29 November 2016

Review: The Captive Heart by Michelle Griep


Amazon Description

Proper English governess Eleanor Morgan flees to the colonies to escape the wrath of a brute of an employer. When the Charles Town family she’s to work for never arrives to collect her from the dock, she is forced to settle for the only reputable choice remaining to her—marriage to a man she’s never met. Trapper and tracker Samuel Heath is a hardened survivor used to getting his own way by brain or by brawn, and he’s determined to find a mother for his young daughter. But finding a wife proves to be impossible. No upstanding woman wants to marry a murderer.

My Review

It’s been a while since I’ve read a novel set in America’s Colonial era. It’s an interesting time, as Europe (and even the bigger American settlements) are relatively sophisticated, but out in the back country, Americans are still living in tents and hovels.

The novel begins in 1770, before the American War of Revolution and the Declaration of Independence, but it’s easy to see the hotbed of political activity the country will become.

There are social tensions, as the country is a mix of free immigrants (religious or economic) and those who have immigrated as indentured servants, those who were forced to immigrate as convicts, or the growing number of slaves. There are also the racial tensions—between American settlers and the local Indians, between the Indians and the English, and between the English and the American settlers who want more rights.

The Captive Heart touches on many of these issues without making them the central focus of the plot—which is good. The central focus always remains on Eleanor: on her understandable difficulties in adapting to the hard life of an American settler, on her feelings for Grace, her charge … and her feelings for Samuel Heath, her owner and her husband ... who I liked a lot, mostly because of lines like this:

Samuel has secrets, a lot of secrets, and these are gradually revealed throughout the story. This keeps the plot moving, and gives us more and more reason to want to see Samuel and Eleanor together properly. The writing is excellent, with shades of early Deeanne Gist novels such as A Bride Most Begrudging (which remains my favourite, and which shares a similar time and setting to The Captive Heart).

There are also some minor characters I’d have liked to have seen more of: Molly and Biz, Eleanor’s forced companions on the voyage from England. I’m hoping they will be the subjects of a sequel or two (hint hint).

Overall, I enjoyed The Captive Heart and recommend it to fans of American Colonial fiction from authors such as Jack Cavanaugh, Laura Franz and early Deeanne Gist.

Thanks to Shiloh Run Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Michelle Griep at her website, and you can read the introduction to The Captive Heart below:

25 November 2016

Author Interview with the authors of Kisses, Kids and Bundles of Joy!

Today I'd like to welcome the authors of Kisses, Kids and Bundles of Joy to share a bit about themselves. Welcome, ladies!


1) How does your faith play into your writing?


Trisha Grace: Jesus loves you regardless of who you are or what you’ve done. That’s the message behind my books. I’m blessed to be planted in a church where my pastor preaches the grace message, reminding me each week that I’m loved and blessed despite of my flaws and sins. And that’s the same message I hope my readers will get when they read my book.

2) Why do you write the kind of books you do?


Jenn Faulk: I write Christian chick lit and romance, and my intention with every book is to point readers to Christ and His sufficiency. I think there’s great biblical truth that can be communicated through a love story about two normal, believable, imperfect people who need and find redemption in Christ as they deal with relationships and real life issues. It’s my hope that someone would read my book and enjoy the story while they’re also being encouraged and challenged to know Christ better, love Him more deeply, and serve Him more fully.

3) What advice would you give to a beginning writer?


Liwen Y. Ho: Writing is a solitary exercise, but it should not be done alone! For beginning writers, I’d recommend joining a writer’s group, whether online or in person. The best thing you can do is to share your work with other writers and get their feedback. And read, read, read! Read books in the genre(s) you want to write and discover what you like/dislike about certain stories. Read about writing techniques and how to create characters that come to life and how to keep a story flowing from beginning to end. Then do what you love to do the most—write! And don’t forget to have fun while doing it!

4) What’s on your reading list?


Lindi Peterson: My reading list lately has been amazing. Over the summer I read RITA winner Kristi Ann Hunter’s A Noble Masquerade. Awesome book. Then I read The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. I couldn’t put this book down. Three different generations whose stories intertwined. Loved it. I read a cool short story, A Spoonful of Spice by Liwen Ho. Right now I’m reading The Idea of Love by Patti Callahan Henry, one of my favorite authors. I have so many books on my TBR pile. What a good problem to have, right?


5) How do you celebrate the release of a new story?


Tanya Eavenson: Growing up my parents would celebrate special occasions by taking the family out to Red Lobster. Fast forward twenty years, my wonderful husband takes me out to celebrate a new release. Can you guess where? Yep! Red Lobster. Love that man!

6) What do you like to snack on while writing a story?


Cindy Flores Martinez: I love this question because I can just picture it in my mind, casually reaching over and grabbing a snack while writing. I’m sure every writer would tell you that there isn’t time to stop when you’re in the middle of writing, especially if you’re working on an important scene. Sometimes I find myself feeling weak because I’ve skipped a meal. And just in case that happens, I always have fruit or a granola bar nearby that I can reach for. But that’s only if I am absolutely about to lose consciousness.

7) What type of research do you enjoy doing for your stories?


Cindy K. Green: I love research! I’m a trained historian so research is exciting to me. In fact, when I am stuck on a project whether plot or otherwise, research is one of the best ways to get out of a bit of writer’s block or it just inspires me to write period. I write both contemporary and historical novels. Of course, every story includes some research. I had to research golf & golf courses, as well as, how a company goes through the process of going public for one contemporary novel. But the historical ones are the ones I love to research most. I’ve been working on a historical western series for the last few years. It has been such a joy learning more about old Carson City, Nevada; the 1870’s clothing and hats; and everything else relating to the period of the booming silver mines in the area of the Comstock Lode. My father lives in that area, and he is a terrific resource for background information.

Snuggle up with seven Christian winter romances from bestselling and award-winning authors. Kisses and kids abound in this collection of novellas that will warm your heart all winter long.

AmazonKoboiTunes



24 November 2016

Review: The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson

Amazon Description


Evangeline is gifted with a heavenly voice, but she is trapped in a sinister betrothal until she embarks on a daring escape and meets brave Westley le Wyse. Can he help her discover the freedom to sing again?

Desperate to flee a political marriage to her cousin King Richard II’s closest advisor, Lord Shiveley—a man twice her age with shadowy motives—Evangeline runs away and joins a small band of servants journeying back to Glynval, their home village.

Pretending to be mute, she gets to know Westley le Wyse, their handsome young leader, who is intrigued by the beautiful servant girl. But when the truth comes out, it may shatter any hope that love could grow between them.

More than Evangeline’s future is at stake as she finds herself entangled in a web of intrigue that threatens England’s monarchy.Should she give herself up to protect the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

My Review

I’ve read several favourable reviews for Melanie Dickerson’s fairytale retellings, so I was when The Silent Songbird came up for review, I was keen to read it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it. I suspect I’m not the target audience, even though I often read and enjoy Young Adult novels (e.g. Intermission by Serena Chase).

I didn’t warm to either Eva/Evangeline or Westley as characters. Westley was too perfect—his only fault seemed to be that he was too trusting. Evangeline seemed too modern in her thinking, and I wasn’t convinced someone with her sheltered upbringing would have the gumption to refuse marriage at the order of the King.

I found the writing wooden, mostly because of the lack of contractions. Yes, I know the English didn’t use contractions in the 1300’s, and avoiding contractions was probably intended to add an air of authenticity. But I still think it made the writing seem stilted and artificial.

The novel seemed well researched, if a little Disneyfied. It’s loosely based on the story of the Little Mermaid, and if I remember my childhood fairytales correctly, her punishment for choosing to live as a human was that every step would feel like she was walking on knives. Disney ignored this, and The Silent Songbird also ignores some of the seedier side of medieval life—which made it read more like fantasy than the historical romance I thought it was going to be.

And perhaps that’s my actual problem. I’m not a fantasy reader. Sure, I’ve read some of the classics, but I much prefer dystopian or science fiction to fantasy. Perhaps that’s because I’ve studied history and visited English castles, and know a little too much about what goes on in a torture chamber, which means I don’t find anything romantic about novels with this kind of time setting—whether true historical fiction or some kind of wishful fantasy, as this is.

This is the seventh book in a series, but can easily be read as a standalone novel. I’m sure those who have read and enjoyed the previous books will also enjoy this, as will readers who enjoy historical fiction/fantasy.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

22 November 2016

Review: A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay

Outstanding


A Portrait of Emily Price is Katherine Reay’s fourth novel, and all have similarities. They’re all contemporary, yet with a strong nod to literary masterpieces of yesteryear. They all feature strong characters, especially the flawed heroines from messy backgrounds trying to find their way in the world. If Katherine Reay’s were young adult novels, they’d probably be called coming of age, but they’re definitely not YA—the themes are definitely grown-up.

They’re character-driven novels. The plots often meander, especially in the beginning, and it’s only when I finish the novels that I realise how all the threads have been pulled together. Yes, the writing is outstanding.

But that leaves me with a dilemma every time I come to start a new Katherine Reay novel: will it measure up to my memories of the previous story?

Well, I’m pleased to report that A Portrait of Emily Price measures up, and more. The beginning was a strange mix of slow and fast. Fast, in that Emily and Ben meet and fall in love so quickly, but slow in that we’d almost reached the halfway point before Emily arrived in Italy … which would have been a spoiler if it wasn’t for the book description:

Art restorer Emily Price has never encountered anything she can’t fix—until she meets Ben, an Italian chef, who seems just right. But when Emily follows Ben home to Italy, she learns that his family is another matter . . .
Emily Price—fix-it girl extraordinaire and would-be artist—dreams of having a gallery show of her own. There is no time for distractions, especially not the ultimate distraction of falling in love.
But Chef Benito Vassallo’s relentless pursuit proves hard to resist. Visiting from Italy, Ben works to breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s faded restaurant, Piccollo. Soon after their first meeting, he works to win Emily as well—inviting her into his world and into his heart.
Emily astonishes everyone when she accepts Ben’s proposal and follows him home. But instead of allowing the land, culture, and people of Monterello to transform her, Emily interferes with everyone and everything around her, alienating Ben’s tightly knit family.
Only Ben’s father, Lucio, gives Emily the understanding she needs to lay down her guard. Soon, Emily’s life and art begin to blossom, and Italy’s beauty and rhythm take hold of her spirit.
Yet when she unearths long-buried family secrets, Emily wonders if she really fits into Ben’s world. Will the joys of Italy become just a memory, or will Emily share in the freedom and grace that her life with Ben has shown her are possible?

Don’t you just love it when the book description is a plot summary rather than a teaser? No, nor do I.

As suggested in the book description, the story really hits its stride in the second half, when Emily arrives in Italy. It’s as though the first half is all the back story and set up necessary for us to understand Emily’s actions and reactions in Monterello, because it was here we got to see Emily change—and it was great to see.

A Portrait of Emily Price isn’t specifically Christian fiction. There is no conversion, and while the Vassallo family are obviously all Roman Catholic, there is little to hint that their faith is separate from their small town Italian culture. Yet there are hints, especially in Emily’s conversations with the town priest, and in the underlying themes of acceptance and forgiveness.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Katherine Reay at her website and you can read the introduction to A Portrait of Emily Price below:




15 November 2016

Review: 3 Days: A Passion by T M Fairman

Amazon Description

Within the aftermath of an epidemic that has been contained through sacrifice rather than cure, a young woman discovers she has contracted the Disease.

She has three days to live.

Society has deemed her irredeemable and requires her to pass her last three days in quarantine; a sacrifice for its own preservation.

Her only link to the life she once had is her husband. Together they must try to battle with their demons. Together they must try to discover how their love can be expressed during separation and in the face of death. Together they must wrestle with the issues of love and loss, grief, depression and hope before finally having to say goodbye to each other.

On this sad, but beautiful journey, they are faced with the questions;
Where does the light come from in their lives?
What happens when that light goes out?
What is there beyond life itself?

My Review

What initially captured my attention about Three Days was the voice. It’s told in first person, from two points of view: a husband and wife, both unnamed. The wife has the Disease, and while we don't know at first what the Disease is, we see it means she has ten minutes to leave her entire life behind and go into isolation. And the husband is left behind to cope with life alone.

While this provides a lot of intrigue at the beginning, the constant telling and unbelievably long paragraphs make parts of it a long slow read, especially the husband’s point of view. There were also a few speed bumps: misspelled words, typos, tense mixups, and stilted dialogue (which I suspect was a result of a lack of contractions and gave the novel a "foreign" feel, even though I later worked out it was set somewhere in England—where I lived for ten years, so not exactly foreign).

Yet some of the writing was brilliant:


Isn’t that intriguing? And it was lines like that—and the overall intrigue of the story—which kept me reading.

Three Days is subtitled A Passion, which has clear links to Jesus and his Passion—the time between his crucifixion and resurrection. But I wouldn't call it Christian fiction. Yes, there were faith elements, but they were understated. It's more a study on dying and death, and one that was all the more poignant as I was reading it the day my father died.

Does Three Days answer the big questions posed in the book description? I don't think so. But I'm glad I had the opportunity to read it.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

11 November 2016

Friday Fifteen: Toni Shiloh

Today I'm delighted to introduce debut author Toni Shiloh and her novel, Buying Love. Here's the book description:

Will money ruin everything?


Nina Warrenton is ready for the next step in her life plan—marriage, but there is one problem. No one has proposed! Taking matters into her hand, she places an ad in the newspaper hoping to entice a willing stranger. But when she begins to fall for the small-town chef, she realizes how much she wants him to love her and not her money.

Dwight Williams needs fast cash to save the family restaurant. When he sees Nina’s monetary offer for a husband, he goes for it. He’s determined to save the legacy his dad left him, but can he let it go to prove his love for her?

Can Nina and Dwight find true love, once money has entered the equation?

Congratulations, Toni, on your new release!

And now here is Toni's Friday Fifteen: her fifteen favourite authors. Welcome, Toni!

1. Jane Austen

Ms. Austen is the reason I fell in love with romance. I first read her when I was preteen and adored the characters and the story.
(I didn't read Austen until later, but there's something magical about her characters and her writing).

2. Danielle Steel

When I got older, I read Danielle Steel. There was something about her novels that captivated me and transported me into another world.

3. Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins

These guys were my first introduction into Christian fiction and I was hooked!

4. Lauraine Snelling

Ms. Snelling was one of the first romance authors I read in Christian fiction. Her Red River of the North series made me long for simpler times.

5. Francine Rivers

Ms. Rivers challenged me to think outside the box. Her characters have real issues that tug at your heart strings.

6. Beverly Jenkins

Ms. Jenkins’ Blessings series pulled me in with the diverse characters and hometown settings. I loved the family atmosphere and hope to incorporate that in my own work.

7. Joanne Bischof

Five words: The Lady and the Lionheart
(On my to-read pile)

8. Heather Gray

I love her characters. Real, funny, and Christian.

9. Lynette Eason

Romance and suspense?! Need I say more?
(No, that covers it.)

10. Dee Henderson

She was the first romantic suspense author I ever read and got me hooked on the genre.
(Me too!)

11. Becky Wade

I adore her writing. Her books touch my heart.

12. Jennifer Rodewald

The emotion in Ms. Rodewald’s books is phenomenal!
(Another author who is on my to-read pile.)

13. Ronie Kendig

Ms. Kendig writes military romantic suspense…at least that’s how I think of it! As former Air Force, I LOVE it.

14. Camille Eide

The Memoir of Johnny Devine hooked me to her reading style and made me a forever fan.

15. Elizabeth Maddrey

She deals with tough subjects and always makes me think.
(And yet another author who is on my to-read pile.)


About Toni Shiloh

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), an Air Force veteran, and a member of the body of Christ.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She likes to volunteer at her children’s school. When she’s not writing, she’s reading. An avid reader of Christian fiction, she writes reviews on her blog and enjoys helping other authors find readers.

10 November 2016

ACRBA Review: The Kingdom of the Air by CT Wells


7 - 11 November 2016

is introducing 

(Rhiza Press, 1 April 2016)

By C. T. Wells

About the Book:
Winner of the CALEB Unpublished Fiction 2014

Winner of the Clive Cussler Adventure Writer's Competition

1940. The Battle of Britain has begun.

A young Messerschmitt pilot is shot down over Dartmoor. He tries to evade a manhunt, knowing that if he is captured by the British, his war will be over. But when Josef Schafer falls into the hands of a sinister agent of the Special Operations Executive, his troubles have only begun. He is returned to occupied France having made an impossible deal with the British.

As the air war escalates, Josef is in danger in the sky and on the ground. His allegiances are tested as he is torn between loyalty to his Luftwaffe comrades and a French woman whom he is compelled to serve.

The stakes are high. Whoever controls the sky above the English Channel will decide the fate of nations. 

About the Author:
Peter C.T. Wells grew up in coastal Victoria, Australia. He comes from a creative family. Playing in the bush and on the beach was a fertile place for an imagination to develop. He has always been drawn to stories that explore character in the extremes of human experience.
He attended The Geelong College and The University of Melbourne. He has an Arts degree and a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership. He taught English and Outdoor Education for many years before becoming a school leader in Australia and then Head of School in an international school in Indonesia.

He was seriously injured in a taxi accident in Jakarta whilst en route to America to receive an award for The Kingdom of the Air. Now almost fully recovered he sees the experience as his own opportunity to explore character in the extremes of human experience!

Authors who have influenced Wells include: William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, Cormac McCarthy, Raymond Chandler, Ian Fleming, Jack Higgins, Alistair McLean, Conn Iggulden, and Lee Child.

Wells now lives in country Victoria with his wife and three sons.

My Review

I read an early version of The Kingdom of the Air, before it won the 2014 CALEB Prize for unpublished manuscripts. It needed work, but I could see the potential even in that rough draft. The writing was strong, the characters memorable, and the plot full of action. Even better (as a historical fiction fan), the research was top-notch. I've visited many of the locations in the novel, I've seen many of the planes fly, and I've spoken to people who were there. Wells captured the feel of World War Two Europe better than most authors, and I was thrilled when I heard not only had he won the 2014 CALEB Prize, but also the Clive Cussler award. Both awards are well deserved, and I hope to read more from CT Wells.

Recommended for historical fiction readers.




4 November 2016

November 2016 Releases from ACFW Authors

New release Christian fiction from members of American Christian Fiction Writers.

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

Biblical:

Slender Reeds: Jochebed's Hope by Texie Susan Gregory -- In a deadly race to save her son, a young slave woman dares defy the most powerful man in the world. (Biblical from Barbour Publishing)

Contemporary Romance:

Crazy Woman Christmas by Renee Blare -- A quiet cowboy whisks Bianca to his ranch to ride out the Christmas blizzard where she discovers life is cold but also beautiful in the “Cowboy” state. (Contemporary Romance from Inspired [Prism Book Group])

Other Than a Halo by Valerie Comer -- Even though she’s a new woman in Christ, single mom Bren Haddock was no angel as a teen. Now managing the Hiller Farm for a CSA, life is good until a friend offers to enter her daughter into the Little Miss Snowflake Pageant. Old insecurities flare when she meets the intriguing head of marketing the pageant. Rob Santoro isn’t so sure about handling the pageant portfolio until he meets Bren. Soon he’s fallen for her and her two kids. When a Thanksgiving adventure goes awry, he’s left wondering how to love a woman who refuses to be loved. What will it take for Bren to retire her tarnished halo and move into the future God has for her? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Do You Know What I Know? by Becky Melby -- What if a phone call from the obstetrician’s office went to the wrong person? Elizabeth Schmidt can’t figure out why her husband doesn’t seem excited about the news she’s sure he heard. Is he unhappy? Or is James cheating on her? Pastor Jay Davidson is in shock. Bethany Schmidt, the woman he’s in love with, is pregnant. Should he walk away, or is God asking him to play the part of Joseph in real life and not just in the church Christmas program? Bethany can’t figure out why Jay is acting so weird. Has he figured out one of the two secrets she’s keeping until after Christmas? Can a ponytailed itinerant carpenter with a pet chicken help unravel the confusion? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

How to Charm a Beekeeper's Heart by Candice Sue Patterson -- Weddings are the last thing beekeeper Huck Anderson wants to be associated with, considering his past. So when he inherits a building occupied by a bridal boutique, he aims to evict the failing business and open a sporting goods store. That is until his tenant ends up being Arianne Winters, a woman he’s indebted to from a mistake made years ago. When a life-threatening injury derails Huck entirely, Arianne offers to aid in his lengthy recovery if he’ll allow her to remain in his building. But nursing her adversary proves challenging when her adolescent crush resurfaces. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay -- After a whirlwind romance and marriage, Emily Price returns home to Italy with her new husband and learns that life at its richest is only found when she accepts its chaotic beauty. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])


Contemporary Women's Fiction:

Forgiveness by Marianne Evans -- Country music bad boy, Chase Bradington is on the comeback trail. Fresh from rehab for alcohol addiction and transformed by the power of Christ, Chase is battling to rediscover the music he loves and a career he nearly ruined. Then he meets up-and-comer, Pyper Brock and instantly sparks ignite. Despite her rampant attraction to the handsome and talented icon, Pyper knows of Chase’s reputation and soundly dismisses his romantic overtures. No way will Pyper repeat the mistake of trusting a man whose done battle with the bottle. Can a sin-damaged past be released in favor of forgiveness? (Women’s Fiction from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])



Historical:

Beneath a Golden Veil by Melanie Dobson -- As elegant as the Sacramento residence she operates, Isabelle Labrie keeps her past concealed, like the treasure she hides under the Golden Hotel. Then, unexpected guests—fugitive slaves seeking safe passage to the North—force her to confront her past and reconsider her path. (Historical from Waterfall Press)

Forest Child by Heather Day Gilbert -- Historically based on the Icelandic Sagas, Forest Child brings the memorable, conflicted persona of Freydis Eiriksdottir to life. (Historical from Elk Lake Publishing Inc.)

The Lost Generation by Erica Marie Hogan -- On August 5th 1914, the world changed forever. For John and Beth Young, it meant the happiness they finally achieved was snatched out from under them. For Emma Cote, it meant that her husband Jared would do his duty, despite her feelings. For Christy Simmons it meant an uncertain future with the boy she loved. The lives of six people, spread across the British Empire to America were changed forever. (Historical from Elk Lake Publishing Inc.)


Historical Romance:

The Blue Ribbon Brides Collection by Jennifer AlLee, Angela Breidenbach, Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Amber Stockton, Niki Turner, Gina Welborn, and Becca Whitham -- Meet nine men and women whose competitive goals take them to state and county fairs between 1889 and 1930. From baking pie to polishing pigs, from sculpting butter to stitching quilts, everyone has something to prove to themselves and their communities. But in going for the blue ribbon, will nine women miss the greatest prize of all—the devoted heart of a godly man? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Left at the Altar by Margaret Brownley -- In the wild and untamed West, time is set by the local jeweler...but Two-Time Texas has two: two feuding jewelers and two wildly conflicting time zones. Meg Lockwood's marriage was supposed to unite the families and finally bring peace until she's left at the altar by her no-good fiancé. Hired to defend the groom against a breach of promise lawsuit, Grant Garrison quickly realizes that the only thing worse than small-town trouble is falling for the jilted bride. But there's something about Meg's sweet smile and determined grit that draws him in...even as the whole crazy town seems set on keeping them apart. (Historical Romance from Sourcebooks)

Mail Order Mommy by Christine Johnson -- Nursing a broken heart, Amanda Porter had answered a frontier mail-order bride ad placed by Garrett Decker's children—only to find the groom-to-be didn't want a wife. But his adorable children are determined she'll be their mother by Christmas… His wife's betrayal and tragic death demolished Garrett's life. Now he can't even look at another woman, let alone marry Amanda, who resembles his first love. But with his daughter convinced Amanda is the perfect mother, will Garrett realize she's also his perfect match? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Hope's Design by Dawn Kinzer -- An independent city girl aspiring to be a fashion designer falls for a stubborn artist from the country who wants to keep his talent a secret. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Brides of Wyoming by S. Dionne Moore -- Roam the Wyoming range alongside three couples who meet under danger from bands of outlaws. Renee escapes a gang of outlaws and lands in the arms of a sheepherder. Olivia’s sleuthing upturns secrets key to solving the murder of a reluctant rancher’s father. Maira is trying to keep her ranch running alone when a drifting cowboy offers a hand. Can love develop where suspicion and greed roam the range? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Negotiated Marriage by Christina Rich -- When the railroad pushes to buy her land, orphaned Cameron Sims will do anything to keep the only home she and her sisters have ever known. Even if she must marry a stranger. Duncan Murray doesn’t want a wife. He wants Sims Creek, a sanctuary that can help him forget a troubled childhood. But his reluctant, and captivating, bride-to-be is key to making his dreams a reality. And despite their business arrangement, Camy and Duncan might be signing on the dotted line for true love… (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Love in the Seams by Jodie Wolfe -- A little girl on a quest for a new mama has the local seamstress in her sights. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Romantic Suspense:

His Perfect Love by Sharon K. Connell -- On the run from a hit man, Patricia Campbell is unaware of the FBI’s search for her to learn what information she might hold, so she continues to hide out. Then she meets a persistent computer technician, a charming philanthropist, and a handsome, wealthy businessman who wants to marry her. But her fears resurface, and she wonders if she can trust any of them. Can she survive long enough to find peace…and perfect love? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Counter Point by Marji Laine -- Her dad's gone, her diner's closing, and her car's in the lake. Cat McPherson has nothing left to lose ... except her life. And a madman, bent on revenge, is determined to take that, as well. Her former boyfriend, Ray Alexander, returns as a hero from his foreign mission, bringing back souvenirs in the form of death-threats. When several attempts are made on Cat’s life, she must find a way to trust Ray, the man who broke her heart. (Romantic Suspense from Write Integrity Press)


Speculative:

The Flaming Sword by Heather L.L. FitzGerald -- When evil joins forces in the Tethered World, Sadie Larcen must risk all to protect the Flaming Sword and her family...even if it takes her life. (Speculative Young Adult from Mountain Brook Ink)





3 November 2016

Review: The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall

The Best of The Everstone Chronicles


I’ve been a fan of Dawn Crandall’s books since the first of The Everstone Chronicles, when she emailed me out of the blue asking if I’d consider reviewing it. I was hooked, and I’m still hooked. In fact, I think The Cautious Maiden is her best yet. Yes, it’s the fourth book in the series, but you don’t have to read the other three first. Although you should!

Dawn Crandall doesn’t shy away from difficult issues (and one of the benefits of writing historical romance is that she can address these in a way that seems a little removed, yet is still 100% relevant today). One of the issues she tackles in The Cautious Maiden is the subject of sexual temptation—and how hard it is not to get carried away by feelings. Yes, there’s a lot of sexual tension in this novel.

The Cautious Maiden is the story of Violet Hawthorne, orphaned and forced to leave her childhood home after her brother turns it into a brothel. She works at the nearby Everstone hotel, and is friends with the wealthy owners (to understand why, read The Captive Imposter).

She comes into contact with the wealthy but distant Vance Everstone (from The Bound Heart), who has a formidable reputation as a scoundrel who ruins ladies. But the Vance that Violet gets to know is anything but —he’s a man of honour, and a Christian.

I loved both main characters. Violet, for her intelligence and her determination to distance herself from her brother despite having no family to depend on, and Vance for showing the transformation of character Christianity can bring. And I loved watching them (*spoiler alert*) fall in love (although this is a romance novel, so is that really a spoiler?).

Now I’m looking forward to the next of The Everstone Chronicles, because there are still some unmarried characters who need to get together! Recommended for fans of historical romance with an edge from authors such as Deeanne Gist and Francine Rivers.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.