31 October 2012

Review: Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite by Lianne Simon

That wasn't the title you were expecting on a Christian book review site, was it? 

Jamie is born with a rare genetic disorder that means she has one ovary, one testis, short stature and a pixie face that defies gender. Despite being raised as a boy, Jamie wants to be a mother, a princess. What follows is Jamie’s journey, set in Florida in 1970, with the backdrop of the Vietnam War. 

The story is told in the first person. Jamie's voice is honest and engaging, but gets more distant at times as she sometimes speaks of herself in the third person. It is as though there are two personalities: Jameson, the son her parents want her to be, and Jamie, the girl hidden underneath the self-made 'rules' that define Jameson and 'his' behaviour.

When the author emailed me asking if I would like to review this book, I was intrigued. This is a real medical issue that challenges our understanding of a perfect creator God, yet it is written by a Christian who has worked extensively with intersex people and their families, and has a strong Christian message. Jamie’s central dilemma is whether she should honour her earthly father by becoming the son he wants, or whether she should honour her heavenly father by becoming the person she was created to be. That’s not a choice any Christian child should have to make.

The novel isn't perfect. It takes a while to work out who is who, and to understand Jamie/Jameson's first person/third person references. There are some inconsistencies in the characters (e.g. the two-year-old Alicia was very articulate for her age, and cousin Kaylah had a lot of responsibility, considering she was only a few years older than Jamie) and a few places where, in hindsight, plot points could have been better explained. But we are in the mind of a seventeen-year-old girl with serious gender issues that most of us will never comprehend, not a recipe for continuous coherent thinking, so in a strange way, some of the inconsistencies added character and believability to the story.  

As I was reflecting on Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite, I was thinking that those readers of the prevalent Amish fiction might not like this book, because it uses medical terms and discusses some issues that might well be outside the comfort zone of the average reader of Amish or bonnet Christian fiction. But then it occurred to me that much of the Amish fiction is centred around a girl in her late teens who is having to make a decision about her identity that will affect her for the rest of her life (will she accept the faith of her upbringing and be baptised Amish?), which is not dissimilar from Confessions.

The writing is excellent, the dialogue realistic and the character of Jamie immediately likeable, even when we don't understand him/her. As well as the gender issues, the story touches on the historic double-standard of permissible sexual behaviour in young men and women. Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphroditeis one of those books that stays in the mind long after reading the final page, because the plot is so original and the character so memorable. Recommended for those who are prepared to be stretched in their thinking.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Lianne Simon at her website.

29 October 2012

Review: A New Resolution by Rose Dee

Anika Demeur has always been determined to escape the curse of teenage pregnancy and solo parenthood, but still finds she is repeating her mother’s mistakes. Together with her son, Kye, she accepts a job on Resolution Island on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Life is good, until a letter—and the arrival of a rich Texan—threaten everything. Nate is on a mission to fulfill his mother’s last wish. But he didn’t anticipate that keeping this promise would mean getting involved in illegal fishing, a murder—and an unexpected attraction to an exasperating woman who doesn’t want anything to do with him.

Now, there is a small chance I’m biased here (because I worked with Rose Dee on the editing), but I really enjoyed A New Resolution. The characters are strong, the plot interesting, and I especially like the way the Christian elements were integrated into the story, in a way that felt quite realistic, without preaching or moralising.

I also enjoyed the developing relationship between Ani and Nate, the way the attraction was developed into a friendly relationship before either of them acknowledged that there might be something more than mere attraction. And the first kiss was great.

In real life, things aren’t always perfect and people are a little rough around the edges, and A New Resolution reflects the Australian spirit well. It is an enjoyable and original novel, with a unique and beautiful setting. A New Resolution is the final book in the Resolution trilogy, following Back to Resolution and Beyond Resolution. However, it can easily be read as a stand-alone novel. Recommended.

Thanks to Rose Dee and Even Before Publishing for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Rose Dee at her website.

26 October 2012

Review: Twice a Bride by Mona Hodgson

Willow Peterson has finally recovered from the death of her husband, and finds a job as a portrait painter in the studio of Trenton Van Der Veer in Cripple Creek, Colorado. Trenton is still single, his previous relationship with Susanna not having ended well and leaving him distrustful where women are concerned. Well, having an employee who he thinks is married turn out to be single is really going to help that. Meanwhile, Susanna is on her way to Cripple Creek to reunite with Trenton, then move to New York with him (not that he is privy to this plan).

As the fourth book in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek series, Twice a Bride obviously expands on the characters in the previous books. This makes it a little hard to get in to, and I suspect it would be best read as part of the series rather than on its own. As well as Willow, Trenton and Susanna, there are four Sinclair sisters: Nell, Kat, Vivian and Ida, along with their respective husbands and children as well as assorted friends and neighbours. It’s a lot of names and relationships to keep straight.

The author does a good job of adding enough backstory to make the plot understandable, but not so much that it gets bogged down. What does slow the book down is the sub-plots around the minor characters, which distract from the main plot. They are all fully-developed characters (which is excellent), but the effect is like having walked into a party or a church where you don’t know anyone, yet everyone else does know every other person and has done for years. It’s confusing and uncomfortable. An enjoyable story, but best read as part of the series.

Thanks to WaterBrook Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Mona Hodgson her website.

24 October 2012

Review: Every Breath You Take by MK Gilroy

Every Breath You Take is the second book in this series featuring Chicago Police Detective Kristen Connor. This time the victim is Jack Durham, a rich second son who spends his time living off a trust fund and ‘dating’ high-class call girls because he’s too lazy to find a real date. The evidence points his murderer being one of the call girls, one of several from the agency he and his friends always use. But the police need evidence, so Kristen goes on an undercover date with ones of Jack's friends. This means she has to work with the don’t-call-her-a-madam, who has the unenviable task of getting Kristen to wear flattering clothes and makeup.

Every Breath You Take works well as a stand-alone, even though it is part of a series and there are some ongoing subplots that span the books, including Kristen’s possible stalker, her relationship with FBI Agent Austin Reynolds and her quest to find who was responsible for the death of her father. There are also a few appearances from Kristen’s sisters, and she continues to coach her niece’s soccer team, which adds a nice element.

There is a lot of information that shows Gilroy has done his research on topics like hand-to-hand fighting and firearm usage, and it certainly tells us a lot about how detail-minded the heroine is. But sometimes it does feel like it's too much. It feels foreign and (dare I say it) a bit too masculine.

In a way, Every Breath You Take reminds me of Castle and Beckett, except there’s no handsome writer working with Connor (and these books are a lot better written than "Richard Castle's" ghostwritten Nikki Heat novels). There are also hints of Diary of a Call Girl (which I haven't read, but I’ve seen the adverts on TV), and I’m assuming this is accurate, but how would I know?

The early reviews quoted on Amazon suggest Every Breath You Take is even better than Cuts Like a Knife. Personally, I disagree. It’s a good mystery/thriller and will work well as part of a series, but I think the first book was stronger. I didn’t understand the motivation of one of the main characters in Every Breath You Take(to tell you who or why would be a spoiler) but I think that detracted from my enjoyment.

Thanks to WaterBrook and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about MK Gilroy at his website.

22 October 2012

Review: To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander

First Lieutenant Ridley Adam Cooper is a Southerner fighting for the North in the American Civil War, a past he has to hide when he obtains employment at Belle Meade, an estate owned by a Southern General that is famous for its horses. Ridley knows he will have to keep his past a secret, but he only plans on staying a short while before going west to start a new life.

Olivia Aberdeen is the widow of a traitor to the South, and has been shunned by most of the people she once called friends. She has moved to Belle Meade to take up a role as companion to the General’s ailing wife. But Olivia quickly finds that Belle Meade might not been the place of refuge she was hoping for, as the General takes her under his wing as a daughter – with the idea of arranging another marriage for her, even though she is still officially in mourning. But Olivia has secrets too.

I very much enjoyed To Whisper Her Name. The two main characters were likeable, which is always a good place to start! The story felt well-researched as it brought out various aspects of the period but without going into too much detail. The romance developed slowly and naturally, as Olivia and Ridley spend time together when he helps her with her work on the estate, and they become friends.

The one fault of To Whisper Her Name is that it finished too quickly. I don’t mean that it was too short, but that it simply finished and an epilogue was tacked on the end. It felt as though one or two final chapters were missing. The Christian aspects of the story are very understated, as the novel focusses more on the developing relationship between Olivia and Ridley and the attitudes of Southern society in the aftermath of the War Between the States. A historical romance that is well worth reading.

Thanks to and Netgalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Tamera Alexander at her website.  

19 October 2012

Review: All Things New by Lynn Austin

In the closing days of the American Civil War, the inhabitants of Richmond, Virginia, are packing up their belongings to flee for their lives in advance of the invading Yankee army. Josephine Weatherly of White Oak Plantation, aged 22, has lost her father, her brother, and her faith in God during the war. Her mother, Eugenia, has lost an entire way of life and must work out how to hold her home and family together in this new world. Lizzie was a slave the plantation who is now free, but has no idea what that means.

All Things New is written in the third person, alternating between the viewpoints of these three characters. I immediately liked Jo and Lizzie, but found Eugenia very annoying. She was naïve, expecting everything to return to how it was before the war, although I did come to admire the way she slowly began to think and act for herself, rather than relying on the old ways.

Josephine tries to look to a realistic future, not the dream future her mother imagines. She wants to learn some practical skills, like cooking and gardening, that will help them survive in a world without slaves, but has to fight her mother at every turn over her doing work that is ‘beneath her’. She meets a Northern soldier, a Quaker, who challenges her views on God, and faces danger as he challenges the racist views of her Southern neighbours. This was probably the best part of the story.

There is more than a little ingrained racism in Eugenia’s attitudes, and those of several of her friends, as well as in the young men who survived the war. Modern readers are likely to find these attitudes offensive. But that was the reality of life for her, all she had ever known. All Things New holds a challenge for interracial relations that is as valid and potentially as important now as it was in 1866, and addresses these issues well, without descending into cliché, crusading or preaching (although this is clearly a Christian novel).

Lynn Austin's previous Civil War series (Refiner's Fire)told the story of the War Between The States from the point of view of a Southern woman, a Northern woman and a slave, and the books were outstanding (if you haven't read them, then do. Two of the three won Christy Awards). All Things New was good, but not great. The writing was excellent, but was let down by too many characters, too many subplots and not enough romance. I thought the three points of view were almost trying to do too much: perhaps this would have been better as three separate books.

Thanks to Baker Publishing and Netgalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Lynn Austin at her website.

17 October 2012

Review: The Greenfield Legacy by Meredith Resce, Paula Vince, Amanda Deed and Rose Dee

Mattie’s life changed when her fiancé didn’t come back from Vietnam. She was forced to give up their baby daughter for adoption, and has never forgotten her, despite her marriage to (and divorce from) Doug, the birth of her second daughter, Connie, and her successful management of the family vineyard, the Greenfield Estate. But now she has been contacted by the daughter she gave up.

Connie has always resented her mother for breaking up their family, but neither her husband, Dennis, nor her daughter, Brooke, understand her drive to succeed. When her mother calls and asks her to visit, she resists but goes at the insistence of Dennis and Brooke. But when Connie arrives, she finds more than she expected.

Brooke is currently studying fashion design, and it looks like this will be the fourth course she drops out of. She jumps at the chance to visit Grandma Mattie and the Greenfield Estate—and to reconnect with Aiden, the boy she left behind. But will their history be too much to get over?

Navy is Annette’s daughter, but hasn’t seen her mother since she abandoned their family years ago. Now Annette is ill and has asked to see Navy again, to reconnect with her daughter. When Navy arrives, she meets the grandmother she never knew she had—and a new aunt and cousin who are not pleased to meet her.

Four women, with four very different backgrounds, all related in some way to Annette, and all struggling to understand what those relationships mean. Will they be able to move past their issues to restore broken relationships and find love? The Greenfield Legacy is a fascinating mix of relationships and romance, with an underlying Christian message, and its’ share of humour.

At first I thought The Greenfield Legacy was going to be a four-in-one novella collection, but it isn’t. It’s a single novel, with each of the four points of view written by a well-known Australian Christian fiction authors. I have to really congratulate them on how well the stories fit together – I was able to pick who wrote which bit (will you?), but if I hadn’t known, I would have thought it was all written by one person. Recommended.

Thanks to Even Before Publishing for hiring Christian Editing Services to proofread The Greenfield Legacy.

15 October 2012

Review: Double Blind by Brandilyn Collins

In the last three years, Lisa Newberry has suffered three miscarriages, lost her husband and been the victim of a mugging. She is suffering depression from all the losses, but her acceptance into a medical trial might be the answer. Cognoscenti's new Empowerment Chip is implanted directly into the brain, and claims to remove the trauma associated with emotional issues such as depression.

When she wakes from the surgery, Lisa is convinced she has received the real chip, not a placebo, because for the first time in months she can think of her husband without crying. But when she falls asleep after the operation, she has a horrible nightmare. She then starts seeing dark visions of death and murder even while she is awake and in the middle of a conversation… Is the chip malfunctioning, is Lisa crazy, or is there something more sinister behind the visions?

Brandilyn Collins knows how to get straight into the action, and Double Blind was a thriller from start to finish. The story is told in the first person by Lisa, and she is a strong narrator who immediately grabbed my attention. She is assisted by her mother, with whom she has always had a difficult relationship, and by her best friend, Sherry. The characters are all strong women, intelligent and likeable.

Behind the race to find out what the visions are and how she might be rid of them is a deeper theme of forgiveness, trusting God and understanding that he is there for us even in the midst of grief and depression. I thought the author brought this out very well, and the Christian aspects of the novel were well integrated into the overall story. Recommended.

Thanks to B&H books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can read more about Brandilyn Collins at her website.

12 October 2012

Review: Nowhere to Run by Amy Wallace

After her fiance, Patrick James, is attacked by a stalker, police officer Ashley Waters agrees to go into hiding in the small Amish town of Shipshewana, along with her friend, Margo, and dog, Chester. But there is danger on the way, and the stalker might have followed them…
I found Nowhere to Run slow to get going and difficult to get in to. It assumed that not only has the reader read Hiding in Plain Sight (the first book in the Place of Refuge series), but that I've read it recently and remember what happened.

Uh, no. I've probably read close to one hundred books since, and Hiding in Plain Sight was good, but it just wasn't that memorable (I would qualify that statement by saying that being memorable isn't always a good thing. I remember the best books I've read, but I'm equally likely to remember the worst).

Halfway through Nowhere to Run, I’d finally worked out who was who, but I was still finding it really hard to get interested in what was happening. Yes, Ashley’s in Shipshewana. The stalker has attacked her boyfriend. She reconnects with some characters from the first book. The stalker is after her…. then I did something I almost never do: I stopped reading.

I stopped at the 75% mark, right in the middle of all the ‘will-they, won’t-they’ suspense. Because I don’t know whether it’s the book or whether it’s me, but it just failed to grab my attention, to the point that I actually don’t care what happens to any of the characters. The writing was good, but not good enough to make up for characters I had no interest in. Sorry, but I really can’t recommend this one.

Thanks to Harvest House and Netgalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Amy Wallace at her website.

10 October 2012

Review: A Hobbit Devotional by Ed Strauss

I have no idea if Tolkien intended for The Hobbit to have quite so many biblical parallels, but he was a Christian and a very educated man, so it is entirely likely. Regardless, each of the sixty daily devotionals are well thought out, providing a brief quote from The Hobbit, followed by some information around the background to the quote, then the biblical principle that is being illustrated. As the devotional progresses, we move with Bilbo and the dwarves through their journey, facing the trials along with them.

Yes, A Hobbit Devotional is a bit of a gimmick, a cash-in on the upcoming movie release. No, A Hobbit Devotional is not the most theological of devotionals. It's a devotional, not a heavy Bible study. But, for what it is, it's good - readable, entertaining and thought-provoking, and suitable to be used with children of all ages. Recommended for Tolkien fans, or anyone who wants to consider the Christian background to the movies.

Thanks to Barbour and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

8 October 2012

Review: Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane

Abigail Durham is the owner of Doo Drop-In Hair Salon in the Midwest town of Rawston. When she meets a good-looking cowboy in a pub when attending a bachelorette party, she doesn’t realise she’s soon going to be seeing a lot more of Justin... and not in the best of circumstances.

The suspense builds steadily through the first section of the book, and it had that page-turning quality that keeps people up late at night. We suspect a tornado is coming because of the radio weather warnings at the beginning of each chapter (and the acknowledgements section, thanking people for their tornado experiences, was also a big clue). So, in part, this is the story of a disaster, but it’s also the story of a community.

The author does an excellent job of introducing a wide range of characters, from the elderly quilt shop owner to the teenage mother stuck in a loveless marriage, without it seeming like information overload. Each of the characters has their own story, but their lives are intertwined both before the tornado strikes, and after, as each of the characters is reminded that God is with us even in the midst of our troubles:

“Each of us is the center of our own quilt. Our lives are made up of bits and pieces, some good, some bad. And isn’t it amazing, how God, in all His infinite wisdom, can use even our mistakes and what we might consider chaos, to His glory?”

Beyond the Storm wasn’t perfect. One of the characters had a major change of heart towards the end, and I think this could have been better (although the fact that I was speed-reading to find out what happened could mean I missed something important there, which goes back to my comment about the suspense). The ending was a little weak (in my view, it would have been better without the last short scene). And my romantic side would have liked a little more of the romance subplot…

This is first book I have read by Carolyn Zane, and I have to say that I was impressed. Her characters were real, the storytelling was excellent, I liked the way she integrated the Christian faith into the plot… but what really impressed me was the way she described the tornado and its aftermath. I've seen the movie Twister, but the post-tornado scenes in Beyond the Storm are even more dramatic even though they are written. That was outstanding, and Beyond the Storm is worth reading for those chapters alone.

Thanks to Abingdon and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. For more information about Carolyn Zane, visit her website.

5 October 2012

Review: A Lady in the Making by Susan Page Davis

Millie Evans has decided to leave her wayward half-brother to his life of crime, and boards the stagecoach to Salt Lake City in search of an honest life. Much to her surprise, one of her fellow passengers is David Stone, who knew her as a thief named Charlotte Evans. Millie has been reading the Bible she stole from David, and how is a changed woman. But will David see that and learn to trust her?

Back in England, Merrileigh Stone has ambitions to be a Countess and the mother of an Earl. But for that to happen, David Stone will have to meet an unfortunate demise, and she hopes that this plan will be more successful than her last. She enlists the assistance of her gambling brother, Peregrin Walmore, to ‘assist’ her in achieving her ambition, and this adds an element of suspense to the plot.

I often read American contemporary fiction where one person chooses to ride 'shotgun': that is, in the front passenger seat, but the origin of the phrase was beyond me. A Lady in the Making solved the puzzle: a shotgun rider sat in the front seat of the stagecoach, to deter potential robbers and outlaws. See, you can learn something new reading Christian fiction!

A Lady in the Making is an enjoyable historical novel, but there were some negatives. I found there was a distinct lack of romantic tension, especially compared with some of Davis’ previous books (Frasier Island remains my personal favourite). There were a few annoying examples where the English characters used Americanisms in their speech (e.g. using fall instead of autumn), and I thought the ending was quite abrupt. Overall, this was a good story, but by no means the best Susan Page Davis has written.

A Lady in the Making is the third book in the Prairie Dreams series by Susan Page Davis, following The Lady's Maid and Lady Anne's Questt (both previously reviewed). Although part of a series, this can easily be read as a standalone novel, as the couples from the previous novels are only mentioned in passing.

Thanks to Barbour and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can read more about Susan Page Davis on her website.

3 October 2012

Review: A Texan's Choice by Shelley Gray

Rosemarie Cousins lives in a broken-down shack on the outskirts of the Texan town of Broken Promise. Her father has just died, outlaw Scout Proffitt has just arrived and announced that he won the house and ranch off her father in a game of cards, and her mother is moving in with her older (married) sister, leaving her homeless. Unless she can convince Scout to let her stay.

