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

Tag: Chrisitan Historical Romance

Frontier Secrets & A Giveaway

About the Book

Christian Historical Romance

Paperback & eBook, 288 Pages

Released August 24, 2021, Love Inspired Historical


A woman seeking a new future.

A cowboy with a shadowed past.

Untamed Wyoming is nothing like polished, restrictive Chicago—that’s why Ellie Marshall likes it. On her uncle’s ranch, she’s free. Free to practice her calling in medicine. Free to finally connect with her uncle. Free to explore her feelings for mysterious cowboy Rhett Callaway. In this strange place, Rhett is her constant—the one she trusts to help and protect her…especially when sinister machinations on the ranch come to light.

But will Rhett’s murky past drive him away just when Ellie needs him most?

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Excerpt, Frontier Secrets

“I never asked where you grew up.”

He kept his eyes averted as he continued to work. “Are you asking now?”

“Yes.”

“We live around Cheyenne until I was eight. Then we moved southeast.” Backing away, Rhett peered at the sky. “It’s late. I need to return you to the ranch before your uncle worries.”

He needed to? His choice of words struck her, reminding her that she now lived in a different place where people took the law into their own hands. If her uncle believed for one moment that Rhett had insulted her, he wouldn’t hesitate to string up his newest worker.

“Let’s hurry, then.” Ellie leaped down from the back of the wagon. And soon they were on their way. But for the remainder of the drive, she couldn’t help but think she knew so little about the man seated next to her. Yes, he was courageous, strong and a hard worker, but what did she really know about him?

What secrets did he carry that he was unwilling—or unable—to share?


About the Author

What do you get when you cross an army brat, a police record and an opera singer? You would get Anna Zogg. She has been surrounded by those in the military (father, four siblings, husband, and son), she was an exchange student in Denmark (when police records were mandatory) and she trained as a vocal major in college. With such a diverse background, she couldn’t help but become a writer.

Anna has long been fascinated by the west–ranch life, horses and the tough men and women who tamed it. Ever drawn to her Native American roots, she and her husband settled in the Pacific Northwest. They love majestic mountains, vast oceans, high deserts and towering pines.

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 Giveaway**

**This Giveaway is now closed.**

Congratulations to our winner, Perrianne Askew!!

I’m giving away a print copy of Frontier Secrets to one lucky Romancing History winner. To enter comment below and tell me what you think Rhett’s secret might be? (If you actually know, don’t tell us!)
**Giveaway ends at midnight, Wednesday, September 1st.**

To Write a Wrong Book Review & Giveaway

About the Book


Title:  To Write a Wrong
Series Info: Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency Book #2
Author: Jen Turano
Genre:Historical Romance

Book Info: (Bethany House Publishers, August 3rd, 2021, 364 pages


Blurb

Miss Daphne Beekman is a mystery writer by day, inquiry agent by night. Known for her ability to puzzle out plots, she prefers working behind the scenes for the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency, staying well away from danger. However, Daphne soon finds herself in the thick of an attempted murder case she’s determined to solve.

Mr. Herman Henderson is also a mystery writer, but unlike the dashing heroes he pens, he lives a quiet life, determined to avoid the fate of his adventurous parents, who perished on an expedition when he was a child. But when he experiences numerous attempts on his life, he seeks out the services of the eccentric Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency to uncover the culprit. All too soon, Herman finds himself stepping out of the safe haven of his world and into an adventure he never imagined.

As the list of suspects grows and sinister plots are directed Daphne’s way as well, Herman and Daphne must determine who they can trust and if they can risk the greatest adventure of all: love.

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My Thoughts

I’ve been looking forward to the second installment of The Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency as soon as I was introduced to Daphne Beekman as a secondary character in the previous book of this series, To Steal a Heart. Daphne is a writer of mysteries who pens her stories as Montague Morland because it was considered quite unseemly for a woman to be a novelist, especially in that genre during the Gilded Age.

Daphne is my kind of heroine. From her typewriter she named Almira (because I name all my cars and other favorite gadgets), to her love of the written word (self-explanatory), not to mention she detests the morning physical fitness routine the inquiry agents are participating in to improve their stamina so they can peruse culprits who might be able to overpower them (I don’t like to sweat). Unlike Daphne, I’m not prone to swooning in the face of danger. Though truth-be-told, I haven’t really been put to the test.  I know the wit and cleverness hiding beneath her timid exterior will endear her to every reader.

Turano wrote the perfect hero for Daphne as well. Enter Herman Henderson, a well known writer of adventure stories whose private life is rather dull in his opinion—until he meets Daphne. When Herman hires The Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency to discover who is trying to kill him, Daphne and Herman’s paths become intertwined. Herman wound himself around my heart as soon as he entered the story. He is a quiet, mild-mannered and utterly charming hero who manages to save Daphne from more than one troublesome situation she lands herself in. Herman is a true gentleman that is very worthy of Daphne and the witty banter between the two was engaging and kept me turning the pages.

Like most of Turano’s books, the reader is hit with a subtle yet powerful message about the limited choices women had during the Gilded Age. Several of the female characters, including Daphne, felt powerless against men who believed they could control them. Not family members, but men who insisted on marrying or taking liberties with the ladies, without their consent. Men who thought the ladies should consider themselves lucky to have their attention. I like how Daphne, and the other ladies to a lesser extent, stood up for themselves. They were able to see the facade these men showed the public and refused to be swayed by power, wealth, or position.

As with all Jen Turano books, I smiled, shook my head at the unbelievable antics of her quirky characters, and at times just laughed out loud. To Write a Wrong is another lovely gem in Jen Turano’s crown as the Queen of the Christian historical Rom-Com.

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher, but wasn’t required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Favorite Quotes

“You’ve annoyed me several times already and we’ve only just met.”

“My nerves seem to become less questionable when I’m in disguise.”

“Honestly, Daphne, maybe I should consider holding these lessons later in the day because clearly your mind is a scary place to visit first thing in the morning.”

“And here’s when I feel compelled to point out that you do indeed possess an adventurous spirit, because racing after a woman is an adventure if there ever was one.”

“…at times she longed to share her love of the written word with someone who loved words as well, someone who wouldn’t mock her for choosing a profession that wasn’t considered acceptable for women…”


About the Author

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

She can be found on Facebook, Instagram or visit her on the web . She is represented by the Natasha Kern Literary Agency.


Giveaway**

**This Giveaway is now closed**

Congratulations to our winner, Rochelle!

I’m giving away a Kindle copy of To Write a Wrong to one lucky Romancing History visitor. Previously, I’ve asked you about your favorite among Jen’s many noteworthy heroines. This time, let’s chat about those heroes. Who stands out as a favorite for you?

 **This giveaway ends at midnight, Wednesday, August 18, 2021.**

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.

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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.

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Giveaway*

This giveaway is now closed!

Congratulations to our winner, Lori Smanski!

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, To Steal a Heart by Jen Turano

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

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

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


About the Book

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

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


Blurb

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

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

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

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

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My Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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


Favorite Quotes

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

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


About the Author

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

 

Book Review, 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: 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

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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: 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



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