harvey is on his way home from work a few hours later, his sister-in-law Abby calls him. She went to meet her husband for a dinner date and found a dead man on the floor at his place of business, and Peter has vanished. Harvey calls in his detectives and turns his car around. It’s going to be a long night, too. Once again, Harvey depends on his wits, his faith, and his squad, the Priority Unit, to solve a tough case and carry out Maine Justice. (Romantic Suspense from Tea Tin Press)


Speculative:


Song of Leira by Gillian Bronte Adams -- Reeling from her disastrous foray into the Pit, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, retreats into the mountains. But in the war-torn north, kneeling on bloodstained battlefields to sing the souls of the dying to rest, her resolve to accept her calling is strengthened. Such evil cannot go unchallenged. Torn between oaths to protect the Underground runners and to rescue his friend from the slave camps, Ky Huntyr enlists Birdie’s aid. Their mission to free the captives unravels the horrifying thread connecting the legendary spring, Artair’s sword, and the slave camps. But the Takhran’s schemes are already in motion. Powerful singers have arisen to lead his army—singers who can shake the earth and master the sea—and monsters rampage across the land. As Leira falters on the verge of defeat, the Song bids her rise to battle, and the Songkeeper must answer. (Speculative High Fantasy 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, May 14, 2018

A Light on the Hill by Connilyn Cossette #REVIEWED





From the back cover:
Seven years ago, Moriyah was taken captive in Jericho and branded with the mark of the Canaanite gods. Now the Israelites are experiencing peace in their new land, but Moriyah has yet to find her own peace. Because of the shameful mark on her face, she hides behind her veil at all times and the disdain of the townspeople keeps her from socializing. And marriage prospects were out of the question . . . until now.
Her father has found someone to marry her, and she hopes to use her love of cooking to impress the man and his motherless sons. But when things go horribly wrong, Moriyah is forced to flee. Seeking safety at one of the newly-established Levitical cities of refuge, she is wildly unprepared for the dangers she will face, and the enemies--and unexpected allies--she will encounter on her way.


My Favorite Lines:

"Would it be all right if I called you 'Ima'?"

"I would listen every day, every moment, expectant for the Voice."

"Perhaps he (God) has a unique purpose for you, in spite of what you endured. Or perhaps because of it."
The Why:
After having enjoyed Conni's first trilogy so much, I was thrilled to read this book. She brings to light familiar and not-so-familiar Biblical passages with characters you can't help but cheer for.


The Characters:
Both main and secondary characters are strikingly vivid in this book. I remember their feature scenes and personality like I had watched them in a theater. (Hellooo, filmmakers in Hollywood, get with the program and make us movies of these books! Ahem.) I've tried to pick a favorite secondary character, but they're all so masterfully created, I couldn't choose. Even the wicked king of Megiddo was breathtaking to "see" in motion as I read his pages.


The Romance:
I'll be honest, I couldn't see a satisfactory ending coming for these star-crossed romantic leads. So much stood in their way, not to mention the small matter of their lives being in danger at almost every moment! But the author pulled it all together in a beautiful conclusion that has me wanting to read the book all over again.


The Pace:
With multiple lives at stake, this one's a page turner!


The Faith Element:
As with every Connilyn Cossette book I've read, this title did not fail to bring me to the throne room in worship of our great and amazing God. To see His faithfulness and guidance woven through the fabric of history, even when man is so faithless, brings me to tears and makes me want to serve Him better.

The Author's Trademarks:
Vivid imagery, research of ancient history, impossible odds and strong attraction between romantic leads, life-threatening stakes, worshipful portrayal of God as omnipotent and yet loving.


The Overall Impression:
I'm always awed by Conni's books. They not only send me on a thrilling, taste-and-see journey with characters I love, the lessons they portray drive me to my knees with longing to become closer to the One who made change and repentance possible.


The More Factor:
More! Yes, please, lots more!

Check out the book's Pinterest board, then come back here and chat about the book! :)







Comment Fodder:
If you've read any of Conni's books, which are your favorite characters?
What is your favorite Bible story?
Of the ancient times, which eras/world kingdoms are your favorite to read about?



*I received a copy of this book from the publisher free of charge. My review is voluntary and the opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Hearts Entwined by Karen Witemeyer, Melissa Jagears, Mary Connealy, and Regina Jennings #Reviewed


From the back cover:
Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor. In Karen Witemeyer's "The Love Knot," Claire Nevin gets the surprise of her life awaiting her sister's arrival by train. Mary Connealy's "The Tangled Ties That Bind" offers the story of two former best friends who are reunited while escaping a stampede. Regina Jennings offers "Bound and Determined," where a most unusual trip across barren Oklahoma plains is filled with adventure, romance, and . . . camels? And Melissa Jagears' "Tied and True" entertains with a tale of two hearts from different social classes who become entwined at a cotton thread factory.
Each tale is a fun blend of history and romance that will delight readers.

My favorite moments & lines:

The Love Knot
"You ARE my future, Claire. Nothing is more important to me than you."
Ah! That line! And another moment that stole my heart is later in the book when Peter's sings a low lullaby to a baby. I loved learning about Peter and Claire's history together and where they hailed from.

The Tangled Ties that Bind
Starting the story with the characters up a tree--literally! Mary Connealy is a comedy genius. There's nothing like getting reacquainted with an old crush hovering over the deadly horns of a mama buffalo. This scene came to life for me, calling up memories of a trip I took to Wyoming where I saw a buffalo napping beside a picnic table. The giant beast made the table look like doll house furniture.

Bound and Determined
If you've seen the movie HAWMPS! you will love this gem. Laughed myself to tears in the third chapter.  I thought, "Oh no she didn't just go there,” but yes, indeed, she did.

Tied and True
“Don’t shove away a lifetime of blessing because you fear trials. You’ll have them no matter what you do.” This story began with some beautiful, poignant moments and had me glued all the way through the ending.


My Overall Impression:
Loved this collection and would recommend to anyone who loves clean historical romance with a side of laughter. I sighed at the many sweet scenes interwoven with comedy and heart-tugging moments. Can't wait to read more from all these authors!


Comment Fodder:
Are any of these authors new to you?
Have you had any experience with camels or buffalo or other wild critters?
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher free of charge. My review is voluntary and the opinions expressed are my own.