Sunday, March 31, 2013

Take A Chance On Me

by Susan May Warren

Tyndale Publishers

Darek Christiansen is the most in-eligible bachelor in Deep Haven, but of course Ivy Madison doesn't know that when she first meets him. As the new assistant county attorney, Ivy is eager to finally put down roots, in the small, everyone-knows-your-name town in Minnesota. Growing up in 14 different foster homes, she has no family but dreams of being a part of one. The intriguing Darek has it all - a large, rambunctious family, a five-year-old son Tiger, and the kind of heart that attracts her attention from the moment she sees him interact with his son. 

But Darek has his secrets, such as the nature of his relationship with his late wife Felicity, and the truth about how she died. Little does he realize that Ivy was the person who crafted the plea bargain for the very man responsible for Felicity's death; Jensen Atwood. Will Darek be able to forgive Jensen in his part in his wife's death? Will he be able to forgive Felicity for being the enabler of Jensen's freedom? 

I was already in love with this novel when I realized that Warren had written six other books about Deep Haven. But I'm so glad I didn't know, because this novel is absolutely wonderful! Reading this made me wish that the Christiansen family was my own, and the characters are so well developed that it felt as if they were real people. I feel that if I just peek out my door, I'll see Claire bouncing out of her place with her pizza uniform on, all ready for her day at Deep Haven's pizza parlor. I've never read anything from this author, but I am an instant fan. I must and will order the first six books asap!!

This book was provided for free by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wedded To War

by Jocelyn Green

River North Publishers

Charlotte Waverly has all she needs to succeed in life - money, affluence and a considerate, patient suitor. When the Civil War breaks out, she feels as if she needs to do more than just sew uniforms and put together supplies for the war effort like all the other women are doing. Upon seeing an article in the newspaper reaching out to the public about the need for nurses, she quickly decides that it is something she can do. Despite the opposition of her mother, and to the horror of her beau, Phineas Hastings, she embarks on her journey.

What she discovers is not at all what she expected. She expected opposition, but not downright hate, disrespect, and resistance to female nurses. Between the overwhelming lack of supplies and medicines for the wounded, and the horrific unpreparedness of the Union Army's Medical Department; Charlotte knows she has found a worthy cause to be a part of despite the fact that her abilities, faith, and perseverance are sorely tested. Will she be able to press on toward a calling she believes she is destined to fulfill? Or will she crack under the strain of a profession no one believes she should have?

I know that nurses weren't always as highly respected as they are today. But I never realized just how hard it was to be a nurse during the Civil War. This novel was not only informative, but rich with history and heart. I found myself cheering Charlotte on, despite the opposition and hardship, and hoping she would succeed against all odds. A very enjoyable and well written novel from first-time author Green.

This book was provided from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

All In Good Time

by Maureen Lang

Tyndale Publishers

Dessa Caldwell has a dream that she desperately wants to become a reality - to open a house of refuge for former prostitutes in Denver, Colorado. She faces two obstacles; she is a single woman with no connections, and she has no money to open Pierson House on her own. Knowing for a certainty that God wants her to reach out to the city's despised women, her last hope hinges on Hawkins National Bank. 

Henry Hawkins is not the friendliest of men. He has a secret past to hide, and making friends is not on his priority list. His vast wealth with his bank comes from three successful raids on Wells Fargo coaches. Now that he has become an honest businessman, he does whatever he has to do to protect his assets - and his heart. But when Dessa comes to him for a loan to launch Pierson House, he is drawn to her compassion for others with no thought of herself. Wary of a man Dessa associates with, Henry is reluctant to grant her the loan, as the man may bring all of Henry's past to light. Can Henry trust God to dictate his future? And can Dessa accept the fact that's God's plans are higher than ours?

Lang makes you feel like you are right there as the action happens. Even though she wields her sword through the power of her pen, she wields it mightily. You feel as if you don't turn that page, if you don't read one more chapter, everything hinges on you knowing just a little bit more. You feel personally invested in the story, as if by reading it, you can somehow change the outcome when the characters are at their lowest. Most books I can pretty much guess the ending, and the journey to that end is enjoyable. But Lang takes you on an adventure that leaves you breathless with excitement and makes that journey to the end riveting and spellbound to the very last page.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Though My Heart is Torn

by Joanne Bischof

Multnomah Publishers

Gideon and Lonnie O'Riley have finally settled down after their unpleasant beginnings. Gideon is in love with Lonnie, and Lonnie loves Gideon more than her next breath. Living in the Blue Ridge mountains, their lives and love are secure with the God they now both serve, and happiness has come to stay. With their son, Jacob to complete their little family, things couldn't be better for either of the O'Riley's.

That is, until an urgent letter arrives for Lonnie, summoning them home. They have no choice but to return to Rocky Knob and face the claims of Cassie Allen, who says she was Gideon's wife first. As they delve deeper into the past, it is not what they expected. Lonnie is heartbroken to discover that Gideon's previous choices are coming back to haunt them all and destroy the fragile trust between them. What is to become of Lonnie and their son Jacob if Cassie gets to have Gideon? Is it even a choice anymore, or a matter of honor?

This had to be one of the saddest books to read, I was so torn between the girls and their stories. While I wanted to cast the blame squarely on Cassie's shoulders and hope that Lonnie would get to stay married to Gideon; I also had to consider Cassie's side of the story and the part Gideon played in all of this. It goes to show that the bad choices we make in the past don't stay hidden forever. You can only hide for so long before it all comes to light. Bischof weaves a tale of hope throughout all of this however, and The Cadence of Grace series makes you realize that no sin is too great to be forgiven, nor any faith in God too small to grow.

This book was provided for free by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Be Still My Soul

by Joanne Bischof

Multnomah Publishers

Gideon O'Riley is just the sort of man Lonnie Sawyer should not be caught alone with. Naive, innocent, and painfully shy, Lonnie has no idea why mothers warn their daughters and fathers load their shotguns whenever Gideon comes around. One fateful night she has no one to walk her home in the beautiful Appalachian mountains, and Gideon makes the last minute decision to accompany her. When Gideon tries to steal more than a kiss, her fate is sealed.

Lonnie's father rushes a marriage between his daughter and the unruly bluegrass musician before anyone has anything to say about it. Lonnie does not love Gideon, but what choice does she have? Gideon feels his life is ruined by a woman that he can never love. Will Lonnie ever be able to love the rebellious, sullen, young man she was forced to marry? Will Gideon ever be able to love a woman he does not deserve?

I loved this book almost more than mail order bride stories. There was no way these two could have possibly fallen in love, but Bischof somehow found a way to make them not only endearing characters; but ones that stay with you even when the last page has been turned. The people they met all seem so real and tangible, as if I could walk out my door and simply go meet them. I am eagerly awaiting the sequel to see where Gideon and Lonnie's life together will take them.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bees in the Butterfly Garden

by Maureen Lang

Tyndale Publishers

Meg Davenport has everything she needs in the way of material possessions, but the one thing she wants she will never have. Raised in an exclusive school for young ladies, she has no family except for a father she never sees. Having given up her girlhood fantasies of running away long ago, she has resigned herself to a future of disappointments, disillusionment, and the death of every dream she's ever had.

But when her father dies, she wants to break every rule she's ever been made to follow. Determined to fully explore her new freedom exactly as she pleases, she discovers things about her father that fail to make up for the lack of his presence in her life. Discovering that John Davenport was one of the Gilded Age's most talented thieves does not dissuade her from hatching a master plan with Ian Maguire, the boy her father raised into a man very much like himself. Will they be able to pull off the biggest heist of Ian's career, or are they both reaching too high, too far, and too fast? Will they loose everything for the sake of trying to prove their worth to the people around them?

I had no idea what to expect in this book. I knew there was going to be thieves involved, and that alone piqued my interest. Lang is a new author for me, and I was pleasantly surprised to find this lovely novel was full of adventure, excitement, and even a little bit of romance. Meg never comes across as a stuck up or snotty; but a girl waiting to emerge from her life of privilege and truly grow up. Granted, she has quite a few misadventures along the way, but Lang weaves a tale that brings enough thrills to keep you riveted to it's pages till the very end.