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.


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)


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)


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.