Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sarah's Choice

by Wanda Brunstetter

Barbour Publishing

Sarah was desperate to escape the Lehigh Canal in Pennsylvania. Forced to work the canal path by her father with no money in return, she runs away with Sam Turner and begins her married life in New Jersey. When the couple returns home, tragedy strikes and she is left a widow with three young children. Sarah is left with no choice but to run the lock that used to be Sam's livelihood. Baking bread and washing clothes for the canal men just to make ends meet, she struggles to keep her family afloat.

Elias Brooks inherits his grandpa's boat and the life that comes with it - a canaler on the Lehigh Canal. Despite his father's disapproval that Elias won't sell the boat, and thinking his grandpa wants him to run coal up and down the canal, Elias begins a life that he only glimpsed as a boy. While unsure of whether he wants to run the boat for the rest of his life, he is sure of one thing: Sarah and her little brood needs someone. Could that someone be him? And can they reconcile the fact that Sarah will never marry a canal man?

A charming end to a sweet story, and an easy read. As I've said before about this series, this is a book written in simple language yet a great story. It is a great escape from reality, and you feel as if you are a part of the people, the town and the canal itself. I had to hold my breath when it came down to the decision between Patrick and Elias - for one terrible moment I thought she was going to pick the wrong man. A recommended book and series.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Betsy's Return

by Wanda Brunstetter

Barbour Publishing

Betsy has become an old maid before she even realized it. After her plans to be a missionary were dashed, she stays in New York continuing what she believes is the Lord's work. After receiving news that her father was not in the best health, she returns to her childhood home in Lehigh Canal, Pennsylvania. Determined to care for her father till he gets better, she does everything in her power to help him.

William Covington felt the call of God to preach despite the well-to-do family he comes from. When the opportunity comes to preach in a canal town, he follows God's leading and direction and ends up in Lehigh Canal. Will Betsy be able to accept William as the town's new pastor in place of her father? Or will the old bitterness she used to harbor rear it's ugly head and ruin the way she relates to William?

Again, in very simple language, Brunstetter brings us a romance that is easy to read, fun, and entertaining. While the likelihood of falling in love so easily may seem unlikely, love comes in all forms, sizes, shapes, and ways in real life. And this historical portrayal is sweet and simple, a wonderful read for anyone who wants to travel back in time when things were simpler.

Kelly's Chance

by Wanda Brunstetter

Barbour Publishing

Seventeen Kelly McGregor walks her father's mules along the Lehigh Canal in Pennsylvania. Doomed to the poor life of a canaler's daughter, she dreams of the day she can paint with real colors and have her own art shop. Not interested in marriage as a way out like her sister in fear she will have the same fate, she is trapped working for her father with no pay in return.

Mike Cooper owns a a general store along the canal, and he is looking for a wife. Praying that God will provide him the desire of his heart, he is completely unprepared when he meets Kelly. Upon seeing the beautiful pictures she draws with crude charcoal, he quickly offers to partner with her to sell her works of art. But will Kelly be receptive to the love Mike is willing to offer? Or will her fear of having the same life as her parents in love keep her from making the decision her heart wants to make?

A simple, yet poignant story of a canaler's daughter that is romantic, full of fun, and easy to read. Brunstetter makes it really easy to sit down and forget about everything else going on around you and just blow through the book.  I enjoyed the simplicity of this romance, and even though it was meant to be sweet and short, it was actually believable and the characters were very endearing. A good read if you appreciate simple, solid, sweet romances.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Age of The Antichrist

by Jonathan Cash

Whitaker House

Ken Action is engaged to his co-anchor Sally, and life is happening exactly like he's always dreamed it would. He's at the top of the news market, and he is the king of his own world. But when millions suddenly disappear, his Sally among them, he is determined to find out what happened to them. In his search for the truth, Ken receives an offer he cannot refuse. Will he become one of the deceived, or is Ken finally ready to receive God into his life?

Immanuel Bernstate is a banker, and he wants to be at the top of the game. With the help of Blasphemy, a five star general in Satan's army, Immanuel reaches the ultimate power as the world president of the United Nations of the world. Killing whoever stood in his way, and deceiving any remaining dissenters, the age of the Antichrist begins.

This book was full of excitement and held me in the grip of anticipation through every word, every page and every chapter. It was all I wanted to know about a fictional, yet Biblical ends of days narrative in one compact, four hundred page book. I liked that is wasn't too long, yet it was detailed enough to have the character growth that one needs to connect, and the subject matter was very sobering indeed. Highly recommended to anyone who wants a simple, interesting, condensed version of the things that are yet to come.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Grace in Thine Eyes

by Liz Curtis Higgs

Random House

It is 1808 in the Scottish Lowlands, and Davina McKie lives in a world all her own. Mute since childhood, she spends her time drawing and playing her fiddle. Protected loyally by her younger twin brothers, Davina lives in security and love of her family. The twins, however, have other ideas. Unruly since they could walk, their father Jamie, finally sends them away to school hoping to make them men. Davina, left alone in Glentrool without the brothers who understood her best, has nothing but a lonely summer ahead of her. Her father suggests she visit some relatives in the isle of Arran, and Davina is more excited than she has ever been in her life.

But the summer visit in Arran is not all she thought it would be. She is invited to entertain the gentry with her fiddle, and what she thinks is an innocent accompaniment to her music becomes so much more. Ashamed at the turn of events, will there be redemption for Davina, or will a family's revenge be the end of her already shattered dreams?

This is my favorite book in the Scottish Trilogy series and it is a beautiful story of redemption and grace in the light of tragic circumstances. The character development is slow and patient, not fast and hurried, and I really felt as if I was walking in Davina's shoes. I saw things through her eyes, in that time, that place, that moment. A wonderful book and recommended if you can enjoy a story without the fairly tale ending.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Whence Came a Prince

by Liz Curtis Higgs

Random House

In the Scottish Lowlands, it is the summer of 1790, and Jamie McKie is the prodigal returning home in the hopes they have forgiven him from his shameful past. His father Alec, whom he deceived, and his brother Evan, who's inheritance he stole. Wrestling his fears of a confrontation, and trying to stay a step ahead of his devious uncle Lachlan, Jamie is pressed on all sides to make the hardest decisions of his life.

Two women lay claim to him and his affections; Leana, the mother of his firstborn and heir, and Rose, who is carrying his second child. Uncertain of his future with the scandal that rivaled any marriage in all of Christendom, and even less certain of his fate when he arrives home - Jamie sets out on a journey that will either be his redemption, or will cost him everything he loves.

This imaginative re-telling of the story of Jacob, Leah and Rachel is as heartbreaking as it's Biblical counterpart. There are many joys and sorrows that simply are part of the story, but that doesn't make it any easier to bear. The thing I loved the most about this book and the series in general, is that it's not the romantic happily-ever-after feel-good kind of story. Yes, liberties were take with the story lines, but it is a parallel work of fiction set in 1700's Scotland. That said, Whence Came a Prince is a beautiful fictional account of a timeless Biblical story.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fair Is the Rose

by Liz Curtis Higgs

Random House

We return to 18th century Scotland to the thorny love triangle that is Jamie, Leana, and Rose. Desperately determined to have Jamie to herself despite his marriage for Leana, Rose employs every charm in her employ to bring his heart towards her own once more. She ignores her conscience thinking all is fair in love, never dreaming of the tragic consequences. Her sister, Leana, patient and full of faith in Jamie and God, never sees what the future has in store. But she dotes on Ian, hoping that she will one day be as happy as she once was. 

Jamie has every intention of returning to Glentrool to claim his stolen birthright. But again, things do not go well for him and his plans, and Lachlan delays him at every turn. Which McBride sister will be his bride upon his return? And will he be well received, or will Evan's jealousy that has taken root over two years finally yield it's bitter fruit? 

The saga continues in this breathtaking second installment of Higg's Scottish series. While I couldn't help but love each and every character development in this story, it broke my heart to read line after line of terrible, yet necessary details. I knew things had to happen, but that didn't make it any easier. There are moments of joy, pain, happiness, dread, peace, passion, faithfulness, heartache, and redemption, in every chapter. I reveled in every moment in all their lives, and I despaired with them when it seemed all was lost. While this book is very important to the story and a pivotal book in the series, it was hard to not get emotionally involved the more I read on. If you're not a fan of this author, by the time you get to this book in the Scottish saga you will be involved as you're going to get. Love, love, love this book and series. Highly recommended. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thorn in My Heart

by Liz Curtis Higgs

Random House

In 1788 Scotland, twin brothers, Evan and Jamie McKie vie for a father's blessing. When the elder McKie gives the blessing to the wrong brother, chaos and murderous threats ensue. Driven away from the prosperous estate of Glentrool by his jealous brother, Jamie flees to his uncle Lachlan's property of Auchengray with the blessing of his mother, Rowena. Once there, he hides his true intentions of seeking a bride among his cousins Leana and Rose, and agrees to work for a month for his uncle Lachlan while he decides which cousin to marry.

Somehow, everything goes wrong. From his wedding, to which woman he truly chose, to his return to Glentrool. Plagued by the deceit of the past and the lies of the present, hidden secrets and two sisters that vie for his heart, Jamie is torn between what is right - and what truly belongs to him.

From the beginning of this book till the last page, Thorn in My Heart will capture your imagination and your heart. The very human struggles each character faces, will endear them to you even more. The harshness of a father. The love of two sisters. And the undeserved redemption and forgiveness offered to one man who neither wants nor deserves it. It is a thrilling peek into the lives of a family that is very much like our own, who face the same challenges we do, and are as human as we are. A wonderful, recommended book and series. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Case for Love

by Kaye Dacus

Barbour Publishers

Alaine Delacroix is a society reporter for the city of Bonneterre, Louisiana and she is on the hunt for a husband and a promotion at the news station. She is up against the biggest corporation in town to save her family's business, and Forbes Guidry is just the lawyer to help her. Forbes is committed to helping the small businesses in Bonneterre, even though it means going against his parent's company. Will Alaine be able to overlook Forbes conflict of interest and fall in love with him? Or will the very thought of who he is and what he represents keep her from listening to her heart?

The last book in the Brides of Bonneterre Series, it was a charming and enjoyable story. The characters were known to me from the previous two books, and it was well worth the read. The law and business elements were intriguing, and the story is very believable and tender as romance stories go. While realistically I wasn't sure that people in Forbes and Alaine's situation would have fallen in love, stranger things have happened in real life. So in the end, it is a recommended read if you like a good romance to pass the time away.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Menu for Romance

by Kaye Dacus

Barbour Publishers

Meredith Guidry is a professional events planner for her parent's company, and with her life a constant whirlwind, she's just never had a chance to settle down. Executive chef Major Daniel Xavier Kirby O'Hara is tied down to his family situation, and doesn't want to saddle a woman down with his life. Meridith and Major have worked together closely for eight years, and neither has been able to admit their attraction to one another. Will time be on their side when they finally discover the truth - and each other? Or is Major too late in his attempt to woo Meridith back into his arms?

Book two in the Brides of Bonneterre was as good as a big bowl of gumbo on a cold winter day. Dacus has written a novel that is funny, entertaining, and humorous that makes it hard to put down. She paints word pictures of the busyness of the kitchen during preparation for events, of Meridith's workload as she juggles coordinating events, and the sometimes crushing pressure of having a big family that smothers and teases you at every turn. I'm not sure how accurate a depiction this is of a typical family in Louisiana, but I enjoyed the book for what it was - a romance that kept my interest with snippets of Godly wisdom to encourage character growth. A good read and one I will recommend.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stand-in Groom

by Kaye Dacus

Barbour Publishing

As a wedding planner, Anne Hathaway is used to coordinating and attending weddings, never being the bride. But then she meets George Laurence, and he seems to be exactly what she always dreamed of in a husband. She quickly discovers that he is a client, and is engaged with his heart belonging to someone else. She forges ahead with the business relationship, hoping that no one has realized she has more than a mere passing interest in her client. Will she loose her business for falling in love with George? Or does something bigger than both of them mean to stand in their way?

Despite the fact that this was the quirkiest retelling of a wedding EVER, I found the story enjoyable and interesting. Dacus may not be the most popular author of the genre, but I found her writing witty and funny. The people in this book find themselves in predicaments throughout the book, and there is character growth and development on all sides. Even after reading this first book from the Brides of Bonneterre Series, I would still have bought it if I had it to re-do. Charming, funny, heartwarming and big family drama all play a part in this story of a Louisiana family. Don't miss out on this lighthearted read.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Leaving Yesterday

by Kathryn Cushman

Bethany Publishers

Alisa Stewart is a mother who lost both her sons - one to death, and other to drug abuse. She has lost hope that her one son that was still alive would ever become the person he once was; happy, healthy, and the leader of every group. But when a detective arrives at her door following Kurt's call from rehab saying he's turning his life around and staying clean, she can't help but want to protect him.

Afraid Kurt is going to loose his second chance at life, she destroys the evidence that links her son to the murder the detective keeps asking questions about. But when another woman's son is put in jail for the crime her son committed, she is faced with an impossible choice. Give up her son who has become a better person, to save a boy that didn't deserve a second chance. Will Alisa give up everything for the truth?

At first, I was distracted by the story being told in first person, but as the book progressed it lent charm to the story and I really got into it. The contrasts between the characters that are Alisa's sons was a great pull for me in this book, and I enjoyed her character development as well as the relationship with her husband. Despite the one bad decision she made in the story, there were several she almost committed but didn't; which was to her credit and the saving of her marriage. It was a touching story of how one woman dealt with the grief of the loss of her sons, and a beautiful story how there is life after death in Jesus Christ.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Mercy

by Beverly Lewis

Bethany House

Rose Kauffman is still living in the past with only the memories of Nick Franco to keep her going. After Nick is suspected in his foster brother's death, he leaves the People, which leads to the silencing of his bishop step-father. Known by the community as the "rebel" instead of a grateful son, Nick knows he doesn't have a chance with either Rose or his family. Rose is left with the hope that he will someday return to them, and her feelings for Nick refuse to fade. Will Nick ever come back and make things right with the People, or will she always have to wonder what could have been?

Hen and her husband, Brandon are at an impasse. He insists she will be happy as a modern wife, and she tenaciously clings to her old-fashioned Amish upbringing. When Brandon has an accident which incapacitates him for a time, Hen brings him back to the Dawdi Haus to temporarily live with her and their daughter Mattie. Will they ever resolve the conflict between opinion of lifestyles, or will they loose their marriage to difference of convictions?

This final installment of the trilogy was good despite the rushing of the last 20 pages with Rose's intended. Lewis wraps up everybody's story in this final book, and not everyone has a happy ending. I was actually pleased that not everything turned out the way I expected, which is different from mainstream Amish culture media that exists today. 

Lewis has a way of giving us a story that is full of twists and unexpected turns, and even though the end may be relatively happy, it is more realistic to real life in that it's not all sunshine and flowers the whole book through. It has just enough dose of reality to make it realistic. A thoroughly good read, and recommended to anyone and everyone.