Friday, May 15, 2020

At Love's Command by Karen Witemeyer #BookReview

https://karenwitemeyer.com/book-at-loves-command.html

Book Description:

Haunted by the horrors of war, ex-cavalry officer Matthew Hanger leads a band of mercenaries known as Hanger's Horsemen who have become legends in 1890s Texas. They defend the innocent and obtain justice for the oppressed. But when a rustler's bullet leaves one of them at death's door, they're the ones in need of saving.

Dr. Josephine Burkett is used to men taking one look at her skirts and discounting her medical skills. What she's not used to is having a man change his mind in a heartbeat and offer to assist her in surgery. Matthew Hanger's dedication to his friend during recovery earns Josephine's respect, and when she hears of her brother's abduction, he becomes her only hope for rescue.

Matt has stared down ruthless outlaws, betrayal, and injury, but when a bossy lady doctor crawls under his skin, his heart is tempted to surrender. And when she is caught in the crossfire, he may have to sacrifice everything—even his team—to save her.


My Thoughts:
I grew up watching westerns and frontier movies like McClintock!, Rio Bravo, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Escape from Fort Bravo, Unconquered, The Searchers, The Proud Rebel, and Red River. In At Love’s Command, Karen revives the world of 1800s Texas, full of outlaws, cavalrymen, and heroes and heroines with backbone. Reading this story took me back into that western story arena I love.

The Characters:
Matthew’s character lived through a heartbreaking childhood and the Battle of Wounded Knee, both of which formed him into the compassionate-but-aloof, take-charge character he is. Josephine has attained her dream of becoming a doctor but, at 28, is an “old maid” by the society standards of her time. I related a lot to her desire for a family and wondering what the future holds. Karen creates a fun brotherhood between Matthew, Mark, Luke (“Preach”), and Jonah. Watching them interact on the page brought back fun memories of watching "compadre" westerns like The Sons of Katie Elder, High Chaparral, Open Range, and El Dorado.

The Romance:
With Matthew’s tough background, he’s reluctant to allow anyone close—anyone but his “brothers,” who survived battle alongside him. But when he finally admits he’s not getting Josephine off his mind anytime soon, he woos her with a gentle, honest pursuit. I love to see this in stories. Ladies admire men who have the tenacity to initiate a conversation, a friendship, then a relationship. Even if a couple finds they aren’t suited, a true lady will admire his courage to be intentional in finding out if they are a match. This is one trait that makes Matthew a heart-melting, stand-out storybook hero. But their relationship isn’t without its struggle. Josephine has reservations about involving herself with a man who makes his living with his guns. She’s dedicated her life to making the sick and injured well. There’s also the little matter of her brother, whose circumstances of being kidnapped by outlaws endanger Josephine and Matthew and everyone they love.

Pacing/Stakes:
In the beginning, we’re concerned about Matthew’s gunshot friend, then the romance develops rather quickly between Josephine and Matthew. They are both adults past the normal marrying age, and with Matthew being in a line of work where time isn’t guaranteed, once he opens up to the idea of a woman in his life, he wastes no time making his interest known. Emotional and romantic development make up the second quarter of the book, but the pages still turn fast all the way through until the ending. Action-wise, the story starts off with a bang, then really picks up again around the midpoint.  

Spiritual Thread:
The characters struggle between keeping a tight rein on their circumstances or surrendering control to God. A theme that echoes in the heart of every Christian.

Celebrity Comparisons:
Matthew, I envisioned as a bearded Eion Bailey. Josephine, a no-makeup Evangeline Lily. You can see Karen’s own photo inspiration (hers are great, too!) for the couple in this post from her Posse Facebook page.




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

What are some of your favorite westerns?

Have you seen all the western movies mentioned in this post?

What are some more Christian historical romances that remind you of great western movies?

Friday, May 1, 2020

May 2020 Releases in Christian Fiction from #ACFW

May 2020 New Releases

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

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

Children’s:


The Edge of Everywhen by A.S. Mackey -- Begin with an ancient, mysterious, self-aware book. Add two heartbroken children, reeling from the loss of their mother. Mix in a cantankerous aunt, dreams that see the future, and a father trying to make his way home and you get "The Edge of Everywhen," a captivating tale of loss, hope, revelation, and unexplained mystery. "The Edge of Everywhen" is a book-lover’s book, a story of intrigue in which two children embark upon a life-changing journey of faith. (Middle Grade from B & H Publishing)

Contemporary Romance:


A Mother's Homecoming by Lisa Carter -- Charmed by the two-year-old twins in her toddler tumbling class, Maggie Arledge is shocked to learn they’re the children she gave up for adoption. And when Bridger Hollingsworth—the uncle caring for the boys—needs an emergency nanny, she fits the bill. But with sparks flying between her and Bridger, can she let herself get attached…and risk exposing secrets from her past? (Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])



Love is in the Air by Tanya Eavenson, Candee Fick, Kathleen Friesen, Laura V. Hilton, and Kathleen Rouser -- This collection of five brand new Christian romances is sure to send your heart soaring. Journey from Canada to Georgia and Colorado to Paris by way of Michigan as these couples find love is in the air. All they had to do was look up. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)



The Trouble With Love by Toni Shiloh -- I, Holiday Brown, have it all. A platinum record. Multi-million dollar home in Manhattan that I share with my two best friends. Life is looking fantastic until my roommate’s brother decides to bunk in our guestroom while his house gets renovated. W. Emmett Bell has always been the bane of my existence. He’s annoying, stubborn, a know it all, and just might be the most gorgeous man I’ve ever laid eyes on. But I refuse to fall for him. But when his sister’s threatened by a stalker, dynamics change. His unwavering faith isn’t quite as self-righteous as I’d always thought, and maybe he has a good side I’ve overlooked all these years. Or maybe it’s all too much trouble. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)



Hadley Beckett's Next Dish by Bethany Turner -- Hadley Beckett became the star of the Culinary Channel following hot-tempered celebrity chef Max Cavanagh's public fall from grace. But when Max returns, career in shambles, his only chance for redemption is to work alongside the beloved host of "At Home with Hadley." Will these two polar opposites burn down the kitchen---or fall in love? (Contemporary Romance from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)



Stay with Me by Becky Wade -- When acclaimed Bible study author Genevieve Woodward receives an anonymous letter referencing her parents’ past, she returns to her hometown in the Blue Ridge mountains to chase down her family’s secret. However, it’s Genevieve’s own secret that catches up to her when Sam Turner, owner of an historic farm, uncovers the source of shame she’s worked so hard to hide. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

General:


Within Golden Bands by Norma Gail -- Newly married Bonny MacDonell finds the transition from American college professor to Scottish sheep farmer’s wife more difficult than she expected. When her miracle pregnancy ends in a devastating miscarriage, she fears her husband's reaction will hurt more than the loss of their child. But Kieran never shows up at the hospital. When found, he is beaten and unconscious. The only memory of his attacker is the words, “Get off my land.” Reeling from the threat to her husband and the loss of their child, Bonny struggles to hold her marriage together. When faith in love is not enough, where do you turn? (Contemporary, Independently Published)



The Society of Second Chances by Deborah Raney -- The Society of Second Chances faces a real challenge, as they try to uncover a way to help Harmoni Branaham—a young woman just released from prison. (Women's Fiction from Guideposts Publications)



Unveiling the Past by Kim Vogel Sawyer -- Newlywed cold-case detectives Sean Eagle and Meghan DeFord struggle between past wounds and their desire for a family when one of them takes on a case involving parental abandonment. (Women's Fiction from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

Historical:


Moondrop Miracle by Jennifer Lamont Leo -- Chicago, 1928. Pampered socialite Connie Shepherd lives the kind of glossy life other women read about in the society pages. Engaged to a handsome financier, she spends her days and nights in a dizzying social round. When eccentric Aunt Pearl, an amateur chemist, offers her an unusual wedding present—the formula for a home-brewed skin tonic—Connie laughs it off. But when the Great Depression flings her privileged world into chaos and rocks her marriage to the core, will Aunt Pearl's strange gift provide the key to survival for Connie and her baby? (Historical from Mountain Majesty Media)



Tranquility Point by Pamela S. Meyers -- Hannah’s life couldn’t be sweeter—a marriage proposal and law school. Then the Great War intrudes and everything sours. (Historical from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Historical Romance:


A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy -- A driven entomologist travels to India in an attempt to win a coveted scholarship and save her late father's scientific journal. But in this enchanting land, she discovers that there are some things more important than success. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])



Rocky Mountain Redemption by Lisa J. Flickinger -- Fleeing a broken engagement, Isabelle Franklin joins her aunt to feed a camp of lumberjacks in the Rocky Mountains. She doesn’t expect to fall for camp foreman Charles Bailey, nicknamed “Preach,” who is struggling between his hard past and his newfound faith. When the ghosts from her past return to haunt her, the choices she will make change the course of her life forever—and that of the man she's come to love. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)



