Inspirational Stories of Love, Faith & Family Set in 19th Century America

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Book Review, To Steal a Heart by Jen Turano

2020 has been a difficult year for most of us but I’m delighted to bring you my thoughts on the latest release from author Jen Turano. To Steal a Heart is book 1 in her new series, The Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency. And folks, this romp through the Gilded Age is just what my weary heart needed.

I hope my review inspires you to pick up a copy or two and gift them to your reader friends. Believe me, they’ll thank you especially if they are fans of clever, witty historical romance.

Here’s a little bit about the book before I share my review.


About the Book

Title: To Steal a Heart
Series Info: Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency, Book 1
Author: Jaime Jo Wright
Genre: Historical Romance

Book Info:  Bethany House Pubishers, November 17, 2020, 363 pages


Blurb

To Steal a Heart (The Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency Book #1) by [Jen Turano]

After a childhood as a street thief, Gabriella Goodhue thought she’d put her past behind her until a fellow resident at her boardinghouse is unjustly accused of theft. In the middle of breaking into a safe that holds the proof to prove her friend’s innocence, Gabriella is interrupted by Nicholas Quinn, the man she once considered her best friend–until he abandoned her.

After being taken under the wing of a professor who introduced him into society and named him as heir, Nicholas is living far removed from his childhood life of crime. As a favor to a friend, Nicholas agreed to help clear the name of an innocent woman, never imagining he’d be reunited with the girl he thought lost to him forever.

As Gabriella and Nicholas are thrown together into one intrigue after another, their childhood affection grows into more, but their newfound feelings are tested when truths about their past are revealed and danger follows their every step.

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My Thoughts

I was completely giddy about starting a new Jen Turano series and To Steal a Heart didn’t disappoint. The book grabbed me from the opening line: “It was becoming evident that she, Miss Gabriella Goodhue, might very well be arrested in the not-too-distant future, and all because she’d convinced herself that sneaking into a high-society costume ball would be a relatively easy feat, given her past life as a street thief.”

When Gabriella is reunited with childhood friend Nicholas, the chemistry between the pair is immediately evident. Although the romantic tension is palpable, both resist the attraction due primarily to their different positions in society. I love Gabriella. She is a smart, strong woman but learns that it’s okay to accept help on occasion. I think Nicholas maybe my favorite Turano hero yet. I loved how he used his wealth and position to help many of the people from Five Points. I gushed when he gut-punched one of the characters after he said disparaging things about Gabriella.

Set in the Gilded Age among the glitterati of the New York Four Hundred, Gabriella and the other women of the boardinghouse where she resides open the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency. As the ladies investigate one mystery after another, hilarity abounds. The cast of characters adds to the humor and shenanigans in this story. My favorite secondary character was Daphne Beekman. She’s an author of mysteries who seems afraid of her own shadow and is always taking notes and thinking about her next story. However, the people were nearly upstaged by lovesick Wilson the pirate dog and a kleptomaniac parrot who can’t resist the urge to swipe shiny, sparkling objects.

Although Turano is known for her hilarious jaunts through the Gilded Age, the faith message in Gabriella’s story was not lost on me. Her childhood was rough, and she lived on the streets eventually ending up in an orphanage. She came to believe that God had forgotten all about her. As the circumstances of the story unfold, she realizes that God had provided for her all along and was an excellent reminder to me of how our loving Father is always working behind the scenes for our good.

To Steal a Heart is filled with love, laughter, intrigue, faith, romance, and plenty of antics to keep you turning the pages. Without a doubt, this is my favorite Jen Turano book yet!

I was a given a free copy of this book by the publisher but was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Favorite Quotes

“You’ve always been confident of who you are and what you want. Isn’t that how we should all be as children of the King?”

“God might not have abandon me after all but sent me to Rookwood to keep me safe.”


About the Author

Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO. She can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jenturanoauthor/ or visit her on the web at www.jenturano.com. She is represented by the Natasha Kern Literary Agency.

 

Book Review: The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus

About the Book


Title: The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus
Series Info: Stand Alone
Author: Jaime Jo Wright
Genre: Time Slip

Book Info:  Bethany House Pubishers, September 1, 2020, 400 pages


Blurb

Welcome to Bonaventure Circus where misfits come to hide.

1928
The Bonaventure Circus is a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman,” she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer.

Present Day
The old circus train depot will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its future rests on real estate project manager Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed autoimmune disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to the unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend.

                           Amazon          B&N         CBD


My Thoughts

I’ve been wanting to read a Jaime Jo Wright novel for quite some time and have nearly, if not all of them on my bookshelf or Kindle, but honestly, the title and cover of this book drew me in and thrust it to the top of my TBR pile.

As a lover of historical fiction, Wright captured my imagination and interest immediately with life in a 1920s circus as seen through the eyes of the disabled circus owner’s adopted daughter, Pippa. As Pippa grows increasingly curious about the circumstances surrounding her birth and adoption, she is drawn to the Watchman and deeper into the forbidden, secret and very dangerous world of the Bonaventure circus.

The contemporary thread introduces us to Chandler Faulk, a single mom with a demanding career who is struggling with Chronic Lyme disease. As Chandler works to renovate the old circus depot, she learns about a series of murders that occurred around the circus during its heyday in the late 1920s and accidentally stumbles onto clues that may shed light on who had actually committed them.

I found both the modern-day and historical mysteries thrilling, and Wright had me guessing to the end who the murderer actually was. I can honestly say, I hadn’t seen that coming!

I really liked both of these heroines. I give Wright great kudos for writing both of them with difficult physical disabilities that provided many challenges for them throughout the story. The two women also shared an intense inner struggle to be seen and heard, to figure out who they are. As the novel developed, each realized that their journey was really one of self-acceptance and to fully embrace themselves the way God created them, flaws and all.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Favorite Quotes

“You’re enough, Pippa. You’ve always been enough.”

“Sometimes God brought peace in the most unusual and outside-the-norm ways.”


About the Author

Jaime Jo Wright is the author of five novels, including Christy Award winner The House on Foster Hill and Carol Award winner The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond. She’s also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. She loves to read—and write—fiction with elements of mystery, faith, and romance. Jaime lives in Wisconsin with her cat named Foo; her husband, Cap’n Hook; and their littles, Peter Pan and CoCo. To learn more, visit her website.

 

 

 

 

Book Review, Storing Up Trouble by Jen Turano & a Giveaway!

Storing Up Trouble

by Jen Turano

 

I just finished the very delightful Storing Up Trouble, book #3 in the American Heiresses series, by the fabulous Jen Turano. Jen has been a guest on Romancing History before so if you’d like to learn a bit more about her and her books, click here to see my author interview with her from last September.

Jen has generously offered to giveaway a paper copy of her latest release Storing Up Trouble to one lucky Romancing History guest. See below for the details of the giveaway.

About the Book


Title: Storing Up Trouble
Series Info: American Heiress, Book #3
Author: Jen Turano
Genre: Historical Romance
Book Info: (Bethany House Publishers, May 5, 2020, 363 pages


Blurb

When Miss Beatrix Waterbury’s Chicago-bound train ride is interrupted by a heist, Mr. Norman Nesbit, a man of science who believes his research was the target of the heist, comes to her aid. Despite the fact that they immediately butt heads, they join forces to make a quick escape.

Upon her arrival in Chicago, Beatrix is surprised to discover her supposedly querulous Aunt Gladys shares her own suffragette passions. Encouraged by Gladys to leave her sheltered world, Beatrix begins working as a salesclerk at the Marshall Field and Company department store. When she again encounters Norman on a shopping expedition, he is quickly swept up in the havoc she always seems to attract.

But when another attempt is made to part Norman from his research papers, and it becomes clear Beatrix’s safety is also at risk, they soon discover the curious way feelings can grow between two very different people in the midst of chaos.

                                 Amazon                       B&N


My Thoughts

Beatrix. Beatrix. Beatrix. She’s been a favorite secondary character of mine throughout the entire American Heiresses series and I can’t deny she’s a simply delightful heroine! Her straight forward, yet optimistic ways endear her to the reader. And, any woman who packs a pistol purse and saves her man during a train heist is Aces in my book!

That brings us to the hero, one Mr. Norman Nesbit. I must admit, this sweet awkward man stole my heart early on. While gifted with intelligence a plenty, Norman struggles with normal every day social graces. And while Beatrix originally is a bit of a thorn in his side, their banter sparks an attraction to her his scientific formulas just can’t explain and he slowly realizes how her influence has made him aware that he’s been more concerned with his own research than people—a situation he determines to rectify.

One of my favorite aspects of Storing Up Trouble was learning about life as a sales girl in a Gilded Age department store. When Beatrix is forced to visit her Aunt Gladys, she is required to get a job at Marshall Field & Company so she can relate to the problems of the working class. Determined to keep her identity as part of the New York Four Hundred under wraps, the Chicago elite make many improper assumptions about Beatrix and she realizes for the first time just how unfair life can be for those not born to a life of privilege.

Turano delights the reader with a trifecta of well-developed characters, lush historical details, and rich, vivid settings. Those familiar with Turano’s writing know they’re in for a comedic romp through the Gilded Age and Storing Up Trouble delivers not only laugh out loud scenes but a sweet romance as well.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to leave a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Favorite Quotes

“Just because he frequently annoys me doesn’t mean I’m not fond of the man.”

“Every time he tried to settle into a relaxing bout of mathematical equations or attempt to draw a diagram of an improved electrical motor, thoughts of Beatrix interrupted his work.”

“Men tend to react better to unexpected news when they’re not suffering from hunger pains.”

“You’ve never had trouble sleeping before, even when you’re on a train, which means . . . you’ve met a man, and one who is giving you trouble if I’m not mistaken.”

“Friends and family made life enjoyable, a notion he’d only begun considering after becoming acquainted with Beatrix.”


Spiritual Takeaway

One of my favorite aspects of Storing Up Trouble is the witty banter between Beatrix and Norman. These two get underneath each other’s skin as it were and remind me of the Biblical proverb, “As iron sharpens iron so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) Isn’t that just the truth? It is often when our actions and motives are questioned by those around us that we see our own failings more clearly. Norman, a brilliant scientist, comes to the realization that he doesn’t really know his own family because he spends all of his time in the pursuit of knowledge. It is only when he meets Beatrix that his eyes are opened and he begins in earnest to make amends to those around him. When others can hardly believe the changes in him, he credits the “new Norman” to Beatrix’s influence.

Storing Up Trouble also spoke to the old maxim, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Because Beatrix kept her identity as an American heiress and member of the elite New York Four Hundred a secret, incorrect assumptions were made about her by most everyone she encountered that she was either struggling financially or an ill-bred member of the working class or both. Despite her ill-treatment at times, Beatrix makes a stand for justice and reminds those around her that the true value of a person doesn’t lie in their wealth or social statues but in the unique person God made them to be despite their circumstances.


Other Books in the American Heiresses Series


Flights of Fancy, American Heiresses Book #1

Flights of Fancy (American Heiresses Book #1) by [Jen Turano]Miss Isadora Delafield may be an heiress, but her life is far from carefree. When her mother begins pressuring her to marry an elderly and uncouth duke, she escapes from the high society world she’s always known and finds herself to be an unlikely candidate for a housekeeper position in rural Pennsylvania.

Mr. Ian MacKenzie is known for his savvy business sense and has built his reputation and fortune completely on his own merits. But when his adopted parents are in need of a new housekeeper and Isadora is thrown into his path, he’s unexpectedly charmed by her unconventional manner.

Neither Isadora nor Ian expected to find the other so intriguing, but when mysterious incidents on the farm and the truth of Isadora’s secret threaten those they love, they’ll have to set aside everything they thought they wanted for a chance at happy-ever-after.

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Diamond in the Rough, American Heiresses Book #2

Diamond in the Rough (American Heiresses Book #2) by [Jen Turano]To save her family from financial ruin, Miss Poppy Garrison accepts an unusual proposition to participate in the New York social season in exchange for her grandmother settling a family loan that has unexpectedly come due. Ill-equipped to handle the intricacies of mingling within the New York Four Hundred, Poppy becomes embroiled in one hilarious fiasco after another, doomed to suffer a grand societal failure instead of being deemed the diamond of the first water her grandmother longs for her to become.

Reginald Blackburn, second son of a duke, has been forced to travel to America to help his cousin, Charles Wynn, Earl of Lonsdale, find an American heiress to wed in order to shore up his family estate that is in desperate need of funds. Reginald himself has no interest in finding an heiress to marry, but when Poppy’s grandmother asks him to give etiquette lessons to Poppy, he swiftly discovers he may be in for much more than he bargained for.

Amazon           B&N


About the Author

Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romance by Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist.  When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO. Readers may find her at www.jenturano.com or on Facebook and Twitter.


Giveaway**

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER — CATHY!

Jen has graciously agreed to give away one paper copy of Storing Up Trouble to one lucky Romancing History guest. To enter, please leave a comment below and tell us which of Jen’s delightfully quirky heroines is your favorite and why?

 

 **Giveaway open to US Residents only and ends at midnight on Sunday, 5/24/20.

A Picture (or two) is Worth a Thousand Words by Angela K. Couch

I’m welcoming back to Romancing History my dear friend and fellow historical romance author, Angela Couch. Angela is celebrating the anniversary of her first novel, The Scarlet Coat, the first book in her Hearts at War series. I absolutely loved this series and you can find my review here.

A Picture (or two) is Worth a Thousand Words

Guest Post by Angela K. Couch

 

The Scarlet Coat released as my debut novel three years ago. To celebrate its anniversary, the whole series is on sale, and I’ve enjoyed looking back at some of the inspiration behind the novel.

The hero of the story, Andrew Wyndham, is wounded at the beginning in a battle of the Revolution that plays a part in the whole Hearts at War series, the battle of Oriskany. He looses his memory, and so we won’t delve two deeply into who he was but here are some photos that helped me imagine Captain Andrew Wyndham:

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J.J. Field as Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey

I must admit to watching Northanger Abby with JJ Field a couple times to get a feel for the mannerisms and expressions he portays so well as a gentleman in that era. Then, another film threw him in a scarlet coat and I had to smile. (Even if he didn’t play the nicest person in that show.)

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J.J. Field as Major John Andre in Turn.

Now, since we are taking a look at the hero of The Scarlet Coat, I think I will let you in on a game we’ve been playing on Facebook this week.

So, take a guess, or read the book to know for sure, but I look forward to seeing your answers in the comments below or on the post on my Facebook page. The draw will be on Saturday 8th.

Happy reading!

Angela


About the Book

A Woman Compelled by Christian Charity
Surrounded by the musket fire of the American Revolution, Rachel Garnet prays for her family to be safe.  When the British invade the Mohawk Valley, and her father and brother don’t return from the battle, she goes in pursuit of them. She finds her brother alive but her father has been killed at the hand of the enemy. Amidst the death, how can she ignore a cry for help…? Rachel reluctantly takes in a badly wounded British officer. But how long can her sense of Christian duty repress her hatred for his scarlet coat?

A Man Lost to the Devastation of War
Passages of Scripture and fleeting images of society are all Andrew Wyndham recalls after he awakens to the log walls of his gentle prison. Even his name eludes him. Rachel Garnet insists he is a captain in the British army. He mourns the loss of his memory, but how can he hope to remember war when his “enemy” is capturing his heart?

A Scarlet Uniform Holds the Power to Unite or Divide

Andrew’s injuries are severe, his memory slow to return, and the secret of his existence too perilous to ignore. As Rachel nurses him back to health, his hidden scarlet coat threatens to expose the deeds of her merciful heart, and Andrew is forced to face a harrowing decision—Stay hidden and risk losing the woman he loves or turn himself in and risk losing his life.

Available at:       Barnes & Noble           Indigo/Chapters         Amazon


Excerpt, The Scarlet Coat

Chapter One

The last rays of sun faded into twilight, and the wind whispered through the trees, as if warning Rachel to turn back. She encouraged her pa’s stallion forward, though her pulse threatened to strangle her. Somewhere, not far away, a wolf wailed into the night. The mournful song resonated within her, bespeaking tragedy. She searched the deepening shadows of the forest. What if all the British hadn’t retreated? What if there were still Indians and Tories out there, waiting behind those trees?

Something unseen rustled the leaves, and a twig snapped. Lord, what am I doing? How would she even find them out here in the dark? Maybe she should go home or to the Reids’ for another night.

Her course of action seemed so clear when General Herkimer, and what remained of his regiment and the local militia, limped their way alongside the Mohawk River from Oriskany. The general lay on a stretcher, his leg below the knee wrapped in a crimson cloth, his face pale and expressionless—like so many of the men with him. Eight hundred had marched north the day before yesterday and barely half returned.

Her pa and brother were not among them.

Stay with the Reids. That was all Pa had asked of her. Benjamin Reid’s bad leg compelled him to remain behind and watch over their farms. Though the safest place for her, Rachel could no longer wait there trying to carry on a casual conversation with any of the Reid girls or hide behind her mother’s Bible. She couldn’t abide the confines of their snug cabin a minute longer without knowing her own family’s fate. Since losing Mama to illness two years ago, Pa and Joseph were all she had. She couldn’t lose them, too. But she’d ridden for hours now. Where was she?

A little farther along the trail, the wind shifted slightly, carrying on it the odor of burnt powder and blood. Battle. Rachel’s hand came to her stomach in an attempt to calm the sickness churning within.

The horse whinnied, shifting as he tossed his head.

“Whoa. Easy, Hunter.” She slid to the ground and surveyed her surroundings. Both sides of the road were heavily treed and thick with underbrush. Even still, she could make out the dark forms of fallen men. She stumbled over her feet but kept moving. “Joseph! Pa!” You can’t be dead.

Dragging the horse, Rachel ran. Each step constricted her throat until she could hardly breathe. Bodies littered the road—Indian, Tory, and American alike. She maneuvered around them, searching faces in the faint glow of the remaining light. She should have brought a lantern.

The road sloped downward into a deep ravine. Her feet faltered. Hundreds of men—a patchwork of blue and homespun. All motionless. All dead. If only she could close her eyes or turn away, but every muscle held her in place.

The rasp of a voice jolted her from the trance. She yelped and spun toward the intruder.

“Rachel?” The murmur of her name accompanied the form of a man emerging from the trees. “What are you doing here?”

“Joseph.” Relief at seeing her brother alive stole the strength from her legs. They trembled as she moved to him and brushed her fingers across his cheek, stained with dirt and powder. His sandy brown hair was tousled and appeared just as black. Rachel wrapped him in her arms and clung tight. “Why didn’t you come back with the others? I was so worried…afraid something happened to you and…”

She glanced to his face and the strange expression that marked it. More accurately, a complete lack of expression. “Where is Pa? What happened, Joseph? Tell me.”

“Tell you? You can see it, can’t you? Everywhere you look.”

Of course she saw it. All of it. But… “Where is Pa?”

Joseph looked back, and Rachel followed his gaze into the blackness of the timbered ridge of the ravine. She pushed away and moved stiffly in that direction. Pa.

“No.” Joseph’s cold hand seized hers. “There is nothing left in there. He’s dead.”

“Let me go.” She wrenched away, breaking free before he was able to grab her arm and pull her back. Her vision hazed. “Let me go. I need him.”

“It’s too late, Rachel. He’s dead. I was with him. I watched the life bleed out of him…nothing I could do to stop it. Don’t go up there.” His voice pleaded and his eyes glistened. Joseph wiped a sleeve across his nose and motioned to Hunter. “Please let me take you home, and I’ll return for Pa’s body.”

Rachel stared into the trees, aching to pull away once again. She took in a jagged breath, managed a nod, and then surrendered to his firm hands. He assisted her into the saddle. Joseph retained the reins to lead the horse, but they didn’t make it more than a few steps before an unusual cry wafted in the breeze.

Shivers spiked up and down Rachel’s spine. “What was that?”

“It was no animal.”

The mewling of human suffering perforated the night. A yapping howl followed—a wolf answering the plea.

“You stay here.” Joseph forced the thin leather reins into her hands, shooting her a warning glance before he hurried off the path and into the thick foliage.

Ignoring his order, Rachel dropped to the ground, twisted the reins around a branch and ran after him. She wouldn’t be left alone again. Not in this place. Not in the gathering dark. As she caught up to him, she gripped his sleeve.

Their gazes met.

Joseph’s mouth opened; then, he nodded his head. Turning away, he allowed her to trail him.

Her fingers remained tangled in the fabric of his shirt.

They followed the moaning to a tiny meadow strewn with more bodies.

Rachel gaped at the shiny black patches of blood evident on almost every corpse and covered her nose and mouth against the stench saturating the air.

As they drew near, the moans ceased.

Joseph called out, but there was no reply. “He must be here somewhere.” Frustration edged his voice.

“Maybe he’s too weak. We’ve got to find him if he’s still alive.”

Joseph moved out, stepping over the fallen, checking each for any sign of life.

Rachel stood back, frozen. Motionless. Numb. The man’s whimpers, though now silent, resounded in her mind. What if he were still alive? What if he woke again to this dark and death, only to become as the corpses surrounding him, with no one to lend him life…to help him?

Rachel forced her feet into action as she picked her way around a dead Indian. Though she tried to keep her eyes averted, they rebelliously wandered to the large hole in the middle of his chest. Her hand flew to her mouth as she lurched away. Stumbling backward, her feet tripped over a red uniformed body. She landed hard on the ground beside him. Bile rose in her throat and she twisted, retching into the nearest bush.

“What happened?” Joseph rushed to her.

She sat upright and wiped her mouth with the back of her sleeve. Her whole body shook.

Joseph grabbed her arm and pulled her to her feet. “You shouldn’t have seen this. Let’s get you home. Whoever it was must already be gone.” He led her away, stepping over a fallen soldier’s body.

Rachel shrieked as the hem of her dress snagged on something.

“Do not leave…me.” An almost voiceless plea met her ears. “Please.”

She pivoted on her heel to where the soldier lay in his blood, his eyes wide, one hand extended. Rachel shivered.

Joseph also reacted, bringing his pistol to the enemy’s position.

The man coughed, and closed his eyes in pain. His brilliant scarlet coat and white breeches were smudged with grit and mud, his right hip a bloodied mass of flesh, probably ripped through by a musket ball.

“Rachel, go to the road.” The pistol trembled in Joseph’s grip.

“You’re going to kill him?” She glanced to the soldier.

His eyes remained closed. His mouth moved slightly as though speaking to someone. Perhaps he was praying.

Pushing past the nausea, Rachel swung back to her brother, reaching for him. “You can’t do this.”

Joseph jerked away. “This is exactly what both he and I have done since morning. How many of our neighbors do you think he’s personally sent from this life?”

Silence hung between them.

Joseph lowered his head and weariness returned to his voice. “I’m so tired of this, but there’s no other choice. Go back to the road and wait for me. I’ll be along in a minute.”

She couldn’t do it. Rachel moved, but not in the direction required by her brother. Instead, she knelt beside the wounded soldier and laid a cautious hand against his cool forehead.

His eyes fluttered open and peered up with evident fear. Confusion ridged his brow. Did he know he could expect no mercy and therefore could not understand her actions? His eyes rolled back, and his head slid from the large stone on which it had been resting. His body became limp with no sign of life other than the shallow, irregular breaths which moved his chest.

“Joseph, I know he’s our enemy, and I do hate him…” Rachel shook her head as she tried to swallow back the bitter taste still coating her tongue. “But we can’t kill him, and we can’t leave him to die out here like some dog we don’t like. Can we? I…I don’t know anymore.”


About the Series

The Patriot & the Loyalist

Love comes at a price and Lydia Reynolds refuses to pay it. Better to close her heart to everything and everyone. When her brother-in-law won’t grant her passage to England, where she hopes to hide from her pain, New Englander, Daniel Reid, becomes her only hope—if she can induce him to give her information about the notorious Swamp Fox and his troops. When the British grow impatient and Daniel evades her questions, Lydia must decide how far to take her charade. The poor man, already gutted by love, hasn’t grown as wise as she. Or so she supposes until the truth is known, the muskets are loaded, and it is time to decide where true loyalties lie.

Available on Amazon

The Tory’s Daughter

Burying his wife is the hardest thing Joseph Garnet has ever done—until he’s called to leave his young son and baby daughter to fight Iroquois raiders. When one of the marauders tries to steal his horse, the last thing he expects is to end up tussling with a female. The girl is wounded, leaving Joseph little choice but to haul her home to heal—an act that seems all too familiar.

Though Joseph doesn’t appear to remember her, Hannah Cunningham could never forget him. He rode with the mob that forced her two brothers into the Continental Army and drove her family from their home—all because of her father’s loyalties to The Crown. After five years with her mother’s tribe, the rebels and starvation have left her nothing but the driving need to find her brothers.

Compelled by a secret he’s held for far too long, Joseph agrees to help Hannah find what remains of her family. Though she begins to steal into his aching heart, he knows the truth will forever stand between them. Some things cannot be forgiven.

Available on Amazon

The Return of the King’s Ranger

The war for American freedom is over, and the British have gone back to England. Not knowing what has become of his family since he was forced into the Continental Army nine years earlier, Myles Cunningham wants to go home as well. He returns to the Mohawk Valley with the understanding that he is believed to have been shot for deserting—fiction that might be made real if anyone recognizes him as the son of a Tory and a King’s Ranger.

Everything is wonderful in the growing community along the Mohawk River, except Nora Reid is still alone. With her brother happily settled and both her younger sisters starting families of their own, Nora feels the weight of her twenty-four years. A long walk leads her to the overgrown rubble of the Cunningham homestead where a bearded stranger begins to awaken feelings she’d lost hope of ever experiencing.

With secrets abounding—including whether Myles even cares for her—Nora must determine what she is ready to give up and how far she will go to secure his affections. She begins to break through his defenses, but Myles can’t risk staying. Not if he loves her.

Available on Amazon


About the Author

To keep from freezing in the Great White North, Angela K Couch cuddles under quilts with her laptop. Winning short story contests, being a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, and a finalist in the International Digital Awards also helped warm her up. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. When not writing, she stays fit (and warm) by chasing after four munchkins. Visit her at www.angelakcouch.com

You can also connect with Angela on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, GoodReads & BookBub

Book Review, Serving Up Love

About the Book


Title: Serving Up Love: A Four-in-One Harvey House Brides Collection
Author: Various, see below
Genre: Historical Romance

Book Info: (Bethany House Publisher, November 5, 2019, 384 pages)

Tag Line

On the Menu for These Ladies?
Adventure, Independence, and a Big Serving of Romance!

 


Blurb

A storied part of American history, Harvey Houses offered women a unique chance to gain independence and see amazing parts of this great country. Celebrated historical romance writers Tracie Peterson, Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, and Jen Turano offer four fun, romantic tales of Harvey girls whose western adventures lead to love.

Tracie Peterson – 
A Flood of Love
Returning home to New Mexico for the first time in years to fill in at the Harvey House, Gretchen Gottsacker is sure the past is behind her. But nothing can be that simple. When the man she loved long ago steps back into her life–with a daughter, no less–will she ever be the same?

Karen Witemeyer – More Than a Pretty Face
Rosalind Kemp becomes a Harvey Girl, clinging to the promise of one day transferring even farther west, someplace her youthful indiscretion won’t catch up to her. But the past is hard to escape, and when the worst occurs, will anyone stand up for her?

Regina Jennings – Intrigue a la Mode
When Willow Kentworth is warned that strange things are happening in the railyard after dark, she never intends to get involved. That is, until a handsome new employee at the Harvey House–who has secrets of his own–needs her assistance.

Jen Turano – 
A Grand Encounter
After her fiancé abandons her, Miss Myrtle Schermerhorn flees New York’s pity for a position at the El Tovar Hotel on the rim of the Grand Canyon. She’s determined to hold fast to her life of independence–but a rugged, frequent guest of the hotel makes that vow difficult to uphold.


My Thoughts

I tend to be a bit  hard on novellas. Often times, the plots are too grand and the author is left to tie up all the loose ends too quickly for my satisfaction. Happily, that is not the case for Serving Up Love which earns five stars across the board. Each novella was filled with just the right amount of captivating characters and swoon-worthy heroes mixed with a dash of adventure to leave this historical romance junkie’s heart satiated.

Harvey Girl Uniform, photo courtesy of Jot Powers

Harvey Girl Uniform, Photo by Jot Powers

As a big history lovin’ nerd girl, I was tickled pink to learn of this novella collection centering around Harvey Girls. I’d first heard about Harvey Girls on a vacation through Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado a few years ago. Fred Harvey was an American entrepreneur who opened a series of cafes and restaurants aligned with railroad stations in the western United States. He provided high quality food in a timely manner. Train travelers new to expect great food and excellent service in any of his establishments. Harvey Girls were the women who provided that outstanding service. Each one had to be single and of impeccable character. Housing was provided above the restaurants for these women who were not allowed to fraternize with the customers, at least not in the cafes themselves. Once a woman was engaged, her employment would be terminated.

There was so much to love about each of these stories — the railway setting, life as a Harvey Girl, and handsome customers just to name a few. In Peterson’s A Flood of Love, spunky child character, Katieann, captures the readers heart from the get go and not long after, Gretchen’s as well. I’d never read Tracie Peterson before but she penned a delightful story and I’ll be seeking more by this author. I loved the humor weaved into Intrigue a la Mode and Grand Encounter. Regina Jennings developed an intriguing plot involving smugglers along the railroad that kept me turning the pages. Jen Turano doesn’t disappoint readers used to the hilarious shenanigan’s of her characters and the author’s quippy dialogue like “Mr. Tall, Dark, and –need I say Delicious is here again and sitting in your section.” I just about spit out my tea! But I’d have to say it was Witemeyer’s, More Than a Pretty Face, that stole my heart. Rosalind, the heroine, is running from a mistake in her past, something we can all relate to. When it blows up BIG in her face, her sweetheart, friends, and co-workers all rally behind her, and Witemeyer weaves in a beautiful lesson about the power of forgiveness and the desire we all have to create a future not defined by past transgressions.

This is a wonderfully charming novella collection from an amazing set of historical romance authors. You’ll not only be “served up love,” but plenty of faith, humor, and warm fuzzies on the side.

***I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House on behalf of the authors and was under no obligation to write a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Links for purchase

Amazon   Barnes & Noble   CBD


About the Authors

A recipient of the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award, Tracie Peterson is well-known for her numerous award-winning, bestselling historical romances. She lives near Missoula, Montana. Visit her at www.traciepeterson.com.

Karen Witemeyer is a winner of multiple Carol Awards and has been a finalist for the RITA Award and National Readers’ Choice Award. She lives in Abilene, Texas. Visit her at www.karenwitemeyer.com.

Regina Jennings
 is the acclaimed author of The Fort Reno Series. She lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children. Visit her at www.reginajennings.com.

Jen Turano
, the USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen books, lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her at www.jenturano.com.

 

Book Review & Giveaway — Evermore by Jody Hedlund

About the Book


Title: Evermore
Series Info: The Lost Princess #1
Author: Jody Hedlund
Genre: Christian YA Historical

Book Info: Northern Lights Press, August 27, 2019, Paperback & eBook, 222 pages


Tag Line

An ancient key.

A secret treasure.

And a princess destined to use them both to fight evil and restore peace.


Blurb

Raised by a noble family, Lady Adelaide has always known she’s an orphan. Little does she realize she’s one of the lost princesses and the true heir to Mercia’s throne…until a visitor arrives at her family estate, reveals her birthright as queen, and thrusts her into a quest for the throne whether she’s ready or not.

Unable to tolerate King Ethelwulf’s cruelty and lawlessness, Christopher Langley left Mercia years earlier, training a group of rebels in neighboring Norland. When he returns home after his mother’s death, he discovers that not only is Adelaide all grown up, but she’s also the rightful queen of Mercia.

When King Ethelwulf discovers Adelaide’s location, he’ll stop at nothing to capture her and the key she holds to the ancient treasure. Christopher is just as determined to protect Adelaide so she can lead the growing rebellion. When feelings ignite between the two old friends, forces threaten to destroy their love and rip them apart forever.


My Thoughts

From the very beginning I was intrigued with Hedlund’s characters, especially the heroine, Adelaide, when the opening scene has her masquerading as her male cousin in a joust. Soon after, she learns that her true identity is the Crown Princess of Mercia and from then on she is on a quest to restore peace and prosperity to her kindgom, which is now being ruled by the evil King Ethelwulf. From that point on, the plot moved quickly with twists and turns that kept me swiping the electronic pages of my Kindle long after I should have gone to bed.

Adelaide is a spirited heroine whose strength comes from her noble character, her compassion for her subjects, and her faith in God. Though she struggles to imagine herself as the future Queen of Mercia, her character grows during the story and she is finally able to embrace the destiny God has planned for her.

Though her “cousins” Mitchell and Christopher are at odds with one another, they both vow to protect Adelaide and see her safely restored to the throne of Mercia. Both young men prove themselves to be heroes worthy of Adelaide’s affections, and their characters grow throughout the story as they face danger around every turn and willingly sacrifice they’re own safety to protect Adelaide.

Though they are vastly outnumbered at first, it doesn’t take long for word to spread that Princess Constance has been found and as the people learn of her genuine kindness and concern, they come to her aid. There is plenty of action and adventure as the trio and there growing entourage must battle the king’s elite knights repeatedly. The romance was was wonderfully written as well. You could feel the angst between Adelaide and Christopher as they struggle to deal with the growing attraction between them. Hedlund gives you plenty of swoon-worthy moments while keeping the romance sweet enough for YA readers.

As a writer of historical romance, I found this medieval tale packed full of historical details. From the description of the body armor to the dialogue brimming with antiquated words (so glad I could click on my Kindle dictionary), she steeps the reader in the middle ages and takes you on a journey back in time.

Readers who enjoy YA fiction or historical romance will  enjoy this book. I’ve been wanting to read a Jody Hedlund book for quite a long time and I have to say that her other books I’ve been accumulating on my Kindle won’t have to wait long to see the light of day.


Spiritual Takeaway

While the story is packed with spiritual themes like love, faith and forgiveness, what stands out most to me is the quest Adelaide and Christopher are on to fulfill their God-given destiny. There were so many obstacles that stood in their way, so many opportunities to let fear overtake them. At any point they could have chosen to play-it-safe. Instead, they chose to put their faith in God and allow him to work His perfect will in their lives. It was a strong reminder that God often chooses to work through ordinary people to accomplish His extraordinary plan. Not our will but thine be done


Links for purchase

(Affiliate links included.)

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository

Also FREE through KindleUnlimited


Other Books in the Series

 

Always, The Lost Princess Prequel Novella

A fierce elite guard. A loyal lady in waiting. They must work together to save three princesses from certain death.

On the verge of dying after giving birth to twins, the queen of Mercia pleads with Lady Felicia to save her infant daughters. With the castle overrun by King Ethelwulf’s invading army, Lady Felicia vows to do whatever she can to take the newborn princesses and their three-year old sister to safety, even though it means sacrificing everything she holds dear, possibly her own life.

Gravely wounded in battle and knowing all is lost to his enemy, the king of Mercia tasks Lance, one of his fiercest elite guards, to protect his family along with keys to an ancient treasure. As Lance makes plans to sneak the princesses out of the capital city, he doesn’t need or want Lady Felicia’s help.

With the dark enemy in pursuit, Lance and Felicia must put aside their differences to outrun King Ethelwulf and prevent him from killing the princesses. In a desperate attempt to hide the young girls, Lance and Felicia agree to a marriage of convenience, a decision that will change their lives—and hearts—forever.

Available for purchase on Amazon

 

 Foremost, The Lost Princesses #2

Foremost (The Lost Princesses Book 2) by [Hedlund, Jody]

A second princess. Another key to the treasure. And a cruel king desperate to squelch the growing rebellion.

Raised in an isolated abbey, Lady Maribel desires nothing more than to become a nun and continue practicing her healing arts. She’s carefree and happy with her life…until a visitor comes to the abbey and reveals her true identity as one of the lost princesses.

When he was a young boy, Edmund Chambers helplessly watched King Ethelwulf murder his family. Edmund escaped and has lived in the abbey ever since, uniquely trained to work with wild animals. Secretly, he loves Maribel and desperately hopes she doesn’t complete her holy order vows.

When King Ethelwulf’s army arrives at the abbey to capture Maribel, she flees with Edmund across the desolate Highlands in an attempt to reach Adelaide’s rebel army. Edmund can no longer hide his love, but can Maribel give up her dreams of becoming a nun to love him in return?

Coming late September

Available for Pre-order on Amazon

 

Hereafter, The Lost Princesses #3

The third lost princess. The final key to the treasure. And a battle for the throne.

Growing up deep in the forest as a poor charcoal burner’s daughter, Emmeline has always known her identity as a princess of Mercia, and she lives in fear of being caught and killed. When her adopted father returns from town with news regarding the imminence of war, Emmeline has no wish to join the rebellion against King Ethelwulf.

Prince Ethelrex, the strongest warrior in the land, has done everything he can to prove his loyalty to his father, including searching for the last lost princess. When Ethelrex finally captures Emmeline, the king commands his son to marry the princess in order to win the support of the people and undermine the rebellion.

Forced into marriage, Emmeline has one goal—to escape. But Ethelrex takes his marriage vows seriously, including his promise to love and cherish his wife, and has no intention of letting Emmeline get away. As the battle for the throne rages, will the prince be able to win the battle for Emmeline’s heart?

Coming in October

Available for Pre-order on Amazon


Tour Giveaway*

One winner will receive the prequel and all three books in The Lost Princesses series (AlwaysEvermoreForemost and Hereafter) in paperback or ebook (winner’s choice, if winner is outside the US ebooks only)

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Giveaway ends September 25, 2019


About the Author

Jody Hedlund is a best-selling and award-winning author who loves fairy-tales and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI with her husband and five teen-aged children. When she’s not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.

WebsiteGoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterestInstagramBookBub


Evermore is on Tour with Prism Book Tours

For a complete list of tour stops click here

 

Book Review–Return of the King’s Ranger & A Giveaway!

About the Book


Title: Return of the King’s Ranger
Series Info: Hearts at War, Book 4
Author: Angela K. Couch
Genre: Historical Romance

Book Info: White Rose Publishing/Pelican Book Group, August 23, 2019, 213 pages


Tag Line:

The war was over…for everyone but him.


Blurb:

The war for American freedom is over, and the British have gone back to England. Not knowing what has become of his family since he was forced into the Continental Army nine years earlier, Myles Cunningham wants to go home as well. He returns to the Mohawk Valley with the understanding that he is believed to have been shot for deserting—fiction that might be made real if anyone recognizes him as the son of a Tory and a King’s Ranger.

Everything is wonderful in the growing community along the Mohawk River, except Nora Reid is still alone. With her brother happily settled and both her younger sisters starting families of their own, Nora feels the weight of her twenty-four years. A long walk leads her to the overgrown rubble of the Cunningham homestead where a bearded stranger begins to awaken feelings she’d lost hope of ever experiencing.

With secrets abounding—including whether Myles even cares for her—Nora must determine what she is ready to give up and how far she will go to secure his affections. She begins to break through his defenses, but Myles can’t risk staying.

Not if he loves her.


My Thoughts

Frequent readers of Romancing History will be familiar with my dear friend, and fellow author, Angela K. Couch. It is no secret that I’m a huge fan of Angela’s books. Her newest release, also the last in the Hearts at War series (insert sad emoji here), The Return of the King’s Ranger, lived up to all my expectations!

Set in post-Revolutionary War New York, The Return of the King’s Ranger finds the elusive Myles Cunningham in search of his younger siblings. Being a loyalist, he keeps his true identity hidden from everyone, including the beautiful Nora Reid. Nora is convinced that at 24 she’s missed her chance at love but when she meets Myles, she believes he may be just the man for her. As Myles is drawn toward Nora, he fears his secrets will bring dangerous repercussions upon her and his family.

Myles is a complicated hero. I love that Couch walks a thin line with this character. He is broody and stands on the wrong side of history, but his inner struggle with ghosts from his past elicit sympathy from the reader and make you root for him to overcome his demons with Nora’s steadfast kindness and understanding.

The romantic tension between Myles and Nora is palpable. Couch really upped the ante in this installment of the series. My gut twisted wondering how she would bring these two protagonists together when so many obstacles stand in their way.

One of my favorite things about Couch’s writing is her beautiful descriptive prose. She has a gift for transporting the reader back in time. Infused with historical details, The Return of the King’s Ranger has settings so real you can not only see the Reid farm, but smell the musty hay and hear the horses hooves clop on the dusty roads.

Stars, Five Stars, Logo, Icon, Symbol, Five, RatingThe Return of the King’s Ranger is a strong finale to this amazing Revolutionary War series that I strongly recommend.

I’m thrilled to give this book five stars.

 


Spiritual Takeaway

Forgiveness is the major theme that stands out to me in The Return of the King’s Ranger. Anger rages in Myles over the war and its effects on him and his family. His inability to make peace with the past leads to terrible unrest and nightmares and nearly costs him the woman he loves. His journey to find peace reminds us that unchecked resentment hardens the heart and makes the soul bitter. No matter how wrong one has been treated, Christ calls us to forgive as He has forgiven us.


Purchase Links

Amazon         Barnes & Noble


Other Books in the Series: (Blurb, Tag, Cover, Purchase Links)

The Scarlet Coat, Hearts at War, Book #1

Surrounded by the musket fire of the American Revolution, Rachel Garnet prays for her family to be safe. When the British invade the Mohawk Valley and her father and brother don’t return from the battle, she goes in pursuit of them. She finds her brother alive but her father has been killed at the hand of the enemy. Amidst the death, how can she ignore a cry for help? Rachel reluctantly takes in a badly wounded British officer. But how long can her sense of Christian duty repress her hatred for his scarlet coat?

Passages of Scripture and fleeting images of society are all Andrew Wyndham recalls after he awakens to the log walls of his gentle prison. Even his name eludes him. Rachel Garnet insists he is a captain in the British army. He mourns the loss of his memory, but how can he hope to remember war when his “enemy” is capturing his heart? Andrew’s injuries are severe, his memory slow to return, and the secret of his existence too perilous to ignore.

As Rachel nurses him back to health, his hidden scarlet coat threatens to expose the deeds of her merciful heart, and Andrew is forced to face a harrowing decision—stay hidden and risk losing the woman he loves or turn himself in and risk losing his life.

My Review      Previous RH Post

The Patriot & the Loyalist, Hearts at War (Book #2)

Completing his three years in the Continental Army, Daniel Reid still has no desire to return home—not after losing the woman he loves to a British Captain—so he volunteers to ride south through enemy lines and deliver a message to Colonel Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox. With his temper needing a release and a dark haired beauty finding her way into his broken heart, Daniel decides to join the Swamp Fox’s efforts against the British. Little does he know the British still have the upper hand.

Lydia Reynolds has learned that love comes at a price, and she refuses to pay. Better to close her heart to everything and everyone. When her brother-in-law won’t grant her passage to England, where she hopes to hide from her pain, New Englander, Daniel Reid, becomes her only hope—if she can induce him to give her information about the notorious Swamp Fox and his troops. When the British grow impatient and Daniel evades her questions, Lydia must decide how far to take her charade. The poor man, already gutted by love, hasn’t grown as wise as she. Or so she supposes…

Until the truth is known, the muskets are loaded…and it is time to decide where true loyalties lie.

My Review

The Tory’s Daughter, Hearts at War (Book #3)

Burying his wife is the hardest thing Joseph Garnet has ever done—until he’s called to leave his young son and baby daughter to fight Iroquois raiders. When one of the marauders tries to steal his horse, the last thing he expects is to end up tussling with a female. The girl is wounded, leaving Joseph little choice but to haul her home to heal—an act that seems all too familiar.

Though Joseph doesn’t appear to remember her, Hannah Cunningham could never forget him. He rode with the mob that forced her two brothers into the Continental Army and drove her family from their home—all because of her father’s loyalties to The Crown. After five years with her mother’s tribe, the rebels and starvation have left her nothing but the driving need to find her brothers. Compelled by a secret he’s held for far too long, Joseph agrees to help Hannah find what remains of her family. Though she begins to steal into his aching heart, he knows the truth will forever stand between them.

Some things cannot be forgiven.

My Review     Previous RH Post


About the Author

To keep from freezing in the Great White North, Angela K. Couch cuddles under quilts with her laptop. Winning short story contests, being a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, and a finalist in the International Digital Awards also helped warm her up. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. When not writing, she stays fit (and warm) by chasing after three munchkins.

Connect with Angela:

Website     Facebook     Twitter     GoodReads     BookBub     Instagram     Amazon


Giveaway

****This Giveway is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Melissa S!****

Angela is generously giving away one Kindle copy of The Return of the King’s Ranger. But I love this series so much, I’m going to add in books #1-3! That’s right, one lucky winner will receive a Kindle copy of each book in Angela’s Hearts at War series!*

Angela’s tag line is “making history and fiction fall in love.” To be entered to win this prize package, let us know in the comments which historical period is your favorite setting for a good old-fashioned love story.

Good luck!

*No purchase necessary to enter the drawing. Contest closes, midnight EST on Wednesday, August 28, 2019.

Book Review–More Than Words Can Say

About the Book


Title: More Than Words Can Say
Series Info: A Patchwork Family Novel, Book #2
Author: Karen Witemeyer
Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Book Info: Bethany House Publishers, June 4, 2019, 362 pages


Tag Line

An Impossible Situation. An Unlikely Couple.
A Recipe for Love?


Blurb

More Than Words Can Say (A Patchwork Family Novel Book #2) by [Witemeyer, Karen]After fulfilling a pledge to a dying friend, Zacharias Hamilton is finally free. No family entanglements. No disappointing those around him. Just the quiet bachelor existence he’s always craved. Until fate snatches his freedom away when the baker of his favorite breakfast bun is railroaded by the city council. Despite not wanting to get involved, he can’t turn a blind eye to her predicament . . . or her adorable dimples.

Abigail Kemp needs a man’s name on her bakery’s deed. A marriage of convenience seems the best solution . . . if it involves a man she can control. That person definitely isn’t the stoic lumberman who oozes silent confidence whenever he enters her shop. Control Zacharias Hamilton? She can’t even control her pulse when she’s around him.
When vows are spoken, Abigail’s troubles should be over. Yet threats to the bakery worsen, and darker dangers hound her sister. Can she put ever more trust in Zach without losing her dreams of independence?


My Thoughts

“Choosing a husband was much like choosing a good baguette. One looked for a strong outer shell, a tender interior, and most importantly, a tractability of dough to hold whatever shape the baker deemed appropriate. Abigail needed a good baguette by the end of the week.”

With writing like that, it didn’t take long to remember why Karen Witemeyer remains one of my favorite Christian historical romance authors.

I have to admit I’m a sucker for a good marriage-of-convenience story and this one was just thoroughly entertaining. I loved that Abby found herself doing the asking so she could get a man’s name on the deed to her bakery in order to save her family business. Right from the beginning the subtle attraction between these two lit curiosity in me wondering how in the world they’d find love inside their hasty marriage. Witemeyer delighted me with witty and often charmingly-awkward moments between Abby & Zach and I found myself rooting for them from the very beginning.

But if you want to know my favorite part of this book, it’s that the heroine, Abigail Kemp, had a less than perfect figure. As a woman who has had a life-long struggle with this issue, I definitely related to Abby’s self-doubts and insecurities. And Witemeyer’s hero, Zacharias Hamilton, endeared himself to me immediately because he never minded Abby’s fuller curves. Instead, he relished them. I think we often put too much emphasis on the physical appearance of the opposite sex and don’t concern ourselves enough with our potential spouse’s character. Zacharias saw both in Abby and helped her see that about herself. My only regret is that Bethany House publishers didn’t choose a cover model that more accurately represented the heroine.

In More Than Words Can Say, Witemeyer has the perfect blend of well-developed characters and an intriguing plot, then she tosses in a hearty helping of humor, hope, and love which just might mean that More Than Words Can Say is the perfect recipe for a wonderful read!

I received a copy of the book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.


Favorite Quotes

“Her fingers twined with his, and for the first time in nine years, the weight on his soul lessend just a little.”

“His glare was fierce enough to fire her bread oven without kindling.”

“Just because they’d lost didn’t mean the battle hadn’t been worth waging. A man did what was right even when the odds were stacked against him.”

“They had laid their hearts bare to each other, exposing the raw and ugly places. Anger, jealousy, and self-derision had swirled within her, yet Zach hadn’t shrunk back. Even when the muck inside her spilled onto him. Instead, he stepped into the fray, fought for her—for them.”

“The future is in God’s hands, Zach. Not yours, and not mine. Trusting him to bring about what is best is the only choice we need to make.”


Spiritual Takeaway

“I can believe all the ones that tell me I’m not good enough, or pretty enough, or brave enough and let them skew my perception of events, or I can push aside the clamor and seek out the voice that tells me I’m fearfully and wonderfully made.”

“We have to let God heal our wounds so we can move forward.”

Oh, Abby, I feel you, girl.

I could relate to Abby’s angst and self-doubt because I’d worn those garments myself for way too long. I think if Abby were a real person we’d sit in her lovely bakery and chat about our struggle with body image. Abby’s spiritual journey to overcome self-doubt and learning to see herself as the beautiful woman God made her to be is one many women will relate to. Unfortunately, it is easier to believe the lies, but just as the above mentioned quote states, we have to choose to believe the truth about who God says we are.

I’m going to get a little preachy now so please forgive me. In case you’re not sure what that is, here is just a sampling about what the Bible has to say about who God thinks you are:

1 Thes.1: 4      You are chosen and dearly loved of God.

Ps. 139:14       You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Zech. 2:8         You are the apple of God’s eyes. (I just love that one!)

2 Cor. 5:17      You are a new creation in Christ.

John 1:12        You are a child of God.

Col. 1:14         You have been forgiven.

Rom. 8:1         You are free forever from condemnation.

Eph. 2:6          You are his masterpiece. (Can you just imagine?)

If you’re ever tempted to listen to the ugly words Satan will whisper in your ear, repeat these words of life to yourself instead.

Choose truth.


Links for purchase

Amazon           Barnes & Noble        Christian Book Distributors


Other Books in the Series:

More Than Meets the Eye (A Patchwork Family Novel, Book #1)

When Her Family Is Threatened, She Doesn’t Expect Falling in Love to Be Their Best Defense

More Than Meets the Eye (A Patchwork Family Novel Book #1) by [Witemeyer, Karen]Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes–one bright blue, the other dark brown–Eva has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. Yet the support of even one person can help overcome the world’s judgments, and Eva has two–Seth and Zach, two former orphans she now counts as brothers.

Seeking justice against the man who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father’s death. Only instead of finding a solitary ruthless gambler, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. When Zach’s sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time their paths cross, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline?

Amazon   Barnes & Noble  Christian Book Distributors


About the Author

Karen WitemeyerFor those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warm-hearted historical romances with a flair of humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. A transplant from California, Karen came to Texas for college, met a cowboy disguised as a computer nerd, married him, and never left the state that had become home.

Winner of the HOLT Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, and a finalist for both the RITA and Christy Awards, Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She also loves to reward her readers. Every month she gives away two inspirational historical novels to someone from her newsletter list and offers substantial bonus content on her website. To learn more about Karen and her books, or to join her subscriber list, please visit www.karenwitemeyer.com.


 

 

Book Review: My Dearest Dietrich

About the Book


Title: My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love
Series Info: Stand Alone
Author: Amanda Barratt
Genre: Historical Fiction with Strong Romantic Elements

Book Info: Kregel Publications, 360 pages, June 9, 2019


Tag Line

A staggering love illuminating the dark corners of a Nazi prison.


Blurb

Renowned German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is famous for his resistance to the Nazi regime and for his allegiance to God over government. But what few realize is that the last years of his life also held a love story that rivals any romance novel.

Maria von Wedemeyer knows the realities of war. Her beloved father and brother have both been killed on the battlefield. The last thing this spirited young woman needs is to fall for a man under constant surveillance by the Gestapo. How can she give another piece of her heart to a man so likely to share the same final fate? Yet when Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an old family friend, comes to comfort the von Wedemeyers after their losses, she discovers that love isn’t always logical.

Dietrich himself has determined to keep his distance from romantic attachments. There is too much work to be done for God, and his involvement in the conspiracy is far too important. But when he encounters a woman whose intelligence and conviction match his own, he’s unprepared for how easy it is to give away his heart.

With their deep love comes risk–and neither Dietrich nor Maria is prepared for just how great that risk soon becomes.

Based on detailed historical research, this true love story is at once beautiful and heartrending. My Dearest Dietrich sheds new light on a world-famous theologian . . . and the woman who changed his life.


My Thoughts

I’ve been looking forward to the release of My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love since I first saw author Amanda Barratt‘s post that she’d signed a contract for the novel. Well folks, the wait is over and I can honestly say the book was everything I’d hoped for and so much more.

The depth of research that Barratt undertook to write this novel is staggering. It takes a talented writer to bring the love story of a well-known hero of the Christian faith to life even when the ending is inevitably known. Using numerous excerpts from the private love letters exchanged between Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his young fiancée, Maria von Wedemeyer, Barratt gives the reader a glimpse into the deep faith and tender romance between these ill-fated lovers.

Barratt doesn’t paint an overly-romanticized version of their relationship either. The nearly twenty year difference in their ages raises concern on the part of Maria’s mother as well as Dietrich’s involvement in subversive activities that, if discovered, could bring not only heartache to Maria, but danger for everyone she holds dear. Nor does the author avoid the dark circumstances surrounding Nazi Germany when the two inexplicably fall in love. She accurately portrays the horrific realities of WWII and life in Tegel prison—atrocities, heartbreak, endless interrogations, and constant surveillance, yet seemlessly weaves hopeful threads of triumph, strength, courage, endurance, and the ever present faith that carries the main players through all that stands in their way.

As a writer of historical romantic fiction myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the numerous historical details Barratt employed throughout making the setting and time period come alive without bogging the story down. From black out curtains and rations, to air raid sirens and secret plots, Barratt never lets us forget who her characters were and what was at stake for them. I especially appreciated the sprinkling of German words—mutter, vater, kaffe, and kuchen (just to name a few), that were not overdone or distracting from the story. I often found myself reading many of the other lines with my own feeble German accent.

It’s not uncommon for characters to stay with me long after I’ve finished a novel, but My Dearest Dietrich is a story I cannot stop ruminating over. With heart-wrenching angst and gut-twisting turmoil, Barratt kept me turning the pages and left me completely undone. I can honestly say that I’ve only reread a few books in my adult life, but I’m confident My Dearest Dietrich has earned a coveted spot among those rare titles whose story I will want to revisit time and time again.


Favorite Quotes

“Always remember. It is only space that separates us.”

“I’ve given you so little, but if my unending love is worth anything, then it is yours. Know that whatever comes, it is and will always be…yours.’

“Our love was destined to begin just when we parted…You felt you ‘couldn’t go on.’ So tell me, can you go on without me? And if you feel you can, can you still do so if you know that I can’t go on without you?”

“You, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, are my gift. And I need no other.”

“Lives would be taken by the Reich. Who knew when each of them might be required to surrender theirs. But spirits would live on, and someday, someday their stories would not be silent.”


Spiritual Takeaway

“What was faith if it was not living fully and completely in all of life—its joys and sorrows, burdens and blessings? Taking hold of what one was given, instead of fearing what may come.”

I imagine the previous quote tells you more about the spiritual takeaway from this story than anything I will expand upon here. I was greatly moved by the depth of Bonhoeffer’s faith in the spite of such horrific circumstances. To see this great man of the faith, struggle with questions of morality in the face of such evil made me realize that just because we may wrestle over the “right” Christian response, doesn’t mean we are weak in our beliefs. Actually, its quite the opposite. When our faith is strong and our desire to seek God’s will is earnest, we will grapple with applying our faith to the challenges the world around us presents. All we can do is what we sincerely believe to be “right” in that moment.

I was also deeply moved by the portrayal of Bonhoeffer’s life inside Tegel prison. While having much on his own plate to worry about—the fate of his family and fellow conspirators, his fiancée, and whether or not his own life would be spared, Dietrich put others first—ministering to those in the sick ward, those injured when Allied bombs struck the prison, and even comforting the prison chaplain who felt the strain of shepherding so many souls sentenced to death for “subversive” activities. Sometimes I think as believers we feel we need to have experienced extreme circumstances to have a testimony. Perhaps Bonhoeffer’s true legacy, even more than the great works he authored, is that he was quite simply a Christian who ministered to others right where he was in spite of his own weariness and difficult circumstances. He stepped outside of himself, and put others first.

Through the pages of My Dearest Dietrich, we not only see the well-known theologian but Bonhoeffer as he saw himself—an ordinary man living his faith daily to the best of his ability. This book has left a lasting imprint on my soul to love those around me to the best of my ability, be a breath of encouragement no matter the circumstances, and to stand strong in my beliefs.

“Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Amen, Dietrich. Amen.


Links for purchase

Amazon           Barnes & Noble          CBD


About the Author

ECPA best-selling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story—a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes romantic, historical novels and novellas, penning stories of beauty and brokenness set against the backdrop of bygone eras not so very different from our own. Her novel My Dearest Dietrich: A Novel of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Lost Love, releases from Kregel Publications in June 2019.

She’s also the author of My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York: Adele’s Journey, as well as seven novellas with Barbour Publishing. Two of her novellas have been finalists in the FHL Reader’s Choice Awards.

 

 

Book Review — Daughters of Northern Shores

About the Book


Title: Daughters of Northern Shores
Series Info: Blackbird Mountain #2
Author: Joanne Bischof
Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Book Info: Paperback & ebook, 368 pages, released March 12, 2019 by Thomas Nelson


Heartache and regret, boldness and sacrifice. What will restoration cost the beloved Norgaard family?

Aven Norgaard understands courage. Orphaned within an Irish workhouse, then widowed at just nineteen, she voyaged to America where she was wooed and wed by Thor Norgaard, a Deaf man in rural Appalachia. That the Lord saw her along the winding journey and that Aven now carries Thor’s child are blessings beyond measure. Yet while Thor holds her heart, it is his younger brother and rival who haunts her memories. Haakon—whose selfish choices shattered her trust in him.Having fled the farm after trying to take Aven as his own, Haakon sails on the North Atlantic ice trade where his soul is plagued with regrets that distance cannot heal. Not even the beautiful Norwegian woman he’s pursued can ease the torment. When the winds bear him home after four years away, Haakon finds the family on the brink of tragedy. A decades-old feud with the neighboring farm has wrenched them into the fiercest confrontation on Blackbird Mountain since the Civil War. Haakon’s cunning and strength hold the power to seal many fates, including Thor’s which is already at stake through a grave illness brought to him as the first prick of warfare.

Now Haaken faces the hardest choice of his life. One that shapes a battlefield where pride must be broken enough to be restored, and where a prodigal son may finally know the healing peace of surrender and the boundless gift of forgiveness. And when it comes to the woman he left behind in Norway, he just might discover that while his heart belongs to a daughter of the north, she’s been awaiting him on shores more distant than the land he’s fighting for.

From Christy Award–winning author Joanne Bischof comes Daughters of Northern Shores: the highly anticipated sequel to her moving novel Sons of Blackbird Mountain.


My Thoughts

It’s been way too long since I’ve finished a book that has left me as satisfied as Daughters of Northern Shores or one that made my writers heart cry out to the Lord wishing I could weave words as well as the author whose story I’d just finished. Daughters of Northern Shores is all that and more.

I’ll begin by stating that just like my last review, I hadn’t read the first installment in the series, Sons of Blackbird Mountain. That is a tragedy I intend to soon rectify. While you can easily pick up and enjoy Daughters of Northern Shores as a stand alone, I don’t recommend it. Not because you won’t be able to understand the plot or will struggle to familiarize yourself with the characters, but because I’m positive you will have cheated yourself out of a profoundly amazing reading experience.

I was completely enthralled with Bischoff’s characters. From the hearing impaired, Thor, to his younger brother, Haakon, the prodigal who has returned home seeking forgiveness and a new start with the family he left behind. I’ve never read a story with a deaf main character and wondered how that would work since he had no spoken dialogue. I have to say, Thor captured my heart with his wisdom, spiritual strength, and devoted heart for Aven. I was immediately drawn to Haakon and his courage to return home and face the mistakes he’d made and right the wrongs he’d committed against his family members. Nothing like a bad boy who turns his life around to win this romance reader’s heart.

The women in this story don’t take a back seat either. Aven, Thor’s wife, is as gentle as they come, yet she possesses a determined spirit that serves her well as she faces many challenges, including a contagious illness that threatens her unborn child. Ida and Cora, freedwomen who live on the Norgaard property, display profound courage when monstrous evil returns and places everyone on the Norgaard’s farm in imminent danger. It is Cora’s deep faith and her willingness to speak boldly that steers Haakon back to his faith

Daughters of Northern Shores is so well-written that the Norgaard’s Appalachian farm comes to life with beautiful descriptions the reader can see and smell vividly. Filled with the type of rich historical details, my history-loving, nerd girl heart was filled to the brim. The author’s beautiful prose sing like the melody of a well-written symphony and will leave you desperately wanting more from this writer and the story world she has created for us.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a favorable review. All opinions are my own.


Spiritual Takeaway

I loved that Daughters of Northern Shores explored themes of forgiveness and grace. The prodigal Haakon encounters the consequences of breaking his brothers trust when he returns. While surprised to see him again after four years with no word of his whereabouts, all are cautiously optimistic and hope his arrival signals Haakon’s willingness to restore bonds with the family, not merely to collect his inheritance, a small plot of land on the Norgaard farm.

I like that Bischoff didn’t make the family too eager to welcome Haakon into their good graces, but instead made him earn their trust. Forgiveness and trust are not one in the same. As believers we are encouraged to give forgiveness as freely as Christ has given it to us, whether or not the offender seeks it or changes their behavior. It is an act of obedience between the believer and God. Trust however is earned over time through altered behavior and a determination by the offender to change their attitude and actions. Bischoff writes a beautifully believable transformation in Haakon, one that both the family and the reader can embrace as authentic.


Links for Purchase

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleChristianBookTNZ Fiction


Other Books in the Series

Title: Sons of Blackbird Mountain
Series Info: Blackbird Mountain #1
Author: Joanne Bischof
Genre: Historical Romance

Book Info: Paperback & ebook, 339 pages, released July 3rd, 2018 by Thomas Nelson

From the bestselling award-winning author of The Lady and the Lionheart

“Beloved author Joanne Bischof doesn’t disappoint with her latest beautifully written, heartrending tale . . . a quick favorite for historical romance readers.” —Elizabeth Byler Younts, author of The Solace of Water

A Tale of Family, Brotherhood, and the Healing Power of Love

After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of Nineteenth-Century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.

But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.

As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?

A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.

Praise for Sons of Blackbird Mountain:

“Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a quiet gem of a historical romance. Refreshingly real and honest in its depiction of flawed but lovable individuals, it introduces characters readers will want to meet again.” – CBA Market

“. . . the novel provides an interesting glimpse of the time period and some complex social issues among neighbors in an area still recovering from the Civil War.” – Historical Novels Review

“VERDICT Christy- and Carol Award-winning author Bischof (The Lady and the Lionheart) creates endearing characters and a heartwarming story line in this unforgettable novel about the power of family, love, and the true meaning of home. Fans of Kristy Cambron, Julie Klassen, and Susan Meissner will love this one.” – Library Journal

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleChristianBookTNZ Fiction


About the Author

Joanne Bischof is an ACFW Carol Award and ECPA Christy Award-winning author. She writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the heartstrings. She was honored to receive the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Novel of the Year Award in 2014 and in 2015 was named Author of the Year by the Mount Hermon conference. Joanne’s 2016 novel, The Lady and the Lionheart, received an extraordinary 5 Star TOP PICK! from RT Book Reviews, among other critical acclaim. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children.

Picture courtesy of https://joannebischof.com

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Giveaway

One winner will receive a print copy of DAUGHTERS OF NORTHERN SHORES and a Thomas Nelson/Zondervan custom tote bag (book and bag shown are examples, not actual prize)

US only

Ends March 20, 2019

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