Tag: Book Review

Quote from The Lieutenants Bargain: Jack knew that nothing happened in life that God didn't allow, but that didn't mean that everything had a purpose. Sometimes it was just dumb luck.

Book Review | The Lieutenant’s Bargain by Regina Jennings

Hattie Walker doesn’t want to get married.

She wants to be an artist, Her parents have given her two months to prove herself and get a painting in a reputable Denver exhibition, so she’s travelling to Colorado to try and make her mark in the art world. Otherwise, it’s go home to Van Buren, Arkansas, and plan for her future. A stagecoach shootout leaves Hattie as the only survivor … and therefore the only eyewitness to murder. But that’s nothing compared to being kidnapped by Indians for who knows what nefarious purpose.

Lieutenant Jack Hennessey has never been interested in marriage.

The only girl he was ever interested in never showed the slightest sign of liking him. But now he’s rescuing the survivor of a stagecoach robbery, and it turns out to be his childhood sweetheart. Anxious to impress, he asks the village Chief to arrange a ceremony … and ends up married.

Oops. Not quite the impression he wanted to make.

It’s a great set-up: a marriage that’s neither mail order bride nor marriage of convenience, but marriage all the same. And between two people who know and like each other, although that doesn’t mean they actually want to be married. It makes for a fun story, with a lot of great scenes as the two get to know each other and consider their options.

Parts of the novel show the hopefully well-meaning but almost certainly misguided colonialism, with the attempts to integrate the local Indian tribes into the white man’s world (and isn’t that phrase telling: the white man’s world. Not the white world. That’s still a distinction we’re all fighting for). Some Native American readers may say this history is sanitised and sugar-coated, and they’d probably be right.

However, this novel is intended as light entertainment, not a serious treatise on the faults of colonialism (of which there are many). On that level, it works.

The Lieutenant’s Bargain is the second book in the Fort Reno series, but can easily be read as a standalone novel. Recommended for fans of Christian Western historical romance … especially those who like a little humour in their romance.

Thanks to Baker Books and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Regina Jennings

Regina JenningsRegina Jennings is the winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. A graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history, Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children when not traveling the world.

Find Regina Jennings online at:

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About The Lieutenant’s Bargain

Hattie Walker dreams of becoming a painter, while her parents want her to settle down. As a compromise, they give her two months to head to Denver and place her works in an exhibition or give up the dream forever. Her journey is derailed when a gunman attacks her stagecoach, leaving her to be rescued by a group of Arapaho . . . but she’s too terrified to recognize them as friendly.

Confirmed bachelor Lieutenant Jack Hennessey has long worked with the tribe and is tasked with trying to convince them that the mission school at Fort Reno can help their children. When a message arrives about a recovered survivor, Jack heads out to take her home–and plead his case once more.

He’s stunned to run into Hattie Walker, the girl who shattered his heart–but quickly realizes he has a chance to impress her. When his plan gets tangled through translation, Jack and Hattie end up in a mess that puts her dreams in peril–and tests Jack’s resolve to remain single.

Find The Lieutenant’s Bargain online at:

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Read the introduction to The Lieutenant’s Bargain below:

Quote from Who I Am With You: "A good neighbor might have taken over a plate of fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies. But Jessica had forgotten how to be a good neighbor."

Book Review | Who I Am With You by Robin Lee Hatcher

I was expecting this to be a contemporary romance, because all the other Robin Lee Hatcher novels I’ve read have been contemporary romances. So I was surprised when I started reading and found it’s a dual timeline story. Yes, the book description says this, but I guess I saw “Robin Lee Hatcher” and didn’t read the the book description properly. I knew I’d enjoy it.

And I did.

In the present story, Jessica Morgan is an artist who is expecting her dead husband’s baby while still recovering from his death, and the death of their daughter. Jessica has shut herself away from friends and life, but that changes when Ridley Chesterfield moves in next door. Ridley and his adopted stray dog challenge Jessica to come out of her shell.

I enjoyed watching Jessica grow past her grief and open up to live and love. However, if I had a criticism of Who I Am With You, it would be that she recovered from the lost of her daughter more quickly than seemed natural given the way she was portrayed at the beginning of the story. But I loved the way Ridley was able to bring Jessica out of her shell and back to church even while he was dealing with his own personal crisis.

