Every Bride Needs a Groom by Janice Thompson

Katie Fisher is certain her long-time boyfriend is going to propose soon, so she enters a contest in the Texas Bride magazine to win a designer dress of her dreams. But Katie’s life does not quiet go as planned: her boyfriend breaks up with her on the same day she finds out she won the dress. Disappointed, she travels to the big city of Dallas to awkwardly try to explain her situation and reject the dress, instead finding herself swept into the designer’s visions, realizing she does not have the heart to tell the woman she is no longer planning a wedding. And her life only gets more interesting when she meets the wedding shop’s manager, a tall and handsome pro basketball player. Her interactions with him and each kind member of the wedding staff only make it more and more difficult for Katie to admit her deepest secret – that she no longer has a groom.

This novel certainly has its share of spunky characters, each one adding a unique quality to the story. The relationships among their diverse personalities are fun to read and the spunky nature of the author’s storytelling makes this book enjoyable. However, the novel is very predictable and there are no real plot twists or intrigue that make the book impossible to put down. The romance is a bit unbelievable as well. Yet even with the limited complexity of the story, the novel is a fun, light-hearted read, suited for those who enjoy simple contemporary romances.

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

Buried Secrets by Irene Hannon

Lisa Grant, having recently relocated to a small town to escape the fast paced nature of her homicide detective job in Chicago, discovers she has not really left the stress of her previous position when human remains are found in a field not long after she begins her new role. Determined to solve the case, she enlists the help of county detective Mac McGregor, an ex-Navy SEAL who is equally anxious to put the killer behind bars. But as they uncover more information about the victim, dangerous events begin to happen around them. Convinced these are more than mere coincidences, Lisa and Mac attempt to stay ahead of the murderer before it is too late.

Once again, Irene Hannon delivers an action-filled and thrilling contemporary novel. I enjoyed the interesting perspective of the murderer, introduced to readers in the very first chapter. This provided a unique plotline that made the story more exciting. The characters are very easy to like and each have curious backgrounds that are not fully revealed until further into the book. The story has a great amount of complexity that only adds to the mystery and suspense. The romance is well written, interwoven among the professional working relationship. The events and clues lead to an intense climax, creating a truly enjoyable novel. Recommended to lovers of contemporary suspense!

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

The Creole Princess by Beth White

Lyse Lanier, largely French in heritage, spends her days supporting her family, trying to keep her father from getting into too much trouble. She enjoys her close friendship with the British general’s daughter, Daisy. One day, she meets the flirtatious, dramatic, and witty Spaniard, Rafael. But as the Americans begin to declare their independence from Britain and tensions among these cultures start to clash, Lyse discovers she may have to choose a side that alienates friends and perhaps even family. The complicated ethnicity of her family only puts her position in even more jeopardy. Spies are everywhere and perhaps even Rafael is not whom he seems to want her to think. Lyse attempts to cling to her fundamental beliefs as America erupts into the Revolutionary War.

Just a glimpse of this novel’s beautiful cover caused me to eagerly pick it up. Yet the beginning pages were slow to start and the plot took several chapters to really pull me in. Once it did, however, I found myself enjoying each of the character’s depth, personality, and quirks. The romance moves at a realistic pace and establishes a love built on more than purely physical attraction. The history in this novel is absolutely superb, the details illustrating the great amount of work that Ms. White put into researching the time period and events in this area of the country during the Revolutionary War. At times, the speed of the novel made it difficult to connect with the characters, but the novel itself is certainly well written. Overall, this novel is enjoyable and worth reading.

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

After a Fashion by Jen Turano

Harriet Peabody enjoys working in a hat shop, designing unusual creations for high society ladies.   She dreams, however, of one day opening a dress shop for the working class, providing the height of fashion to other working ladies who perhaps cannot afford the steep prices of elite gowns. One day while making a hat delivery, Harriet encounters an odd situation that soon thrusts her into the company of Oliver Addleshaw, one of the most wealthy and powerful men in the United States. Determined to have a woman on his arm as he makes new business connections, Oliver enlists Harriet’s help for the next several weeks as he dines and negotiates with a variety of high society. As Harriet struggles to fit into Oliver’s life, she begins to realize there may be more to Oliver than first meets the eye. But the sudden appearance of Harriet’s relative soon puts her new friends and life in danger, threatening to upset all those she has come to care for deeply.

