Waiting on Love by Tracie Peterson – Characters Refreshingly Honest with Integrity and Faith

I am grateful to have rediscovered Tracie Peterson’s writing and her recent book Waiting on Love which is part of the Ladies of the Lake series.  This book is very different from what I usually read, but it was the storyline and characters which drew me in. 

Elise Wright is very different than her sister Caroline.  Both girls grew up sailing the sea with their father Captain Bill Wright and mother Mary, on their ship the Mary Elise.  Caroline has chosen to marry a wealthy high society man she met through her aunt and uncle.  But Elise loves the life she has on the sea.  She will fulfill the promise she made to her dying mother, to continue to take care of her father and the ship’s crew.  The ship will be taking on two new sailors, Nick Clark, a man who is haunted by his past, and Booker Duran a man who is on the run.  Captain Wright sees something in both men and he wants to give them a second chance.

I absolutely loved this book!  I read a lot of books by Christian authors and publishers and most of them have very little about faith.  Not so with Waiting on Love by Tracie Peterson.  The Christian faith and the Gospel of Jesus Christ are front and center in the lives of the characters and how they live, what they say and do.  The Gospel and Bible verses are shared as part of the storyline and development of the characters.  I appreciated and enjoyed the honesty and integrity of the characters, their graciousness, mercy, and kindness. 

Of course, there is always an antagonist or two in stories.  I appreciated the integrity and upright character displayed by the main characters in how they dealt with deceitful people seeking to do harm to others.

Reading Waiting on Love by Tracie Peterson left me with good examples of Christians living out their faith in an interesting story that takes place in the 1800s.  I am so happy to have rediscovered Tracie Peterson.  Reading this book makes me want to go back and read her earlier novels.  I would like to commend Bethany House Publishers for allowing the Christian faith and the Gospel message to be shared in this fictional story. 

I highly recommend Waiting on Love by Tracie Peterson.  An interesting story, which takes place in a different era and a unique setting.  I appreciated the refreshing honesty and integrity of the characters and examples of godly living.  I liked that Elise embraced her femininity, and the men their masculinity.  That’s not something you see too much these days in fiction. 

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Waiting on Love by Tracie Peterson.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Hostile Intent by Lynette Eason – Filled with Suspense, But Too Much Violence

Hostile Intent by Lynette Eason is the fourth book in the Danger Never Sleeps series.  

Cold, calculating with a hardened heart set on vengeance, Nicolai will stop at nothing to make these people pay for what was done to his family.  FBI Agent Caden Denning is working on this case and is trying to find out why three families have been killed and how they are connected.  When evidence turns up at the crime scene, a photograph of his friend Ava Jackson, as a small child with her father, Caden is concerned that Ava may be the next target.  He will stop at nothing to bring a killer to justice and protect his friend.

I’ve read the other books in the Danger Never Sleeps series and liked them.  I especially liked the friendships between the main characters who are highlighted in each of the books.  While I like some of the characters in this book, the violence was over the top.  In the first chapter, readers are introduced to the villain who goes on to murder two families, and we learn about two other families whose murders are connected to this case.  Later, Ava is attacked and is on a hit list.  The villain not only wants to murder Ava but torture her and make her suffer.  I like mystery and suspense novels, but I was surprised that this was in a book from a Christian writer and publisher.  I would expect to see this in a book from a secular publisher.

This book has lots of twists and turns, some not so believable, like what happened to Ava’s dad.  The story kind of drags a bit when the story should be advancing.  I liked the Caden Denning character, but the budding romance between Caden and Ava was a bit of a stretch. 

Hostile Intent is the novel I liked least in the Danger Never Sleeps series.  I liked that the characters and friendships from the earlier books carried over to this one.  For me, the issues were the over-the-top violence, convoluted storyline, and the romance wasn’t believable.

Would I recommend Hostile Intent?  Perhaps for someone who is a fan of Lynette Eason’s writing.  But for others, I would pass on this book.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for a complimentary copy of Hostile Intent by Lynette Eason.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

The Walnut Creek Wish by Wanda E. Brunstetter – An Enjoyable Inviting Read with Likable Characters

The Walnut Creek Wish is the first book I’ve read by Wanda E. Brunstetter.

Jeff and Rhonda Davis have been married for nearly thirteen years.  But their marriage has been strained and they’ve grown apart.  Both are hardworking and care about one another, but disappointment over not having children has impacted their marriage.  In a last-ditch effort to try and help their marriage, against better judgment, the Davis’ decide to purchase a new home in Walnut Creek, OH.  The additional strain of financial issues, when their old house doesn’t sell, adds more pressure.  Jeff has a love for antiques and befriends an Amish couple, Orley and Lois Troyer, who own a local antique store.  A rather unconventional friendship develops between the couples.  Will their friendship and faith-filled influence be enough to help Jeff and Rhonda?

I loved this book.  I appreciated the development of the characters and they really came alive.  I liked that the author wasn’t in a hurry to rush from one action scene to the next.  Instead, the reader gets to know the characters and what made them the way they are.  It was interesting to learn why Jeff and Rhonda had rejected the Christian faith and to see God at work in their breaking down those walls. 

I read a lot of books by Christian writers and publishers, and it’s a rare occurrence these days when the Gospel message is shared as part of the storyline.  That is why I loved this book.  The Troyer’s built a relationship with the Davis’, cared about them, and prayed for them.  They shared their faith and eventually shared the Gospel of Christ with Jeff and Rhonda.  I liked and cared about these characters.

Because I enjoyed the characters and the setting, I didn’t want to rush through reading this book.  This book was very enjoyable.  I appreciated that the storyline was clean, without immorality or profanity. 

I highly recommend The Walnut Creek Wish by Wanda E. Brunstetter.  I love finding an author whose work is new to me, and I look forward to reading more of her work. 

I would like to thank Barbour Publishing, Inc and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of The Walnut Creek Wish by Wanda E. Brunstetter.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

Power Play by Rachel Dylan – Filled with Suspense and Intrigue, But Story Dragged

Power Play by Rachel Dylan is the third and final book in her Capital Intrigue series.  I enjoyed the first two books and was excited to read her newest novel.

Vivian Steel is an attorney with the State Department and attending a diplomatic dinner in Washington DC.  As dinner starts, chaos ensues when the Egyptian ambassador drops dead.  Jacob Cruz, with diplomatic security, instructs guests to return to their seats as they handle the situation.  A couple of hours later, Vivian heads over to see the US ambassador Penelope King only to see her collapse to the ground.  Two diplomats on the same night, one dead and the other near death.  What is going on, and who is behind this?

That’s how Power Play starts, and the suspense and intrigue continue to build throughout the novel.  This story is a more behind-the-scenes investigation with less action than the other books in the series.  Vivian is paired with Jacob Cruz as one part of the investigation team to determine what happened to the Egyptian ambassador.  Was it murder, or was it natural causes, and does it related to what happened to the US ambassador?  When Vivian is attacked on the streets of DC, it adds another layer to the investigation.  Was this random or part of a coordinated attack?

I appreciated that Vivian’s friends, Layla and Bailey, featured in earlier books make an appearance in this story.  That’s one of the elements that I appreciated, their ongoing friendships and support of one another.  I liked the relationships between the FBI investigative team with Delaney and Weston.  The character’s Christian faith was a small part of the book.  I would have like to have seen it more developed.

The story was very convoluted and had too many twists and turns, and the story started dragging.  After Vivian is attacked, especially in light of what happened to the ambassadors, one would think that security would be on high alert and take no risks.  I found Vivian’s actions not logical or believable.  The romance between Jacob and Vivian, in the middle of an intense investigation, seemed contrived.  I think the priority would be the protection of Vivian and the ongoing investigation.  Let the relationship develop afterward.

I like Rachel Dylan’s writing and look forward to reading more of her books.  The story in Power Play was good, but not the strongest of the Capital Intrigue series.  If you like Rachel’s writing and have read the first two books in this series, you may want to read Power Play.

I would like to thank Bethany House and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Power Play by Rachel Dylan.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

With You I Am by Cleopatra Margot – Charming and Romantic

It was the beautiful cover of With You I Am by Cleopatra Margot that got my attention.  After reading the storyline, I wanted to read this book.  Cleopatra Margot is a writer whose work is new to me. 

Noelle Carter is the CEO and events coordinator of Carter, Inc., a business started by her grandparents.  Her curiosity is peaked when the Mayor of Balsam Falls, Nebraska, contacts her about planning the town’s spring event.  Perhaps some time away will help reignite her creativity and allow her to connect to the place where her grandmother had come from.  She will be working with Wynn and Marshall from Bryant Brother’s Construction to make the venue ready for the Spring Fling.  Noelle’s life will be impacted by the town and its people, the Bryant family, and one special man. 

With You I Am is a charming and romantic story.  The reader will fall in love with the small town of Balsam Falls and the Bryant family.  It’s the kind of place you wish really existed and filled with people you would like to know.  Not perfect people, but people who are kind, caring, and giving.  People who have had hard times, but by God’s grace and through faith they have persevered.  As much as this book is about a love story, more than that, it is about relationships.  The Christian faith is an important element in the story. 

I really loved this book.  With You I Am is long and goes at a slower pace, which is kind of nice.  You get to know people as the characters are developed.  I loved the Bryant family, their friends, and would love to visit a town like Balsam Falls.  You won’t want to hurry through this book, but instead, enjoy the journey. 

Faith was an integral part of the characters’ lives.  Some of the theology was sound, and some of it was more motivational rather than doctrinal. 

I really loved this book, and then I got towards the end, and there was a turn of events I wasn’t expecting.  Honestly, that change in the story made me mad.  The character was irrational, wasn’t thinking, was selfish, and overly dramatic.  At no time did this character pray about the circumstances or seek wisdom from the Lord.  I hated this part of the book, and thankfully that wasn’t the end of the story.  But I felt manipulated by the writer for dramatic purposes.  The emotions that the character was working through could have been handled in a much different scenario which would have better fit the story.

Also, the physical attraction between the two main characters was focused on too much, with the repeated references throughout the book.

Would I recommend this book?  Yes…I loved the relationships in With You I Am, the family interaction, and their friendships.  Even though the romance was a huge part of the story, the other relationships were the meat and backbone of the story.

I would like to thank Faith to Love Publishing and JustRead Tours for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of With You I Am by Cleopatra Margot.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. 

The Crushing Depths by Dani Pettrey – Romance, Mystery and Suspense

The Crushing Depths by author Dani Pettrey is the second book in her Coastal Guardians series.  The storyline is why I wanted to read this book.

The Dauntless is an oil rig 38 miles off the coast of North Carolina.  Greg Barnes has had a very bad day and he’s looking forward to having a cigarette break.  When he steps outside, he can hear the environmental protesters chanting.  Do they ever take a break?  When he flicks his lighter, little does he know that his day is going to get a whole lot worse.  Was this a tragic accident or something more sinister?  Former friends are reunited when Rissi Dawson and Mason Rogers are called in to investigate the accident as part of the Coast Guard Investigation Services team.  Before investigators can even reach the Dauntless the action heats up.

What I really liked most about this book was the relationship between Rissi and Mason.  Especially learning of their friendship from when they were young.  I liked the support that the CGIS team gave one another and their friendships.  I appreciated that faith was included through prayer.  I would like to have seen the characters personal faith developed further.  It was interesting learning about what it’s like working on an oil rig out in the ocean.  Those are some of the elements that worked well.

I struggled with the book in a few areas.  There were so many characters that it was kind of hard to keep track.  While I liked the characters, Noah and Brooke, I thought that the storyline involving these characters didn’t advance the main story and was almost a distraction.  I think another book about Noah would be good.  There was a lot of action and at times the story dragged switching between the main story and the one involving Noah.

Something that seemed odd was the personal relationships and romance that developed between characters that worked together, especially in light of how that is viewed in today’s culture.  Since there was a deep bond between Rissi and Mason focusing on their physical attraction seemed unnecessary and perhaps not what I would expect in a book by a Christian author.

I thought that the transitions between storylines within chapters could have been handle better.  I would recommend some kind of a break, like a line, to show the story is now focusing on different characters or have shorter chapters.

If you are a fan of Dani Pettrey or like romantic mysteries, suspense or stories that involve the military you may want to read her newest book The Crushing Depths.

I would like to thank Bethany House Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Dani Pettrey’s newest book The Crushing Depths.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Closer Than She Knows by Kelly Irvin – Interesting storyline, characters and setting. Christian faith was portrayed rather worldly.

I became acquainted with author Kelly Irvin’s writing through her Amish themed books and was excited to read her newest book Closer Than She Knows.

Closer Than She Knows is about Teagan O’Rourke, a court reporter in San Antonio, Texas.  She comes from a family that works in law enforcement.  Teagan’s life is about to unravel as people around her are being targeted by some sicko and she finds herself at the center of an investigation.  Why are these innocent people being targeted?  How are they all connected?  What can she do to stop this before another innocent life is taken?

One of the things I like about Kelly’s writing is how she portrays relationships with family, friends, and co-workers.  I especially like the O’Rourke family, Teagan, her father Dillon and step-family Billy, Gracie, and Leyla.  My favorite character was her friend Max who seemed like a real gem, and her friends Julie and Evelyn.  They were a tight-knit group that cared for one another and were there for each other.

I found Teagan’s job as a court reporter fascinating and learned a few details about that job.  Kelly does a great job describing the setting in the San Antonio downtown area and neighborhood where historic homes were being rehabbed.  It seems inviting and picturesque.  The story is very suspenseful and will keep you guessing until the end.

This book is written by a Christian author and the Christian faith is part of the story.  The best example of that was Max, a man redeemed and dependent upon the Lord each day.  He was gracious and caring.  I found Teagan’s faith to be immature and nominal.  When talking about her reluctance to having children her explanation seemed very secular and lacking faith.  She seemed to care more about the environment than lost souls and sin.  At one-point, Teagan describes herself in very politically correct terms and does not mention that she is a Christian.  Her understanding of the death penalty was not in keeping with what God has declared in the Bible.  Teagan and Max’s physical attraction could have been portrayed a little less worldly.

If you are a fan of Kelly Irvin’s novels or like mystery, intrigue, and trying to solve a whodunit, you may like Kelly’s newest book Closer Thank She Knows.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Closer Thank She Knows by Kelly Irvin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin – Loved this book and Didn’t Want It to End.

Sarah Sundin has quickly become one of the writers whose work I love to read.  Her newest book, The Land Beneath Us was wonderful.  This is the third book in Sundin’s Sunrise at Normandy series and this book focuses on the youngest of the Paxton brothers, Clay.  Readers of the first two books, The Sea Before Us and The Sky Above Us, will already be familiar with the Paxton’s story.  But it doesn’t take away from this book because you’ll get to see things through Clay’s eyes.

I loved the characters in this book, especially Clay, Leah, and the Paxton family as well as their close friends.  The characters are decent, honest, and caring people whom I’d like to know.  They are kind, but not perfect and have areas they need to grow in.  Forgiveness is a big theme in this book.  It’s was thought-provoking to see Clay and Leah wrestle with forgiveness and see them come to the realization that though they have been wronged they too have sins they need to deal with.

I loved learning about the training and preparation the Rangers and Army went through as they prepared for D-Day.  While this is a small picture of what the men endured in WWII, it gave me a renewed appreciation for what they did as we come up to the 75th Anniversary V-E Day, May 8, 1945.  D-Day was a critical part of winning that battle.

I appreciated that the Christian faith was included in the storyline and that the book was clean and not filled with sexual immorality and vulgarity.  I found it interesting to learn what it may have been like to be an orphan growing up in the 1930s and 40s and the prejudice orphans may have faced.  I loved the courage that Clay demonstrated in battle, in relationships, and looking in the mirror at his own flaws.  Leah also demonstrated and lived out courage and chose to look at the good instead of focusing on the bad.

Though The Land Beneath Us is the 3rd book in the Sunrise at Normandy series, it would make a good stand-alone book.  The author does a good job of filling in the background of what happened with the characters in the first two books.

The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin was wonderful and I was sorry to see it end.  This is a book and series I would want to read again.  I loved this book and highly recommend it.  If you haven’t read the first two books, you may want to read them as well, but it’s not necessary to enjoy this book.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read The Land Beneath Us.  I was supplied with a complimentary e-book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

A Long Bridge Home by Kelly Irvin – Interesting Likable Characters and Storyline, But Has Some Wrong Theology

Kelly Irvin has quickly become one of my favorite Christian fiction writers.  Until I started reading her novels, I hadn’t read too many Amish theme books.  I was excited at the opportunity to read Kelly’s newest book A Long Bridge Home, the second book in the Amish of Big Sky Country, which takes place during the same timeframe as the first book, Mountains of Grace.  Wildfires are burning in the mountains near the community of West Kootenai, Montana.

Christine and the Mast family evacuate but do not intend to return to West Kootenai.  Her mother and father have decided it’s time for their family to return to Kansas where her father’s parents live and need help in their older years.  Christine is desperate to stay because of her special friend Andy Lambright.  While they are not engaged, they’ve talked about marriage and seem to be heading in that direction.  Andy is evacuating too, but he’s returning to his family’s home so he can deal with some unfinished business.  Andy and Christine persuade her parents to let her stay a little bit closer in St. Ignatius, Montana.

Christine will be staying with family, but she will be experiencing a whole new world than what she’s used to.  Andy returns home and finds old wounds still haven’t healed and the best remedy is forgiveness, even though he was one who was wronged.  Will his lack of honesty drive Christine away?  Will Christine remain faithful to her special friend?  Or will she be lured away by the excitement of her new friend Raymond Old Fox and a culture that is foreign to her?

I really liked the characters in A Long Bridge Home.  My favorite was Andy, he was an honest and vulnerable and was growing and maturing.  I liked Christine but found her secrecy about her relationship with Raymond betrayed her conscience.  Raymond Old Fox was an interesting character and I liked him.  I wondered what attracted him to pursue a friendship with Christine.  I found it interesting to learn about the Native Indian history and culture and to see some of the similarities to the Amish culture and the contrasts.

Where I ran into some discomfort with this book was how Christine wrestled with the differences in her Christian faith and spirituality from Raymond’s Native Indian culture.  It is interesting to learn of other cultures and what they believe but, as a Christian, we cannot forget that the Bible is the plumbline of truth and of right and wrong, heaven and hell, sin, rebellion, truth, righteousness, forgiveness, repentance, and salvation through Jesus Christ alone.

Christine hesitated to share her faith, in part, because of the mistreatment of Raymond’s Native Indian ancestors at the hands of people who said they were Christians.

I tried to let Christine wrestle through what she was learning and how that differed from what she knew of the Bible.  I struggled with her trying to see her Christian faith and Raymond’s spirituality as equivalent.  Christine seemed to think that Raymond’s belief in a Creator was the same as her belief in the God of the Bible.  At one point she said, “He’s your God too.”  I wanted to tell Christine, “No He’s not…not at this point.”  But I did appreciate that Christine wanted to pray for Raymond and she felt the need to tell him about Jesus Christ even though that was not done in her Amish culture.  I appreciated Andy’s trust in Christine and his more mature understanding of the differences between the Amish and Indian religious beliefs.

Christine had some wrong theology and I highlighted a number of statements and made many notes.  I tried to let the character wrestle with her thoughts and theological understanding.  Ideally, I would like to have wrong theology corrected in the novel, perhaps by another character or by a character’s growing understanding.

Is the right theology important in a fiction novel by a Christian author?  Yes, because that book may influence a reader for right or wrong.

There was much that I liked about A Long Bridge Home, the characters and storyline.  But I struggled with some of the wrong theology the main character expressed.

I would like to thank Zondervan Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read A Long Bridge Home by Kelly Irvin.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Promised Land by Robert Whitlow – Intrigue, Suspense, Interesting Characters Mixed with Fascinating Cultures

When author Robert Whitlow writes a book, I want to read it.  That’s why I was excited at the opportunity to read his newest book Promised Land and I loved it.

Readers are reintroduced to characters from his last novel Chosen People.  Hana Abboud, a Christian Arab attorney from Israel who is living in the United States, her husband Daud Hasan a Christian Arab from Israel, friend and colleague Jakob Brodsky, and dear friends Ben and Sadie Neumann.  While reading this book, I felt like I was being reunited and catching up with old friends.

The story begins with Rahal Abaza in Qatar, five years earlier he had a jarring experience that set his life on a new course that will intersect with Daud and Hana.  Hana is at home and awakens for her night watch, a time of prayer, reading Scripture and worship.  While she does not know the specifics of all that’s going on with her husband Daud, she is praying for him while he is in Egypt on a mission for the CIA.  He will need those prayers for what he’s about to encounter.

From the get-go, Promised Land is off and running.  There’s a lot of suspense, intrigue, and action, but it doesn’t interfere with the development of characters or take the place of an interesting storyline.  It’s well balanced.

My favorite thing about Robert Whitlow’s writing is how he develops characters.  Hana is one of the most interesting characters.  It’s fascinating to see and consider what it’s like to be an Arab Christian who is from Israel.  You would think that there might be conflict, but Hana is a very gracious woman who takes her faith seriously.  She loves her family and is a faithful friend.  I found Daud intriguing and felt on edge with all the situations and people he encounters.  Jakob is an interesting fellow.  He always seems to take on cases that look impossible and that will require a lot of work and research to see if they will pan out.  Ben and his daughter Sadie…absolutely love them.

I don’t want to spoil the story about what happens, so I’ll leave it with a brief intro into the storyline and characters.  But I hope that you will pick up a copy of Promised Land by Robert Whitlow.  It’s the second book in this series but is a good stand-alone book.  You may want to go back and read Chosen People so you can have a richer connection with the characters.

Robert Whitlow is a gifted writer.  He tells a good story and develops rich likable characters.  I highly recommend Promised Land by Robert Whitlow.  If you like action, suspense, intrigue, and interesting likable characters you will like Promised Land.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Promised Land by Robert Whitlow.  I was provided with a free copy of this book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

 

Collateral Damage by Lynette Eason – Likable engaging characters in a suspenseful story

As someone who loves to read Christian mystery/fiction books, I was excited at the opportunity to read Lynette Eason’s newest book, Collateral Damage, the first book in the Danger Never Sleeps series.

Collateral Damage starts off at an army base in Afghanistan where the men are preparing to arrest a fellow soldier, Isaiah Michaels who is suspected of being a traitor and selling information to the jihadists.  Sergeant Asher James doesn’t believe the allegations because it doesn’t square with the man he knows.  But he has been charged with leading the operation as two MARP vehicles set out to Kabul to arrest Specialist Michaels who has been spotted at a bar.  Military psychologist, Brooke Adams is looking forward to heading home in three weeks.  She’s meeting some friends at The Bistro in Kabal.  When Specialist Michaels tries to catch her eye, Brooke does her best to tune him out and focus on her friends who have become like family so far away from home.

What happens next is just the beginning of an action-packed story filled with suspense and lots of twists and turns.  What information did Isaiah Michaels find?  Did he betray his country?  What accounts for the large increase of adoptions at Morning Star Orphanage over the last year?  How does it all fit together?

I found myself invested in this story because I liked the main characters and I wanted to get to the bottom of the mysteries.  I appreciate that the story did not have filthy language or sexual immorality.  The Christian faith was a part of the storyline and the two main character behavior and choices were influenced by their faith.

I did struggle with the first chapter because it was long and it introduced at least fourteen characters in a very fast-paced story.  After that chapter, the pace and number of characters slowed down.  I think it would have been better to break it up into two chapters.  I did figure out who the bad guy was but that didn’t take away from enjoying the book.  I was interested to find out his motivation.

Collateral Damage is the first novel I’ve read by Lynette Eason and I really liked it.  The best part of the book for me was the engaging likable characters.  I look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

If you like suspense and action with likable characters, read Lynette Eason’s newest book Collateral Damage.

I would like to thank Revell Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Collateral Damage by Lynette Eason.  I was provided a complimentary copy of this book to read but was not required to give a favorable review.

 

Lake Season by Denise Hunter – Likeable characters, in a lovely town with a blend of mystery and romance. I didn’t want this story to end.

I love a good mystery and when it’s tied to a little romance that’s a book I’ll want to read.  That’s why I was excited to read Denise Hunter’s newest book Lake Season (A Bluebell Inn Romance).

Molly, Levi and Grace Bennett are siblings whose parents had died in a tragic accident a year ago.  Grace is 18 years old and set upon staying in Bluebell.  But it will take the commitment of all three of them to fulfill their parent’s dream and turn their home into a bed and breakfast inn.  Ten months later, their inn is about to open when their first unofficial guest Adam Bradford walks in.  Little do they know but under their roof is the famous author, who writes under the pen name Nathaniel Quinn, whose work Molly loves.  Adam is in town to do a little research to help him get inspired so he can write his next bestseller.  Adam is quite taken with Molly whom he considers his muse and he gets distracted when he tries to help Molly find the writer and recipient of a letter that’s been lost for 57 years.

That’s the background of Lake Season, which is set in the lovely lakeside town of Bluebell, North Carolina.  My favorite character was Adam, he was kind and caring.  He was rather shy and had some insecurities you wouldn’t expect for an accomplished writer.  Molly was sweet, unpretentious, passionate and caring.  She even cared about people she never knew.  But she knew the importance of the letter she had in her possession and wanted to get it into the hands of the people it belonged to.  I appreciated the caring and commitment that Levi, Molly, and Grace had for one another, a self-sacrificing love.  I especially liked the relationship between Adam and Molly.  They got to know each other and their attraction more than skin deep.  I enjoyed the unfolding mystery of who Lizzie and Ben were and what had happened to them all those years ago.

Lake Season was a story that I didn’t want to end, so I took my time reading and savoring this story.  When I finished, I felt a little sad leaving behind the characters I had come to care about.  The characters were very likable and the town seemed inviting and like a place I would like to visit.  I loved the blend of mystery and romance.  Denise Hunter is on the shortlist of writers whose work I want to read.  When I was reading Lake Season, I thought this would be a perfect Hallmark Channel movie.

I wish there had been more of the character’s faith included in the story, I think it would have been a richer story.  I appreciated that the novel was clean in content and language.

If you like a blend of romance and mystery be sure to read Lake Season by Denise Hunter.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of Lake Season and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

 

Dark Ambitions by Irene Hannon – Character Development Is Missing

Irene Hannon is one of my favorite writers.  I’ve loved her books that I’ve read, the characters and the Christian faith that’s been a part of the storylines.  That’s why I was excited to read her newest book Dark Ambitions.

Unfortunately, I thought Dark Ambitions was not as good as her other books.  I’ve read the two other books in the Code of Honor series and liked them.  What was different about Dark Ambitions?  I found the character development was not too deep in this novel, the characters were rather flat and one dimensional.

From the beginning of this book, the focus was on the physical attraction between Rick Jordan and Heather Shields dominated this book.  So much so that it took away from the character development of the main characters.  Rick, who has a heroic background as a former Army Night Stalker and runs a camp for foster children, seemed like a superficial jerk with his unkind judgmental opinion of the receptionist Nikki.  If you took away one thing from this book, you knew that Rick and Heather were physically attracted to one another because of the numerous references to looks and their physical attraction.

In most of Irene’s books, I find some likable relatable characters.  In Dark Ambitions, not so much.  Maybe Heather’s dad.  As a reader, I want to have characters I like and care about, but that was missing in this book.

A great deal of research went into getting the technical details right.  The storyline of Dark Ambitions has some possibilities of making a good story.  Where it fell short for me was the character development.  Also, I missed having faith and God being a part of the character’s personal lives.  While there was action in the story, there wasn’t a lot of suspense, nor twists and turns.

While this book seemed to be a one-off, I do look forward to reading more of Irene Hannon’s books in the future.

I would like to thank Revell Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Irene Hannon’s newest book Dark Ambitions.  I was provided with a complimentary copy of the book and was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton – Wonderful, lovely, I didn’t want the story to end!

Can I say that an author is one of my favorites after reading only one of her books, Hurricane Season?  Maybe not, but I was excited at the opportunity to read Lauren K. Denton’s newest book Glory Road.

I absolutely loved this book!  Lauren has a way of writing and helping you to see the beauty in the everyday ordinary life.  From the people to the places and the beauty of creation.

Glory Road takes place in Alabama and tells the story of Jessie who is a single mom, her 14-year-old daughter Evan and her Mom Gus.  Following her divorce, Jessie moved back home to Perry where she grew up.  Her home is next door to her Mother’s house and right next door to her garden shop the Twig on an old dirt road.  It’s summertime and Evan will be starting in high school come September.  Gus seems to be having some episodes of confusion and forgetfulness and Jessie is worried that it may be something serious.  Jessie is content with her life the way it is and she’s not looking to make changes or room for romance.  But sometimes God brings people and changes into our lives when we don’t feel ready.

What did I love about Glory Road?  I loved the characters, especially Jessie and her relationship with her daughter Evan and Mom Gus and their love, kindness and caring for one another.  I loved the relationships between Jessie and Ben and Jessie and Sumner.  I loved the relationship between Evan and Nick who takes after his father Ben.  Lauren has a way of writing that is almost poetic or lyrical.  She captures the character’s thoughts and feelings in a thought-provoking way that caused me to reflect on my own life.  She also paints lovely word pictures of the places, indoors and outdoors, that helps the reader to imagine what it looks like.  She does that without being too wordy or letting words get in the way of the reader’s imagination.  I really enjoyed the quotes on gardening at the beginning of each chapter.

On a more serious note, as someone whose parent had Alzheimer’s I appreciated the way Gus’ life and experiences were handled.  It helped me to see how scary it must be for the person experiencing forgetfulness and for the family who sees it and are unsure on how to handle it.  That part of the story rang a little too close to home.

There’s only one mention of God in the book, other than two phrases that use the name of God.  Even though God, Christianity, and faith were not specifically mentioned I had the feeling that faith undergirded the character’s lives.  I would like to have seen elements of faith as part of the storyline but greatly appreciated a clean novel.

I absolutely loved Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton.  It’s a wonderful, lovely book that leaves you wanting the story to continue on.  Lauren is on my short list of writers that when they write a new book, I want to be sure to read it.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and BookLook for the opportunity the read Glory Road by Lauren K. Denton in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

Over the Line by Kelly Irvin – Mixed Reaction

Over the Line is Kelly Irvin’s newest book in the romantic suspense genre.  I recently discovered Kelly’s writing when I read two of her recent Amish themed books and fell in love with her writing.  That’s why I was excited to read her newest book.

Over the Line is an action-packed novel that seems like it could have been taken from today’s headline news.  Chef and restaurateur, Gabriella Benoit is locking up her restaurant late at night and is met by a stranger who was carrying a gun and calling her name.  As he clutches his chest and falls to the ground he says “Jake” but dies before he can say anything more about Gabby’s brother.  She’d never imagined she’d need help from her former fiancé Eli Cavazos to find her missing brother or find herself in the middle of an illegal gun smuggling ring at the border.  How is she going to protect her sister and family from some very desperate and dangerous men?  Just who are the good guys and who are the bad ones?

I had a mixed reaction to Over the Line.  I appreciate that it’s clean and not filled with sexual immorality or filthy language.  There is some Christian faith included in the book and I thought it was better and more genuine towards the end of the book.  I liked Eli’s mother and her openness and transparency and how different characters dealt with the issue of forgiveness.  I especially liked the character Deacon, he was a nice surprise.  As you get to know him you can see he’s a decent sincere person and Natalie was very likeable too.

But over-all, I feel like the action was center stage and eclipsed the characters.  Some of the prayers or mentions of God and faith seemed like they were out of place or just thrown in, instead of a natural overflow of the character’s thinking or feelings.  Some of the character’s actions didn’t make a lot of sense, like Deacon trespassing or Gabby confronting a police officer she suspected was corrupt because she was overcome with emotion instead of using reason and logic.  That didn’t make sense coming from a person who was a former district attorney.  The scene where Gabriella and Natalie crashed the van doesn’t seem realistic because the dialogue goes on and on when the bad guys are coming their way with big guns.  I wasn’t overly fond of the main character Gabriella.

As I was reading this book, I kept thinking this must be the second book in a series because there was a lot of back-story between Gabriella and Eli and what had happened in Natalie’s life previously.  I was surprised to find out that this wasn’t the second book.  Some of the background information and questions I had were answered later in the book.

I would recommend Over the Line to someone who likes Kelly Irvin’s writing, with a note that it’s much different than her Amish themed books.  Also, for those who enjoy Christian suspense novels.  Over the Line will be available June 11, 2019.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read Over the Line by Kelly Irvin in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

The Memory House by Rachel Hauck – Makes characters and their world come to life

I love finding authors whose work is new to me and when they are good it’s like finding a treasure trove.  The Memory House is the first book I’ve read by Rachel Hauck and I very much enjoyed it.

What does NYPD Sergeant, Beck Holiday, have in common with the lovely bride, Everleigh Applegate, from Waco Texas in the 1950’s?  How will their lives intersect?  Can wounds that were suffered and emotional scars be healed?  Or is life as they know it over?  Will hope one day return?  Will there be another chance for happiness?  Can you rebuild a friendship with a friend who doesn’t remember the past?  Will the men in their lives, Bruno Endicott and Don Callahan, persevere in winning their hearts?  Will they find what it takes to overcome their career challenges?

What I liked best about this book were the characters, and though their lives were very different from one another, their lives shared some common themes.  I found the characters and their struggles very relatable.  It was interesting learning about the career of a sports agent.  I also enjoyed learning a little bit of Texas history.

I confess at first, I found Beck Holiday kind of hard to understand and like.  She rubbed me the wrong way with her crummy attitude and lack of communication.  But over time, as more about her character’s background was revealed I came to understand and even like her.  I found myself frustrated with Everleigh and her inability or unwillingness to make changes and get her life back.  I almost felt suffocated by the grief she wallowed in, but then I realized that perhaps the character felt suffocated too.

I wish that some of the main characters had a strong Christian faith and that it had been woven into the storyline.  Some of the background characters were Christians and I especially appreciated Gaynor and her display of grace and forgiveness.

Overall, I liked The Memory House and recommend it.  Author Rachel Hauck has a way of drawing a reader into the lives of her characters and making their world come alive.  I think it must be challenging for an author to write about two timelines and two sets of characters.  But Rachel did a wonderful job and it was easy to switch back and forth between the timelines.  The Memory House is a place I would like to visit.

I would like to thank Thomas Nelson Publishers and Audra Jennings for the opportunity to read The Memory House in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Here’s some information about author Rachel Hauck:

Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy and Carol Award Winner.

Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie.

Rachel has been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews.

A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year.

At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically.

A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day.

She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

For more information, visit www.rachelhauck.com, Facebook (@rachelhauck), Twitter (@RachelHauck) and Instagram (@rachelhauck)

 

If you would like to read The Memory House by Rachel Hauck enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway:

 

 

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin – Memorable…A Real Gem!

When I find an author whose books I like, I want to read all of them.  That’s why I was excited to find author Sarah Sundin’s newest book The Sky Above Us, which is the second book in her Sunrise at Normandy Series.

The story of the Paxton family continues in The Sky Above Us as we are introduced to the middle brother, Lt. Alder Paxton.  He is making his way to England where he will be stationed with American Air Force in 1943, as they join the battle to prepare for D-Day.  Though he is trying to leave his past behind him, it has a way of catching up.  What are the chances that 5,000 miles from home Alder will see his estranged brothers Wyatt and Clay?  Onboard ship, Alder will meet the lovely Violet Lindstrom who is with the American Red Cross.  She has her sights set on serving as a missionary one day, in a faraway land.  Little did she know that the Lord would open her eyes to a different mission field that would resonate with her heart’s longing and desires.

I absolutely loved, loved, loved this book.  Not only did I like the setting, WWII in England as D-Day approached, but also the characters and how they fit into a pivotal time in our history.  Sarah must have done a lot of research to make the dogfights and battles seem so realistic and easy to visualize.  In reading The Sky Above Us, I got a taste of what the people who lived through that era may have experienced.

Prior to reading this book, I didn’t know much about the history of the American Red Cross and their roll in helping servicemen as they served abroad.  Those women who served were hardworking and brave and they too put their lives on the line.

As much as I was intrigued and fascinated with the setting and characters, I loved and learned from some of the themes in the book.  Forgiveness was looked at from many different angles.  Compassion, mercy, humility, obedience, friendship, self-righteousness, repentance and God’s calling were some of the other themes.

I very much liked Adler and Violet, but my favorite character was Nick Westin.  He was a wonderful friend, mentor, brother in Christ, father and husband.  I’d love to see a book about this character.  He was memorable and very dear.

Not only did I love The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin, but I learned from it.  It gave me a deeper appreciation for the greatest generation and what they did to save our Country and the Western world from Nazism.  This is a book I will read again and would definitely give it as a gift.  I took my time reading this book and I didn’t want it to end.  It was so enjoyable to read it at the end of each day.  Though it’s part of a series, it works well as a stand-alone book.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell Publishing Group for the opportunity to read The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter – If you like a good love story, time to step away for little while and read.

On Magnolia Lane is the first book that I’ve read by author by Denise Hunter and I really enjoyed it.  This is the third book in the Blue Ridge Romance Series.  Though it’s part of a series, it’s good as a standalone book.

The story is about Jack McReady who happens to be the local Pastor.  One of his congregants is Daisy Pendleton and she’s been meeting with Jack for counseling over a couple of years now.  He’s pretty much head over heals in love with Daisy and she is oblivious.  Will she ever be able to see Jack as something more than her Pastor?  Will Jack ever be bold enough to ask Daisy out on a date?  Or will this romance need a little help from their friends?

I really liked the characters in this book.  They weren’t perfect, but they were kind, descent and caring people that I’d like to spend time with.  The story takes place in the small town of Copper Creak, Georgia and after reading this book I wish it really existed because I’d like to visit.

One of my favorite characters was the mystery woman Julia.  I found myself drawn into her quest and appreciated how understanding and gracious she was.  I liked the friendship that developed between Daisy and Julia.

Denise’s style of writing is very inviting.  She has a way of helping the reader to visualize the places and people, but without being too wordy.  She leaves room for imagination.  I thought Denise was insightful in bringing out what was going on within the characters, their insecurities and wounds from the past that haven’t quite healed, that still impacted relationships.

I really enjoyed On Magnolia Lane.  I appreciated that the Christian faith was included in the character’s lives and that it was a clean novel and free from filthy language and sexual immorality.  There are some details about a character’s past that comes out, but the sinful choices were not glorified or made light of.

In today’s world, where every where you turn there’s more bad news, it’s really nice to be able to step away for a little while, into small town with a little romance.  If you like a good love story, be sure to read On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter.  I look forward to reading more of Denise’s novels.

I would like to thank BookLook and Thomas Nelson Publishers for the opportunity to ready On Magnolia Lane in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Delayed Justice by Cara Putman – Law, Justice, Intrigue – A Delicate Topic Handled with Care

When I first read the description of Delayed Justice by Cara Putman there was a part of me that wanted to read it.  I love books about the law and justice that are filled with intrigue.  But the subject matter, sexual abuse of children, almost made me shy way.  I’m glad that I didn’t let that stop me, because this was a really good book.

Delayed Justice is about a public defender, Jamie Nichols, who has finally come to a place of healing in her own life.  She has found her voice to speak up and bring to justice the man who took away her childhood.  But she will be up against political forces who will stop at nothing to shut her up.  Chandler Bolton, a former Vet, has scars of his own but now works to help former Vets integrate into life back home in the United States.  Together they will have the opportunity to help a young girl get justice and begin to heal, in part through the use of a therapy dog Aslan.

I especially liked the friendships that Jamie had with Caroline, Hayden, Emilie and Savannah.  They were the kind of friends you want in your corner.  They were there for Jamie when she needed them and even when she didn’t know it.  I appreciated how Jamie’s parents responded when hearing for the first time what their daughter endured as a child and how they came alongside her to be there for her as she sought justice.  I loved Chandler and his patient and tender approach as he sought to get to know this intriguing and heroic young woman.

Cara did a great job in handling a sensitive and delicate topic which has affected far too many people and left indelible scars.  She was able to tell the stories of Jamie and Tiffany and what happened to them without going into graphic details.  She kept the focus on the people and used the story to help make known some of the ways child sexual abuse may impact survivors long after childhood.  Seeking justice and healing the emotional and cognitive scars can happen.  It takes time and support.  I appreciated how Cara included the Christian faith and wove it into the characters and storyline.

I highly recommended Delayed Justice by Cara Putman.  Her legal background and research came through to help make a really good novel.  Cara’s writing is new to me and I look forward to discovering her earlier work.

I would like to thank BookLook and Thomas Nelson Publishers for the opportunity to read Delayed Justice in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.

 

Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon – Intrigue, Suspense and Romance

When given the opportunity to read Irene Hannon’s newest book, Hidden Peril, I jumped at the chance.  She’s quickly become one of my favorite writers.  This is the second book in the Code of Honor series and characters Kristin, Colin and Rick continue on this in this book with Kristin as the main focus.

Hidden Peril is a gripping and suspenseful mystery, but it’s a little different because terrorism is part of the plot.  When you see stories on the news about ISIS and terrorism you don’t think it’s going to impact your everyday life.  But what if it did?

Kristin Dane is not your ordinary woman.  After graduating college, she served in the Peace Corp in Ethiopia for two years.  When she returned home, she still had a vision to try and make a difference for good in the lives of people who live in war-torn countries.  When Luke Carter meets Kristin at the wedding of a mutual friend, he probably didn’t anticipate encountering her again, especially in his role as police detective.  Luke’s path intersects with this intriguing and beautiful woman when one of Kristin’s employees is found dead.  Is the death of a monk 10,000 miles away in Syria possibly connected?

One of my favorite things about Irene’s writing are the characters.  They are good, decent, nice people that you’d like to know.  They grow, change and heal the brokenness in their lives.  In this book, you see wonderful examples of committed friendship between Kristin, Colin and Rick.

Hidden Peril was very suspenseful and kept me guessing to the end.  Though I suspected who the bad guy was, I didn’t know how that would be revealed and what would happen to the people at the end of the story.

I greatly appreciate that Irene Hannon is able to write good books, with interesting likable characters and intriguing situations without resorting to filthy language, or immoral sexual situations.  I appreciate how she weaves the Christian faith into the character’s lives.

If you like intrigue, mystery and romance, be sure to read Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon.  It’s another great read by a wonderful author.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Revell Publishers for the opportunity to read Hidden Peril in exchange for an honest review.  I was under no obligation to give a favorable review.