Pretending to Wed by Melissa Jagears -- It’s a match made in heaven…as long as they don’t fall in love! The ranch Nolan Key has spent decades working for, even lost a leg for, is now his—or at least it should be. But an absurd clause in his father’s will means he’s in danger of losing the place to his lazy, undeserving cousin. Nolan finds himself scrambling to save his home—by proposing marriage to the town laundress. Corinne Stillwater’s hands have betrayed her. Numb from hours of doing the same work over and over, her hands will only heal, according to the town doctor, if she gives up the laundry and marries. But she’s been stung repeatedly by love before, so that is one remedy she can’t swallow. When Nolan offers Corinne a marriage in name only, how can she refuse? Such a partnership could give them the security they seek, but what if the ranch isn't as secure as they believe, and their lives—and dreams—aren't quite as compatible as they thought? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)



The Sinner in Mississippi by D.L. Lane -- The story of Mississippi Singletary, born to a fearful mother and an abusive father in a rundown shack outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Historical Romance from By Faith Publishing)



The Mechanic & The MD by Linda Shenton Matchett -- Woman mechanic Doris Strealer has a hard time finding love until she joins the Red Cross Motor Corps and comes face to face with her past in the form of Van Toppel, an old classmate. On the brink of a successful career as a surgeon, Van's plans crumble when he’s drafted and assigned to an evacuation hospital in England, the last place he expects to run into a former schoolmate. The gangly tomboy who was four years behind him in high school has transformed into a statuesque beauty, but a broken engagement in college leaves him with no desire to risk his heart ever again. Will the hazards of war make or break a romance between this unlikely couple? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)



Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey by Abigail Wilson -- In this new Regency romance, Elizabeth knows she must protect her heart from the charm of her new husband, Lord Torrington. She is not, however, prepared to protect her life. (Historical Mystery from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:


Standoff (Natchez Trace Park Rangers) by Patricia Bradley -- The Natchez Trace National Parkway stretches 444 miles from Nashville to Natchez, the oldest town on the Mississippi River. It's the perfect road for a relaxed pleasure drive. Unfortunately for park ranger Luke Fereday, lately it's being used to move drugs. Sent to Natchez to infiltrate the organization at the center of the drug ring, Luke arrives too late to a stakeout and discovers the body of his friend, park ranger John Danvers. John's daughter Brooke is determined to investigate her father's murder, but things are more complicated than they first appear, and Brooke soon finds herself the target of a killer who will do anything to silence her. Luke will have his hands full keeping her safe. But who's going to keep him safe when he realizes he's falling--hard--for the daughter of the man he failed to save? (Romantic Suspense from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing Group)



Untraceable Evidence by Sharee Stover -- Someone’s after a deadly weapon…and only she can stop them. It’s undercover ATF agent Randee Jareau’s job to make sure the government’s 3-D printed “ghost gun” doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. So when someone goes after scientist Ace Steele, she must protect him…before she loses the undetectable weapon and its creator. But with a mole inside Ace’s company and everyone a suspect, this assignment could become Randee’s last. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Medieval Fantasy:


The Story Hunter by Lindsay A. Franklin -- In this epic conclusion to The Weaver Trilogy, Tanwen and the Corsyth weavers must rescue the queen and rid Tir of the Master once and for all, but the success of their hunt depends upon an ally no one trusts, and the fate of the kingdom rests in the hands of a volatile, shattered girl. (Medieval Fantasy from Enclave Publishing)

Suspense:


Purgatory, A Progeny's Quest by T. M. Brown -- A teenage girl arrives in Shiloh seeking to reconnect with her estranged mother, the only remaining family member she has ever known, only to learn she too has died, but she learns of family she never knew about. All the while a limo with a dark past arrives in town along with unwanted interest by a stranger that puts lives at risk. (Thriller from Southern Fried Karma LLC/Hearthstone Press)

Young Adult:


You're Brilliant by Julie Arduini -- Amazing things happen when a group of high school students and women discover they are more than competent. (Young Adult from Surrendered Scribe Media)





Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Lost Down Deep by Sara Davidson, Romantic Suspense
Son of Mary by R.S. Ingermanson, Biblical
Then There Was You by D. L. Lane, Romantic Suspense
Love's Silver Bullet by Julie Lessman, Historical Romance
Tug of War by Brenda C. Poulos, Thriller/Suspense
The Scholar's Quest: The Way by Brad Rucker, Adventure
Illusions by Jennifer Sienes, General Contemporary
The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch, Historical Romance
A Beautiful Arrangement by Beth Wiseman, Amish Romance