A Rumored Fortune by Joanna Davidson Politano

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Tressa Harlowe returns early from a trip with her mother when news of her father’s death reaches them, arriving home to the south of England to find relatives and friends eager to offer condolences.  However, Tressa begins to suspect that instead of coming for sympathy, everyone is rather here to explore the ancient mansion in hopes of discovering the vast fortune rumored to have been hidden by her father on the estate.  As the debts continue to accumulate, creditors come calling, and the vineyard shows signs of failing, Tressa finds an unlikely friend in the gruff vineyard manager Donegan Vance.  But Donegan has secrets of his own that could ruin the budding friendship and Tressa’s future.

I absolutely loved this book!  The author does a phenomenal job of crafting language that is deep and meaningful with words and descriptions that leap off the page and engulf the reader in its imagery and metaphors.  I very much enjoyed the theme of the vineyard and loved how it connected in every aspect of the book—from the epigraphs to the conversations to the overarching spiritual content.  I seriously could not put the book down and liked the complexity of the plot with its surprises and interesting way everything related in the end.  I very much liked the main characters and found myself easily identifying with their struggles because their emotions and thoughts were so well written.  I really cannot say enough about how great this book was and highly recommend it to all readers.  This author has a gift and I cannot wait for her next book!

I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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A Place to Belong by Melissa Tagg

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Megan Harrow moves past her mistakes and regrets when she builds a new life for herself and her daughter in charming Maple Valley.  She is just getting comfortable with her job as a coffee shop owner when she meets Eric Hampton, a local nonprofit owner.  Her heart begins to soften just as someone from her past shows up in Maple Valley—someone who is not welcome in the new life that she has made.

Any excuse to travel to Maple Valley and visit old characters and new friends is a blessing—so I was excited to read this novella from Melissa Tagg.  She writes such wonderful characters that I connect with immediately and feel their struggles and emotions.  This may be a novella, but the plot is packed with realistic trials and triumphs in the short story.  The language is detailed that you even forget you are reading a novella and not a full-length novel.  It is truly a delightful read and I recommend this book in addition to all the other Maple Valley books!

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Called To Protect by Lynette Eason

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Chloe St. John was dumped by her fiancé last year, so she turns her attention to her work as a cop with her K-9 partner, Hank.  She is confronted with a case that gets personal when it involves her missing cousin and a case of human trafficking.  She works with US Marshall Blake MacCallum, who also has a personal connection with this case when his daughter goes missing.  Blake and Chloe work together against the clock to save those they love most before it is too late.

Yet another fast-moving, suspenseful novel from Lynette Eason!  Once again there is heart-pounding action from page one and a plot that moves along with unexpected twists and turns.  The romance is woven among the backdrop of suspense and gives the story a deeper layer.  I enjoyed the theme of family and relationships in this story.  You do not necessarily have to read the first installment to enjoy this book, but I do recommend both to lovers of contemporary suspense and look forward to the next book!

I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden

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After her parents died tragically of cholera when she was young, Doctor Rosalind Werner is dedicated and determined to promote a new method of making water safe to millions in New York so that no one else has to suffer that horrific fate.  However, her method is yet untested on large populations and her new ideas are not well received by the public, especially Nicholas Drake.  Nick has been recently appointed as the Commissioner of Water for New York but his past life as a plumber makes his skeptical of any new method for clean water. Yet he cannot resist the beautiful Doctor Werner and despite continual debates about what to do for the city of New York, he finds himself drawn to her tenacious and lovely personality.

Elizabeth Camden does a fantastic job of writing stories with characters that have conflict, which makes them complex and interesting.  This story started with instant attraction that was soon confronted with trials that were realistic for the relationship.  I really loved the romance in this novel.  It gave a depth to the characters as they struggled with each other and with common enemies.  There are great spiritual themes of forgiveness and honesty with which any reader can connect.  It is not necessary to read the first book in this series, but it does give more background on Nick and adds to the story.  I also very much enjoyed the history and topic of this book; I learned a lot about water and science in early 1900s New York.  I highly recommend this historical fiction book!

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

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Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof

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Aven Norgaard is forced to leave all that she knows in Norway after the tragic death of her husband and move to rustic America.  She finds sanctuary in the home of her husband’s cousins, helping to run the three-hundred-acre farm.  Soon, however, her heart begins to stir for not one but two of the cousins, putting herself in a predicament when both men return her regard.  Aven is stick with a choice—one that could forever change the lives of two wonderful men.

I fell in love with Joanne Bischof’s writing when I read her book, The Lady and the Lionheart, and was greatly anticipating this new release.  She possesses such a wonderful ability to craft characters with depth and emotion that reaches across the pages and touches the reader’s soul.  I loved the deaf and mute Thor and appreciated the insight this author gave into his struggles.  The author’s writing style allows the reader to be transported to a different time and world.  The spiritual themes are woven seamlessly.  I greatly enjoyed this novel and truly cannot say enough good things about it.  I cannot wait for the next one in the series!

I received a copy of this book from Thomas Nelson/NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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River to Redemption by Ann H. Gabhart

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Adria Starr was cared for by a slave, Louis, after her family perished in the cholera epidemic in 1833, leaving her alone and afraid at the tender age of seven.  Louis cares for Adria at a great cost to himself, choosing instead to help the whites of his community over the chance to become free. Now twelve years later, Louis is being sold after his master dies, despite his heroic actions all those years ago.  However, Adria has not forgotten and is willing to risk everything in order to save the man who once saved her.

I enjoyed the time period and history in this novel.  The author did a great job of crafting a story with depth that allowed me to get a glimpse into what life may have been like in the mid-nineteenth century, including tackling difficult social issues.  I liked Louis a lot and appreciated the way his story ended.  I also enjoyed the romance that Adria encountered and ultimately her decision, although her ending is unsettled and I do hope that she gets a second book!  This novel demonstrates that no matter the shape or size or color of your family, love conquers every situation.  The spiritual themes are gently woven among the storyline.  I liked this book a lot and recommend it to lovers of historical fiction.

I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham

The Hope of Azure Springs book cover

Em first arrived to Iowa seven years ago, alone, on the orphan train heading west.  Now she is once again orphaned after her guardian is shot and killed, leaving her abandoned in Azure Springs.  She is determined to find her sister that she lost seven years ago, but the mystery surrounding her guardian’s recent death makes searching for her sibling dangerous.  Sheriff Caleb Reynolds is motivated to secure the safety of his town, and find the men responsible for the attack on the quiet and withdrawn Em.  But her past secrets only seem to complicate his mission, drawing himself closer to Em in spite of his attempt to remain distant from the waifish girl.

I very much enjoyed this debut novel of Rachel Fordham.  The author has a gift that allows her to craft a story that flows well and is easy to read.  The characters come alive with depth and emotion, allowing me to connect with them in a unique manner.  The storyline was creative and contained a few surprises.  The history was fascinating and woven among depictions of scenery and life in 1880s Iowa.  I shared tears and frustrations with Em and I only wish I could have seen her grow just a bit more as a character in the book.  I did, however, like this book very much.  I recommend this novel to lovers of historical fiction!

I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

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