In the past story, Andrew and Helen Henning are starting their perfect married life when Andrew loses his job. In the early weeks of what becomes the Great Depression. I didn’t enjoy the past story as much (hey, I’m a contemporary romance fan and the Great Depression is, well, somewhat depressing).

But the past story was compelling, and it set the scene for this contemporary story, and the next. And while I liked Ridley as a romance hero who faced internal and external challenges, his were minor in comparison to Andrew’s challenges. Overall, Who I Am With you is a great story filled with spiritual truth … and a couple of pointed comments on the current political climate.

Recommended for fans of dual timeline stories with a heart of faith.

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

About Robin Lee Hatcher

Robin Lee HatcherBest-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Winner of the Christy, the RITA, the Carol, the Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and many other industry awards, Robin is also a recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards from both Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. She is the author of 75+ novels and novellas with over five million copies in print.

Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. Her main hobby (when time allows) is knitting, and she has a special love for making prayer shawls. A mother and grandmother, Robin and her husband make their home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with Poppet, the high-maintenance Papillon, and Princess Pinky, the DC (demon cat).

Find Robin online at:

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About Who I Am With You

For these two broken hearts, the first step toward love will be a huge leap of faith.

Jessica Mason isn’t looking for love when she meets Ridley Chesterfield. Instead she is still reeling from the tragic, unexpected loss of her husband and daughter—and awaiting the arrival of her unborn child. Harboring the secret of her husband’s betrayal, her pain is deeper than anyone knows.

Ridley Chesterfield is hiding out in Hope Springs, Idaho, avoiding a political scandal and the barrage of false media headlines that have tarnished his good name. The last thing Ridley wants is a relationship—but when fate leads Ridley to form a friendship with his reclusive and pregnant neighbor, he wonders if this small-town hideout might be more of a long-term destination.

When Jessica begins to read her great-grandfather’s Bible, she finds a connection with a man she never knew. Somehow the verses he marked and the words he wrote in the margins open her heart to healing. And as Ridley and Jessica help each other forgive the people who have wronged them, they must decide if the past will define them or if they will choose to love again.

Who I Am With You weaves together a modern-day romance with Jessica’s great-grandfather’s story from the 1930s, reminding us that some truths can cross generations and that faith has the power to transform families forever.

Find Who I Am With You online at:

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Click here to find Things Left Unsaid and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

Quote from Guarded Prognosis: We're told that the Christian will face troubles. It's promised in the Scriptures. God's promise is that he'll provide the strength we need at the time we need it.

Book Review | Guarded Prognosis by Richard Mabry

Dr Mabry is the master of the medical thriller, and Guarded Prognosis is one of his best. It’s a novel rather than a novella, and that gives him the opportunity to pile on the trouble for the main character, Dr Caden Taggart.

Dr Taggart has two strangers in his waiting room. They say they’re from the DEA, and they’re there to investigate a drug-related death where Dr Taggart apparently prescribed the fentanyl that killed the man. Except Taggart doesn’t prescribe fentanyl—he’s a surgeon, and fentanyl is something that would be prescribed by the referring physician. Things get more complicated when his father calls to say he’s taken a few tests, the results look like cancer … and Dr Henry Taggart wants his son’s help to commit suicide.

Yeah. Plenty of thing going wrong in this one. And plenty of room for more things to go wrong.

The characters are intriguing. Beth is a Christian, but Caden doesn’t seem to be: “That was her thing, not his.” This kind of leaves me wondering why she married him … However, that does leave room for Caden to have a crisis of faith.

One thing that continues to impress me with Dr Mabry’s novels and novellas is the way he weaves Christianity and medical terminology into the story in a natural way. There is always enough medical terminology to convince us the characters are real doctors, yet never so much that we don’t understand what’s going on. The same with the Christian content—it’s there, but it’s not forced.

All in all, Guarded Prognosis is a strong medical thriller with plenty of twists and turns.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

About Richard Mabry

I’m a retired physician who, in addition to writing, is a husband and grandfather, plays (and enjoys) golf, and does the hundred-and-one other things that retired people do.

I got into non-medical writing after the death of my first wife with my book, THE TENDER SCAR: LIFE AFTER THE DEATH OF A SPOUSE. I’m gratified that it continues to help those who have lost a loved one.

Now I’m writing what I call “medical suspense with heart.” My novels have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Award, Romantic Times’ Best Inspirational Novel and their Reviewer’s Choice Award, have won the Selah award, and been named by Christian Retailing as the best in the mystery/suspense/thriller category. My latest novel is CARDIAC EVENT, which has been given a 4 1/2 star rating and a “Top Pick” by Romantic Times. I’ve also published three novellas, the latest one DOCTOR’S DILEMMA.

