Wednesday, November 15, 2017

To Wager Her Heart

Book description:  "Can a railroad man and a Southern Belle turned teacher find a way to work together to achieve their dreams in the new reality of the post-Civil War South?
Sylas Rutledge, former gambler and new owner of the East Line Railway, invests everything he has into this venture, partly to see if he can do it—but mostly to avenge his father. One man holds the key to the railway’s success—General William Giles Harding of Nashville’s Belle Meade Plantation. But Harding is champagne and thoroughbreds, and Sylas Rutledge is beer and bullocks. Sy needs someone to help him maneuver in high society, and when he meets Alexandra Donelson, he quickly decides he’s found his tutor.
Spurning her family’s wishes that she marry, Alexandra Donelson is pursuing her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first freedmen’s university in the United States. But her family does not approve, and ultimately, her father expels her from the family home and cuts her off completely.
Through her friendship with Mary Harding, Alexandra is thrown together with both General Harding and Sylas Rutledge. And she soon finds herself falling in love with a man whose roguish qualities and adventuresome spirit smack more of recklessness than responsibility.
Sylas Rutledge will risk everything to win the hand of the woman he loves. What he doesn’t count on is having to wager her heart to do it.
Set at Nashville’s historic Belle Meade Plantation, To Wager Her Heart is a sweeping Southern love story about a nation mending after war, the struggle to move a country forward, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves for who they truly are—and can be—with each other."
My review: While this wasn't my favorite book in this series, it was still very good! I love to read historical fiction especially when the author researches carefully and includes plenty of historical detail. Tamera Alexander is one of those authors. She carefully weaves her story around her historical detail, and the end result is fascinating story that you don't want to put down. I really enjoyed being introduced to Fisk University and the Jubilee Singers. The romance in this particular book is not as prominent in the story line as most books by this author. However, the lives of Alexandra and Sylas pull you into their story in such way that you don't really miss the romance. I have loved this series, A Belle Meade Plantation, and hate to see the series end. I do look forward to whatever Tamera Alexander writes next. I received copy of this book from the publisher through the Booklook Blogger program. All opinons are my own.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cherished Mercy

Book description:  "Mercy Flanagan survived the Whitman Massacre as a child, and now her heart's cry is for peace between the native peoples and the white settlers inhabiting Oregon Territory. Unfortunately, most of the settlers want the tribes removed from the land completely, one way or another. 

At the request of family friend Eletta Browning, who is experiencing a difficult pregnancy, Mercy travels south to the Rogue River Valley to help. At the Browning Mission, she meets Eletta's brother-in-law, Adam. Despite her attempts to befriend him, Adam seems determined to focus on ministering to the local tribes and keeps her at arm's length. Why is he so intent on pushing her away?

When tragedy strikes and tensions in the territory reach the combustion point, Mercy is pushed to the limit of her strength. She and Adam will have to rely on their faith in God and on each other in order to make it out alive."

My review:  What a difficult time period and topic to write about! But Tracie Peterson has done a wonderful job on this book. This is the third and final book in the Heart of the Frontier series. Unfortunately I have not read the first book, but if it is anything like books two and three in this series, it is a book I need to read! This book focuses on Mercy, the youngest of the Flanagan sisters. This is not necessarily a feel good book that you finish and forget as soon as you pick up your next book. This story and the tragedy yet hope will stay with you long after you finish the last page. The characters are human living during a difficult time in our history, and they show it in their feelings and actions. But, they know the Truth and the gospel is clearly lived and preached throughout the story.  I especially appreciate that about Tracie Peterson's books. She never shies away from presenting Biblical truths clearly without watering it down. I received a copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Bringing Maggie Home

Book description:  "Hazel DeFord is a woman haunted by her past. While berry picking in a blackberry thicket in 1943, ten-year old Hazel momentarily turns her back on her three-year old sister Maggie and the young girl disappears.

Almost seventy years later, the mystery remains unsolved and the secret guilt Hazel carries has alienated her from her daughter Diane, who can’t understand her mother’s overprotectiveness and near paranoia. While Diane resents her mother’s inexplicable eccentricities, her daughter Meghan—a cold case agent—cherishes her grandmother’s lavish attention and affection.

When a traffic accident forces Meghan to take a six-week leave-of-absence to recover, all three generations of DeFord women find themselves unexpectedly under the same roof. Meghan knows she will have to act as a mediator between the two headstrong and contentious women. But when they uncover Hazel’s painful secret, will Meghan also be able to use her investigative prowess to solve the family mystery and help both women recover all that’s been lost?"

My review:  This story really intrigued me when I read the description. To set the story in the 1940's at the beginning and span 70 years and try and solve a cold case had me wondering how that could even be done. The flashbacks were helpful and fit into the story quite appropriately. The story as it unfolded was logical and kept me turning pages to see how the next event could take us closer to the resolution of the mystery. A thread of faith and hope is consistently present. I only felt that the resolution was tied up too quickly. A lot of time was spent getting to that point, but the actual investigation took a very short amount of time. It was disappointing to have everything wrapped up so quickly in the end. Even though I would have liked more time spent on the actual mystery, this was still a wonderful book. I look forward to more books by this author. I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Beneath Copper Falls

Book description:  "Dana has already learned that love isn’t safe . . . but could it be different in Rock Harbor?
As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancĂ© to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful.
But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted."
My review: I don't think Colleen Coble is even capable of writing a bad book! This is another Rock Harbor book that you don't want to miss. There is just the right amount of suspense and intrigue. I wasn't able to figure out the killer until the very end, which I like. The romance is not overdone and compliments the story line exceptionally well. Catching up with characters from past novels is like catching with family especially in this series. Mrs. Coble tackled some difficult topics in this book. They were handled in a sensitive and tactful way. Overall this is just a great book! I received of copy of this  book from the publisher and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Gathering the Threads

Book description:  "Finally back in the Old Order Amish world she loves,
Will Ariana’s new perspectives draw her family closer together—
or completely rip them apart?

