Merchant of Alyss by Thomas Locke

Merchant of Alyss book cover

Hyam is settling into his new life with his wife Joelle in Falmouth Port. He is recovering his strength from an intense battle and wishes to enjoy a bit of peace. But when a strange shipment appears, mysterious events begin to occur. He starts to have dreams of additional conflicts and the newfound harmony rapidly disappears when a loved one is suddenly in danger. Hyam once again embarks on a journey, but this time, the threat is to his family and his community and requires much more of a personal sacrifice to save all that he holds dear.

This novel continues the journey of Hyam; I definitely recommend reading the first book in the series before starting this one. The incredible creativity of the author continues in this story. Each detail is masterfully woven among beautiful descriptions and fanciful scenes. Hyam has matured and is even more likable in this second installment. I enjoyed the romance in the story as it is illustrated through the fierce loyalty of Hyam to his wife. There are true struggles of both the main characters and wonderful supporting characters, creating a depth to the story that is remarkable. I highly recommend this novel to lovers of J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis who wish to read a noteworthy fantasy story!

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

Hannah’s Choice by Jan Drexler

Hannah’s Choice book cover

Hannah Yoder enjoys the peaceful life of her Amish community in Lancaster County. But not all is as calm as it may seem on the surface. Her sister is rebelling against the family, her mother is depressed, and her father is striving to move them west, away from the comfort of their home. Hannah turns to her childhood friend Adam, finding solace in the familiarity of their lifelong friendship. As Hannah’s feelings towards Adam start to develop into something more, another man begins to express his feelings for Hannah. Josef is well liked by Hannah’s family, putting Hannah in a difficult situation to choose between her head or her heart.

I do not usually read Amish fiction, but I decided to give this one a try. The book contained a lot of raw emotion interspersed with an interesting setting and fascinating characters. I really liked Hannah. She has a sense of loyalty to her family that is commendable; she strives to support them despite her own personal struggles. There were several twists to the story that I did not expect and the ending was surprising, even a bit unsettling. Since this is the beginning of a series, I am eager to see what happens to the characters in the next novel. The historical aspect of the book is also interesting. I would recommend this novel to lovers of Amish fiction and even to those who wish to enjoy an introduction to the Amish world.

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

Where She Belongs by Johnnie Alexander

Where She Belongs book cover

After losing her husband, Shelby Kincaid is eager to finally lease Misty Willow, her childhood homestead that had been sold to the Sullivans, a family that has an old feud with her relatives. Yet it has become abandoned and fallen to disrepair in her absence. She dreams of moving her two young daughters to her hometown and restoring the beautiful home that carries fond memories of her grandparents. But to restore the house, she has to work with AJ Sullivan, a descendant of her grandfather’s worst enemy. As old family feuds rise again, Shelby finds an unlikely ally in the Sullivan family, causing her to face an old fear and forcing her to make a decision of the heart.

The setting of this novel is poetic in its beauty and the plot contains several layers that make the story more multifaceted and interesting. Unfortunately, I did not really like the main characters. It was difficult for me to connect with them. In addition, the beginning chapters were a little confusing with the introduction of multiple names and storylines. I also thought the writing was superficial despite the complexity of the plot. Nevertheless, the overall themes of the book as well as the remarkable history connections make the story enjoyable. I would recommend it to those who want a romantic read with an interesting storyline.

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

Thin Ice by Irene Hannon

Thin Ice book cover

Christy Reed has lost both her parents and her sister in the span of only a few months. She handles her grief but by committing herself to her work and focusing on her passion for ice-skating. But when a strange letter is sent to her home addressed in her sister’s handwriting, Christy’s fragile world begins to crumble. Despite the letter’s warning, Christy secretly seeks the help of the FBI. Special Agent Lance McGregor, a former Delta Force operator and new to the FBI, agrees to reopen the case. But as events unfold, things do not add up and the situation only becomes more dangerous. It seems that someone in the shadows is tracking their every move and this individual has a very deadly plan for anyone who gets in the way.

What an exciting read! From page one, danger lurks behind every scene and shadow. I always enjoy that Irene Hannon provides glimpses of the side of the murderer throughout the novel. The mind of the killer in this particular book is chilling and gave me shudders on more than one occasion. The plot is complex and intriguing, the heroine and hero are instantly likeable and full of depth, and the climax of the novel is bursting with nail-biting suspense. I stayed up half the night to finish the book, eager to discover where the many twists and turns would lead! The romance also flowed easily and the spiritual themes were expertly woven throughout the story. I really enjoyed this chilling novel and would recommend it to all lovers of suspenseful, contemporary fiction.

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

Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund

Undaunted Hope book cover

Tessa Taylor accepts a teaching position for children of miners in remote northern Michigan, eager to escape a past of which she is not proud. The town is not expecting a female teacher, but the town’s chief clerk Percival Updegraff agrees to allow her to stay on temporarily. Tessa is grateful and immediately throws herself into the task of educating the poor and uneducated children and their families. Her passion draws the notice of more than one parent, including both the handsome father and suave uncle of two students, who think Ms. Taylor would be the perfect match for their family. As Tessa is confronted with a decision of the heart, she is also forced to face past fears. And danger is lurking among the mines, making her choice to stay one that may have dangerous consequences.

I love the characters in all of Jody Hedlund’s books. They possess such a deep complexity combined with a refreshing sense of honor that makes me fall in love with them. The setting of this particular novel was also interesting to read. The historical details of the miners and the dynamics of social strata were both fascinating and also a bit troubling, giving me a new perspective on the harsh conditions of the early 1870s. The introduction of multiple love interests made the romance exciting and some unexpected twists meant the novel was not predictable. Overall, I enjoyed multiple aspects of this novel and highly recommend it!

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