You can find Dr Richard Mabry online at:

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About Guarded Prognosis

When Dr. Caden Taggart saw the two men sitting in his waiting room, he didn’t think they were patients. He was right, and when they introduced themselves as agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency, things started to get bad.

Then Caden felt as though someone had gut-punched him when his father, Dr. Henry Taggart, told him he probably had carcinoma of the pancreas. When he talked about his son assisting with his suicide, Caden wondered how he could talk him out of that.

When he shared his news with his wife, Beth, she tried to assure Caden that God was in control. But as things progressed, he was unsure that was true. At first, he feared for his freedom. Then for his ability to cope. Eventually, he feared for his life.

Find Guarded Prognosis online at:

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Read the introduction to Guarded Prognosis below:

Rea

#ThrowbackThursday | Integrate by Adele Jones

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing by review of Integrate, the first book in a near-future YA science trilogy from Australian author Adele Jones. This review first appeared at Iola’s Christian Reads.

Fast-paced YA Suspense with a GMO twist

Blaine Colton isn’t the average seventeen-year-old boy. He spent the first fourteen years of his life in a wheelchair until Professor Ramer’s experimental gene therapy turned him into a normal Australian teen. But now he’s back at the Advance Research Institute, under the care of Dr Melissa Hartfield, and something’s not quite right …

Blaine isn’t sure what’s happening, but he knows he needs to escape the Institute, and keep out of the clutches of Dr Hartfield and her cronies. And he needs to get more pills, so he seeks help from his former next-door neighbour, Sophie Faraday. But Dr Hartfield has already contacted Sophie, who now doesn’t know who’s telling the truth: Blaine, or the doctor?

Integrate is a fast-paced psychological thriller set in Brisbane, Australia. The plot is excellent, with enough science to keep it interesting, but not so much that it dissolves into technobabble. I liked the way all the little bits tied up at the end, yet still leaves room for a sequel (I’d like to see more of Blaine, Sophie and Jett).

Blaine is mature for his age, having come through the disabilities he faced in childhood with a strong sense of self, and no desire to return to the person he used to be. He’s fighting for his life in a different way, and has to persuade Sophie and others that he’s not violent or deranged—a difficult task when he’s only partway through his cure and his physical health is failing.

The other characters are good as well. They all feel like real people, with a mixture of good and bad points. They make mistakes, judge things incorrectly, and get frustrating. Annoying, but just like real people in real life. All in all, Integrate is a good read. Recommended.

Thanks to Rhiza Press for providing a free ebook for review.

About Adele Jones

Author Photo - Adele Jones

I’m an Australian author who writes young adult and historical novels, poetry and short fiction, and inspirational non-fiction works. My first YA techno-thriller novel ‘Integrate’ was awarded the 2013 CALEB Prize for unpublished manuscript.

My writing explores issues of social justice, humanity, spirituality, natural beauty and meaning in life’s journey, drawing on inspiration from my family, faith, friends, music and science.

Find Adele Jones online at:

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About Integrate

Blaine Colton had been handed a genetic death sentence until revolutionary gene therapy changed his life. Living a relatively normal existence, he is called to an unscheduled post-treatment appointment just weeks before his eighteenth birthday.

Informed that his life saving procedure was never approved, he is held against his will for his status as an apparent illegal GMO. Subjected to constant testing, refused contact with his parents and deprived of life sustaining medication, Blaine begins to suspect that something is wrong. Wanting answers, he escapes the Institute and ambitious Chief Scientist, Dr Melissa Hartfield.

Now a fugitive with a failing body, Blaine must find Professor Ramer, the developer of his therapy. But the Professor has vanished and time is running out. Fast.

You can find Integrate online at:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Goodreads

I wasn't always a liar ...

#ThrowbackThursday | Perennials by Julie Cantrell

It’s #Throwback Thursday. Today I’m bringing you my review of Perennials, by award-winning author Julie Cantrell. This review previously appeared at Australasian Christian Writers. Click here to check out the discussion.

Perennials: Inspirational Women’s Fiction for the Eat, Pray, Love Generation

PerennialsI don’t usually read reviews before reading a book I’ve asked to review, because I don’t want to be influenced (in contrast, I do read reviews before buying a book. Call me weird, but I find it easier to ignore a book’s faults if I know them before I start reading page one).