Miles Grant has taken over the running of the family ranch, having finally earned the respect of the hands. But trouble is coming his way: cattle rustlers. The sheriff decides that the only way to defeat the criminals is to call in the notorious Walton Gang, promising to expunge their criminal records if they can help. But to do the job, they need Scout Proffitt.

A Texan's Choice is a solid Christian historical romance. Each of the major characters is faced with a choice that has the potential to change the way they live. As this is Christian fiction, their decisions are perhaps a little unrealistic, but Gray manages to make them all seem logical and consistent with what we expect from the characters. The Christian message is clear but not preachy. My main issue was that there were three distinct subplots, and while they all connected in the end, the number of characters did become confusing at times.

This is the third book in Shelley Gray’s The Heart of a Hero series, following A Texan's Promise and A Texan's Honor (both of which I have reviewed). I think that this series is best read in order, as the main characters in A Texan's Choice featured prominently in the previous books. A nice historical romance.

Thanks to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for providing a free book for review. You can read more about Shelley Gray at her website.

1 October 2012

New Releases: October 2012

Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane (review coming)

After a tornado rips through her town, store owner Abigail comes across a piece of fabric from a wedding dress among the devastation. Abigail is moved to start collecting other swatches of fabric--her neighbor’s kitchen curtains, a man’s necktie, a dog’s bed. Horrible realities spark the question, “What kind of a God would allow such tragedy?” Abigail begins piecing together a patchwork quilt from the salvaged fabric in hopes it will bring some peace. But a new relationship with Justin, a contractor, may require too much of her fragile heart. Will her pain and questions of faith give way to the courage to love?

Queen of the Waves by Janice Thompson

When pampered Jacqueline Abington secretly elopes with the family gardener, she asks another woman to take her place on the much anticipated maiden voyage of the Titanic. Tessa Bowen hails from a poor corner of London but has been granted the opportunity of a lifetime—a ticket to sail to America aboard a famed vessel. But there’s a catch: she must assume Jacqueline’s identity. Tessa stays in luxurious quarters, dresses in elegant gowns, and dines with prestigious people. Then a wealthy American man takes an interest in her, and Tessa struggles to keep up the ruse. When tragedy strikes, two women’s lives are forever changed.

'Til Grits do Us Part by Jennifer Rogers Spinola (review coming)

Shiloh Jacobs is planning her wedding without family, without money, and without a clue—and trying to make a go of small-town Southern life. Until she stumbles on an unsolved case about a missing woman that makes her run in the opposite direction—right into the would-be killer’s web of plans. In the midst of sorting through her tragic past and strained relationships, Shiloh finds herself on the run from a madman—and hoping she can make it to her wedding alive.

Saving Gideon by Amy Lillard

Gideon Fisher wants one thing out of life -- to be left alone. He buys a farm on the outskirts of the district and pulls away from his community. But when a freak spring snowstorm brings a beautiful Englisher to his farm, what choice does Gideon have but to let her in? Dallas socialite Avery Ann Hamilton is intrigued by the Amish farmer who pulls her out of the snow and into his austere lifestyle. Avery soon discovers the Oklahoma Amish country is the perfect place to hide out and heal her broken heart.

Wisdom Tree by Mary Manners

After the death of his parents, Jake Samuels has enough on his plate—including a fledgling church to lead and a mischievous younger brother to raise. The last thing he needs is a rambunctious woman to contend with. Carin O'Malley is dealing with the death of her brother and a new job as an English teacher at East Ridge Middle School where Corey Samuels reigns as King of Chaos. The last thing she needs is to fall in love...especially with a handsome and complicated preacher like Corey’s brother Jake. But when Corey's antics toss Carin and Jake together, the two must draw from God’s wisdom to find refuge in His perfect plan.

Every Breath You Take by MK Gilroy (review coming)

A high-profile murder tied to an dating service has the Chicago news media buzzing. Who better to go undercover in the world of personal profiles and promising matches than an ace detective who is single and as attractive as she is tough? Detective Kristen Conner can't figure out her own dating life, but she is about to get a crash course on finding true love - or at least a Friday night date - and become the object of a killer's affections.

Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes

Cassandra Bainbridge has twice set aside her scholarly pursuits--once for the London Season and once for her wedding preparations. Love seems a wonderful alternative to study, until disaster strikes. When an accident brings an end to her betrothal, she heads for the country to recover from both her injuries and her broken heart. There she pursues her love for ballooning and envisions a future for herself as a daring aeronaut. But when her former fiancé slips back into her life, will she have to choose between him and her dream?

The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury

Molly Allen lives alone in Portland, but she left her heart back in Tennessee with a man she walked away from five years ago. They had a rare sort of love she hasn’t found since. Ryan Kelly lives in Nashville after a broken engagement and several years on the road touring with a country music duo. He can still hear Molly’s voice encouraging him to follow his dreams. At least he can visit The Bridge—the oldest bookstore in historic downtown Franklin—and remember the hours he and Molly once spent there. The Bridge is a love story set against the struggle of the American bookstore, a love story you will never forget.

Threads of Faith by Andrea Boeshaar

Julianna Wayland is running for her life! She hides in a crate on London’s dock, only to be loaded onto a ship bound for America. During the voyage she meets Captain Daniel Sundberg, and by the time they reach New York’s harbor, she is certain she’s in love with him. The only problem is, Daniel has plans for himself—plans that don’t include her. As Julianna struggles to find her way in a new world, will trouble from her past derail the life she is looking for?

Full Disclosure by Dee Henderson

Ann Silver is a cop's cop. As the Midwest Homicide Investigator, she is called in to help local law enforcement on the worst of cases, looking for answers to murder. Hers is one of the region's most trusted investigative positions. Paul Falcon is the FBI's top murder cop in the Midwest. Their lives intersect when Ann arrives to pass a case off her desk and onto his. A car wreck and a suspicious death offer a lead on a hired shooter he is tracking. Paul isn't expecting to meet someone, but Ann Silver has his attention.

All Things New by Lynn Austin (review coming)

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Josephine Weatherly and her mother, Eugenia, struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives. But the bitter realities of life after the war cannot be denied: their home and land are but shells of their previous grandeur; death has claimed her father and brother; and her remaining brother, Daniel, has returned home bitter and broken. And the God who failed to answer any of her prayers during the war is lost to her as well. Josephine soon realizes that life is now a matter of daily survival. Josephine's mother, too, vows to rebuild White Oak...but a bitter hatred fuels her.

His Love Endures Forever by Beth Wiseman

Danielle Kent is anything but Amish. But as destiny would have it, she has fallen in love with an Amish man. Now she’s 18, pregnant, and hopeful that the child’s Amish father—Matthew Lapp—will do the right thing and marry her. She knows Matthew plans to leave his Colorado settlement for a life in the Englisch world. But that plan never included a baby. When Matthew walks away from her and their unborn child, she has nowhere to turn. Her unlikely friendship with Levi offers some comfort—yet they have so little in common. This wasn’t the plan she had for her life, and she has never felt so alone.

To Whisper Her Name by Tamera Alexander (review coming)

Widow Olivia Aberdeen accepts an invitation from 'Aunt' Elizabeth Harding, mistress of Belle Meade Plantation and the dearest friend of Olivia's late mother. Expecting to be the Harding's housekeeper, Olivia is disillusioned once again when she learns the real reason why Elizabeth's husband, Confederate General William Giles Harding, agreed to her coming. Caring for an ill Aunt Elizabeth, Olivia is caught off guard by her feelings for Ridley Adam Cooper.Determined to learn 'the gift' that Belle Meade's head horse trainer, Bob Green, possesses, Ridley is a man desperate to end the war still raging inside him while harboring secrets that threaten his life.

River of Mercy by BJ Hoff

Bestselling author BJ Hoff's faithful fans will delight in the heartwarming conclusion to her acclaimed Riverhaven Years trilogy, following the success of the first two books in the series, Rachel's Secret and Where Grace Abides. In this third book, young Gideon Kanagy faces a life-changing challenge--and an unexpected romance with his young Amish friend, Emma Knepp. Gideon's sister, Rachel, and the "outsider" Jeremiah Gant add to the drama with their own dilemma and its repercussions for the entire community of Riverhaven.

When a Heart Stops by Lynette Eason

Spunky and outgoing, nothing much bothers medical examiner Serena Hopkins--except for the thought of falling in love again. But when a serial killer is picking off her former classmates, Serena's life becomes intertwined with her old high school crush, FBI agent Dominic Allen. Is the secret she's keeping putting her next on the killer's hit list? Can she trust Dominic with the truth before it's too late? Intense, emotional, and fast-paced, When a Heart Stops will have readers up late as they race to the finish to find out what happens.

The Trouble with Cowboys by Denise Hunter

Annie Wilkerson is Moose Creek’s premiere horse trainer and equine columnist for Montana Living. Money is tight, so when her column is cancelled, she’s given first shot at a new lovelorn column—and she can’t afford to turn it down. Only problem is . . . Annie’s never been in love. Always resourceful, she reluctantly strikes a deal with the town’s smooth-talking ladies’ man Dylan Taylor: She’ll work with his ailing horse, Braveheart, if he’ll help her answer the reader letters. Working closely with Dylan is harder than Annie imagined, and she quickly realizes she may have misjudged him.

A Wreath of Snow by Liz Curtis Higgs

All Margaret Campbell wants for Christmas is a safe journey home. When her plans for a festive holiday with her family in Stirling crumble beneath the weight of her brother’s bitterness, the young schoolteacher wants nothing more than to return to the students she loves and the town house she calls home. Then an unexpected detour places her in the path of Gordon Shaw. When the secret of their shared history is revealed, will it leave them tangled in a knot of regret? Or might their past hold the threads that will bind their future together?

A Love Surrendered by Julie Lessman

Orphaned in Iowa, Annie Kennedy moves to Boston to stay with her spinster aunt. She longs for romance to fill the void left by her parents' death. But when she falls hard for Steven O'Connor, the man who broke an engagement to her sister, Annie is worried. Will he break her heart too when he discovers who she really is? With heart-pounding romance, intense family drama, and emotional twists and turns, A Love Surrendered is everything Julie Lessman's many fans have been waiting for.

The Roman, the Twelve and the King by Jenny L Cote

In 1735 London, famous composer George Friedric Handel is passed over by the King of England for the most important musical post in the world. Little does Handel know that God has a far greater assignment - the writing of the most important piece of music of all time: Messiah. In order to fully inspire Handel, the Order of the Seven revisits the life of Christ, working behind the scenes from Jesus’ childhood to adulthood where he begins his ministry.  Follow Jesus’ disciples and once again visit the Roman family of Antonius, all of whom play a pivotal role in the events of the greatest story ever told.

Nowhere to Run by Amy Wallace (review coming)

What happens when the promise to protect and serve forces a police officer to do the unthinkable...? Police Officer Ashley Walters is being stalked. Her wedding plans are interrupted by an attack on her fiancé, and a detective is shot protecting her. Ashley is forced to flee for her own safety and the lives of those she loves. Ashley finds refuge in a Mennonite community in Shipshewana, Indiana. But even in a peaceful town among gentle people she cherishes, danger stalks. All she has left is faith. But when faith fails, what survives?

Double Blind by Brandilyn Collins (review coming)

Twenty-nine-year-old Lisa Newberry can barely make it through the day. Suddenly widowed and a survivor of a near-fatal attack, she is wracked with grief and despair. Then she hears of a medical trial for a tiny brain chip that emits electrical pulses to heal severe depression. At rope’s end, Lisa offers herself as a candidate. When she receives her letter of acceptance for the trial, Lisa is at first hopeful. But—brain surgery. Can she really go through with that? What if she receives only the placebo? What if something far worse goes wrong?

The 13th Day of Christmas

Marva Ferguson has a very personal Christmas tradition that happens every December 26. As an aging widow, the tradition means more to her now than it ever has. Her newest neighbor, nine-year-old Charlee, loves Christmas too. Then, on December 12, a mysterious note is delivered that promises twelve days of gifts and stories that will reveal the truth behind the beloved Christmas carol The Twelve Days of Christmas. Was there once a 13th day of Christmas? And if so, could its magic change or save a life? If Marva knows something about the letters from the Elves, she s not telling.

A Simple Autumn by Rosalind Lauer

Jonah King has no desire to leave his close-knit community. All his hopes and dreams lie in Lancaster County, and many of them revolve around his longtime love for Annie Stoltzfus. For years he’s been trying to get her to see what burns inside his heart, yet he remains all but invisible to her. Gabe King has been courting schoolteacher Emma Lapp for months, but she insists on keeping their relationship secret. Emma embraces her duty to set a good example for her pupils, but Gabe is still wild at heart, unwilling to cut his ties to the outside world. Two brothers must find the courage and faith to reconcile their heritage and their hearts.

To Far To Say Far Enough by Nancy Rue (third book in series)

Allison Chamberlain has done everything God required of her—but as He continues to nudge her, she is ready to say, “Enough!” Even with two Sacrament Houses open, the Sisters’ second hand clothing boutique making its debut, and the orphaned Desmond legally adopted, Allison Chamberlain receives the divine Nudge to Go another mile. Eventually responding with her usual reluctant obedience, she finds herself caring for a very young prostitute and facing the deepest roots of evil. Despite the adversaries who threaten those closest to her, Allison finds that she has not gone far enough until she conquers hate and learns to love as God does.

Home in Drayton Valley by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Fed up with the poor quality of life in 1880 New York, Tarsie Raines encourages her friends Joss and Mary Brubacher to move with their two children to Drayton Valley, Kansas, a booming town hailed in the guidebook as the land of opportunity. She offers to help with expenses and to care for Mary and the children as they travel west by wagon train. But when tragedy strikes on the trip across the prairie, Tarsie is thrown into an arrangement with Joss that leaves both of them questioning God and their dreams for the future. Will Tarsie and Joss give up and go their separate ways, or will God turn their hearts toward him?

The Memory Jar by Tricia Goyer

Every year, young Amish men descend on the cozy little town of West Kootenai, Montana, arriving in the spring to live there for six months and receive 'resident' status for the hunting season in the fall. They arrive as bachelors, but go home with brides! Sarah Shelter wonders if she will ever fall in love. Since the tragic death of her best friend, she carries her memories in a jar along with the small items connected to them.  Now she's met a kind and gentle man who may be able to break down the wall. But can Sarah risk her heart to finally achieve her dreams?

A Texan's Choice by Shelley Gray (review coming)

Texas, 1874. Long ago, Scout Proffitt gave up on ever being a man of honor like his Civil War hero brother Clayton. But when Scout steps foot on the rundown remnants of the Circle C ranch, he wonders if maybe—just maybe—the Lord has something different intended for him. Rosemarie has lived most of her life doubting her worth and shouldering the blame for her brother’s death. But when a stranger rides onto her ranch, claiming he owns it, she suddenly is given a choice: either keep looking at the dark side of life . . . or dare to dream.

A Lady in the Making by Susan Page Davis (review coming)

Millie Evans has changed, choosing to leave rather than join an outlaw gang with her brother. Hoping for a new future, she boards a stagecoach but runs into her past and David Stone—a man she and her brother once tried to swindle. As she tries to convince David she’s changed, her brother’s gang holds up the stagecoach. Fighting beside David goes a long way to softening his heart, but he’s still not convinced. Millie must trust God to show David the truth, but will he see before it’s too late?

The Heart's Journey by Barbara Cameron

Naomi knows she should be excited about her upcoming wedding. Not only are her feelings for her fiance lackluster but she believes he may see her more as a servant than a partner. And he's so controlling. Is it too late to back out of the marriage? While praying for God's guidance, Naomi travels with her grandmother to Pinecraft, Florida. Along the way Naomi finds herself becoming attracted to Nick, their Englisch driver and friend, and the two begin to fall in love. The journey soon becomes one in which Naomi explores her most secret dream for love. But can she veer off the "safe" path she'd envisioned for her life to marry Nick?

A Promise to Love by Serena B Miller

Ingrid Larsen, a young Swedish immigrant, arrives in Michigan in 1871 to search for her brother who has disappeared into the woods to work the dangerous lumber camps. Destitute and barely hanging on to hope, she encounters a newly-widowed farmer who is struggling to raise five children on his own. Marriage would solve both of their problems, and so Ingrid proposes to a man she barely knows. She will fight to protect her new family--but the hardest battle of all will be winning the heart of her new husband.

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she's finally carved out a perfect life for herself and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy. However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. Just as Bane's charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past.

Twice a Bride by Mona Gansberg Hodgson

Full of resolve, young widow Willow Peterson decides to pursue her dreams to be an artist as she settles into a new life in the growing mountain town of Cripple Creek. When she lands a job working as a portrait painter with entrepreneur and photographer Trenton Van Der Veer, the road before Willow seems to be taking a better-than-anticipated turn. With questions tugging at several hearts in town, change is traveling down the tracks as several unexpected visitors make their way out West. Will the new arrivals threaten the deep family bonds of the Sinclair sisters and the roots of love that are just taking hold for Willow?

Sofia's Secret by Sharlene MacLaren (Book 3 in series)

Scandal surrounds Sofia Rogers, a woman in her early twenties, when it becomes obvious she is pregnant and unmarried. Yet nobody knows the real story. And Sofia isn’t about to share it; she would rather bear the shame than face the threat of consequences. When Eli Trent, the new doctor in town, gets involved, the trouble escalates in the form of thievery, arson, and death threats. Nevertheless, Eli is determined to break down the wall of silence behind which Sofia hides her deep, dark secret. He is out to convince her she is not alone and to make her realize that trusting him—and her heavenly Father is the only thing that makes sense.

Twice Promised by Maggie Brendan

Seeing how successful her older sister's "mail order marriage" has been and longing to strike out on her own, Greta Olsen answers an ad for a mail order bride in Central City, Colorado. But when she meets Jess Gifford, owner of a thriving mercantile, she begins to harbor doubts. He didn't place the ad to begin with and his business in a busy mining town leaves him little time or energy for love. To compound her troubles, she was not the only bride to answer the ad! Will either bride strike the match she hopes for?

A Dangerous Stage by Camy Tang (book two in series)

Tessa Lancaster worked for her uncle in the Japanese mafia until she was sent to prison for a murder she didn't commit. Now, after finding God behind bars, she takes odd jobs as a bodyguard to keep her distance from the family business. Tessa gets caught up in the web of lies surrounding a shady singing competition. Hired by one of the contestants, she works with Charles Britton---the lawyer who sent her to prison---to discover the dark figures manipulating the contest from behind the scenes. In the midst of the chaos, she holds on to her faith to keep her safe and bring down the shadowy organization.

Accidentally Amish by Olivia Newport

Escape the helter-skelter of the modern culture and join software creator Annie Friesen, hiding at the home of an Amishman. With her high-tech career in jeopardy, Annie runs from fast-paced Colorado Springs—and straight into the hospitality of San Luis Valley’s Amish community. There she meets cabinetmaker Rufus Beiler, and the more time she spends with him, the more attracted she becomes. When Annie finds she shares a common ancestor with Rufus, she feels both cultures colliding within her. But is her love for Rufus strong enough for her to give up the only life she’s ever known?

The Blue Door by Crista Kinde (review coming)

Prissie Pomeroy is a teen who discovers she can see what others cannot: angels all around. Even more startling is the surprising secret she uncovers about people she thought she knew. As she wrestles with this unexpected ability she must come to grips with the spiritual battles surrounding her. Especially when she learns she received this gift because God has a unique role for her in his bigger plan. But if she's to fulfill it, she'll need faith like never before.This exciting debut by author Christa Kinde draws on the rapidly growing interest in angel stories, an emerging trend in teen and preteen supernatural novels. Boys and girls alike will appreciate her gifted storytelling that captures their imagination with things beyond human sight.

Beside Two Rivers by Rita Gerlach (book two in series)

Eliza's daughter seeks to unravel a lifetime of memories and the absence of her parents, unaware that the young Englishman who loves her holds the answers. Her search takes her far from her beloved home along the Potomac, to a manor house in faraway England. Soon the secrets of the past slowly rise to the surface. Will she be reunited with the most important people in her life? Will Hayward and Eliza find peace and reconciliation? Will Darcy's faith sustain her to make the difficult choices? Will the love she and Ethan share endure?

There are actually a few more Christmas titles, but I can't deal with Christmas in October!