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

Tag: Bethany House Publishers

Book Review: The Heart’s Charge by Karen Witemeyer & a Giveaway!

About the Book


Title: The Heart’s Charge
Series: Hanger’s Horsemen, Book #2

Author: Karen Witemeyer
Genre: Historical Romance

Book Info: Bethany House Publishers,     June 1, 2021, 381 pages


Blurb

For Years They’ve Been Nomads for Justice, but a Final Mission May Just Lead Their Hearts Home.

Members of the legendary Hanger’s Horsemen, Mark Wallace and Jonah Brooks arrive in Llano County, Texas, to deliver a steed, never expecting they’d help deliver a baby as well. Left with an infant to care for, they head to a nearby foundling home, where Mark encounters the woman he nearly married a decade ago.

After failing at love, Katherine Palmer has dedicated her life to caring for children, teaming up with Eliza Southerland to start Harmony House. Eliza understands the pain of not fitting society’s mold, being illegitimate and of mixed ancestry. Yet those are the very attributes that lead her to minister to outcast children. The taciturn Jonah intrigues her by defying all her stereotypes of men, but there are secrets behind his eyes–ghosts from wars past and others still being waged.

When the Horsemen hear rumors of missing children, they stay to investigate, sticking close to Harmony House and its beautiful owners. As they work together to uncover the truth, love and danger grow hand in hand until a final sinister scheme threatens to destroy them all.

CBD    Barnes & Noble   Amazon


My Thoughts

Karen Witemeyer’s books keep getting better and better! Just call me a sucker for handsome, strong, godly soldier types. I wasn’t sure about reading a story with four points of view. I wondered if one of the couples would take center stage while the other lingered in the background but that wasn’t the case with The Heart’s Charge. Both Jonah and Eliza’s story line, as well as Mark and Kate’s, were well-developed, compelling romances nestled in a mystery about missing children. And I didn’t see the culprit coming either!

I also want to give Witemeyer a shout out for writing such endearing children. Oftentimes children in romance novels are just underfoot and underdeveloped characters. Not so in The Heart’s Charge. Kate and Eliza run a home for Foundling Children and these sweet children, especially Abner, stole my heart. The boxcar children, orphan boys who ride the rails, were also well thought out characters that added to the story.

With The Heart’s Charge, Witemeyer delivers another solid dose of scriptural truth, humor, mystery, and romance that is sure to delight every reader. My only complaint was I wanted more of Matthew and Josie Hanger and Preach from book one.

I’m definitely looking forward to book number three in the Hanger’s Horseman series!


Favorite Quotes

“But if each man and woman were defined solely by their greatest sin, what hope would there be for any of us?”

“Regrets are heavy, son. The fewer you carry around the better off you’ll be. But when they come, and they will, remember you got a Father who will carry them for you if you let him.”

“God don’t need fancy words,” Jonah encouraged, “just true ones.”


About the Author

For those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warmhearted historical romance with a flair for humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. Recently voted #1 Readers’ Favorite Christian Romance Author by Family Fiction Magazine, Karen is a two-time winner of the ACFW Carol Award and three-time RITA® finalist. Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She is an avid cross-stitcher, and makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.

Facebook     Website     Pinterest     BookBub     GoodReads


Giveaway*

I’m giving away a Kindle copy of The Heart’s Charge to one commenter. To enter, tell us your favorite Karen Witemeyer book!

**Giveaway ends at midnight, Thursday, June 24th

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.

Amazon           B&N

 

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.

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.

 

Interview with Author Jen Turano and a Give Away!

I’m so thrilled to welcome historical romance author, Jen Turano, to Romancing History today. I had the pleasure of meeting Jen at the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat last spring. I think my jaw nearly came unhinged when she sat down at our table. I distinctly remember telling myself to “play it cool.” LOL! I don’t know if I managed to pull that off or not, but I did manage not to fall out of my seat so at least there’s that!

Jen’s newest release, Diamond in the Rough, released September 3rd and is the second book in her American Heiress series. Before we chat with Jen, here’s a little bit about Jen and her new book.


About Jen

 

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 https://www.facebook.com/jenturanoauthor/ or on Twitter at JenTurano@JenTurano.


About the Book

 

 

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     Barnes & Noble


Interview with Jen

 

Fast Five

Dogs or Cats? Dogs because, well, I don’t think that needs explaining.

Coffee or Tea? Coffee, but only one cup, two cups can make me rather…edgy.

Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy? Colin Firth

Puzzles or Board Games? Board games – Clue being my favorite, although Al (husband person) is notorious for messing up the clue cards, which makes it all the more interesting.

Sound of Music or Hello Dolly? Sound of Music – I once sang the title song in a choir competition – had to dress in an outfit that looked exactly like Maria’s when she was twirling around in that grassy field.

Q & A

RH:  Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long you’ve been writing? How many books you have published and what era(s) do you write in?

JT:  I’ve been married to Al for thirty years, and yes, of course I was super, super young when we got married – okay, not really, but that’s what I tell people. “Diamond in the Rough” is my twelfth full-length novel with Bethany House, although I do have two novellas with them as well, but I usually don’t count those. I write Gilded Age Historical Rom-Coms (romantic comedies) and have discovered that I’m a complete history nerd.

RH: I’m a huge history nerd, too something else we have in common. Now tell us something unusual about yourself. Something not in the typical back of the book author bio—something quirky.

JT: I don’t like bacon.

RH: You don’t like bacon? Really? What about book boyfriends? Who is your favorite literary heart throb?

JT: Is it weird that I don’t have a favorite book boyfriend? Hmmm…

RH: Uh, yeah! LOL! Nah, its probably wise. Then you won’t have drool and ruin your book! LOL! Fans of romantic fiction love a cute meet. How did you and your hubby, Al, meet?

JT: We met in a bar in Buffalo, NY – although I didn’t agree to go out with him at first. I actually accepted a date with one of Al’s friends instead. That date was only okay, but then I ran into Al at another event a few weeks later. He gave me this great smile, and we’ve been together ever since.

RH: Poor Al. You made him sweat a little. Your books make me laugh out loud. Are any of the funny incidents in your novels based on events from your real life?

JT: I seem to have a lot of run-ins with animals – I’ve gotten chased by dogs, peacocks, and had to rescue my son from a beaver pond when he sank in the silt. Horses are not my friends, they tend to like to chase me, and don’t even get me started on chickens – can’t tell you how many times I’ve been stalked by chickens.

RH: My, you really have had quite a few misadventures where animals are concerned. That definitely sounds like fodder for your one of your future heroines. What was the inspiration behind Diamond in the Rough?

JT: When I decided to write an American Heiress series, I knew it would be tricky to keep each story fresh, which is why I thought it would be amusing to include a heroine who was an unexpected heiress, and then throw her into New York high society.

RH: I love that twist. Who would you cast as the hero and heroine for your story?

JT: Hero would probably be someone like Clive Owen, while the heroine could be someone like, ah…Jennifer Lawrence? I don’t normally use images when I’m writing a story, nor do I give too many details about appearances because I want the reader to form their own image of what they think my characters look/act like.

RH: What fun! I can totally see Clive Owen as Reginald and Jennifer Lawrence as Poppy. I think its pretty cool that you don’t overload your readers with the physical description of your characters. I often see characters differently than an author paints them. Sometimes I’ll be reading along and the author will mention that the heroine is a brunette and I’m like, what? I could’ve sworn she had red hair!

In Diamond in the Rough, your heroine, Poppy Garrison, interacts with New York high society. What did you learn about the New York Four Hundred during your research?

JT: I do a ton of research about the Gilded Age, and with each book, I always learn something new – in this book, I ran across this mission house, The House of Industry, in Five Points. That establishment offered immigrants classes in English, while also offered school to children. They placed orphans when needed, provided job opportunities, and helped those immigrants transition to life in America.

RH: I’m such a history nerd and I’d never heard of The House of Industry before. That’s really interesting. I do know that etiquette was an important aspect of life in the Gilded Age. In Diamond in the Rough, Reginald Blackburn, agrees to give etiquette lessons to Poppy. Can you share some of the societal expectations for meals or balls that would’ve been part of his instructions?

JT: The quadrille dances were incredibly intricate – the young ladies and men who were chosen to participate in these were required to practice for hours on end, and then they had to go for fittings because each quadrille was really a stage production if you will, complete with costumes and makeup. As for the expectation for meals, it was not uncommon to have twelve courses served, which meant cutlery was excessive, and one had to learn how to properly negotiate around a table setting.

RH: Twelve courses? I can’t even imagine! I loved the opening scene in Diamond in the Rough when Poppy snags her tiara on her dance partner’s jacket. It must have been a challenge for the young women of Poppy’s day to learn all those intricate dance steps. What was your biggest challenge in writing Diamond in the Rough?

JT: Oddly enough, this particular book didn’t give me as much trouble as some of my books have in the past. Yes, the characters didn’t want to behave at first, but all in all, it was an easy write.

RH: Diamond in the Rough is the second book in your American Heiress series. Will any of the characters from Flights of Fancy make an appearance in book two? If so, who can we look forward to seeing again?

JT: Miss Beatrix Waterbury is seen throughout the book, and then she’ll get her story in book three, “Storing Up Trouble.”

RH: I really like it when characters reappear throughout a series. What do you hope readers will take away from Diamond in the Rough?

JT: I always hope readers will take away a few chuckles with any of my books, as well as enjoy a few amusing hours spending time with my quirky characters.

RH: I had so much fun chatting with you, Jen. Thanks for visiting with my readers.

JT: Thanks for having me Kelly!!  Always fun.


Giveaway

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!

Congratulations to our winner, Mandy Bentley!!!

Jen has graciously agreed to give away a paper copy of Diamond in the Rough to one Romancing History reader. To enter the giveaway*, tell us if you’ve had the opportunity to read one of Jen’s novels, and if so, which is your favorite.

*Giveaway ends midnight, September 11, 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: 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

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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)

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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

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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

 

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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

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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.

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