After months away in the Englisch world, Ariana Brenneman is overjoyed to be in the Old Order Amish home where she was raised. Yet her excitement is mixed with an unexpected apprehension as she reconciles all she’s learned from her biological parents with the uncompromising teachings of her Plain community. Although her childhood friend, ex-Amish Quill Schlabach, hopes to help her navigate her new role amongst her people, Ariana’s Daed doesn’t understand why his sweet daughter is suddenly questioning his authority. What will happen if she sows seeds of unrest and rebellion in the entire family?  

Meanwhile, Skylar Nash has finally found her place among the large Brenneman family, but Ariana’s arrival threatens to unravel Skylar’s new identity—and her sobriety. Both Ariana and Skylar must discover the true cords that bind a family and community together and grasp tight the One who holds their authentic identities close to His heart."

My review:   I was so excited to finally read the final installment of this series, The Amish of Summer Grove. I was certainly not disappointed, and was pleasantly surprised with the plot. While it did end the way the reader would expect, the path you take to get to the ending was not what I expected, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The characters became like family and it was fun to see them develop through the story. Gathering the Threads challenges the reader to examine the reasons behind the convictions you have. Definitely a thought provoking book. If you have not read the first two books in this series, I would recommend reading them first. Some series you can jump into in the middle, but in my opinion this series needs to be read in order. I have enjoyed all three and hate to see the series come to a close. I received a copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Beloved Hope

Book description:  " Flanagan survived the massacre at the Whitman Mission, but at terrible personal cost. Safe now in Oregon City, the gentle rhythm of tending her family's flock of sheep is slowly healing her mind and soul, but her precarious new peace is shattered when Hope is asked to testify against the Cayuse responsible for the massacre. She's not sure she can bear to relive the events of those horrific days, but neither can she risk her attackers being released if she doesn't tell her story.

As Hope struggles to make her choice, an Army lieutenant named Lance Kenner becomes an unexpected ray of light in her life. Perhaps she is still capable of love after all. But will Lance still want her if he learns the whole truth of what happened to her at the mission? Or are the secrets that lie in his own past more troubling?"
My review:  Tracie Peterson tackled some difficult issues in this book and did an outstanding job handling these issues. Hope's journey would have been challenging to write, but Mrs. Peterson was able to develop Hope's character as well as the story in a realistic way. I especially appreciated the historical references and how well actual events were able to be included in the story line. I think those references really helped the story come alive. Beloved Hope will invoke a myriad of feelings in the reader and cause some self introspection. This is a great read that I highly recommend! I received a copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Sweetbriar Cottage

Book description:  " Noah and Josephine Mitchell discover their divorce was never actually finalized, their lives are turned upside down.
Following his divorce, Noah gave up his dream job, settling at a remote horse ranch in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northern Georgia, putting much-needed distance between himself and the former love of his life. But then Noah gets a letter from the IRS claiming he and Josephine are still married. When he confronts Josephine for the first time in months, they discover that she missed the final step in filing the paperwork and they are, in fact, still married.
Josephine is no happier about the news than Noah. Maybe the failed marriage—and okay, the botched divorce—was her fault, but her heart was shattered right alongside his, more than he would ever believe. The sooner they put this marriage behind them, the better for both of their sakes.
But when Josephine delivers the final paperwork to his ranch, the two become stranded in his cottage during the worst spring snowstorm in a decade. Being trapped with Josephine is a test of Noah’s endurance. He wrestles with resentment and an unmistakable pull to his wife—still beautiful, still brave, and still more intriguing than any woman he’s ever known.
As they find themselves confronted with each other and their shared past, old wounds surface and tempers flare. But when they are forced out into the storm, they must rely on each other in a way they never have before. Josephine finally opens up about her tragic past, and Noah realizes she’s never been loved unconditionally by anyone—including him. Will Noah accept the challenge to pursue Josephine’s heart? And can she finally find the courage to trust Noah?"
My review:  While the book description gives the impression that at least part of the plot is fun and light-hearted, it really is the absolute opposite. There are definitely some light-hearted and funny moments, but the author, Denise Hunter, delves into some very difficult subjects. The story unfolds carefully, and I appreciated the "flashbacks" that gave a lot of the back story. It would take much more than one book to really unpack the depth and gravity some of these topics contain, but for the amount of space she had in one book, Denise Hunter handled it very well. Some of the circumstances that Noah and Josephine found themselves in were a bit unrealistic, at least with all of them put together in just a few short days. But this is a work of fiction after all, so that is to be expected to some degree anyway. I really enjoyed this book and wish that it wasn't a stand-alone novel so that I could read more about Noah and Josephine. I received a copy of this book from the publisher through the Booklook Blogger Program. All opinions are my own.