Love Comes Home by Ann H. Gabhart

This lovely story follows the Merritt sisters introduced in the first two books in the Rosey Corner series. At the end of World War II, there is much rejoicing amidst the changes to both the men and women in ways they were not expecting. Victoria grieves the loss of a life she once dreamt of. Evangeline must cope with new transformations in her husband as she receives news that could change their lives. Kate is happy to spend more time with Jay after their whirlwind romance but is not prepared for the pain she encounters. And Lorena is quickly growing up, observing the happy families around her, and wondering about her birth parents. Each girl must cling to God as He transforms and strengthens them in new ways, allowing them to share joys and sorrows with each other during this crucial time in their lives.

This novel is a continuation of previous stories, but may also be read alone. Like the previous two books in the Rosey Corner series, Ann H. Gabhart creates a sweet storyline that contains both wonderfully happy and despairingly sad portions. The plot moves along relatively quickly and with ease, but in the process of telling the tale of four sisters, it looses a bit of detail and distances the reader from each individual girl. The story is not overly romantic or dramatic, although the real-life scenarios of the characters are believable and touching. The book slows a bit in the middle, but the ending is a wonderful conclusion to the struggles the girls encounter throughout the book. Overall, this novel is sweet and recommended to those who enjoy stories of strong female characters overcoming realistic hardships.

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

A Place in His Heart by Rebecca DeMarino

Mary Langton is young and dreams of marrying for love, not convenience as her father wishes.  So when handsome widower Barnabas Horton offers for her hand, she jumps at the chance to avoid marrying the dull man her father has chosen.  However, since Barnabas still deeply mourns his first wife, she finds married life less fulfilling than she expected.  And when Barnabas decides to move his family to the New World in hopes of avoiding religious persecution in England, Mary is devastated to leave her dear father and sister.  The journey to America is arduous and long, the settlement in the Colonies primitive and rustic.  Mary strives to create a home for her and Barnabas and his two sons while desperately dreaming of one day having her own child, born out of a love between her and Barnabas.  Mary wonders if she will ever reach the most secret places in Barnabas’s heart.  Both Barnabas and Mary must learn to wait on God’s timing as they struggle with their new life.

A Place in His Heart is written much like a history book, the tale factual and spanning a decade.  Several years may pass between chapters, creating a disconnecting storyline.  It is interesting to note that the story of Mary and Barnabas is based on the true history of the author’s ancestors.  Although it is fascinating to read how the main characters grow, mature, and create life among the primitive wilds of America, the characters are a little hard to connect with simply due to the fast paced storyline and the plain and practical way the story is written.  During the entire novel, Mary seeks the love of her husband but he is too consumed with feelings for his old wife to pay much attention, creating a character that is often miserable.  However, Mary does seek contentment in other things and manages to bond with one of her two stepsons.  The plot often slows as the story details daily activities or Mary’s continual desire for love and her own child.  Overall, however, the personal connection to the author allows the reader to appreciate the story a little more and the resolutions of many conflicts at the end of the novel produce a fulfilling conclusion.  The novel is recommended to those who seek a historical account of life in the New World and one family’s struggle to love one another in a fuller way.

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

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A Woman of Fortune by Kellie Coates Gilbert

Claire Massey’s Texan life seems perfect—she has wealth beyond imagination, a hard-working and attentive husband, and three grown ambitious children.  But when her husband is suddenly convicted of white collar crime, Claire finds her neat world turned upside down.  Feeling betrayed by her husband’s deceit and abandoned by her hurt children, Claire wonders how she will ever piece her life back together again.  Media frenzy and public hatred only add to her shame, despite the fact that she did nothing to fraud them and her house and all her belongings are sold out from under her.  Claire struggles to manage life on her own after nearly thirty years of marriage and bring the remaining members of her family close again.  She learns powerful lessons of forgiveness as she discovers where her true fortune lies.

A Woman of Fortune is a unique perspective of what happens to the other members of a family who played no role in a man’s white collar crime.  Claire is a strong, courageous woman despite her circumstances.  The plot is emotionally charged and draws in the reader, crafting a story that is tragic but redemptive.  Ms. Gilbert does a fantastic job communicating the far-reaching consequences of deceit and sin and illustrating the emptiness that wealth and status place on society.  The story has wonderful themes of forgiveness and trusting God through devastating circumstances.  Despite some of their foolish choices, the characters are endearing and the reader feels drawn to their strength and determination, especially that of Claire.  The plot moved a little slowly at times as Claire dealt with similar issues many times.  Overall, however, this book has enough depth and realism to make it worth reading.

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

And be sure to check out this author’s book video!

While Love Stirs by Lorna Seilstad

Charlotte Gregory is a recent graduate of Fannie Farmer’s School of Cookery and is determined to use her education in creating appetizing, fresh, nutritious food to run her own kitchen.  When she learns that women in 1910 Minnesota are not welcome in most kitchens, she enters a competition with a gas stove company to further her recognition.  The gas company offers her a position traveling and lecturing on the advantages to a gas stove in the home.  Charlotte finds herself drawn to the sweet tempered Lewis Mathias who acts as a performer for her lectures.  However, still determined to make a difference, Charlotte approaches Dr. Joel Brooks, a young hospital superintendent she meets during her sister’s stay.  Dr. Brooks considers Charlotte’s ideas about using healthier—and more expensive—hospitals meals with fine china and flowered presentations to be completely impractical.  As the two are forced to work together to raise money for the hospital, they find that their stubbornness in fact reveals a spark of attraction.  But soon Charlotte must choose to whom her heart belongs – to quiet but predicable Lewis or obstinate but handsome Joel.

While Love Stirs is a breezy, simple read.  The plot moves quickly and while it can be read easily, it is also quite rushed at times.  Charlotte is a strong female, independent and determined to fight for what she believes is right.  Joel is frustrating in his inability to see the positive points of Charlotte’s arguments and does not encourage affection from the reader.  The novel is very dramatic.  Every slightly inconvenient event is turned into a significant problem; however, the issue is resolved so quickly the reader feels disconnected and left behind.  The “fighting” between Charlotte and Joel is especially forced.  Nevertheless, the overall themes of the book are enjoyable.  Charlotte’s cooking creations sound delightful and her desire to help others through her cooking is admirable.  The author’s knowledge of various history subjects is commendable and interesting to read.  Overall, the novel is recommended.

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

One More Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong

Sarah Cooley moves home to Last Chance, New Mexico, after college to teach at the local elementary school and be closer to her family.  She likes the small town because of its predictability and resistance to change.  After struggling with a relationship in which her boyfriend wanted to adjust everything about her, Sarah is ready for the lazy and almost boring pace of Last Chance.  But Chris Reed, the new owner of the diner in town, wants nothing more than to shake things up in Sarah’s small town.  He desires to put Last Chance as a destination spot on the map and thinks a transformation is just what is needed to draw people to his restaurant.  When his niece comes for an extended visit, however, he discovers that change may be where he least expects it.  As he finds himself spending more time with Sarah, he encourages her to realize that change must be just the thing needed for both of them.

One More Last Chance is a light read, the pages breezing by with stories of traditions and transformations.  The characters are mostly likable and simplistic; although Sarah seems judgmental, arrogant, and rude at first, she somewhat redeems herself with her love for her students and teaching.  Chris is gentle and patient in his care for his niece and becomes a good friend to Sarah.  The novel is short and would have been a better read if there had been more descriptions of the scenes to help the reader more fully envision all that Last Chance had to offer.  Many of the dialogues and events in the book feel rushed and hurried, which makes it a little hard to connect with the characters.  However, the overall themes and plot of the novel are enjoyable and it is recommended for those looking for a contemporary, easy read.

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

Gathering Shadows by Nancy Mehl

Wynter Evans has never escaped the pain of losing her little brother to abduction nine years ago.  As a news reporter, she believes in hunting clues until she finds answers, so when she stumbles upon a picture of a young man resembling her brother, she immediately sets out for a small, rural town to dig deeper.  Dragging along the photographer for the news station, Zac, Wynter arrives in Sanctuary determined to find answers.  What she discovers instead is suspicious activities and mysterious behaviors of the conservative residents.  With the help of the handsome young mayor, Rueben King, Wynter uncovers secrets about her family and her past that changes everything.  Wynter is resolute in her decision to find the truth but someone else is equally determined to keep it in the shadows, even at the expense of Wynter’s very life.

Gathering Shadows has heart-pounding action from page one.  Ms. Mehl possesses an excellent writing style that allows the novel to flow quickly while also incorporating an admirable amount of detail.  The main characters are likable and slightly mysterious, adding to the thrill of the plot.  The events of the book all link together in a creative fashion and the novel is not predictable or boring in any sense.  Twists and turns throughout the book provide significant depth to the plot as the reader navigates through the intriguing journey with the heroine.  Suspenseful and delightful, this novel is highly enjoyable and greatly recommended.

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

Fatal Exchange by Lisa Harris

In a sudden turn of events, Emily Hunt’s relatively quiet life as a schoolteacher is turned upside down.  Although she comes from a family of cops, she deliberately avoids anything that has to do with drug cartels, murder, or danger.  When those very things are brought to her classroom one morning, she needs to draw on all her inner courage and learn to depend on none other than Mason Taylor, the man accused of being involved in her brother’s murder.   Mason knows Emily is struggling to trust him, but he also recognizes that she cares for her students.  When one of the students becomes involved with a drug cartel, Mason turns to Emily for help.  Neither of them suspect what will happen next nor how dangerous their involvement will suddenly become.  They must rely on each other to solve the mystery of events before it is too late.

Fatal Exchange is a fast-paced, exciting novel.  Almost the entire story takes place during one action-packed day and just when one danger begins to fade, another one is ready to cause more turmoil.  Ms. Harris’s characters are relatively complex and the hint of romance introduced provides a nice balance to the evils lurking among the pages.  Some of the ending plot points felt rushed and disjointed, which detracted from the earlier flow of the novel.  Although this story could stand alone, reading the entire series gives a better understanding of each of the characters.  A short introduction to one particular individual at the end suggests that the next novel will also be worth reading.  Overall, the book is a thrilling, romantic novel recommend for lovers of contemporary suspense.

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

One Perfect Spring by Irene Hannon

Claire Summers works hard to balance her job as an elementary school teacher and her role as a single mother to her eleven year old daughter, Haley.  With her free time, she does handyman jobs around their crumbling house to save money.  After a bad marriage, she has sworn off men for a while… until her daughter writes a letter to a local philanthropic businessman and changes everything.  Keith Watson spends longs hours in the office working for his kind boss, which leaves little time for social activities.  When Keith stumbles upon Haley’s letter asking for help locating the son her neighbor gave up for adoption years ago, he dismisses it as childish fantasy.  But his boss has other ideas and pushes Keith to take on this task.  As Keith reluctantly digs into the past, he realizes he has his own demons to face.  Claire and Keith find their lives intertwining one spring in ways they never expected, as one little girl’s kindhearted request touches several lives and leads to surprising endings.

This contemporary romance novel has predictable parts, but Irene Hannon also includes unexpected plot twists that keep the story interesting.  The characters are all struggling with varying issues, whether it is regret for past mistakes, lingering and debilitating sickness, buried pain and abuse, or forgiveness for others’ wrongs, which allow parts of the novel to be realistic and identifiable.  Ms. Hannon does a nice job of intertwining the stories of the various characters, allowing each to find healing through their interactions with each other.  The book elicits both smiles and emotional reactions, allowing the reader to enjoy a novel that is not surface-based but has deeper concepts and communications.  The writing style is simple but the book flows well and is easy to read.  Overall, it is an enjoyable story, although some of the histories of the characters have much too convenient similarities and at times, the plot slows a bit.  Nevertheless, this novel is a good contemporary story and is recommended for those who wish to read an interesting romance.

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

The Pelican Bride by Beth White


French-born Genevieve Gaillain and her sister Aimee board the Pelican as mail order brides in 1704, to escape persecution in France and find new life in the New World.  Both have promised to marry a Canadian, but upon reaching their destination, they find the scrawny, rustic men are much different than their imaginings.  The settlement is primitive, at best, and both struggle to carve out a home in this wilderness.  Genevieve wishes for peace to worship in her own way, but when she falls in love with the mysterious Tristan Lanier, a man who has made enemies of the Crown, peace may be further off than she envisioned.  And the secret she harbors may hurt others as well as destroy the very colony itself.  Tristan works to keep the colony safe from nearby tensions with the British, Spanish, and Native Americans even as he and Genevieve realize the enemy may be within their own walls.

The Pelican Bride reads at a fast pace, the tale bursting with mystery and suspense over the motives and actions of each character.  The intricate plot is full of fascinating historical detail and the setting and time period of the story is interesting, especially since it is a less commonly written era.  There are many character names to process, however, so the reader must pay close attention in order to not be lost along the way.  Overall, the novel contains realistic scenarios that include people struggling to carve out a home and life in the vast New World among the political and religious dangers lurking in the shadows.  Genevieve’s sister is frustrating in her selfishness, but the lessons learned by all create a relatively good ending to the story.  On the whole, the novel is exciting and a worthy read.

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

Favorite Quotes from A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander

Picking a favorite quote from a great novel is like choosing a favorite dessert — there are so many to pick from, so many delicious choices, that selecting just one is nearly impossible.  However, the following quote (no spoilers, I promise!) sums up a reoccurring theme from the wonderful novel A Beauty So Rare by Tamera Alexander.

“[Eleanor] paused briefly to finger one of the flowers, and her focus slipped down the stem to the scar marking the place where Marcus had originally grafted the two flowers together.  She knew that, with time, and as the plant grew stronger, the slight imperfection would become less noticeable.  All of the grafted plants bore scars–evidence of the cutting, and also of the healing around it.  But what beauty had come from both.

If you have not picked up a copy of this historical novel yet, do so today!  You will not be disappointed!