A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White


Lady Ella Myerston is not as naïve as her family thinks she is; she understands the danger her brother and friends have recently experienced due to the rare red diamonds, known as the Fire Eyes. She intends to rid the family of any connection to the diamonds once and for all, even if it takes her on a dangerous adventure across the Cotswolds. Lord James Cayton wishes to put his past behind him and start anew next to Ralin Castle, home to his memories from boyhood. However, when he manages to involve himself in the mess with the diamonds, he discovers he may have not as peaceful a future as he envisioned; at least, not if Lady Ella is involved in it.

When I initially started this novel, I was frustrated because I had not read the first book in the series and was lost as to the background for much of the plot. I would highly recommend you read this series in order. After that initial frustration, however, I did enjoy the novel. It has great historical details, interesting mysteries, and, of course, lovely (if predictable) romance, complete with witty dialogue. The pace is a little slower than the first two books but nonetheless the storyline wraps up well in this novel. The characters are likable and develop good growth throughout the story. I recommend this novel to those who enjoy historical romantic fiction, but only after reading the first two books in the series.

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

Mattie’s Pledge by Jan Drexler


Mattie Schrock is actually excited to move further west, despite the hesitation of some of her family members. She is thrilled to finally see beyond the hills and reconnect with old Amish friends from another Pennsylvania community, especially Jacob Yoder, whom she had a crush on as a young girl. But Mattie desires to someday move further west still and Jacob is ready to find a farm of his own and settle down for the future. When a dashing English cowboy offers Mattie the chance to adventure west, Mattie must choose between her pledge to Jacob or her desire to see the coast.

I am not usually an avid reader of Amish fiction, but I read the first in this series by Jan Drexler and liked the characters, so I was excited to read this second installment. I enjoyed the way the author weaves Amish traditions with the historical setting. I connected with Mattie easily, as she is lovable and possess a strong spirit, perfect for any heroine. It was helpful to read Hannah’s Choice first as characters reappear from the first novel and it can be confusing to keep the large families straight. The growth of the characters is great to read, and I recommend this novel to lovers of Amish fiction.

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

The Road We Traveled by Jane Kirkpatrick


Tabitha Brown wishes to join her family on their quest out west on the Oregon Trail. But her son thinks she will only be a burden to the group. Her daughter, Pherne, on the other hand, desires to remain at her beloved home and the grave of her dear son rather than venture into the unknown. Pherne suspects, however, that her daughter, Virgilia, is excited to transverse the Oregon Trail into a new world out west. As the three women begin a new journey, they will discover new courage and grow in their faith, despite the many trials that meet them on the trail.

Jane Kirkpatrick does a great job researching historical details and incorporating them into a readable storyline. It was interesting to read about the hardships of the Oregon Trail from the perspectives of three different individuals, even across several generations. It was easy to visualize the scenes and settings. I thought that sometimes the historical details overshadowed the depth of the characters and hindered my ability to connect with them on a richer level. Nevertheless, this story is recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction.

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

When Love Arrives by Johnnie Alexander


Dani Prescott is furious when she hears that Brett Somers blames her mother for the crash that killed his parents. It is difficult enough that her own mother also died in the plane crash, but now she also has to hear lies about her mother. Yes as she decides to follow Brett and see if she can dig up any dirt on him, she is suddenly surprised when he asks her out on a date. She says yes, if only to get to know him better and discover how she can destroy these lies. Brett suspects Dani is hiding something from him, but he is nonetheless drawn to her. As both of their secrets come to light, they must work through the lies that could harm their fragile relationship.

Despite the cute cover and interesting premise, I could not really get into this novel as well as I had hoped. I honestly did not really like Dani at first and therefore had a hard time learning to like her as her character developed. The plot was choppy at times and I did not like the way the story developed in the middle. However, the book did have a good, yet predictable, ending and I liked some of the romantic interactions between Dani and Brett; it was easy to see why they would be a good couple together. These individuals have some depth and good development throughout the novel. Since some characters and storylines are continuations from the first novel, I recommend reading that book first. This novel is probably best suited for those who like contemporary romances.

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

The Raven by Mike Nappa


The Raven is a magician, or street performer, as he prefers, that suddenly finds himself in a lot of trouble after he pickpockets the wrong man, a powerful politician, and attempts to blackmail him with evidence found in his wallet. In over his head, he turns to Trudi Coffey to help him out of the mess. When Trudi realizes The Raven has stumbled upon something bigger than a stolen wallet, she involves her ex-husband, Samuel Hill, and they uncover a deadly plot. They must race against time to interpret the clues before it is too late.

I really loved the first novel in this series, Annabel Lee, and was looking forward to this second installment. Although I thought the action was a little slower in the beginning than the first book, this novel was nonetheless well written and exciting. It was great to catch up with Trudi and Samuel and I am eager to see how their relationship further develops in the third book. I liked the intricacies of the plot and appreciated how each character had their role in this novel. The author does a great job at taking these seemingly scattered details and tying them together in a satisfying conclusion. The book is easy to follow since the days and times are clearly marked and each chapter announces the character’s perspective at the beginning of it. I recommend this novel, and truly the whole series, to anyone who loves suspenseful fiction!

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

The Christmas Angel Project by Melody Carlson


Five women have been meeting together for many years, each with a different background, but all with a love of conversation and community. However, when a key member of their group passes away, the members feel lost and disorganized. A final parting gift of their leader, however, encourages them to begin a new project—the Christmas Angel Project. Each woman must learn how she can contribute to her family, friends, or even complete strangers during this Christmas season. As they learn to give and share, they grow closer to each other and ultimately to their Savior.

This short story is sweet and a perfect book for a snowy afternoon around the Christmas season. Each of the characters is unique and allows readers to be able to identify with at least one of their situations. The book read a little too much like a novella for me in the sense that it was short and everything wrapped up perfectly by the end. However, I think it would be a lovely story to enjoy by a crackling fire with a cup of cocoa, as it is an easy read and flows well. I recommend it to those who enjoy seasonal short stories!

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

The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof


I usually try to summarize books in my own words rather than use the back of the book cover so readers can get another peak at the plot from a different perspective. However, in this case, I think the back cover is the perfect summary of this amazing novel.

Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Big Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. Here he humbly cares for his pride of lions as if they were his brothers, a skill of bravery and strength that has prepared him for his most challenging feat yet—freeing an orphaned infant from the dark bondage of a sideshow. A trade so costly, it requires his life in exchange for hers, leaving him tarnished by the price of that choice. As the circus tents are raised on the outskirts of Roanoke, nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this Gypsy girl. All under the watchful eye of a guardian who not only bears a striking resemblance to the child, but who protects the baby with a love that wraps around Ella’s own tragic past, awakening a hope that goodness may yet reign. When their forbidden friendship deepens, Charlie dares to ask for her heart, bringing her behind the curtain of his secret world to reveal the sacrifice that gave hope to one little girl—boldly showing Ella that while her tattered faith is deeply scarred, the only marks that need be permanent are his own.

No words! There really are no words to describe how truly wonderful this novel is. After I finished the last page, I sat there and let the poignant and breathtakingly beautiful story sink into my soul, part of me wishing it never had to end. I have read a lot of (really, quite a few) books and I have never connected with and fallen in love with characters so quickly and so deeply as I did with this story. Ella has had a difficult past, but her courage and her ability to let God change her heart are remarkable and her spiritual struggle has something with which every reader can connect. And Charlie (oh, Charlie!) has the biggest heart; he is gentle with his lions but he is honorable and passionate about his family and will fight for anyone he loves with an ardor that will grab you instantly. The author does a phenomenal job describing the scenes and the characters. Some authors can write novels, but Joanne Bischof can paint pictures and create stories that go deeper and last longer in your mind. It is truly a gift. She made me cry and she helped me connect with the characters in such a unique and precious way. I loved the scenes she describes of the circus; I could almost taste the buttery popcorn and see the colorful banners. The growth of the characters is such a joy to read. I cannot say enough good things about this story and suggest everyone run to their nearest store to purchase a copy. (And of course the cover is absolutely gorgeous!) It has easily slipped into its rightful spot as one of my favorite books of all time.