Tag: Book Review

#ThrowbackThursday | The Governess of Highland Hall by Carrie Turansky

For fans of Downton Abbey (isn’t that everyone?)

Illness has forced the Foster family to return to England from their missionary school and orphanage in India. Julia gains employment at Highland House, the home of Sir William Ramsay, as governess to his children, Andrew and Millicent, and to his teenage cousins and wards, Katharine and Penelope.

Sir William is looking for a governess who won’t mind staying in the country, because he has only recently inherited Highland Hall, and the death duties are placing a lot of financial pressure on him. Julia hasn’t told him she plans on returning to India with her family as soon as her father is well again, and as she spends more time at Highland Hall, getting to know Sir William and his family, she has to rethink her future plans.

The story and characters captured my attention from the start.

I like an intelligent heroine who isn’t afraid to have her own opinions, so I liked Julia. William was a man with many troubles, but made a fitting hero. I liked the romantic subplot featuring Sarah, William’s sister, and I liked the Christian aspect of the story—Julia, especially, has a strong Christian faith (she’s partly modelled on Amy Carmichael, a real-life missionary to India).

The novel combines elements of classic British fiction like Jane Eyre with the Edwardian era, made fashionable by the TV series Downton Abbey. I’m a huge fan of Downton Abbey and fiction set in England, and it always bugs me when I’m pulled out of the story by silly factual errors, or by English characters using American vocabulary (like fall or pavement). Carrie Turansky contacted me to ask if I’d read her draft to find any such errors. I was pleased to help, and can only hope I found them all!

The Governess of Highland Hall is the first of a trilogy. Recommended.

About Carrie Turansky

Carrie TuranskyBestselling Inspirational Romance Author Carrie Turansky writes historical and contemporary novels and novellas set in England and the US. She has won the ACFW Carol Award, the Holt Medallion, and the International Digital Award. Readers say her stories are: “Heartwarming and inspiring! I couldn’t put it down!” . . . “Touching love story. It captured me from the first page! Rich characters, beautifully written” . . . “My new favorite author!”

Find Carrie Turansky online at:

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About The Governess of Highland Hall

Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?

Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.

Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.

While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future?

Find The Governess of Highland Hall online at:

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Read the introduction to The Governess of Highland Hall below:

Click here to find The Governess of Highland Hall and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon shop!

Book Review | Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson

Wow.

Hidden Among the Stars is a powerful dual timeline story—definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year.

The past story begins in Austria in 1938, just after Adolf Hitler has annexed the country.

Anyone who knows anything of twentieth century history suspects this isn’t going to end well. Max is the only son of a well-off Vienna banker. Luzi is the Jewish violinist he loves, and Annika is the daughter of a family servant … who loves Max.

The present story is that of Calisandra Anne Randall.

Callie is the half-owner of a children’s bookstore in small-town Ohio. The bookstore has been Callie’s refuge since she was a child. Now she’s making it a place where the next generation of children meet and come to love some of her favourite fictional characters.

Callie sells both new and secondhand books, and often finds things hidden in the books she sells. But Bambi is different. It’s not just the photograph hidden inside the book that captures her attention. It’s the German words written between the lines of the book. Callie’s attempts to find the story behind the book lead her to Austria and a mystery that’s almost eighty years old.

There were so many things that impressed me about Hidden in the Stars.

The way the two plot lines intertwined and intersected. The characters. The writing. The excellent historical research. The faith aspect. It all adds up to a lot more than the cover promised. And I was equally invested in the past and present stories, which is rare. (Yes, I’m one of those readers who usually wants to skip forward and read only half the story.)

Quote from Hidden Among the Stars: My story is the same as any other in that no one owns it except me. And it’s filled with threads of achievements and regrets.

The writing was excellent. My writer/editor self I was especially impressed by the way the author combined first person present tense for the contemporary story with third person past tense for the historical story. Mixing first and third person is not a technique for beginners. Mixing present and past tense is even more impressive. That Melanie Dobson managed to do both seamlessly is outstanding writing.

The historical research never overwhelmed the story. It was good to read a novel set in Austria rather than the more traditional Germany. And it was wonderful to read a story that didn’t have any obvious historical inaccuracies yet managed to share new information. (The author’s note at the end explained a couple of things I’d wondered about.)

I was also impressed by the way the Christian elements were woven into the plot.

The first half had very few religious references—Jewish or Christian. The second half brought out many truths about the nature of God, and the nature of good and evil. Unfortunately, World War II taught us a lot about evil … if we care to learn.

Recommended for fans of dual timeline stories with a hint of romance from authors like Kristy Cambron, Heidi Chiavaroli, and Cathy Gohlke.

Thanks to Tyndale House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Melanie Dobson

Author photo - Melanie DobsonWriting fiction is Melanie Dobson’s excuse to explore abandoned houses, travel to unique places, and spend hours reading old books and journals. The award-winning author of twenty novels, Melanie enjoys stitching together both time-slip and historical stories including Catching the Wind, Enchanted Isle, Beneath a Golden Veil, and the Legacy of Love novels.

Chateau of Secrets received a Carol Award for historical fiction, Catching the Wind’s audiobook won the 2018 Audie for Inspirational Novel, and The Black Cloister was ForeWord’s Book of the Year for Religious Fiction. Her next time-slip novel, Hidden Among the Stars, comes out in September.

Melanie and her husband, Jon, have two daughters. After moving numerous times with Jon’s work, the Dobson family has finally settled near Portland, Oregon, and they love to travel and hike in both the mountains and the cliffs above the Pacific. When Melanie isn’t writing, she enjoys exploring ghost towns and dusty back roads, dancing, and reading stories with her girls.

Find Melanie Dobson online at:

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About Hidden Among the Stars

The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life.

But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambithat connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

Find Hidden Among the Stars at:

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Read the introduction to Hidden Among the Stars below:

Click here to check out Hidden Among the Stars and other great Christian fiction at  my Amazon shop.

Have you read any of Melanie Dobson’s novels? What did you think?

Quote from Formula of Deception: He was the most strikingly handsome man she had ever seen. The only flaw on him was the wedding ring on his finger.

Book Review | Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks

I thought Formula of Deception was another story in the Gwen Marcey series, so was initially surprised when I realised it’s a standalone novel with all new characters. This perception wasn’t helped by the pages of praise for the Gwen Marcey series at the beginning of the book. It also wasn’t a romance, despite my quote above!

Anyway, it took me a little longer to get in to Formula of Deception, because I kept waiting for Gwen to show up. Spoiler: she doesn’t, because the book isn’t about her.

Formula of Deception begins on April Fool’s Day on a small island of the coast of Alaska as an earthquake then tsunami hit. It then moves to the present day, where Murphy Andersen has got a job as a police artist on Kodiak Island, Alaska. She’s drawing a decades-old murder scene, based on the memories of a dying priest.

Murphy was a fascinating character.

There is obviously some unknown trauma in her history, and this unfolds gradually as the plot progresses, as her personal story collides with the story of the dead bodies … and there are soon more dead bodies. A murderer is on the loose … but is this related to the priest’s memories, Murphy’s own personal history, or something else?

Murphy is hiding details about her personal history from her police colleagues, and it’s not always easy to find the truth in her words, thoughts, and actions. This makes the book a challenge, but is also a strength, as it highlights the tension and the suspense. And there is plenty of suspense.

Recommended for suspense fans. Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Carrie Stuart Parks

Carrie Stuart ParksCarrie Stuart Parks is a Christy finalist as well as a Carol award-winning author. She has won numerous awards for her fine art as well. An internationally known forensic artist, she travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement professionals. The author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting, Carrie continues to create dramatic watercolors from her studio in the mountains of Idaho.

Find Carrie Stuart Parks online at:

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About Formula of Deception

An artist hiding from an escaped killer uncovers one of World War II’s most dangerous secrets—a secret that desperate men will do anything to keep hidden.

After the murder of her twin sister, Murphy Anderson changed her name and appearance and moved to Kodiak, Alaska, to avoid the press and publicity. But when local authorities discover she’s an artist and request her help in drawing a dying man’s memories, she unintentionally ends up in the limelight again—and back in the killer’s crosshairs.

The deathbed confessions of an Alaskan hunter have Murphy drawing the five bodies he discovered on remote Ruuwaq Island ten years ago. But what investigators find has them mystified. Evidence suggests that the bodies were deliberately destroyed, and what they uncover in an abandoned Quonset hut from World War II only brings more questions.

As one by one the investigators who were at the hut die, Murphy knows there is something much darker at stake. What happened on this island during the war? And who is willing to kill to keep its secrets buried?

Find Formula of Deception online:

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Read the introduction to Formula of Deception below:

Read my review of Portrait of Vengeance by Carrie Stuart Parks

Read my review of When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

#ThrowbackThursday | Pointe and Shoot by Alison Stone

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing my review of Pointe and Shoot by Alison Stone. This review originally appeared at Suspense Sisters Reviews (which has now been retired).

Pointe and Shoot is a great title, and one that had me hooked from the opening line.

I knew something bad was going to happen. Sure enough, it did.

Everyone thinks Miss Melinda’s death is an unfortunate accident, but her boss, Jayne, isn’t so sure. But no one wants to listen when she says she believes Miss Melinda was lured onto the dark lakeside road. Not the police chief, not her policeman brothers, and not even Danny, her dead brother’s patrol partner.

This is where it got clever. Most of the novel is written in third person from Jayne’s point of view. But some chapters were written in first person, from the point of view of the unknown assailant.

So the reader knows it was murder. Kind of …

I thought the use of first person here was inspired, because it meant we knew nothing about the assailant, not even their gender. Clever!

Miss Natalie, the owner of the ballet school and Jayne’s mother, has Alzheimer’s. It’s a horrible affliction, and I was impressed with the sensitive way it was portrayed, and with Jayne’s unfailing patience with her mother—on her good days, and her not-so-good days. I did, however, have less charitable thoughts towards Jayne’s brothers for some of their attitudes …

There were a few annoying writing niggles—overuse of words like “noticed” (I always figure if I notice a word, it’s been used enough that I notice the word over the writing). And I would have liked a little more of the developing romance between Jayne and Danny—it did feel like this got left behind in the suspense plot. Hey, I like my romantic suspense to have plenty of romance as well as plenty of suspense!

But don’t let that put you off. Pointe and Shoot was an excellent suspense (with romantic overtones), set in a ballet school run by a non-ballerina who once wanted to be a police officer. And which ended with a tantalizing hint that this might be the first book in a series. If so, I’ll be back for more.

About Alison Stone

Author Photo: Alison StoneAlison Stone discovered her love of writing after leaving a corporate engineering job to raise four children.

Constantly battling the siren call of social media, Alison blocks the Internet and hides her smartphone in order to write fast-paced books filled with suspense and romance

Married for almost twenty-five years, Alison lives in Western New York, where the summers are gorgeous and the winters are perfect for curling up with a book—or writing one.

Find Alison Stone online at:

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About Pointe and Shoot

Jayne Murphy has always put family first. That’s why she abandoned her dream of joining the police force to run her ailing mother’s dance studio.

When one of the studio’s most talented instructors dies in a car crash, Jayne isn’t convinced it was just an accident. Relentlessly pursuing her hunch, she teams up with Officer Danny Nolan, the best friend and partner of her brother Patrick, who died in the line of duty. Haunted by Patrick’s death, Danny has begun to question whether he should still be a cop at all.

As Jayne digs deeper, suspects emerge, including the victim’s clingy ex-boyfriend and a jealous foe from the cutthroat dance world. Her evolving insights into the case rekindle Jayne’s passion for police work. Danny, too, feels a renewed sense of purpose…and a definite attraction to his unofficial partner, which seems to be mutual. Now, if Jayne can only keep herself out of harm’s way, she and Danny both might get a second chance—with their careers and each other.

Find Pointe and Shoot online at:

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Read the introduction to Pointe and Shoot below:

Quote from Darkwater Secrets by Robin Caroll: Just because someone doesn't believe something doesn't make it less real.

Book Review | Darkwater Secrets by Robin Caroll

Adelaide Fontaine is the General Manager of the Darkwater Inn in New Orleans, but she might not be for much longer. Not if her boss has his way. She is—unknowingly—being pursued by two men: Beau, a police officer and longtime family friend, and Dimitri, the son of the hotel’s owner, who wants to be a chef rather than follow the management path his father has laid out for him.

As if that wasn’t complicated enough, life is about to get more complicated when a body is discovered in one of the hotel’s rooms … and the body has links to Adelaide’s hidden past.

Adelaide, Beau, and Dimitri are all great characters (and I usually loathe the love triangle plot).

There is plenty of action, plenty of secrets, and plenty of clues to consider as I wondered who-dun-it. What’s most interesting is that finding the culprit wasn’t the end of the story—it was almost as though the murder were the vehicle to explore some deeper personal issues …

There are elements of romance, suspense, mystery, plenty of secrets and even a little voodoo. Yes, voodoo in a Christian novel. As one of the characters says, the Bible wouldn’t need to warn us against demons and evil if they didn’t exist. All in all, an excellent novel, and I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel.

Thanks to Gilead Publishing for providing a free ebook for review.

About Robin Caroll

Robin Caroll grew up in Louisiana with her nose in a book. She still has the complete Trixie Belden series, and her love for mysteries and suspense has only increased with her age. Robin’s passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others and come alongside them on their faith journey—aspects Robin weaves into each of her published novels.

Best-selling author of thirty-plus novels, ROBIN CAROLL writes Southern stories of mystery and suspense, with a hint of romance to entertain readers. Her books have been recognized in several awards, including the Carol Award, HOLT Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer’s Choice Award, and more.

When she isn’t writing, Robin spends quality time with her husband of nearly three decades, her three beautiful daughters and two handsome grandsons, and their character-filled pets at home in the South. Robin serves the writing community as Executive/Conference Director for ACFW.

Find Robin Caroll online at:

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About Darkwater Secrets

A murder investigation uncovers sordid secrets and haunting mistakes

The Darkwater Inn stands tall and proud in the French Quarter, the hub of New Orleans. Bourbon Street is bustling, and General Manager Adelaide Fountaine has her hands full with a hotel at capacity. She, along with everyone else, is shocked when a body is found: a hotel guest stabbed with a kitchen knife.

Detective Beau Savoie, Adelaide’s childhood friend, is on the case. As Beau digs into the victim’s past, he unearths a shocking connection between Adelaide and the murdered guest. Beau is hurt that his friend—the woman he’s quietly loved for years—kept the truth from him. To make matters worse, the stress of the investigation has sent Adelaide right into the comforting arms of her coworker Dimitri. But Beau can’t press Adelaide too hard . . . he’s keeping secrets of his own.

Can Adelaide and Beau afford to hide from the truth with a killer on the loose?

Find Darkwater Secrets online at:

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Read the introduction to Darkwater Secrets below:

From Lone Witness by Rachel Dylan: Guilty. That's the only possible verdict.

Book Review | Lone Witness (Atlanta Justice #2) by Rachel Dylan

Sophie Dawson is a prosecutor in the White Collar Crime Unit, working on financial fraud cases. It should be less dangerous than criminal prosecutions, and it is … until she witnesses a robbery that leaves two people dead, and identifies the perpetrator as the brother of one of the city’s gang leaders. And she’s the lone witness.

I really enjoyed Deadly Proof, the first book in Rachel Dylan’s Atlanta Justice series.

But I didn’t enjoy Lone Witness as much. I enjoyed the legal aspect from Sophie’s viewpoint, but did find the number of point of view characters distracting as it wasn’t obvious why I was seeing their side of the story.

And I wasn’t altogether convinced by the romance subplot—it all felt a little too contrived, rather than reading like a natural development. It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t the standard I’d expected after reading Deadly Proof. I think that was partly the fault of the dialogue, which seemed a little too formal, too wooden, for characters who were supposed to be falling in love.

The legal thriller/suspense element to Lone Witness was well done.

The suspense is enhanced as the reader soon understands what Sophie and Cooper don’t know: that Sophie had two separate sets of enemies … and that the attacks on her life weren’t coming from where she and Cooper thought. There was a neat twist at the end of the story that I didn’t see coming, so that was well done.

I also enjoyed the legal aspects, which showcased the author’s own legal experience in Grisham-worthy courtroom scenes. Overall, I’m sure legal suspense fans will enjoy Lone Witness.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Rachel Dylan

Author Photo - Rachel Dylan

Rachel Dylan was a litigator in one of the nation’s most elite law firms for over eight years and now works as an attorney at one of the Big Three automobile manufacturers. She is the author of four Love Inspired Suspense novels and lives in Michigan with her husband.

Find Rachel Dylan online at:

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About Lone Witness

Prosecutor Sophie Dawson’s first job in the White Collar division of the Fulton County D.A.’s office is to build a case against a local bank employee who may be cheating clients. But when circumstances beyond her control leave her as the only witness to a double homicide involving a vengeful gang, her world is turned upside down.

Former Atlanta police officer turned private security guard Cooper Knight is hired to ensure that Sophie is kept safe. But as threats escalate, they don’t know who they can trust.

Sophie is determined not to back down, but her bank case gets more complicated by the day, and the gang will stop at nothing to keep her from testifying. Sophie wants to take a stand for what’s right–but can Cooper, who is determined not to be distracted by their growing attraction, keep her safe so that she can finish her pursuit for justice?

You can find Lone Witness online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Lone Witness below:

#ThrowbackThursday | A Song Unheard by Roseanna M White

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing my review of A Song Unheard, the second book in Roseanna M White’s brilliant Shadows Over England series. It follows A Name Unknown, and An Hour Unspent, the third book in the series, releases in September (and I’ll review it then).

My Review

Violin virtuoso Lukas De Wilde has escaped war-torn Belgium with his life and his Stradivarius, but without his family. He has to find Mamman and Margot and get them safely to England before the Germans find them … and the valuable cypher key.

Willa Forsythe is one of London’s best thieves, and her latest assignment from the mysterious Mr V is to befriend Lukas De Wilde and find the cypher key. Which means a trip to Wales and playing best friends with the wealthy Davies sisters, benefactors to De Wilde and his fellow musicians.

It soon becomes apparent that Willa and V aren’t the only people interested in the cypher key … and that finding it isn’t going to be as easy as Willa first thought. Especially when Lukas begins to express his interest in her as a fellow musician, and romantically.

A Song Unheard is a brilliant combination of romance and suspense in a unique historical setting.

It is set in London and Aberystwyth. I lived in London for ten years, so I love reading books set there (perhaps this is why I like Regency romance, because most are set in and around central London). I haven’t read any other books set in Aberystwyth, which is where I was born (although I’ve never lived there). It was great to see the city through the eyes of Willa and Lukas.

I was especially impressed by the research. I’d never heard of the Davies sisters and their World War One Belgian orchestra, so this was a fascinating plot device (yes, they were a real thing. I wonder if any of my Welsh relatives attended their concerts?). I’ve always been fascinated by codes and cyphers, so this element intrigued me, especially the connection with mathematics. And who knew that Mozart encoded messages into his music with cyphers?

Overall, A Song Unheard was brilliant—Roseanna M White’s best book yet.

That’s saying something, because A Name Unknown, the first book in this Shadows Over England series, was excellent, as were her earlier books (especially The Culper Ring series). Recommended for fans of Edwardian romance, and romantic suspense.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Roseanna M White

Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna has a slew of historical novels available, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia.

Find Roseanna M White online at:

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About A Song Unheard

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I—to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he’s won–until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father’s work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn’t–that she must betray him and find that cypher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has.

Find A Song Unheard online at:

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You can read the introduction to A Song Unheard below:

And here’s the description of An Hour Unspent:

Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.

Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence, but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.

As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military edge–and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina’s father soon finds his whole family in danger–and it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape.

The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin

#ThrowbackThursday | Book Review | The Two of Us

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m bringing you my review of The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin, one of my top reads of 2017. This review previously appeared at Australasian Christian Writers. Click here to read the discussion.

An intriguing combination of Romance, Women’s Fiction, and New Adult.

Mia isn’t in Las Vegas to check out the men—she’s here because Lucy, her baby sister, is pregnant at eighteen, and is about to marry.

Despite her Christian faith, Mia isn’t convinced that marrying Sam is the best solution. It might just add another whole layer of problems to her life, especially her plans to put her nursing skills to use as a full-time foreign medical missionary.

Jake Tanner is in Las Vegas to act as best man to Sam Waters, the son of his police partner, the boy Jake has mentored into manhood following the death of his mother. Now Jake is determined to support Sam and Lucy in any way necessary.

Mia and Jake are thrown together again after Mia moves to Jake’s hometown of Echo Falls, both to support Lucy and to prove to the missions board that she has what it takes to be a foreign missionary. She’s a great character—a strong and intelligent woman with a real desire to follow God, even when following Him means making the hard choices, and losing people she loves. Like her fiances. Both of them. So she’s through with love.

Until she meets Jake.

Jake is the one possible fault with The Two of Us. Sure, he’s got issues in his past he’s had to work through. But the present-day Jake is practically perfect. He’s the perfect gentleman, always looking out for other people, always selfless even when it means getting hurt. It’s possible that he’s perfect …

The other central character is Lucy, the pregnant teen bride.

I wasn’t as interested in her storyline at first—hey, I wanted to see Jake and Mia. But Lucy’s story was essential, as her ongoing pregnancy and relationship with Sam provided a lot of the background to the bigger story. It also introduced us to Jake’s parents, Frank and Claire. Claire suffers from early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and needed constant supervision.

The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin

It was good to see a Christian novel dealing with Alzheimer’s, and showing such a positive way of dealing with the disease. This was a real—if heartbreaking—strength of the novel. It was also refreshing to read a Christian novel where the character’s faith in God came through loud and clear, where seeking His will and serving Him were central plot points—even if the characters did get the details wrong on occasion. But that provided them with room to grow, and was one of the biggest strengths of the novel.

Recommended for fans of contemporary Christian romance, or those wanting a picture of Christ’s love in action in dealing with Alzheimer’s.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Victoria Bylin at her website.

Quote from More than Meets the Eye: She was stuck. Apparently she had more in common with those foolish dime-novel heroines than she'd thought.

Book Review | More than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer

Evangeline, Zach, and Seth Hamilton are an unlikely family.

In fact, they aren’t a blood family. They created themselves from the ruins of a long-ago orphan train. Now the family farm in the small town of Pecan Gap, Texas. They’ve built a life for themselves.

Logan Fowler grew up in Peacan Gap, but left after his father lost their farm in a card game and killed himself. He’s back for revenge—to win his farm back from Zach Hamilton. Evie Hamilton is the perfect accessory to his plan … until he starts having feelings for her.

Evangeline is a remarkable character.

She has different coloured eyes—one brown, one bright blue—and has been ostracised by the townspeople. As a result, she spends most of her free time roaming the countryside in the company of her pet, a tamed feral pig. That’s unique—it’s the first book I’ve read where the heroine has a pet pig. She’s adventurous and brave and caring, and has somehow managed to develop a strong Christian faith despite

Logan is the first person who hasn’t commented on Evie’s eyes, and that makes him special. He’s also a great character, a man with a goal who will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. But is it the right goal? Evie doesn’t think so.

Logan is clearly the hero, but Zach and Seth are noble characters as well. Zach has sacrificed his own dreams to raise and support Evie and Seth. Seth has his own health issues which make life difficult. But they’re a great team.

I think I’ve read all Karen Witemeyer’s novels.

I love her writing—her characters, her humour, and the way she seamlessly weaves in the Christian faith. Recommended for all lovers of Christian historical romance, especially westerns.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Karen Witemeyer

Author Photo: Karen WitemeyerFor those who love to smile as they read, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer offers warm-hearted historical romances with a flair of humor, feisty heroines, and swoon-worthy Texas heroes. A transplant from California, Karen came to Texas for college, met a cowboy disguised as a computer nerd, married him, and never left the state that had become home.

Winner of the HOLT Medallion, ACFW Carol Award, Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, National Reader’s Choice Award, and a finalist for both the RITA and Christy Awards, Karen is a firm believer in the power of happy endings. . . and ice cream. She also loves to reward her readers. Every month she gives away two inspirational historical novels to someone from her newsletter list and offers substantial bonus content on her website.

Find Karen Witemeyer online at:

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About More than Meets the Eye

Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes–one bright blue, the other dark brown–Eva has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. Yet the support of even one person can help overcome the world’s judgments, and Eva has two–Seth and Zach, two former orphans she now counts as brothers.

Seeking justice against the man who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father’s death. Only instead of finding a solitary ruthless gambler, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. When Zach’s sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time their paths cross, Logan finds his quest completely derailed.

Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline?

You can find More than Meets the Eye online at:

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You can read the introduction to More than Meets the Eye below:

Quote from Beneath a Prairie Moon: Why wouldn't the men in town listen to reason? Buying a bride was foolhardy. Maybe even dangerous.

Book Review | Beneath a Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer

It was bad enough that Abigail Grant has been forced from her rightful position in society due to her father’s criminal actions. Worse that she has been forced to offer herself as a mail order bride through Mrs Helena Bingham’s matchmaker agency. But she’s now had six matches, and rejected them all … or they’ve rejected her.

She’s down to her last chance when Mrs Bingham offers her a different role.

She has sixteen prospective grooms from a small town in Kansas. Unfortunately, their introductory letters show they are lacking in “social niceties”. But Mrs Bingham has a plan.

She is sending Abigail to Spiveyville to tutor the men and turn them into suitable grooms. And Mrs Bingham is coming to supervise. Unfortunately, the sixteen wife-seeking bachelors of Spiveyville are not well pleased when their brides don’t arrive—only two women who aren’t part of the bridal pool.

It’s a setup ripe with opportunities for humour, and Kim Vogel Sawyer does not disappoint.

The humour is more understated than obvious, but it’s there. There is also a little romance, a little suspense, and a little Christian preaching (although it’s not preachy. It’s just Mrs Bingham sometimes can’t help herself).

Mrs Bingham was a pleasant surprise as a character. My first impression of her was a benevolent dictator with a backbone of steel. She has an element of steel—I expect widowed women needed a healthy sense of their own abilities to run a successful business. But I was impressed by her compassion for the girls she matched, and her genuine desire to make good marriages for her clients.

One thing confused me a little.

I’m used to romance novels where the story is told from the points of view of the heroine and hero (and usually in that order). Under a Prairie Moon had four different points of view, which made me think it was going to be a secondary romance plot. There kind of was, but it didn’t go the way I was expecting (which isn’t bad). But it did leave me wondering why we had the extra points of view.

Overall, I enjoyed Under a Prairie Moon.

I’m sure fans of western romances, especially mail order bride stories, will enjoy it.

Thanks to WaterBrook Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Kim Vogel Sawyer

Kim Vogel SawyerAward-winning, bestselling author Kim Vogel Sawyer wears many hats. As a wife, mother, grandmother, song-singer, cat-petter, and active participant in her church’s music and women’s ministries, her life is happily full.

But her passion lies in penning stories that share the hope we can all possess when we place our lives in God’s capable hands. She and her retired military hubby live on the beautiful plains of Kansas, the setting for many of Kim’s books.

In her free time, she enjoys quilting, traveling with “The Hubs,” and spoiling her quiverful of granddarlings.

You can find Kim Vogel Sawyer online at:

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About Beneath a Prairie Moon

Abigail Brantley grew up in affluence and knows exactly how to behave in high society. But when she is cast from the social registers due to her father’s illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined: tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in the subjects of manners and morals so they can “marry up” with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose father was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he’s put off by the snooty airs and fastidious behavior of the “little city gal” in their midst. But as time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the down-to-earth men. How can he teach her that perfection won’t bring happiness?

You can find Beneath a Prairie Moon online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

You can read the introduction to Beneath a Prairie Moon below: