Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Reviewing: Stgrength in the Storm by Laurel Blount

...from the publisher...

 In this touching Amish romance, a brokenhearted woman and a steadfast man discover that the safest place to weather tragedy is in each other’s arms.

After the murder of both her parents, Emma Hochstedler returns to the small community of Johns Mill, hoping to resume her quiet existence. Reclaiming her place proves harder than expected—especially now that a movie is being made about her family’s loss. But then, an old friend offers her a lifeline that gives her new purpose.
Amish builder Samuel Christner is the biggest—and the strongest—man in town. In fact, the gentle giant has only one weakness—Emma. Even though she broke his heart, he won’t let his childhood sweetheart face her troubles alone. He hires Emma as a nurse for his elderly aunt…and finds himself falling for her all over again.
But while romance blooms, storm clouds gather. And when darkness falls, it will take all Sam’s strength—and all their love—to see them through.

 ...my thoughts...

I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this book; it is a new to me author and it started slow for me.  Once I picked the book up again, I found the story very compelling.  I really felt for Samuel, who lost his heart to Emma long before most boys begin looking at Emma. Not only was he strong, he was a force to be reckoned with.  As the story unfolded, he seemed to be everywhere he needed to be. 

Emma was such a timid young woman and understandably so after the tragic deaths of her parents.  She came into her own, however, once she became the full time caregiver for Samuel's difficult, spinster aunt. Emma's beauty, coupled with her unspoiled nature allows her to move into her new role, overcoming a past that has held her back since her parents' deaths.  She believed she too would become the spinster aunt  over time but God had plans for her that she least expected.

I enjoyed this wonderful book by Laurel Blount.  I didn't realize it was book 2 in a series but it was definitely easy to read as a standalone story.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Reviewing: Until Leaves Fall in Paris by Sarah Sundin

 ...from the publisher...

As the Nazis march toward Paris in 1940, American ballerina Lucie Girard buys her favorite English-language bookstore to allow the Jewish owners to escape. Lucie struggles to run Green Leaf Books due to oppressive German laws and harsh conditions, but she finds a way to aid the resistance by passing secret messages between the pages of her books.

Widower Paul Aubrey wants nothing more than to return to the States with his little girl, but the US Army convinces him to keep his factory running and obtain military information from his German customers. As the war rages on, Paul offers his own resistance by sabotaging his product and hiding British airmen in his factory. After they meet in the bookstore, Paul and Lucie are drawn to each other, but she rejects him when she discovers he sells to the Germans. And for Paul to win her trust would mean betraying his mission.

...my thoughts...

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a heart wrenching, suspenseful novel of such a time when the world was so uncertain. Times when worlds collided, and people were praying that the war would end and somehow the world could return to peace once more.

Until Leaves Fall in Paris, by Sarah Sundin is a compelling read, especially today. Full of wonderfully complex characters, once again Sarah has done impeccable research. Lucie did her best to keep Green Leaf Books open until she had to return home to the states. But until that time, she was creative in her ways to keep customers coming back to her little haven among the shelves. It was just that spirit of creativity that captured Paul's attention when he took his young daughter Josie to the story hour. Filled with puppets regaling children’s tales, Paul took notice in how Josie came to life at the bookshop and resolved to return each week to give her some joy. 

 It was amazing how Paul and Lucie found each other under trying circumstances as the situation became ever so dangerous in wartime Paris. To the outside world, they led double lives in order to survive. Their courage and love are captured by an author who can keep you in suspense while making you keep turning those pages until the very end.

I recommend Until Leaves Fall in Paris, a story as timely today as it was close to eighty years ago. A time when so many lives were changed forever by a world that was out of control.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Reviewing: Marrying Mr. Wrong (Frontiers Vows Book 4) by Melissa Jagears

 ...my thoughts...

You’ve got to read this book because there truly are diamonds in the rough in this world.  Sometimes they are shiny on the surface, and you need to scratch below the surface to find the true person.  More often, though, we see the rough side, and these are the people we often pass by without taking time to notice the pure goodness hiding beneath the surface.  When you take the time to look, you will reap the rewards.

 Marrying Mr. Wrong, book four in the Frontier Vows series finds an unlikely match between Gwendolyn McGill and Timothy O'Conner. Imagine the town mayor's daughter hooking up with a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak.  Except that this first daughter of this  small western town was knocked down a few pegs. When her father was brought to justice for numerous crimes he thought enough money and ill-gotten land deals could put him out of reach, his children were left behind to face what no child needs to face.  Scandal and shame. 

Once Spoiled and naive, Gwen is urged by her brother Bo, to forgo the empty trappings of a Denver Dandy and consider Timothy O'Connor.  After accepting his bargain, she sets out to try in 30 days what she believes would be an easy attempt at wooing Mr. O'Conner.  What she soon learns is that she can't win everyone with her smiles and flirtatious act.  

Timothy, for his part, is a bit perplexed when Gwen shows up at Nolan's ranch, w here he is employed, under the pretext to help out Corinne, who has been feeling poorly. (Newlyweds, whose story is quite a fun read: Pretending to Wed )You can practically see him scratch his head every time Gwen leaves because, she was not raised to cook, clean or any other work a rancher would expect of his wife.  Yet he does admire her pluck in coming back again and again.

Try as you may, she doesn't seem to fit in.  Or does she? Sometimes, a woman shows her true strength and spirit when she is put to the test.

 p.s. I have enjoyed reading the Frontier Vows series and hate to see it end, unless Melissa Jagears can find an honest woman for Gwen's brother Bo to wed!

...from the publisher... 

Gwendolyn McGill wants to be loved and accepted for who she is, but that’s hard to do in a small town where everyone judges her by the scandal her father caused. Unfortunately, the man she hoped would sweep her away from all the wagging tongues is no longer interested in marrying her. Unable to leave town, she’s determined to prove she’s more than just a pretty face who knows how to bat her eyelashes.

For years, Timothy O’Conner has loved Gwen from a distance, knowing someone like her would never be attracted to a lowly ranch hand with a blemished face like him. When Gwen unexpectedly shows up at the ranch, asking him to help her learn how to attract a man of quality, Tim’s feelings become even harder to suppress.

When danger pushes them together, they discover there’s more to each other than either of them imagined. Though God is no respecter of persons, is the desire of their hearts strong enough to defy society’s expectations?

Marrying Mr. Wrong is the fourth book in the Frontier Vows Series by award-winning Christian romance author Melissa Jagears. If you like to read about unexpected characters falling in love, you’ll enjoy this tender love story that has the perfect mix of romance and adventure.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Reviewing: Behind Love's Wall (Doors to the Past) by Carrie Fancett Pagels

 ...from the publisher...

Two successful women, a hundred-and-twenty-years apart, build walls to protect their hearts. Modern-day Willa, a successful interior decorator, is chosen to go to Mackinac Island and consult for the Grand Hotel’s possible redesign. During work on a room, she discovers a journal detailing the struggles of a young woman, Lily—which reveals dark secrets. The renowned singer wasn’t who she pretended to be.
As Willa reaches out to Lily’s descendant, a charismatic and prominent landscape artist, she lets down her guard. Should she share the journal with him—revealing hidden history—or once again erect a wall as she struggles to redesign both the Grand and her life?

...my thoughts...

Behind Love' Wall is a book where the past comes alive because of Lily's journal and the curiosity of modern day Willa, who unwittingly found her diary. The very woman who is the subject of a recent newspaper article Willa casually picked up on a ferry ride to the island. There are some parallels between the two women, each searching for clarity in their lives.  I liked the mystery both women bring to the story.  This is more than a romantic story that brings readers of Carrie's books back to Mackinac. It is a true mystery and it is not until that end that the answers truly unfold.  

I also like how the author weaves in characters from earlier books with their descendants in this time split story. I have read several of Carrie's books and it was interesting to see how she wove these characters and their talents to span generations.  It is like looking at genealogy and learning of talents shared with a great grandparent.  The setting at the Grand Hotel, rich with history is an invitation to travel across on the ferry and enjoy the sights of this well researched book. 

I hope there will be more stories coming up set in this area of our country that is so rich with stories to be shared.

Reviewing: The Santa Suit by Mary Kay Andrews

...from the publisher...

When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love—but Ivy didn't bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it's a full-time job sorting through all of it.

At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit—beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it's from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?

Ivy's quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.

 ...my thoughts...

The Santa Suit is one of those books that you enjoy from the moment you hit page one.  From Ivy's arrival that the farmhouse to finding all the forgotten treasures left behind, I found I couldn't wait to see how the story unfolded. The journey Ivy found herself on led her to a treasure beyond her imagination.  This is one book that will remain in your heart all season long.  

Well written, with wonderful characters, this is one more book to add to your Christmas reading pile. 

Reviewing: Dear Santa by Debbie Macomber

...from the publisher...

 Lindy Carmichael isn’t feeling particularly joyful when she returns home to Wenatchee, Washington, for Christmas. The man she thought was “the one” has cheated on her with her best friend, and she feels completely devoid of creativity in her graphic-design job. Not even carolers or Christmas cookies can cheer her up—but Lindy’s mother, Ellen, remembers an old tradition that might lift her daughter’s spirits.
Reading through a box of childhood letters to Santa and reminiscing about what she’d wished for as a young girl may be just the inspiration Lindy needs. With Ellen’s encouragement, she decides to write a new letter to Santa, one that will encourage her to have faith and believe just as she’d done all those years ago. Little does Lindy know that this exercise in gratitude will cause her wishes to unfold before her in miraculous ways. And, thanks to some fateful twists of Christmas magic—especially an unexpected connection with a handsome former classmate—Lindy ultimately realizes that there is truly no place like home for the holidays.

...my thoughts... 

Lindy is a young woman who left it all behind when she left home for the big city and a bright future.  Life isn't always what we dream it to be while we are making plans for the future.  Sometimes it is even better.  It all started with a letter to Santa to turn this discouraged young woman's life into a roller coaster ride of events that will change her life forever.

Skip the movie and read the book to get you into the Christmas spirit!  Set with believable characters in the beautiful state of Washington, it doesn't get any better than a little holiday fun.

Reviewing: Twisted Tea Christmas by Laura Childs

...from the publisher...
Tea maven Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier, Drayton Conneley, are catering a Victorian An attack on the host of a fancy tea party sends Theodosia Browning looking for answers in the latest entry in the Christmas party at a swanky mansion in downtown Charleston. Drucilla Heyward, the hostess, is one of the wealthiest women in town.

As the champagne flows and the tea steeps, Drucilla is so pleased with the reception by her partygoers that she reveals her secret plan to Theodosia. The Grande Dame has brought the cream of Charleston society together to reveal that she is planning to give her wealth away to various charitable organizations. However, before she can make the announcement, Theodosia finds her crumpled unconscious in the hallway. It looks like the excitement has gotten to the elderly woman--except that there is a syringe sticking out of her neck. 

 ...my thoughts...

Theodosia and Drayton are at it again only this time, they are in the thick of it after catering a house full of suspects attending the grand event that Charleston will talk about for years to come.  At least one would have hoped it was because of the exceptional event itself, not the murder of a beloved hostess. 

Laura Childs has once again delivered a mystery that will keep you guessing while you turn the pages as fast as you can.  It would seem that our heroine has nine lives and each time they set upon a caper, the plot is as thick as can be.  For a mystery that will make your Christmas mystery list on high, pick up a copy of Twisted  Tea Christmas!









Christmas With the Cornish Girls by Betty Walker

 ...from the publisher...

1941. The bombs still fall, but in St. Ives Christmas is finally approaching for the Cornish Girls…

With the war ongoing, Lily is feeling anything but festive. That is, until Eva asks if she’ll join her in working at an officers’ convalescent home, lifting her spirits no end.

Eva came to St. Ives to be near the man who almost gave his life to protect hers. But will the wounded pilot ever help to heal himself by opening his heart to love?

Rose suspects the local orphanage is mistreating its charges – and it’s her job to uncover the truth before it’s too late…

Can the Cornish Girls help one another through the darkest days in order to give everyone in St. Ives the sparkling Christmas they so deserve?

...my thoughts...

What a delightful story to ring in the Christmas season.  It seems World War II is endless and the Cornish girls are feeling it.  Lily, Eva and Rose all have issues they are dealing with privately but their professionalism keeps their problems at the door of the convalescent home where they are working tirelessly to care for the casualties of war. 

I enjoyed this book for the glimpse it gives into the lives of women of a different era who display courage and fortitude that comes with serving others.  The lives of these women, though this is a work of fiction, could be the story of our mothers, grandmothers or aunts. I admire their courage and fearless dedication to duty while finding ways to live, love and celebrate. 

Betty Walker's characters come alive, whether it is piling into an old ambulance for a Christmas visit, waiting it out in a dank bomb shelter or calling rescuing abused orphans, this book will keep you on your toes while keeping the spirit of the season alive.


Sunday, October 31, 2021

Reviewing: A Crhistmas in the Alps A Novella by Melody Carlson

...my thoughts...

After a time of heartache and loss, Simone Winthrop discovers a tantalizing letter from her French great-grandmother, which seems to suggest that she is heir to a family treasure. Ever practical, Simone assumes the claim is baseless, but her best friend encourages her to find out for sure. Despite her deep-rooted fear of flying, Simone boards a jet to travel to Paris at Christmastime to uncover the truth.

During the long flight, Simone meets the charming Kyle Larsson, who's on his way to France to become an apprentice clockmaker. Though they abruptly part ways, an unexpected rendezvous in the French Alps at Simone's family's clock factory may lead to the discovery of the family treasure . . . and so much more.

For anyone who is wearying of staying home, Melody Carlson invites you to spend Christmas with her in the beautiful French Alps this year. So pull on your mittens, tie your scarf tight, and prepare yourself for a magical mountain holiday. 

...my thoughts... 

Melody Carlson's A Christmas in the Alps is a wonderful novella that tells the romantic story of Simone and Kyle.  It is one of those stories that will warm your heart because, after all, with their chance meeting on a flight that Simone dreaded, everything was destined to fall in place for their happy ever after. However, that was not how it played out.  Learning about her great grandmother's amazing past was well worth the trip out of her comfort zone. Finding a new path for her own life was priceless. 

I enjoyed this story for the rich color within the fabric of these characters lives. Simone's family, like so many who lived through the rigors of World War II are inspiring.  Had Simone stayed behind and bathed in her practical comfort zone she would have missed out on all of the rewards life had to offer her.

Every year I wait to read Melody Carlson's latest Christmas story.  A Christmas in the Alps is just one of those stories that make you glad you picked up a book and skipped a cookie cutter Christmas movie. Novellas may be short but this one is long on heart!