As with all novels by Jen Turano, this book instantly grabbed my attention with its hilarious and interesting heroine. Harriet has spunk, courage, and just the right amount of quirkiness to make the storyline enjoyable and greatly entertaining. Each character also possess a deeper level of personality, however, allowing me to delve into his or her many layers amongst truly amusing scenarios. The scenes spring to life with vivid descriptions and cause me to laugh aloud as I read the creative episodes in which Harriet often finds herself. The plot also has a perfect amount of complexity, with surprising twists and turns that give the novel depth despite its light tone. I absolutely loved this book and will not only read it again but certainly eagerly anticipate the next one! Most highly, highly recommended!

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

Anna’s Crossing by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Anna Konig is reluctant to leave her comfortable life in her German Amish village but knows that religious freedom is much more tolerated in the New World, causing her to embark on a long journey across the Atlantic Ocean aboard the Charming Nancy. In addition, she is the only one in the traveling group who can speak English, placing her in the position of liaison between her people and the rougher sailors accompanying them on the journey. It is due to this role that she first meets Bairn, the ship’s carpenter who would prefer not to associate with the Amish below deck. But he is drawn to Anna’s quiet strength and tenacity despite all the storms, illnesses, and trials while at sea. The rough voyage begins to bond them until Bairn makes a startling discovery about his past. Both he and Anna must learn the importance of family and faith as they strive to survive the long journey.

I am not usually one to read Amish fiction, but this book caught my attention and I thought to give it a try. I was immediately impressed with Suzanne Woods Fisher’s ability to craft a story with rich words that painted expressive scenes and allowed me to better understand the circumstances that brought some German Amish to America. The plot is truly interesting and contains substantial depth with its vivid descriptions, complex characters, and fascinating storyline. One critique is that I did not always like how quickly the author jumped from one character’s perspective to another; at times, it made it difficult to fully connect and identify with the individuals. Overall, however, this novel is interesting and recommended to those who enjoy Amish fiction or perhaps, like me, wish to give it a try.

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

Deadly Echoes by Nancy Mehl

Sarah Miller enjoys teaching in the small town of Sanctuary, a place of relative peace and something she desperately needs after a tragedy from her childhood haunts her most of her life. She is also excited to reconnect with her sister and get to know her young niece better. However, when tragedy strikes again, Sarah is thrust back into her past, facing the memories and fears once more. Paul Gleason, the local sheriff, admires Sarah’s strong spirit and vows to help her in any way possible. In an attempt to uncover mysteries and questions unanswered, they dig into old secrets that prefer to be kept hidden. It is not long before decades of deceit come to light, but those who wish to cover the lies will do anything to stop Paul and Sarah from discovering the truth.

This novel has non-stop action that kept my attention from page one. The characters possess such an interesting and believable depth that I felt as if I was truly getting to know them on a richer level. The thought provoking themes of forgiveness and peace are well integrated into the fast-paced mystery and suspense of the novel. Sarah’s courage but also her realistic and humanistic insecurities create a story that has significant depth. The ending is surprising and not predictable, which makes the plot exciting and interesting. Although they do not need to be read consecutively, both the first novel in this series and this book are fantastic reads and I eagerly await the next in the series. A highly recommended modern thriller with a dash of seamlessly integrated romance!

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

The Trouble with Patience by Maggie Brendan

Patience Cavanaugh has moved to Montana to run the boardinghouse left to her by her late grandmother, as well as get away from the demands of her mother. She also mourns the loss of a suitor, one whom she is convinced was wrongly accused of a crime and hanged by a law-abiding vigilante. As she struggles to carve out a new life in the Wild West, she meets the town marshal, Jedediah Jones. Jedediah has a few secrets of his own from his past and he simply wishes to keep the town as peaceful as possible. But the new boardinghouse owner intrigues him with her quiet and determined ways and he decides to get to know her better. However, the pasts of both Jedediah and Patience soon clash in a way they never expected, perhaps jeopardizing their tenuous relationship forever.

While the premise for this novel is certainly interesting and some of the characters are endearing, this book requires much more substance to make it anything more than a somewhat tacky light read. Not every part of the plot is predictable, which is refreshing, but the everyday occurrences of the characters lack detail, not allowing me to fully identify with or connect with the characters at all. It stumbles along in a choppy fashion, one chapter not really transitioning smoothly with the next; in addition, there is significant disconnect between the characters’ thoughts and the dialogue, making the story somewhat irritating at times. Many of plot points work out in a completely unrealistically perfect manner, several of the events so entirely coincidental that it makes it difficult to read. Any conflict between characters is resolved in a single page, further adding to the complete unrealism. Overall, however, it is true that the romance is pure (albeit more than a little nauseatingly too perfect) and despite Patience’s preachy attitude, the book is an easy read with excellent spiritual principles and is not altogether unpleasant.

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

The Crimson Cord by Jill Eileen Smith

Rahab, despite all her hard work and every attempt to please her husband, finds herself sold as a slave to cover the multitude of debts her husband incurs. Although relieved to be free from a man who did not love her, Rahab soon discovers she was simply traded from one fool to another, forced to endure prostitution to line the purse of another greedy man. Just when she feels she is losing all hope of freedom, Rahab encounters spies for the Israelites and agrees to keep their secret in exchange for sparing her family’s lives. As the wealth and sin of her city destroy its very foundations, once again Rahab is adrift without a home. She is an outcast among a foreign people, her sordid past setting her apart from a holy people. Desperate for peace and forgiveness, she turns to the Israelites’ God, seeking the love He promises. Rahab learns to trust her new God to give her the desires of her heart, even the nearly impossible hope of a family.

This fictional account of the true Biblical tale of Rahab is so wonderfully and poignantly told that it becomes vividly real, every emotion stirring my heart to feel Rahab’s longings, pain, and shame. I fell in love with her as I grew to understand her deepest desires in spite of her circumstances and as she searched for the One she knew would bring her the forgiveness and peace that she sought. The author did a remarkable job of including true facts, some phrases and words taken directly from the Bible. And despite the sensitive nature of Rahab’s life, Ms. Smith skillfully crafts a tale that communicates the emotions without including too many sordid details. Although some of the facts of Rahab’s life are fictional in this book, I have no doubt that Ms. Smith captured Rahab’s heart, allowing us to once again be amazed at God’s ability to use even the most lost sinners for His greatest good. This book is most highly recommended!

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

Where Rivers Part by Kellie Coates Gilbert

Dr. Juliet Ryan has created her entire corporate career with two goals in mind: to provide safe drinking water to millions and to prove her estranged father wrong, a man she despises for breaking her trust years ago. She convinces herself that the insincere world she has created with its wealth and privileges does indeed fill her with happiness and she determines to succeed without the help of anyone or anything. But when disaster suddenly strikes and Juliet finds herself in the midst of a corporate scandal, the lies and deceit growing daily, she discovers the world she has built for herself leaves her utterly alone. Feeling desperate, she turns to the one person who has wounded her the most, realizing that learning to forgive and surrendering control, neither of which are easy, can be the true keys to happiness and freedom.

Yet again, Kellie Coates Gilbert crafts a story filled with raw realistic emotion from a unique perspective, allowing readers glimpses into interesting sides of conflict normally not experienced. It does not take long to connect with Juliet and to understand her struggles both with forgiving a deep hurt and attempting to succeed in corporate America. The book so accurately demonstrates the true emptiness bitter hearts, wealthy statuses, and indifferences towards God can create. Twists and suspense throughout the novel allow it to be not entirely predictable, and the central theme of freedom through forgiveness and love allows readers to apply the principles to their own lives. A truly exceptional and gripping tale that is difficult to put down. Highly recommended!

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

Like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell

Charlotte Withersby enjoys studying plants and flowers more than she likes concerning herself with the fashions of society or making small talk over social gatherings. Only women in nineteenth century England are meant for one thing and one thing only: marriage. So when a botany correspondent of her father’s, Edward Trimble, appears on their doorstep eager to assist her father in his work, Charlotte’s uncle sees this as a perfect opportunity to thrust her into society to find a husband. Determined to only endure it for as long as it takes to rid of Edward, Charlotte focuses her attention on the confounding fashion and inexplicable expectations of a world quite unknown to her. She thinks that her father’s dependence on her work will soon have him begging for her return, but soon her plan backfires and she suddenly finds herself in uncharted waters, thinking that perhaps what she thought she wanted is not what she wanted at all.

Siri Mitchell’s books are always so endearing because she creates characters that are quirky, real, and instantly loveable. Charlotte is no exception. She is smart but also unsure how to handle the basic rules of polite society, creating humorous and delightful scenes. I am always very impressed with Ms. Mitchell’s ability to also weave unique parts of history into her novels and do such a fantastic job of capturing not only historical facts, but also the mindset of the time period. This particular story flows well and captures interest immediately, the first person narrative giving a great glimpse into Charlotte’s thoughts and feelings. One disappointment with this novel is that I did not feel like I got to know Edward very well, which I think could have contributed substantially to the story. Overall, however, this novel is greatly enjoyable and highly recommended.

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