Anyway, if the review I read was accurate, this book had a lot of faults. The chief fault appeared to be that it was from a Christian publisher, yet was not Christian fiction.

Well, sold.

Okay, not sold. But I requested a review copy from NetGalley, because I wanted to find out for myself.

The writing was brilliant.

Julie Cantrell has a gift with words, with emotion. The plot was generally strong. I thought the plot device used to get Eva home to her family was contrived almost to the point of being unbelievable, but the writing was outstanding and the characterisation was solid enough that I was prepared to let a less-than-believable plot point pass.

Perennials is the story of a middle-aged professional woman who learns the hard way success isn’t defined by your salary or your job title (or your ability to life a Pinterest-worthy life), but by being true to yourself. She also learns that we can’t judge and resent others for their Pinterest-perfect lives, because we don’t know what they’re hiding.

These are powerful lessons.

Eva, the main character, wasn’t the most likeable person to begin with. She has a chip on her shoulder the size of a small planet, and even at forty-five years of age, it’s never occurred to her that her outlook on life and on her family (especially on her family) is anything but right. Being home again forces her to review and rethink some of her perceptions. The more I saw of her in her home town, the more I was able to sympathise and empathise with her situation.

Overall, I’d classify this as an inspirational women’s fiction version of Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh. Perennials definitely doesn’t fit in the narrow echo chamber of Christian fiction. If it was a romance, I’d say it was angling for a RITA nomination for Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements. It had plenty of spiritual elements—but most of them weren’t Christian:

Namaste. The light in me sees the light in you.
The ancestors have a lot to teach us.
Kachina Woman, Hera, Kuan Yin, Mary. Whoever she is, she is timeless and omnipotent, representing all things feminine and calming and wise.

Definitely not Christian—and that last quote is in direct contradiction to the Gospel of John, which makes clear that Jesus is the way. Not one of many. Yet there were also lines like this:

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

And:

Jesus experienced the worst. Betrayed by someone he trusted, destroyed by the people he loved. Public shame, humiliation … but despite it all, he chose to love.

No, Perennials doesn’t fit into the shiny bucket that is CBA fiction.

If you’re looking for a typical Christian fiction novel, then I wouldn’t recommend Perennials. But if you’re looking for something that doesn’t fit the Christian norm—perhaps as a gift for a non-Christian friend who appreciates good writing and enjoys books such as Eat, Pray, Love—then Perennials may be a good option.

Perhaps Perennials does present Jesus as an option to be considered rather than as the answer. But in doing that, it may attract readers who wouldn’t ever pick up a ‘Christian’ novel. And if those readers are true to themselves, they will consider Jesus. And I believe we need more books written by Christians for a general market audience, books that address real-world problems and present Jesus as an option.

As Perennials does.

What do you think?

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

About Julie Cantrell

Julie CantrellNew York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, Julie Cantrell is known for writing inspirational novels that explore the hard truths women typically keep secret. While she delves into emotional issues, she does so with a compassionate and open heart, always bringing readers through to a hopeful path for peace, empathy, and healing.

A speech-language pathologist and literacy advocate, Julie was honored to receive the 2012 Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Fellowship. She also received the 2016 Mary Elizabeth Nelson Fellowship at Rivendell Writer’s Colony, which is awarded to a writer who encourages spiritual growth, healing, and care through his or her work.

Julie and her two children now live in Oxford, Mississippi where they spent six years operating Valley House Farm, a sustainable organic farmstead, before moving into a new adventure.

You can find Julie Cantrell online at:

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About Perennials

When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother’s perennial garden.
Eva—known to all as Lovey—grew up safe and secure in Oxford, MS, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother’s stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries that it caused, seemed to change everything . . . especially when her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage.
Bitsy became the cheerleader. The homecoming queen. The perfect Southern belle who could do no wrong. All the while, Lovey served as the family scapegoat, always bearing the brunt when Bitsy threw blame her way.
At eighteen, suffocating in her sister’s shadow, Lovey turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona—a place as far from Mississippi as she could find.
In time, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself, free from Bitsy’s vicious lies. But now that she’s turning 45, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that have led her here.
When she gets a call from her father insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th anniversary, Lovey is at wits’ end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, and there’s a lot on the line. But despite the risks, her father’s words, “Family First,” draw her right back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.
Lovey is welcomed home by a secret project—a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning to live perennially in spite of life’s many trials and tragedies.
Years ago, Lovey chose to leave her family and the South far behind. But now that she’s returned, she’s realizing things at home were not always what they seemed.

You can find Perennials online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon UK

ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Quote from Things Left Unsaid: She'd written the story of Cassie's death a dozen different ways, but she still wasn't clear on what had actually happened that night.

Book Review | Things Left Unsaid by Courtney Walsh

When Cassie Jacobs drowned, she left behind a lot of messed-up people blaming themselves for her death.

Ten years later, people are pretending they’ve moved on. Cassie’s mother has organised a memorial party. Her father is withdrawn. Her brother owns an adventure tourism business. One of Cassie’s best friends getting married. Another is on the verge of a career breakthrough … if only she can open herself up to feeling emotion again.

Things Left Unsaid is one of those novels with a slow build. We’re introduced to each of the characters and their somewhat petty present-day problems (many of which are caused by the interfering Nora, Elle’s future mother-in-law). But as the plot develops and we get to know each of the characters, we start seeing beyond the petty and into their hearts as Walsh takes us into the hidden places and we see the hurts and where they’ve come from.

And that’s neither petty nor pretty. But it is powerful. And it’s worth reading.

But, as I said, the novel has a slow build. The first quarter feels almost confusing as it changes point of view often: Lyndie, Elle, Karen, Tucker. The story settles into itself in the next quarter, but it still feels like it’s lacking something. It’s lacking emotion, but that’s deliberate: all the characters are holding back emotionally, and that comes through in the writing.

The novel really comes into itself in the final quarter.

Secrets are acknowledged, things once left unsaid are said, and the emotion arrives like a roller coaster on that final downward swoop. Things Left Unsaid definitely hits all the right spots for a contemporary Christian romance with a side of real life.

Recommended for fans of authors like Robin Lee Hatcher, Denise Hunter, Kara Isaac, Amy Matayo, and Becky Wade.

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

About the Author

Courtney WalshCourtney Walsh is a novelist, artist, theater director, and playwright. Change of Heart is her fifth novel and is set in the same town as Paper Hearts. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller lists and was a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category. She has written two additional books in the Sweethaven series, as well as two craft books and several full-length musicals. Courtney lives in Illinois where she and her husband own a performing and visual arts studio. They have three children.

Find Courtney Walsh online at …

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About Things Left Unsaid

An emotional novel of family, friendship and forgiveness from Courtney Walsh, the New York Times bestselling author of Hometown Girl.

Lyndie St. James is thrilled that her best friend, Elle, is getting married but unprepared for the emotional storm of the wedding week and returning to her childhood summer home of Sweethaven. The idyllic cottage community harbors some of her best—and worst—memories. It’s not only the tragic death of her childhood friend Cassie that has haunted her for ten years, it’s the other secrets she’s buried that have kept her from moving on.

But Lyndie isn’t the only one with secrets.

Cassie’s mother, father and brother, still struggling with the loss, have been drifting further and further apart. And Elle herself, the last to see Cassie alive, carries an impossible burden of guilt. Now reunited, each of them has a choice: to reveal the truths of that night or continue to live in its shadow. That means embarking on a personal journey of the heart—to escape the darkness and all its regrets and to finally come to terms with the past and, especially, with each other.

Find Things Left Unsaid online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads

Click here to find Things Left Unsaid and other great Christian fiction at my Amazon shop!

Quote from A Shot at Love by Sarah Loudin Thomas, featured in Christmas Heirloom

Book Review | The Christmas Heirloom: Four Holiday Novellas of Love through Generations

This is a fun novella collection from four popular authors, each writing in the genre they are known for. The stories are linked several ways—they are linked to each other as the heroines are gifted and then pass down a family heirloom, and each has a Christmas scene (enough to make it marketable as a Christmas collection, but not so Christmassy that it felt odd to read in October). Some of the stories are also linked to other stories from that individual author. Clever, and fun!

As is typical for novellas, the stories are quick and relatively fast-paced, but each is a complete and satisfying story.

Legacy of Love by Kristi Ann Hunter is loosely linked to her current Haven Manor series.

The heroine, Sarah Gooding, was raised at Haven Manor and has no idea who her parents are. She’s working as the companion to the Dowager Countess of Densbury and is secretly in love with Lady Densbury’s grandson, Mr Everard. Or perhaps that’s not-so-secretly …

The story is written in Hunter’s trademark fun style, with subtle humour that builds character and reduces tension rather than crossing over to the ridiculous. Despite the short length, Legacy of Love manages to pack quite the emotional punch—I can’t remember the last time I cried over a novel, let alone a novella.

Gift of the Heart by Karen Witemeyer introduces widow Ruth Fullbright and her daughter, Naomi.

Ruth has come to the resort town of Hope Springs to take a job as cook at the Homespun Cafe. But Ruth has no money to pay the deposit or advance rent on the only place in town she can afford, so she asks the owner if he’ll accept a broach, a family heirloom, as security. He does … especially because he’s curioius about and attracted to the small town’s new resident.

This is a feel-good romance, exactly what I expect from Karen Witemeyer. There are great characters, Christian themes, and plenty of subtle humour.

(As an aside, Hope Springs seems to be a popular name for fictional towns—I’ve just started Who I Am With You by Robin Jones Gunn, which also features a heroine living in Hope Springs. I guess Christian authors like the symbolism.)

A Shot at Love by Sarah Loudin Thomas features an unusual heroine.

She’s a crack shot who carves rifle butts and wants to own her own gunsmithing store one day. When Hank visits town for work, Fleeta soon finds he’s the only person she’s met—male or female—who can give her some competition for her shooting. But will he be content to settle a shooting, or will he want more?

This was the story I didn’t enjoy as much as the others. I haven’t read anything by Sarah Loudin Thomas before, so that could be because I was still trying to get used to her style. It could also be because I’m not a gun person, so the idea of anyone wanting to be a gunsmith is outside my experience.

However, that’s a statement of preference. There was nothing wrong with the story, the characters, or the writing. I just found it harder to related to Fleeta, which made it difficult to engage with the story.

The final story, Because of You by Becky Wade, is set in the present day.

It’s part of the Bradford Sisters Romance series, but it’s not about one of the Bradford sisters. Instead, it’s about Maddie Winslow, who works for one of the sisters.

Because of You is a classic friends-to-something-else plot, as Maddie is in love with her (dead) best friend’s husband. When they are assigned to be partners in the church Christmas project, they are forced to spend time alone together, and that changes things …

All in all, this was a fun novella collection centered around a family heirloom—a valuable brooch. If (like me) you already know and enjoy one or more of these authors, then the collection is a great way to be introduced to the others.

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

About the Authors

Kristi Ann Hunter

Author photo: Kristi Ann Hunter

Kristi is the RITA® award winning author of Regency romance novels from a Christian worldview. Her titles include A Noble Masquerade, An Elegant Façade, and An Uncommon Courtship. Beyond writing, she is also speaker, teaching classes in writing as well as Biblical and spiritual topics. She has spoken to writers’ groups, schools, and young women’s groups at churches.

When she is not writing or interacting with her readers, Kristi spends time with her family and her church. A graduate of Georgia Tech with a computer science degree, she can also be found fiddling with her computer in her free time. A born lover of stories she is also an avid reader. From very young she dreamed of sharing her own stories with others and praises God daily that she gets to live that dream today.

You can find Kristi Ann Hunter online at:

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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:

Website | Facebook

About Sarah Loudin Thomas

Author Photo - Sarah Loudin ThomasSarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Sarah is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency.

Sarah and her husband Jim live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with Thistle–the canine equivalent to a personal trainer pushing them to hike, run, and throw sticks. Sarah is active in her local church and enjoys cooking and–you guessed it–reading.

Find Sarah Loudin Thomas online at:

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About Becky Wade

Author Photo Becky WadeBecky is the Carol and Christy award winning author of heartwarming, humorous, and swoon-worthy contemporary inspirational romances.

During her childhood in California, Becky frequently produced homemade plays starring her sisters, friends, and cousins. These plays almost always featured a heroine, a prince, and a love story with a happy ending. She’s been a fan of all things romantic ever since.

These days, you’ll find Becky in Dallas, Texas failing to keep up with her housework, trying her best in yoga class, carting her three kids around town, watching TV with her Cavalier spaniel on her lap, hunched over her computer writing, or eating chocolate.

You can find Becky Wade online at:

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About The Christmas Heirloom

In Kristi Ann Hunter’s “Legacy of Love,” Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman’s grandson, a man far above her station.

In Karen Witemeyer’s “Gift of the Heart,” widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

In Sarah Loudin Thomas’s “A Shot at Love,” Fleeta Brady’s rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family’s brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

In Becky Wade’s “Because of You,” Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?

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Read the introduction to The Christmas Heirloom below:

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Just Look Up

#ThrowbackThursday | Book Review | Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m resharing Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh. This was the first Courtney Walsh novel I read, but I think I’ve gone on to read all the rest! In fact, you can click here to read my review of Just Let Go.

After tirelessly climbing the ranks of her Chicago-based interior design firm, Lane Kelley is about to land her dream promotion when devastating news about her brother draws her back home—a quaint tourist town full of memories she’d just as soon forget. With her cell phone and laptop always within reach, Lane aims to check on her brother while staying focused on work—something her eclectic family doesn’t understand.

Ryan Brooks never expected to settle down in Harbor Pointe, Michigan, but after his final tour of duty, it was the only place that felt like home. Now knee-deep in a renovation project that could boost tourism for the struggling town, he is thrilled to see Lane, the girl he secretly once loved, even if the circumstances of her homecoming aren’t ideal.

Their reunion gets off to a rocky start, however, when Ryan can’t find a trace of the girl he once knew in the woman she is today. As he slowly chips away at the walls Lane has built, secrets from his past collide with a terrible truth even he is reluctant to believe. Facing a crossroads that could define his future with Lane and jeopardize his relationship with the surrogate family he’s found in the Kelleys, Ryan hopes Lane can see that maybe what really matters has been right in front of her all along—if only she’d just look up.

My Review

I requested a review copy of Just Look Up because I’d heard so many good things about it. Surely it couldn’t possibly measure up?

It did.

Lane is an interior designer up for a big promotion at work when her mother calls to say her brother is on life support following a motorcycle accident. She returns home, but is immediately thrown into conflict with everyone in her family (except perhaps her father, who only gets about two lines in the whole novel). The reasons behind this conflict are gradually revealed as the novel progresses

Ryan was also in the motorcycle accident, but escaped with minor injuries. He’s from a bad background, but he’s made something of himself—with the help of the Kelley family, who were surrogate parents for him and his sister throughout his teenage years. He’s always had feelings for Lane, but never felt good enough for her. Now he meets the adult Lane, he realises she has issues, and he might be able to help.

Just Look Up was a great title that worked on many levels.

There was the obvious, that we have to look up to see the world around us, to live. Lane spent much of time looking down at her phone that she missed what was going on around her. And the more subtle, the way Lane consciously or subconsciously looked down on herself.

It seemed to me that looking down was a habit formed early in her teenage years, where she looked down because of her low self-esteem. I could relate to this—and I suspect many grown women can, especially those of us who were bookish teenagers who were never part of the ‘cool’ crowd.

To me, Just Look Up showed the lie that many of us believe in our teenage years.

The lie that we don’t fit in because aren’t good enough. Lane was different to the others in her family—lactose intolerant in a family that made and sold cheese for a living, unattractive and unpopular (or so she thought) in a family that were attractive and popular.

What especially hurt for Lane was that her family perpetuated the lie through their ‘harmless’ name calling (‘Pudge’ is not term of endearment. Ever). The result, I think, was a teenager and adult who never understood how precious she was to God, because she never felt she was precious to her family.

Overall, Just Look Up is a story about how achieving our dreams might not be everything we thought it might be, but the answer might have been in front of us all along.

Recommended.

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

 

About the Author

Courtney WalshCourtney Walsh is a novelist, artist, theater director, and playwright. Change of Heart is her fifth novel and is set in the same town as Paper Hearts. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller lists and was a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category. She has written two additional books in the Sweethaven series, as well as two craft books and several full-length musicals. Courtney lives in Illinois where she and her husband own a performing and visual arts studio. They have three children.

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Book Review | Delayed Justice (Hidden Justice #3) by Cara Putman

Delayed Justice is the third novel in Cara Putman’s Justice series, following Beyond Justice and Imperfect Justice. I thought Beyond Justice was excellent, but Delayed Justice is even better.

As with the other books in the series, it’s a legal thriller addressing one of the big issues of today: in this case, child sex abuse. That means it’s not an easy read. It’s not explicit, but survivors or sensitive readers might prefer to skip this one.

Twenty-eight-year-old attorney and public defender Jaime Nichols is filing charges of sexual abuse against her uncle, Dane. Unfortunately, Dane Nichols is up for promotion to US Army general, and he’s not well pleased with the charges.

Jaime faces multiple challenges: her natural fear of repercussions, both personal and professional. And her natural wariness around her new neighbour, a military man like her uncle. But the handsome neighbour also gives her the opportunity to help another victim, and she does have the support of her legal eagle friends.

It’s a challenging story, written with sensitivity towards Jaime and other victims. We have to believe women (and men) when they come forward with these stories. Sure, there are people who make them up, but these are far outnumber by those who never dare come forward.

Recommended for fans of legal thrillers from authors like John Grisham or Rachel Dylan.

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

About Cara Putman

Cara PutmanAs a preteen Cara Putman watched lawyers change legislative opinions at an important legislative hearing in Nebraska. At that time, she wondered if she became an attorney if people would give her words the same weight. An honors graduate of the University of Nebraska Lincoln, George Mason University School of Law and Krannert School of Management at Purdue University, Cara has turned her passion for words into award-winning stories that capture readers. Her legal experience makes its way into her stories where strong women confront real challenges.

The award-winning author of more than 25 titles, Cara writes legal thrillers, WWII romances, and romantic suspense because she believes that no matter what happens hope is there, waiting for us to reach for it.

When she’s not writing, Cara is an over-educated attorney who lectures in law and communications at the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University and homeschools her children. She and her family live in Indiana, the land of seasons.

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About Delayed Justice

She had long given up the desire to be loved. Now she only needed to be heard.

Jaime Nichols went to law school to find the voice she never had as a child, and her determination to protect girls and women in the path of harm drives her in ways both spoken and unspoken. As Jaime, now a criminal defense attorney, prepares to press charges against someone who wronged her long ago, she must face not only her demons but also the unimaginable forces that protect the powerful man who tore her childhood apart.

Chandler Bolton, a retired veteran, is tasked with helping a young victim who must testify in court—and along with his therapy dog, Aslan, he’s up for the task. When he first meets Jaime, all brains, beauty, and brashness, he can’t help but be intrigued. As Chandler works to break through the wall Jaime has built around herself, the two of them discover that they may have more to offer one another than they ever could have guessed—and that together, they may be able to help this endangered child.

This thrilling installment of the Hidden Justice series explores the healing power of resolution and the weight of words given voice. And as Jaime pursues delayed justice of her own, she unearths eternal truths that will change the course of her life.

You can find Delayed Justice online at:

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Book Review | Lethal Legacy by Carol J Post

Lethal Legacy opens with Andrea Wheaton experiencing a home invasion at the family holiday home, which she’s visiting following the death of both parents in a car accident. It soon becomes apparent that the evildoers are looking for something … and they’ll be back.

Bryce Caldwell, next-door neighbour and high-school sweetheart finds her, and her trashed house. It soon becomes apparent that Andi’s father had some secrets, which raises an obvious question: was the car wreck which killed him and Andi’s mother an accident or something more sinister?

Andi is sure it was no accident, which means she needs to find out the why—no matter how painful that might be for her personally. But she’s not expecting other people to be searching around the property as well, to the point where she might be in danger.

Lethal Legacy is published by Love Inspired Suspense, which means it’s an almost-perfect blend of romance and suspense (well, assuming you’re a romantic suspense fan like I am). It’s also a quick read, with all the focus on Andi and Bryce as they try to stay safe … and explore their feelings for each other.

Yes, I’m a big romantic suspense fan, and Lethal Legacy ticked all the genre boxes, as well as strong writing (no less than I’d expect from Carol J Post), page-turning action, and a Christian thread that enhanced the story without being preachy. Recommended for romantic suspense fans.

Thanks to the author for providing a free ebook for review.

About Carol J Post

Carol J PostFrom medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol’s resume reads as if she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She currently pens fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for a RITA® award and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award.

Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.

You can find Carol J Post online at:

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About Lethal Legacy

Someone wants her family secrets buried.
He’s her only chance to survive

Andrea Wheaton thought her parents’ tragic deaths were accidental – until she’s attacked during a burglary at their home. Now she’s also being targeted. Her ex–sweetheart Sheriff Deputy Bryce Caldwell insists on protecting her, though she refuses to trust him again.

But with a killer closing in, can she and Bryce uncover her family’s secrets before it’s too late for them both?

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You can read the introduction to Lethal Legacy below: