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

Category: Book Reveiws

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

WebsiteGoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterestYouTubeInstagram


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

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Book Review: A Desperate Hope

About the Book

Title: A Desperate Hope
Series Info: Empire State #3
Author: Elizabeth Camden
Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Book Info: Paperback & eBook, Released February 5, 2019, 352 pages, Bethany House Publishers


Blurb

Eloise Drake’s prim demeanor hides the turbulent past she believes is finally behind her. A mathematical genius, she’s now a successful accountant for the largest engineering project in 1908 New York. But to her dismay, her new position puts her back in the path of the man responsible for her deepest heartbreak.

Alex Duval is the mayor of a town about to be wiped off the map. The state plans to flood the entire valley where his town sits in order to build a new reservoir, and Alex is stunned to discover the woman he once loved on the team charged with the demolition. With his world crumbling around him, Alex devises a risky plan to save his town–but he needs Eloise’s help to succeed.

Alex is determined to win back the woman he thought he’d lost forever, but even their combined ingenuity may not be enough to overcome the odds against them.


My Thoughts

What a fantastic introduction to new-to-me author, Elizabeth Camden. Camden’s voice is lovely. She paints scenes beautifully for the reader and her prose flow effortlessly through the novel carrying the reader on a delightful journey back in time.

Camden’s heroine, Eloise Drake, is smart, efficient and logical. Unfortunately for Eloise, the man who makes her heart pound, Alex Duval, is a romantic dreamer with a larger-than-life vision to save his beloved town of Duval Springs before its flooded to make a reservoir to provide water to New York City. Everything in Eloise’s play-it-safe, number crunching, CPA mind knows it’s an impossible task, but she longs to live an adventure like the ones she’s spent her whole life reading about. Of course this is exactly the kind of opposites-attract-chemistry that will leave the reader with great angst wondering when these two will finally mange to get together.

As a helpless romantic, I was drawn to Alex immediately. I loved his “nothing will keep me down” attitude. I thought Eloise was the perfect balance for Alex, providing just enough sense and responsibility to keep Alex on track to achieve his dream of saving the town—his perfect “ballast.” Just like any good couple, Alex’s risk-taking nature helped draw Eloise out of her protective shell and encouraged her to not only take a chance on his crazy scheme to relocate Duval Springs, but to risk her heart on Alex himself one more time.

I was mesmerized by the historical facts and technical details that Camden wove into the story. Everything from accounting details like evaluating the value of condemned properties and project costs to the mechanics of raising a building from its foundation. While Duval Springs is a fictional town, Camden was inspired by true life events that occurred in upstate New York at the turn of the twentieth century. Instead of allowing their towns to be flooded, residents painstakingly relocated their towns board by board, building by building to higher ground.

The author also wove many suspenseful elements into the story. I do not want to give any spoilers here but I must say that I was surprised as to the motives of those involved in sabotaging the town’s relocation efforts. Once the guilty culprits came to light, I realized the author had skillfully laid the trail of tiny bread crumbs leading me right where she wanted to me go, clues I hadn’t put together. I was delighted to not have figured out “the who and why” ahead of the story.

As for the setting, Duval Springs is the type of quintessential fictional town you’d like to be real. Like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Walnut Grove or Jan Karon’s Mitford, Duval Springs leaps to life filled with secondary characters that become your friends and have you routing for them to overcome every obstacle that this seemingly impossible task presents. Of Duval Springs Camden writes, “…get to church on Sunday morning to thank God for the blessing of being born in a place like Duval Springs, where we laugh, work, and cry together.”

When I signed up to read A Desperate Hope as part of its tour with Prism Book Tours, I didn’t know it was third book in the Empire State series. In fact, I had read more than a hundred pages before I saw the advertisements in the back of the novel for the previous two books. The story flowed that well that I can highly recommend it as a stand alone.

I was given a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Spiritual Takeaway

Throughout the story, Camden’s characters trust in God and rely on His providence every time a new impediment to their progress occurs. Just as the title suggests, hope is the central spiritual theme of this book. Hope in God, His faithfulness, and also in the inspiration and the dreams He places in our hearts. Nothing is impossible with God.

My one criticism would be the handling of the premarital sexual encounter between Alex and Eloise that occurs off page and long before the story begins. My issues is not that the characters are flawed in this way. To the contrary, I think it makes them relatable to many modern readers. My issue is that Eloise seems more embarrassed by their past actions than sorry that she sinned. Although Alex does not come across as cavalier, he doesn’t seem to have any regrets either, except that he wished he’d married Eloise before her guardian whisked her away upon his discovery of their trysts. I recognize that the transgression mentioned occurred long ago, their reunion stirs up old memories and I can’t help but feel the author missed the opportunity to paint a beautiful picture of God’s grace and redemption for the reader.


Available for Purchase on

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleChristianBookiBooksKobo


Other Books in the Series


About the Author

Elizabeth Camden is the author of twelve historical novels and two historical novellas and has been honored with both the RITA Award and the Christy Award. With a master’s in history and a master’s in library science, she is a research librarian by day and scribbles away on her next novel by night. She lives with her husband in Florida.


Book Tour Giveaway

  • One Grand Prize winner will receive print copies of all three books in the Empire State series: A Dangerous LegacyA Daring Venture, and A Desperate Hope
  • Two additional winners will receive a print copy of A Desperate Hope
  • US only
  • Ends March 1 2019

Enter the Rafflecopeter giveaway here.



A Desperate Hope On Tour with Prism Book Tours


TOUR SCHEDULE
February 18th:
Launch
The Power of Words – Review
Kelly Goshorn @ Romancing History – Review
February 19th:
Remembrancy – Review
Labor Not in Vain – Review
February 20th:
Hearts & Scribbles – Excerpt
Locks, Hooks and Books – Review
Uplifting Reads – Excerpt
February 21st:
Books n Baubles – Review
The Barefoot Reader – Excerpt
February 22nd:
Among the Reads – Review (ebook)
Faithfully Bookish – Review
February 25th:
I’m Going on an Adventure – Review
Beauty in the Binding – Review
February 26th:
All-of-a-kind Mom – Review
Wishful Endings – Review
Kat’s Corner Books – Review (ebook)
February 27th:
Jorie Loves A Story – Review
Loraine D Nunley, Author – Review
February 28th:
Tell Tale Book Reviews – Review
Hallie Reads – Review
Splashes of Joy – Review
March 1st:
Heidi Reads… – Excerpt
Flowers of Quiet Happiness – Review (ebook)

Grab Our Button!

Book Review: Never Past Hope

About the Book


Title: Never Past Hope

Series Info: Triangular Trade Trilogy, Book #2

Author: Janine Mendenhall

Genre & Book Info: Inspirational Regency Romance, 308 pages, Beacon Heritage Publishing

Back Cover Blurb

Miss Mary Hope Adsley always considered herself to be the sensible one. But now, her sensibilities are unraveling around a man she thought she knew. After he attempted to marry her best friend—for money, no less—authorities charge Sir Steven Likebridge with masquerading as a gentleman and abduction. With his execution days away, Mary Hope desperately seeks to learn the truth about the man she loves. 

Will the truth turn out to be worse than his lies? 


My Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed the second installment of the Triangular Trade Trilogy. Once again, Mendenhall weaves amazing historical details into her story. If you’ve read my other reviews, you know I can be quite harsh on authors who do not do their research. I found the vivid, though horrid details of prison life in Stanley Tower Prison especially riveting as well as hints of social and prison reform movements.

If you have read the first book in the series, Starving Hearts (see my review, here), you’ll be delighted to see Peter, Annette and Turtle’s stories progress in the pages of Never Past Hope. I thought Annette to be a less impetuous and more a proper lady than in the first book, but after all she experienced, I can see her transformation as realistic. Peter struggles a bit to take the reigns of leadership of the property he has now inherited and still longs for the quieter pastor’s life he had once sought. Turtle is a truly a delightful character that made me chuckle in just about every scene in which he appeared.

My only complaint was that I felt the story started a bit slow and dealt with a great deal of character inner thoughts and reflection primarily on events that happened both on and off the pages of the last book. I found that a bit confusing and hard to follow and I had just finished Starving Hearts. I do not recommend Never Past Hope as a stand alone read for that reason. However, once I got past the initial chapters the story flowed beautifully and I was once again swept away in the Regency world Mendenhall creates for us.



Spiritual Takeaway

I loved Mendenhall’s theme of forgiveness and second chances. If anyone needs a second chance, it’s Mendenhall’s unlikely hero, Sir Steven Likebridge. And who better to lead him to that place of brokenness and redemption before God, than the very person he wronged the most, Peter Adsley. I truly treasured Mary. What a strong woman of faith. Her enduring belief that God can forgive anyone who is contrite was inspiring to me, personally.

I was provided a free copy of Never Past Hope by Lighthouse Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Links for purchase

Amazon Barnes & Noble

Other Books in the Series

Starving Hearts, Triangular Trade Book #1

BPlagued by nightmares, Annette yearns to find her anonymous rescuer — the man who saved her life from a near deadly assault. Deep inside she is starving for companionship and a mutually respectful relationship. When Mr. Peter Adsley, an abolitionist pastor dealing with his own emotional baggage, agrees to a clandestine meeting, the event appears providential. But self-doubt, deception, and the schemes of a mutual enemy threaten to keep the pair apart. A phantom adversary will stop at nothing to win Annette’s dowry for himself, even if it means killing Peter.

Carol Award Finalist & Selah Award Finalist

Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble



Grab Our Button!

Tour Schedule

Book Review– Starving Hearts

Book Review

Starving Hearts

by Janine Mendenhall

My Rating: 4 stars

 

About the Book


Series: Triangular Trade Trilogy
Genre: historical romance, suspense, Regency Era
Publisher: Heritage Beacon Fiction
Publication date: May 16, 2016
Number of pages: 300

Blurb


Plagued by nightmares, Annette yearns to find her anonymous rescuer — the man who saved her life from a near deadly assault. Deep inside she is starving for companionship and a mutually respectful relationship. When Mr. Peter Adsley, an abolitionist pastor dealing with his own emotional baggage, agrees to a clandestine meeting, the event appears providential. But self-doubt, deception, and the schemes of a mutual enemy threaten to keep the pair apart. A phantom adversary will stop at nothing to win Annette’s dowry for himself, even if it means killing Peter.

My Thoughts


I thoroughly enjoyed Starving Hearts. I found the lead characters to be compelling and engaging. I enjoyed the author’s ability to balance the duality of reserve common to the Regency era with the hero and heroine’s determination not to let the rules of society direct the course of their lives. Both Annette & Peter experience very deep losses that make you wonder how a person could manage to keep on going. I found Peter to be especially likeable. He was a very godly man who showed no weakness in the face of unspeakable evil and never let dire circumstances unravel his strong faith in God.

I especially enjoyed the villain, Slike. He is a terrible wretch that was fun to dislike as the story built to a surprising climax as the author did manage to build a bit of sympathy for this character which I wasn’t expecting. I did find Captain Bledsoe’s “pirate” dialect to be a bit off-putting and cliche, especially since before he’d been forced into life at sea he was a proficient pianist and music tutor.

Mendenhall did an excellent job portraying historical details of the Regency era as well, something I can be quite harsh on if not done well. I felt immersed in Regency England from the believable dialogue, to the balls and the constant reminder of the rigid social etiquette of the era.

Starving Hearts wrestles with some disturbing issues that may upset some readers including detailed yet historically accurate depictions of the slave trade including life on the slave ship Terona. As a historical romance author myself, I applaud the author for addressing these issues. In fact, the way the hero is affected by life on the Terona is so real, my heart ached for the abolitionist preacher who learns that his family’s wealth and his inheritance has been built on the backs of slaves.

Spiritual Takeaway


While some of the subject matter and scenes depicted in Starving Hearts can be dark at times, overall, I found the book to be uplifting as evil is punished and good vindicated. The author doesn’t shy away from testing the faith and strength of her characters. I think trusting in God even when situations seem impossible to overcome is the key spiritual lesson that Annette and Peter learn throughout the story. Peter frequently reminds Annette of Romans 8:28 “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.”

Praise for Starving Hearts


Carol Award Finalist

Selah Award Finalist

“Not only is this a delightful regency romance but it is also suspense filled mystery of the very best kind.” ~ Amazon review

“The author did a great job, maybe too great a job, describing the slave scenes. Spine tingling and suspenseful. I was biting my nails throughout much of this book.” ~ Amazon review

GoodreadsAmazonB&N

About the Author


Janine MendenhallAfter thirty-eight years of living in Los Angeles, I’ve landed in western NC where I’m amazed by colored trees, four seasons, and the awesome opportunity to write.

When I’m not grading papers, writing, or researching, I help my husband and our two golden retrievers manage our five children and two lap cats.

 


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

 

Grab Our Button!

 

Book Review–Legacy of Mercy

Book Review & Giveaway

Legacy of Mercy

by Lynn Austin

 

 

About the Book


Legacy of Mercy
(Waves of Mercy #2)
By Lynn Austin
Christian Historical Romance
Hardcover, Paperback & ebook, 400 Pages
October 2nd 2018 by Bethany House Publishers

She Knew Her New Life Would Not Be Easy,
But Nothing Could Prepare Her For What Waits Ahead

Having returned to Chicago, young socialite Anna Nicholson can’t seem to focus on her upcoming marriage. The new information she’s learned about her birth mother continues to pull at her, and she hires Pinkerton detectives to help her find the truth. But as she meets people who once knew her mother and hears stories about the past, Anna soon discovers that some secrets are better left hidden.

At the same time, unflattering stories about Anna are leaked by someone who would love to see her disgraced and her engagement broken. And as Anna tries to share her faith with her society friends, she understands that her choice to seek God’s purpose for her life isn’t as simple as she had hoped.

When things are at their darkest, Anna knows she can turn to her grandmother, Geesje de Jonge, back in Holland, Michigan. Geesje’s been helping new Dutch immigrants, including a teen with a haunted past, adjust to America. She only hopes that her wisdom can help all these young people through the turmoil they face.

My Thoughts


Many of you will find this hard to believe, but this is my first Lynn Austin book! I was very excited to read this author and the story did not disappoint. Since this is book two in the series, I thought it stood alone very well and the author gave you all the necessary information to not feel like you were missing important details. That being said, I’ve already picked up book one, Waves of Mercy, and do plan to read that one as well.

I think Austin’s gift is writing wonderful, multi-faceted characters with great depth that draw you right into their story. The heroine, Anna Nicholson, comes from a world of wealth and privilege, but undeniably feels God’s call on her life to serve him. As the story unfolds, Anna’s faith blossoms. She is torn between William, a man she cares about and is expected to marry, and Derk, the man she loves. I especially enjoyed the way Austin drew fine distinctions between the two men and Anna’s choices without demonizing either of them.

Tante Geejse, Anna’s biological grandmother is not only the rock of the book, but of her family and community as well. Kind, compassionate and filled with faith, Geejse reminded me of my own precious grandmother Criste. She welcomes Cornelia, a young immigrant girl with a tragic past, into her home. Cornelia has faced unthinkable heartache yet was forced to bury it deep inside instead of dealing with the pain. But slowly Geesje helps her to confront her past, grieve her losses, and find hope in God for her future. Although Geesje occasionally borders on the preachy side, you’re willing to overlook it especially when she’s confronting Cornnelia’s overbearing grandfather.

Austin doesn’t shy away from some difficult topics either– attempted suicide, sexual and physical abuse, and teen pregnancy. Though handled in a tasteful manner without any graphic details, this degree of realism may be distressing for some younger readers.

As both a reader and writer of historical romance, I have high expectations when it comes to historical accuracy. Austin effortlessly weaves historical details that bring the Gilded Age to life before your eyes—butlers and maid servants, societal expectations and the importance of keeping up appearances. The author paints a beautiful comparison between the heroine’s life of privilege and her grandmother’s modest lifestyle among the Dutch immigrants in the small town of Holland, Michigan. Austin’s vivid descriptions of the stately mansions in Chicago’s Lakeshore district as well as the run down inner city tenements immerse you in the time period, and will leave you lifting your pinky as you sip your tea or feeling the need to wipe the grime and soot from your skin.

With endearing characters and a strong, satisfying ending, I give Legacy of Mercy 4 out of 5 stars!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. I am not required to write positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Favorite Quotes


“Maybe change is His (God’s) favorite tool to make sure we keep growing closer to Him.” 

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! As someone who doesn’t like change, this quote gave me plenty to contemplate! I probably need to write that on an index card and stick in on my fridge!

“Over time–and it was a long time–I chose to let go of the resentment and to trust Him (God). Simply trust Him. I don’t need to see exactly how He’s going to weave together all of the broken strands–in my life or anyone else’s. But I know that the finished work will be beautiful.”

Who hasn’t experienced great loss? A loved one. A marriage. A dream. These beautiful words of encouragement reminded me how God is always working behind the scenes for my good.

Spiritual Takeaway


The central overarching theme of God’s love and mercy is recurring throughout the story. As  Austin’s characters face difficult trials and uncertainties, the reader is reminded that God has a plan for our lives and that we can trust Him even when we don’t understand what’s happening or how our problems will be resolved.

Oma Geejse’s servant heart also reminds us to bless others with our time, talents and possessions. God blesses us so that we may be a blessing to others.

Praise for Legacy of Mercy


“Interlacing the past with the present-day lives of Anna and Geesje, Austin compassionately delivers a moving tale of family bonds, tests of faith, and abiding love.”–Booklist starred review

“Austin has crafted an interesting, historically accurate portrait of two profoundly different characters: one looking back at life, the other taking her first faltering steps toward independence.”–Publishers Weekly

GoodreadsAmazonB&NBook DepositoryChristianbookKobo

Bethany House

Other Books in the Series


Waves of Mercy
(Waves of Mercy #1)
By Lynn Austin
Christian Historical Romance
Hardcover, Paperback & ebook, 384 Pages
October 4th 2016 by Bethany House Publishers

Haunted by the Unknowns of Their Pasts,
Two Women Search for Answers Along the Shores of Lake Michigan

Chicago socialite Anna Nicholson retreats to the Hotel Ottawa in Holland, Michigan, after breaking her engagement with her wealthy fiancé. Filled with questions about her newfound faith and troubled by a recurring nightmare, Anna finds solace in Derk Vander Veen, a seasonal hotel worker who plans to go into the ministry.

Prompted by a request from her son, Geesje de Jonge begins to sift through memories of emigrating from the Netherlands almost fifty years ago. As she writes them down for the Semi-Centennial anniversary of the town’s settlement, her story takes on a life of its own as she honestly and painfully recalls her regrets, doubts, hardships, and joys. Her story captivates Derk, who sees similarities between Geesje and Anna, and wishes to bring the two together.

Past and present collide as Anna and Geesje seek clarity, but neither expects the revelations that await them.

GoodreadsAmazonB&NBook DepositoryChristianbookKobo

Bethany House

Tour Schedule & Giveaway


Legacy of Mercy On Tour with Prism Book Tours

 

Grab Our Button!

Tour Schedule

October 15th:
Launch
Cover Lover Book Review
An Indie Adventure
Author Kelly D. Scott

October 16th:
Romancing History
Uplifting Reads

October 17th:
The Power of Words
Hearts & Scribbles

October 18th:
Fiction Aficionado
Splashes of Joy

October 19th:
Wishful Endings
Stacking My Book Shelves!
Rockin’ Book Reviews

October 22nd:
Among the Reads
Book by Book

October 23rd:
Jen Around the World
Heidi Reads…

October 24th:
Jorie Loves A Story
Radiant Light

October 25th:
Tell Tale Book Reviews
Locks, Hooks and Books

October 26th:
Reading Is My SuperPower
Remembrancy

Check out the Bookstagram Tour schedule October 22 – 26 here!

 

Tour Giveaway

One Grand Prize Winner will receive Waves of Mercy and Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin and tulip notecards.

Two additional winners will receive Waves and Mercy and Legacy of Mercy.

For US winners only—international readers may enter, but a $35 gift card will be substituted for their prize if they are chosen as winners.

Ends October 26, 2018

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author


For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband’s work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she’d earned at Hope College and Southern Connecticut State University to work as a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Web page // Goodreads // Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest //

Page 2 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén