19 November 2013

Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley

Goodreads | Amazon
In a case that could change her career, Miranda uncovers a love that will change her life. 

When Miranda Hunt sees the classified ad for an heiress to the legendary Last Chance Ranch, she knows assuming the identity of Annie Beckman is the perfect cover. As one of the finest agents for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Miranda has been tasked with apprehending the Phantom – an elusive and notorious train robber thought to be hiding on the sprawling ranch. 

But she isn't the only one there with something to hide. Wells Fargo detective Jeremy Taggert is working the scene undercover as well. And although their true identities are a secret, it is impossible for Jeremy and Miranda to hide the spark that flares between them.  

But neither is about to let romance interfere with such a huge case. Besides, Miranda hasn't removed Jeremy from her list of suspects yet. The closer they come to uncovering the identity of the Phantom, the more dangerous he gets – and no one on the ranch is safe. 

But neither are their hearts – the longer Miranda and Jeremy spend working together, the harder it becomes to keep their feelings in check. Their careers – and their lives – depend on solving this case. Love will have to wait.

In the third and final book of Margaret Brownley’s “The Brides of Last Chance Ranch,” the emphasis lies more on the detective work than the ranching work. It provided me with an intriguing look into detective work during the 1890s. Yet, the same western setting, adventure, sense of romance runs as much through the pages of Gunpowder Tea as in the previous novels. Another enthralling and entertaining read of romantic historical fiction, this novel is definitely one I would recommend to anyone with an interest in the genre. 
As usual, I greatly appreciate BookSneeze for providing me with yet another free copy of a novel and the opportunity to review it.

31 October 2013

Dandelions on the Wind by Mona Hodgson

Start reading chapter one of
"Dandelions on the Wind" here.
Goodreads | Amazon
Tattered relationships and broken hearts, like a quilt, can be pieced together by God’s love.

When Maren Jensen took a job on Elsa Brantenberg’s St. Charles, Missouri farm, she never expected to call the place her home. As she grows to love Mrs. Brantenberg and her granddaughter, Gabi, Maren is transformed from a lonely mail-order bride-without-a-groom to a beloved member of the Brantenberg household. 
But when Gabi’s father, Rutherford “Wooly” Wainwright, returns to the farm unexpectedly, everything changes for Maren. Despite the failing eyesight that caused her suitor to reject her, she can see that Wooly desperately needs to reconnect with the family he abandoned when his grief sent him running toward the army – and into the Civil War. She also senses there could be something more between the widower and herself, if either can move beyond their past hurts.    
Comforted and counseled by the wisdom of the women in her beloved quilting circle, Maren begins to discover the cost such decisions demand of her heart. Are her choices in obedience to God, or is she running from His plan? Is it too late for love to be stitched into the fabric of her life?

Mona Hodgson’s first novella in her Quilted Heart series, “Dandelions on the Wind,” is a sweet story of finding love and family. Naturally, as a novella, it is a short, easy read. At times, I felt that certain aspects of the story could have been expanded upon in more detail, and the ending seemed to arrive far too quickly. However, Hodgson did not leave me dissatisfied. While I might have wanted more, this novella fulfilled my desire for a simple, uplifting story, and I would recommend “Dandelions on the Wind” for an enjoyable, lighthearted read. I can’t help but thank WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this novel. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to read and honestly review it.

22 September 2013

Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck

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Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a prince – just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn't going according to plan. When her high-school-sweetheart-turned-Marine-officer breaks up instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.

The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simons Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family's tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna's aid under the fabled Lover's Oak, he is blindsided by love.

Their lives are worlds apart. He's a royal prince. She's an ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel's coronation.

It's the ultimate choice: His kingdom or her heart? God's will or their own?

Rachel Hauck’s Once Upon a Prince caught my attention from the get-go. In a society fascinated with royal weddings, it’s hard to resist a plot in which a prince falls for an ordinary woman. Although it is fairly reminiscent of the movie, The Prince and Me, Hauck’s modern day fairytale was a delightfully addictive novel to read. I couldn’t put it down. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a light, relaxing read full of drama and romance. I greatly appreciate BookSneeze for providing me with yet another free copy of a novel and the opportunity to review it. 

25 June 2013

Gone South by Meg Moseley

Take a peek into chapter one of Gone South here.
Goodreads | Amazon
The charm of the South drew her back to her family’s roots. But when the town’s old resentments turn the sweet tea bitter, can Tish find a welcome anywhere?
Leaving frosty Michigan for the Deep South was never a blip in the simple plans Tish McComb imagined for her life, dreams of marriage and family that were dashed five years earlier in a tragic accident. Now an opportunity to buy her great-great-great-grandparents’ Civil War era home beckons Tish to Noble, Alabama, a Southern town in every sense of the word. She wonders if God has given her a new dream – the old house filled with friends, her vintage percolator bubbling on the sideboard.
When Tish discovers that McCombs aren’t welcome in town, she feels like a Yankee behind enemy lines. Only local antiques dealer George Zorbas seems willing to give her a chance. What’s a lonely outcast to do but take in Noble’s resident prodigal, Melanie Hamilton, and hope that the two can find some much needed acceptance in each other.
Problem is, old habits die hard, and Mel is quite set in her destructive ways. With Melanie blocked from going home, Tish must try to manage her incorrigible houseguest as she attempts to prove her own worth in a town that seems to have forgotten that every sinner needs God-given mercy, love and forgiveness.

Meg Moseley’s Gone South had me intrigued from the beginning. Intertwining the McCombs’ double-edged family legacy with Tish’s tragic history, Mel’s desperate pursuit of truth and redemption, and a bit of unplanned romance, Moseley kept me flipping page after page until I reached the end. Upon completion of the novel, my only complaint was that the narrative of Nathan and Letitia seemed a little incomplete to me. However, as a whole, the novel – with its multitude of situational problems and complications – leads to a satisfying conclusion, leaving me content. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who has an interest in Christian fiction and enjoys rooting for the underdog.

As usual, I would like to thank WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this novel. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to read and honestly review it, and I always enjoy a fresh, new book experience.

20 June 2013

A Bride for All Seasons by Margaret Brownley, Debra Clopton, Mary Connealy & Robin Lee Hatcher

"It all started with an ad in a mail-order bride catalogue..."

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It's 1870. Reminders of the Civil War remain littered throughout the country. Scarred by the past, like the slowly healing land, four women seek a better future. Turning to the Hitching Post Mail-Order Bride Catalogue and its altruistically scheming editor, Melvin Hitchcock, to facilitate a new beginning, each woman finds herself headed West, full of happiness and hope for a fresh start with her unfamiliar groom-to-be. As the couples meet for the first time, they find that behind-the-scenes embellishments and purposeful miscommunications have left them unprepared, and sometimes unwilling, for what lies ahead. As the four individual novellas, each written by one of the authors and then compiled in A Bride for All Seasons, follow the both humorous and heartbreaking moments that result, each woman discovers that love and second chances often come in ways unplanned and unexpected.

"And Then Came Spring" by Margaret Brownley: When mail order bride Mary-Jo Parker arrives in town she receives the shock of her life; not only is her fiancé dead, he left behind an eight-year-old son he neglected to mention. But the biggest challenge of all is the boy's way-too-handsome uncle.

"An Ever-After Summer" by Debra Clopton: Widower Matt McConnell wrote his ad with no room for misunderstanding – Bible believers need not apply. But then Bible-thumping Ellie shows up on his doorstep. Matt's so desperate for her help that he accepts.

"Autumn's Angel" by Robin Lee Hatcher: Luvena Abbott's privileged childhood didn't prepare her for the hardship she now faces as an adult, especially when it comes to being the guardian of her nieces and nephew. Marriage seems the only answer to her dilemma. Clay Birch hopes to change the hurdy-gurdy house he won in a poker game into the finest opera house in the Northwest, but he'll need help to do it. Could this unlikely couple actually be the perfect match?

"Winter Wedding Bells" by Mary Connealy:
David Laramie is looking for a woman to care for his children. In exchange he'll make her financially comfortable for life. But no woman wants to marry a dying man. Then Megan responds to his ad. It seems his "edited" letter contained no mention of him dying.

In this nostalgically whimsical approach to mail-order brides, A Bride for All Seasons did not disappoint. At first, I was a bit wary of its novella format, as I am a lover of long novels, full of engaging characters, dramatic histories and unexpected turns of events. But once I started reading, my wariness faded. The form of the novella did not preclude all of this things I have grown to love about novels - it simply condensed them into a shorter amount of pages, making each story all the most addicting and hard to put down. Story after story, I was hooked from the get-go, lost in the unique style of each author, and found myself reaching the end sooner than I was ready. Needless to say, I would recommend this collection to anyone looking for a quick and compelling read, with an interest in historical romance. I am truly grateful to BookSneeze for providing me with a free copy of this novel and the opportunity to review it honestly.

30 May 2013

Fortress of Mist by Sigmund Brouwer

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The throne is redeemed, but the battle is just beginning.
In the dark corners of an ancient land, evil lurks in the shadows. Powerful druids haunt the spaces of their lost territory. Double-minded noblemen fight for domain and influence. Invaders from the north threaten the kingdom of Magnus. This land of promise and redemption is mired in deceit and corruption. 
The Orphan King, once victorious in conquest, appears to be losing his grip on his seat of power. Thomas rules Magnus, but does not know whom he can trust. His enemies anticipate his every move, thwarting him at each turn. Something is not right.
Under attack, both in the supernatural and natural worlds, Thomas must reach back into the secret layers of his past to find the strength and wisdom to fight his battles. When the mist clears, who will stand with him?

Intertwining the natural with the supernatural, the historical with the fantastical, Brouwer’s narrative is an addicting read, filled with unexpected twists and heart-stopping turns. Geared towards young adults, this is exactly the type of book I love to read, albeit a tad simplistic, when I am in the mood for a light and easy read. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone with an interest in the genre of young adult fantasy and light reading. However, I would advise reading The Orphan King first - as the first novel in the Merlin's Immortals series, it provides the necessary background needed to truly understand the plot. And again, I would like to thank WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this novel. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to read and honestly review it and I always enjoy a fresh, new book experience.

29 May 2013

So Shines the Night by Tracy L. Higley

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In a city teetering at the brink of anarchy, Daria finds hope among people of the Way.

She escaped a past of danger and found respite in beautiful Ephesus, a trading center on the Aegean coast, serving as tutor to Lucas, the wealthy merchant who rescued her.

But the darkness she fled has caught up with her.

The high priests of Artemis once controlled the city, but a group of sorcerers are gaining power. And a strange group who call themselves followers of the Way further threaten the equilibrium. As Daria investigates Lucas’s exploits into the darker side of the city, her life is endangered, and she takes refuge in the strange group of believers. She’s drawn to Paul and his friends, even as she wrestles with their teachings.

When authorities imprison Lucas for a brutal crime, Daria wonders if even Paul’s God can save him. Then she uncovers a shocking secret that could change everything – Lucas’s fate, her position in his household, and the outcome of the tension between pagans and Christians. But only if she survives long enough to divulge what she knows.

With danger and uncertainty lurking at every page turn, Tracy L. Higley’s So Shines the Night dares to take an imaginative look at events in Acts 19. Bringing classic biblical characters to life, like Paul and Timothy, Aquila and Priscilla, Higley’s vivid and well-researched narrative explores the beginnings of Christianity as it confronts a pagan city head-on and turns the characters’ lives upside-down. This combination of real, historical events with the conflict-ridden storylines of Daria and Lucas is exactly what I love about historical fiction novels. Challenging me to consider the day-in, day-out reality of the early church and its effect on the lives of ordinary people, this novel is definitely a recommendation to anyone with an interest in biblical fiction. And as usual, I truly appreciate BookSneeze for providing me with a free copy of this novel and the opportunity to review it honestly.

19 February 2013

Eye of the Sword by Karyn Henley

Read chapter one here.
Goodreads | Amazon
Where angels walk the ground and the future is told in song, does a man of low rank have a chance at love with a princess?
In Camrithia, a land of shadows and mystical secrets, Trevin lives to serve King Laetham. But his heart belongs to the princess, Melaia. When the King sends Trevin on on a dangerous quest to find the missing comains – captains in the king’s army – he must leave Melaia to the advances of a swaggering Dregmoorian prince. 
Challenged to prove his worth, Trevin throws himself into his quest. Striving to prove his love, Trevin undertakes a second mission – find the harps Melaia seeks in order to restore the stairway to heaven. Through fire caves, rogue winds, and murderous threats, Trevin remains steadfastly dedicated to his quest – even when he is falsely accused of a heinous crime. As Trevin’s time runs out, he realizes he must face the shame and horror of his own past and the nightmare that has come to life. Will he have the courage to finish what he has started?

This second foray into the mythical land of Camrithia, where humans find themselves walking among angels and half-angels, is nothing less than an entertaining and addicting read. (The Angelaeon Circle series begins with Breath of Angel.) With the tasteful mix of adventure – feats of strength, epic battles, daunting challenges – and endearing romance, I could not stop reading until the end. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone with an interest in the genre of fantasy, though I would advise reading Breath of Angel first, since the knowledge of the back story helps to understand the plot.

I would like to thank WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of this novel. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to read and honestly review it.

18 February 2013

Waiting for Morning by Margaret Brownley

Goodreads | Amazon
If Molly Hatfield's purple attire doesn't blind you, her dazzling smile will.  She doesn't just sing to the cattle, she puts on a whole show. If only she wasn't so stubborn about her brother's care.  Or so distrustful of a certain handsome doctor...

There is nothing Molly wouldn't do for her teenaged brother, Donny. Blaming herself for the accident that left him wheel-chair bound, Molly has dedicated her life to his care. But in 1896, gainful employment for a woman is hard to come by. So when Molly learns that an eccentric rancher in Cactus Patch, Arizona, is looking for an heiress – someone to take over management of the ranch in exchange for future ownership – she jumps at the chance to provide a real home for her brother. 

If she proves to have a knack for ranching and agrees to remain single for life, the ranch can be hers. Neither stipulation worries Molly. She's resourceful and hardworking. And she gave up dreams of marriage long ago when she dedicated her life to her brother's well-being.

However, Molly didn't bank on meeting Dr. Caleb Fairbanks, the town's handsome and charismatic young doctor, whose backfiring automobile almost gets him killed when Molly thinks she's being shot at and fires back. 

But it's how he is with her brother that really alarms her. Caleb sees past the wheelchair and genuinely likes Donny, but Molly fears he's putting unrealistic ideas into her brother's head. Falling in love with Caleb would threaten everything she's worked for, even her brother's future happiness. It'll take an act of congress to convince her otherwise – and maybe even a little help from above.

As with Dawn Comes Early, I thoroughly enjoyed the development of the three central characters and the conflicts that ensue within their relationships. It was a treat to become caught up in the emotion of the pages, eagerly awaiting a hopeful resolution. Though full of new characters and situations, Waiting for Morning contains all the aspects I loved about the previous novel – the western setting, the adventure, the romance. Capable of standing on its own, I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in romantic historical fiction and I greatly appreciate BookSneeze for providing me with yet another free copy of a novel and the opportunity to review it.