Stay with Me by Becky Wade

Stay with Me book cover

Genevieve Woodward’s life looks perfect to outsiders—she survived a near death experience as a child, she has a successful career as a Christian Bible study author and speaker, and she is close to her loving family.  But Genevieve has a big secret that could destroy her picture perfect life, and she is horrified when the handsome Sam Turner discovers her secret. Sam is comfortable with his remote existence, quietly trying to distance himself from people.  But when he finds Genevieve in his cottage one morning, he realizes that the outgoing, spunky, brightly colored Genevieve may destroy his carefully constructed isolation.  After Gen finds a threatening letter that leads her down a dark family search, she turns to Sam—and ultimately, to God—to help her discover what is truly important in life.

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I admit that I am struggling a little to write a review for this book, because how do you review such an absolutely wonderful book?  I feel as though any praise I give it will be inadequate to how fantastic it truly is! Suffice it to say, this novel has all the things that make any Becky Wade book great—characters with realistic struggles and imperfect lives with which we as readers can easily identify, raw spiritual truths that strike a chord in our own spiritual walk, and clean romance that makes us swoon!  I absolutely loved Sam!  He is shaped by past mistakes but it has made him into such a wonderful man!  (And not only is he handsome but he can cook?! Yes please!)  And I really liked how Becky handled a sensitive addiction in the novel, with careful research and accurate, often less than rosy, portrayals of its consequences. The themes of forgiveness, mercy, and grace were strong in the story and really made me think and, at times, made me cry as the characters realized the same truths.  I love how her writing is so seamless that you can spend hours reading and still find yourself completely immersed in the book.  I enjoyed the setting of Misty River and the other characters in the novel and I am very excited to read more about them in the rest of the series.  The family mystery in the story had twists and turns that surprised me and further added to the complexity of the book.  I truly could go on and on about how much I love this book, but instead I’ll just say, go buy a copy yourself and enjoy this highly recommend novel!

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I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

A Mosaic of Wings by Kimberly Duffy

A Mosaic of Wings book cover

Nora Shipley is desperate to save her late father’s scientific journal, so when the opportunity to travel to India to study insects in a foreign land is offered to her, she jumps at the chance to gain experience and hopefully qualify her for a scholarship for her master’s in entomology.  She is disappointed when the expedition leader takes one look at her gender and confines her to camp to sketch butterflies.  However, she is surprised by an unlikely ally on the trip—Owen Epps, the class tease and a thorn in her side since she started her studies at Cornell University.  She also is amazed when she begins to fall in love with the sights, smells, and culture of India, finding herself drawn into a local conflict and realizing that sometimes life is bigger than her personal goals.

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What a stunning debut novel! I loved Kimberly Duffy’s well-detailed research into the world of entomology.  Even if sometimes the explanations of insects made me shudder now and again, I was truly drawn into the insect world and the vivid sights and colors of India from her amazing descriptions, realizing by the end that insects are really a glimpse of God’s amazing creativity!  I enjoyed reading about the history as well and the author proved that she did her research!  I also really liked how Nora grew from a smart yet selfish girl into a caring and selfless lady.  I liked Owen a lot and enjoyed reading about their relationship as it changed throughout the story.  The spiritual themes of believing God to handle the details of our dreams, trusting in His will for us, and realizing the importance of self-sacrifice for others was seamlessly woven in the story and added depth to the novel.  I really enjoyed this book and I cannot wait to read more by this author!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Silent Shadows by Natalie Walters

Silent Shadows book cover

Pecca Gallegos enjoys her work as a nurse at the Home for Heroes in Walton, Georgia, helping veterans as they recover from physical and mental trauma of war.  She especially likes the small town that provides her some measure of anonymity, as her complicated past relationship with a gang leader continues to pose some threat to her and her son.  However, when strange events begin happening in their quiet town, Pecca is concerned that the gang may have found her.  She discovers an unlikely ally in her new patient, Army veteran Colton Crawford, a man determined to protect Pecca despite his own struggles and undiagnosed disorder.  As Pecca and Colton try to stay safe, they realize that this may be more dangerous they suspected.

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Yes, yes yes!!!  I say that because this series has been a thrilling ride and a wonderful collection of suspense!  I really enjoyed this final installment.  Natalie Walters writes a perfect blend of suspense, surprising twists, and romance.  I like how she can take time to create backstories for her characters and develop their deeper personalities, which is hard to do in a story that is centered on suspense and fast paced plots.  The story pulled me in from the beginning and kept my attention throughout the book.  I loved the integration of spiritual themes of forgiveness and mercy.  The novels can be read in order, or individually, but it is fun to read about past characters in this final book of the series.  I very much enjoyed the complicated plot with a twist that I did not see coming!  I really liked this book and highly recommend it!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

More Than We Remember by Christina Suzann Nelson

More Than We Remember book cover

Addison Kilbourn is devastated when her husband is involved in a car accident that leaves a woman dead, feeling hopeless as she clings to the remnants of her life.  Brianne Demanno does not feel like she can continue as a counselor after tragedy strikes a young client, so she is not sure how she can help her neighbors, the Kilbourns, through their struggles. Deputy Emilia Cruz is determined to find justice after her husband is left with a traumatic brain injury due to an accident years ago, and she views the recent car accident involving the Kilbourns as her opportunity to exhibit fairness.  As these three women slowly learn that life is not as it used to be and not as they ideally hope, they realize that God can take the broken pieces and craft together a new future.

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This is my first novel by this author and I was really impressed with how Christina Suzann Nelson wrote characters with such depth and complexity that it made them jump off the pages and seem like real people.  I liked some of the characters better than others, but I was nonetheless drawn to each one in a unique way.  I like books that dive into the nitty gritty of life and this novel definitely was not shy about painting trials and struggles that drew real emotion into the story and allowed me to feel involved in the plot.  I liked the spiritual themes of grace and forgiveness and appreciated how the author wove theses seamlessly into each storyline.  There were also some surprises throughout the story that kept my attention.  Overall, I really liked this book and look forward to more from this author.  I highly recommend it!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from author.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

The Runaway Bride by Jody Hedlund

The Runaway Bride book cover

Arabella Lawrence may have money, but her wealth does not save her from a potential marriage to an abusive man, forcing her to leave her family in England and embark on a journey to British Columbia on a bride ship.  Once she arrives, she sets her initial sights on the accomplished and handsome Lieutenant Richard Drummond, but rather it is the town’s baker, Peter Kelly, who tugs on her heartstrings.  When Arabella finds a starving girl left behind by her Indian tribe, she turns to the compassionate Peter, who is more than willing to lend aid to the beautiful Arabella.  However, their desire to help the less fortunate may bring danger and cost them both everything they hold dear.

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This book captured my attention from start to finish!  I really loved the characters in the story.  I enjoyed reading about Arabella and her growth as she finds courage in the New World.  Her compassionate heart as she leaves behind her comforts and plunges into helping others is truly admirable.  I liked Peter too, a feeling that grew as he came to Arabella’s rescue and tried to do the right thing despite the consequences.  Their relationship has the perfect amount of romance and passion without being too graphic.  I loved the spiritual truths of trusting God and repenting from the sins of your past to instead follow His leading, even when it is difficult to do so.  The plot had enough twists and turns to keep it interesting throughout the entire story and I found it hard to put down!  I have really enjoyed this series and look forward eagerly to the next book!  I highly recommend it!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

A Girl’s Guide to the Outback by Jessica Kate

A Girl’s Guide to the Outback book cover

Kimberly Foster is intelligent and ambitious, but her determined vision for the ministry she is helping to manage with Samuel Foster alienates him.  Sam decides to quit the ministry and head home to Australia to help his sister and her struggling farm.  When Kim’s plans begin to fail, she turns to Sam for help, striking up a deal to help his sister’s farm in return.  Kim learns more about herself as she tries her hand at Australian farm life and Sam is surprised by his developing friendship with the plucky Kim.  As they continue to work together, they find themselves drawn to each other just as disaster starts to loom ahead.

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This story is a great blend of romance, spunky characters, animated banter, and deep relationships! I found myself transported to the Australian setting and immersed in the descriptions of farm life.  I liked how the characters transformed and changed throughout the story as they grow both individually and in their friendships and relationships.  The spiritual content was woven well among the plot, and definitely had elements that were relatable to my own life.  This story reminded me of a fun romantic comedy, with the ups and downs in the relationships, and I found myself really enjoying how everything came together in the end.  Jessica Kate definitely is a talented writer and I highly recommend her books!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

Foremost by Jody Hedlund

Foremost book cover

Maribel has spent her entire life in an isolated abbey, learning the art of healing with various herbs by the nuns who raised her.  She desires to dedicate her life to God by taking her vows as a nun, but a mysterious visitor arrives to the abbey and reveals that she is one of the lost princesses. She enlists the help of her childhood friend Edmund to take a dangerous journey through the highlands to reach her sister and their rebel army in the north.  Edmund has trouble hiding his romantic feelings towards Maribel as they face danger and the persistent army of King Ethelwulf, bent on preventing Maribel from reaching her sister.  As Edmund gives everything to save Maribel, she begins to wonder if she can give up her dreams of being a nun and love Edmund in return.

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This series by Jody Hedlund has been so captivating!  I devoured this book in just two days, reading it every second that I could get and staying up late to finish it.  This book may be marketed to young adults, but I think readers of all ages will enjoy the daring adventure, fascinating characters, and sweet romance.  I enjoyed the growth of the characters in the book and their development of friendship into something more.  I think this is my favorite book in the series so far! There was even more danger surrounding the mysterious hidden treasure and the relentless pursuit of the army of evil King Ethelwulf.  I loved how strong and compassionate and caring Maribel was in this story.  Edmund also has a unique skill and his dedication to his childhood friend is so sweet.  I also liked that we got to catch up a bit with Adelaide from the first book.  I am eagerly awaiting the next book and the conclusion to the series!  Highly recommended!

I received a complimentary copy of this book.  Opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.