Saturday, January 30, 2016

My Bookshelf: The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

For sixty years, a wedding chapel sat silent, waiting for love. But times have changed and the hour has come when it just might be too late.
        Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy “Coach” Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love—the wedding chapel he built for Collette Greer, the woman he fell for back in ’49. But now an offer has come to turn the chapel into what it was meant to be—a place for love—and Jimmy sees no reason to hang onto his dream any longer.
        Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family’s abysmal marriage rate. But love surprises her when she falls head-over-heels for Jack Forester, a top ad man. Their whirlwind romance results in an elopement, and a mountain of doubt. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to overcome his own demons to find the words of his heart.
        When Taylor takes an assignment in Heart’s Bend, the job does more than send her back to her hometown, but into a world of family secrets buried beneath the sands of time.
        When Taylor’s journey intersects with Coach’s, they rediscover the heartbeat of their dreams and that the love they long to hold is right in front of them. And worth every waiting moment.

        The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck may not be the first novel I have ever read by her, but it is definitely one of my favorites. I’ve read the Songbird series she co-wrote with Sarah Evans, her three Royal Weddings books—the most recent one being How to Catch a Prince—and even another one of her wedding-themed novels called The Wedding Dress. Although I absolutely loved each and every one of those books, I have to say, there was something about her most recent release that may have put it over anything else she’s ever written. The Wedding Chapel is such a sweet, heartwarming, captivating story of lost love, ghosts of one’s past, and finding true peace in Jesus, and I know I won’t be forgetting how this story touched my heart for a long time to come.
        Taylor and Jack. There is no reason on earth why their names should ever be separated. Even though they both struggle with their own demons, and have trouble truly showing each other just how they feel, I have no doubts that they are absolutely perfect for one another. Taylor is sweet, funny, and a wonderful photographer with a huge heart, and Jack is a strong, determined sweetheart who has the ability to make any girl melt. Put the two of them together, and you’ve got a dynamic duo who—if they try hard enough and place God at the center of their marriage—can accomplish anything. Together they become one of my favorite couples of all time, so I spent the good majority of this book hoping that they would both decide that their whirlwind romance was more than just that, but rather a love that could last a lifetime.
        Jimmy and Collette’s story is one for the history books. I cannot imagine there ever being a better man than Jimmy; spending the better part of ten years building a wedding chapel for the woman he loved even though he was convinced she was never coming back to him. On top of that, he never sold it, never held a wedding in it because it had never seen his own, and never considered marrying anyone else. And then there’s the kicker, every time he enters the chapel and sits down, he sits on the pew in the exact spot where he declared his love for Collette and asked her to marry him. It cannot possibly get any better than that!!! (Except maybe if he hadn’t had to long for Collette at all and they originally got married just as they planned). Anyway, even though Collette’s story may not look quite the same as Jimmy’s, she never stopped loving him either, and that is the type of love everyone longs for. Once you get to the end of their tale, once all the secrets come to life and you can truly see the whole picture, it is highly likely that tears will fill your eyes and you will know for sure that you will remember their love story forever.
        Rachel really knocked it out the park with this novel, and I cannot sing her praises loudly enough. She did an amazing job of weaving together all four stories: Jimmy, Collette, Taylor, and Jack’s, in a way that creates a beautiful patterned quilt of life, love, and God’s redeeming grace. I was blessed by this story, blessed by the beautiful ending, and I already know I will be reading it again and again. As you can probably already tell, I give this fantastic story all five bookshelves, and a place on my all-time favorites list. I highly recommend this wonderful novel, as I am sure it will touch your heart just like it touched mine.
        Happy reading!

I received a copy of this book from the Litfuse Publicity group in exchange for only my honest review.

To see where I’m linking up, check out my Where I Party page.

Photo credits go to by fabulous sister Allie, whose blog you can visit here.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Rachel Hauck and Zondervan Publishing.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Made with Love by Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore

A dash of love, a pinch of hope, and a whole lot of good cooking.
        Lovina Miller should be thrilled. Pinecraft, Florida, has everything a young Amish woman could ask for: sun, sand, volleyball games, and evening singings in the park. But Pinecraft lacks the one thing Lovina desperately wants—a pie shop of her own. She longs for a place to gather with the community and serve the treat she loves.
        A young carpenter named Noah Yoder strolls into her life and offers a way to make her dream come true. But before Noah and Lovina can build a shop—and a life—together, they must each face heartaches from the past. Is their new love stronger than their regrets?

        Made with Love is the first book in Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore’s Pinecraft Pie Shop series, and is also the first novel I have ever read by either of them. Although I didn’t know what to expect going in, I am very fond of Amish novels, so I thought I’d give it a try. It was a cute, fluffy little story that I definitely enjoyed, although it was a bit too on the fluffy side for me. It wasn’t plotless, and the characters were cute and sweet, it just felt a bit like surface interactions and not necessarily well-thought out plotlines. All in all though, it was sweet and interesting, and I always hate to judge anyone’s work too hardly. Besides, I’ve had to put down many a novel without finishing it, although I hate to do so, but I read all of this one, which just goes to show it was pretty enjoyable.
        Lovina Miller has always dreamed of owning a pie shop. More than getting married, and having children, she just wants to own a shop where people can congregate over slices of her pies. When she finally finds a building she might be able to open her shop in, she jumps at the chance, despite the horrified reaction of her Mem, who just wants to see her settled and happily married. Then Noah Yoder arrives, offering up a way to actually make her dream possible, and Lovina wants to give him a chance despite his hidden past and her Mem’s feelings against him.
        All in all this story was short and cute, with wonderful God-filled themes, and even a few plot twists I never would have expected. I happily give it four out of five bookshelves, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys light Amish fiction. Honestly, I think this novel would have been perfect summer reading! Too bad it’s been far from summer’s 90 degree weather the past couple of weeks. Either way, I did enjoy this novel, and am looking forward to the second book in the series—Planted with Hope—which releases in March.
        Happy reading!

To see where I’m linking up, check out my Where I Party page.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Tricia Goyer, Sherry Gore, and Harvest House Publishers.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Top Ten Favorite 2016 Covers

        Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie so, since I absolutely love gazing at wonderfully put together cover art, I decided to turn my freebie into a post all about my top ten favorite covers. I had to narrow the category down, however, because I have hundreds of favorite covers, so I made it all about books that are coming out this year. So, without further ado, let’s adore some covers!

Land of Silence by Tessa Afshar

Before Christ called her daughter...
Before she stole healing by touching the hem of his garment...
        Elianna is a young girl crushed by guilt. After her only brother is killed while in her care, Elianna tries to earn forgiveness by working for her father's textile trade and caring for her family. When another tragedy place Elianna in sole charge of the business, her talent for design brings enormous success, but never the absolution she longs for. As her world unravels, she breaks off her betrothal to the only man she will ever love. Then illness strikes, isolating Elianna from everyone, stripping everything she has left.
        No physician can cure her. No end is in sight. Until she hears whispers of a man whose mere touch can heal. After so many years of suffering and disappointment, is it possible that one man could redeem the wounds of body...and soul?

A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell

        In difficult circumstances, Charlotte Ward, once a famed stage actress, tries to restart her career—only to experience disaster. Against her better judgement, her estranged daughter, Rosalind, comes to her mother’s rescue and moves her to a quite English coastal village.
        Charlotte is grateful to get to know Rosalind after years apart. As one who has regrets about her own romantic past, it’s a joy for Charlotte to see love blossom for her daughter. Or Rosalind, however, it’s time away from teaching—and now she must care for the mother who wasn’t there for her. And what could be more complicated than romance?
        Together, mother and daughter discover that healing is best accomplished when they focus less on themselves and more on the needs of others.

Someone Like You by Victoria Bylin

        Julia Dare is trying to run her own business, raise her young son, Max, and help her widowed mother. Her biggest worry, though, is keeping Max’s father from being a bad influence while still allowing the boy to spend time with his dad. When an account from her event-planning business sends her to Caliente Springs resort, she’s shocked to encounter Zeke Monroe, her college sweetheart.
        Zeke is determined to keep Caliente Springs running despite financial trouble. When Julia walks back into his life, he’s surprised at the feelings she stirs up. As they work together on an important client’s wedding, the fate of the resort soon depends on their success. With Zeke and Julia both pushed to their limits, will their history put up walls between them or bring them together?

The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron

What is revealed when you pull back the curtain of the greatest show on earth?
        Rosamund Easling is no stranger to opulence. As the daughter of an earl, she’s grown up with all the comforts money can buy. But when hard times befall the family’s Yorkshire estate in the aftermath of the Great War, the stage is set for a series of events that change her world beyond even her wildest dreams.
        Though expected to marry for a title instead of love, Rosamund feels called to a different life—one of adventure outside the confines of a ladies’ parlor. When her father sells her beloved horse, she abandons all she’s known and follows in pursuit as her horse is shipped to the new owner—an American entertainer by the name of John Ringling. Knowing she has much to learn, Rosamund agrees to a bareback riding apprenticeship in the shadow of the Ringling’s home—the Ca’D’Zan. In what would become the last days of the enigmatic Mable Ringling’s life, Rosamund finds a deeper sense of purpose in her new life and begins to experience the awakening of faith.
        With a mysterious and dazzling supporting cast of characters, Rosamund journeys far from the traditions of the English countryside to the last days of the Roaring Twenties—a journey that forever changes what her life might have been.

The Goodbye Bride by Denise Hunter
        The Goodbye Bride is the second book in Denise Hunter’s Summer Harbor series, coming after Falling Like Snowflakes. Not only do I like this cover better, but I also think I might enjoy the story even more than the first.

She only remembers loving him. But he can’t forget the way she left.
        Following a concussion, Lucy Lovett can’t remember the last seven months of her life. She doesn’t remember leaving her fiancé Zac Callahan weeks before their wedding or moving to Portland, Maine. And she sure doesn’t remember getting engaged to another man. All she remembers is loving Zac more than life itself.
        It’s taken Zac months to move on after Lucy left him with no explanation. He’s thrown himself into his family’s farm and his restaurant business in Summer Harbor. Now Lucy’s back, vulnerable, homeless, and still in love with him. She needs his help putting the pieces together, but letting her back into his life is a risk—and the stakes are high. If he follows his heart he’ll win back the love of his life. But if her memory returns he’ll lose her all over again.

An Elegant Façade by Kristi Ann Hunter
        An Elegant Façade is the second book in Kristi Ann Hunter’s Hawthorne House series, coming after A Noble Masquerade. I’ve loved both of her covers; this is just the book coming out this year.

        Lady Georgina Hawthorne has worked tirelessly to seal her place as the Incomparable for her debut season. At her first London ball, she hopes to snag the attention of an earl.
        With money and business connections, but without impeccable bloodlines, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere but accepted nowhere. When he first encounters the fashionable Lady Georgina, he’s irritated by his attraction to a woman who concerns herself only with status and appearance.
        What Colin doesn’t know is that Georgina’s desperate social aspirations are driven by the shameful secret she harbors. Association with Colin McCrae is not part of Georgina’s plan, but as their paths continue to cross, they both must decide if the realization of their dreams is worth the sacrifices they must make.

Dawn at Emberwilde by Sarah E. Ladd
        Dawn at Emberwilde is the second book in Sarah E. Ladd’s Treasures of Surrey series, coming after The Curiosity Keeper. This wonderful cover is my favorite of the two.

Annabelle is about to enter the world of le bon ton. But there is more to it than meets the eye. And not all of it is good.
        Fellsworth School is the only home that Annabelle Creswell has ever known. An artist at heart, she is curious about what adventure lies beyond Fellsworth’s walls. When her long-lost aunt invites Annabelle and her younger half-sister to accompany her to Bellfield Crossing for the summer, Annabelle cannot resist a new adventure.
        Colin Ashton, on the other hand, has more adventure than he cares for. As a magistrate in Bellfield Crossing, he focuses on keeping illegal activity at bay. He has little time for frivolous activities, which he’s certain are Annabelle’s focus.
        Annabelle is enamored by the opulence that surrounds her at her aunt’s home—more wealth than she has ever known—but it is the orphans at the local orphanage who really capture her heart. As she works among the community, Annabelle quickly finds herself the interest of several suitors. Colin warns her not everyone can be trusted, but she wonders if she can trust him. After all, she has been told stories about him.
        Colin’s and Annabelle’s paths continue to cross as Colin works to unearth the local smuggling ring and Annabelle takes her place in high society. Could Colin have been telling the truth? And will her aunt listen when Annabelle voices her concerns? Or will she send Annabelle back to Fellsworth and away from the life…and man she has come to love?

Under Scottish Stars by Carla Laureano
        Under Scottish Stars is the third book in Carla Laureano’s MacDonald Family Trilogy, coming after Five Days in Skye and London Tides. I love all of the covers of these novels; I’m not sure I could pick a favorite, but this is the 2016 release, so it wins for now.

        Recently widowed Serena MacDonald Stewart focuses solely on her children—to the exclusion of career, artistic pursuits, and her sanity. When her brothers ask her to use her long-ignored business skills to oversee the family guest house on the Isle of Skye, she thinks it might be a chance for a new start. But her hopes for a smooth transition are dashed when the current hotel manager, Malcom Blake, turns out to be irritating, condescending…and incredibly attractive.

Together at the Table by Hillary Manton Lodge
        Together at the Table is the third book in Hillary Manton Lodge’s Two Blue Doors series, coming after A Table at the Window and Reservations for Two. I like this cover the best of the three.

(Sorry for the lack of a description for this novel: Hillary hasn't released it yet, as far as I can tell, but I really couldn't imagine not adding such a great cover to this list.)

Change of Heart by Courtney Walsh
        Change of Heart is the second book in Courtney Walsh’s Paper Hearts series, coming after Paper Hearts. Both covers are equally beautiful in my opinion.

        A Colorado senator’s wife, Evelyn Brandt seems to have it all. But her carefully constructed life comes toppling down when the FBI crashes her society brunch with the news that her husband has been arrested for embezzlement, and he’s far from repentant. It turns out this was only the start of his indiscretions—for which he has little regret.
        As the weeks following the scandal turn into months, Evelyn withdraws, even shirking her duties with the philanthropic Valentine Volunteers. The inquisitive women of the group are determined not to let Evelyn’s divorce destroy her. They have big plans for her to use her long-forgotten artistic talent to reimagine the city’s iconic lamppost hearts. But doing so will force Evelyn to work closely with Trevor Whitney, her ex-husband’s former best friend. Though she and Trevor used to be close—and he’s been letting her hide in his guesthouse—his gruffness conveys his unease with the situation.
        Amid the beauty of Trevor’s farm and the comfort of a paintbrush, Evelyn starts to reclaim the dreams she sacrificed to become the perfect politician’s wife. And as creativity inspires them both, Whit begins to see the girl he fell in love with before his friend—and his own mistakes—stole his chance. Possibilities for a new beginning emerge, but long-kept secrets threaten to ruin everything. After so much time, is a change of heart too much to hope for?

        Those are my top ten favorite 2016 covers! What about you? What are some of your favorite covers?
        Happy Tuesday and happy reading!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

To see where I’m linking up, check out my Where I Party page.

All credit for the italicized synopses goes to each author and their respective publishers.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Must-Have February Releases

        I can’t believe it’s even January already, and yet here it is, time for my post all about the books releasing in February, which is somehow just days away. Time is flying by, but don’t let it cause you to miss out on all the wonderful books that are being published! Here are the February releases I’m looking forward to.

Joshua’s Mission

        Joshua Kline travels from his farm in Oklahoma to offer aid to an Englisch town on the gulf of Texas after a category 4 hurricane has ravaged the area. He brings his brother with him, who needs a change of environment. The last thing he wants for Alton is another brush with the law. He is pleasantly surprised when he hears that Becca Troyer, the bishop’s granddaughter, plans on joining their team.
        What will Joshua find when he arrives in Texas? A lack of electricity, certainly, which poses little problem for the Amish volunteers as they help restore order from destruction. But a budding romance? A call from God? And a possible healing of his relationship with Alton?

        Joshua’s Mission is the second book in Vannetta Chapman’s Plain and Simple Miracles series, coming after Anna’s Healing. Although I didn’t get the chance to read the first novel because it wasn’t yet at my library, I have enjoyed multiple of Vannetta’s novels in the past—Murder Simply Brewed, Murder Tightly Knit, and Murder Freshly Baked, to be exact—so I am hopeful that this book will be another wonderful example of her writing talents.

You’re the One That I Want

        Owen Christiansen has been in a downward spiral since an injury ended his NHL career. But a job on an Alaskan crabbing boat offers a fresh start…maybe even a shot at romance with Elise “Scotty” McFlynn, the captain’s daughter.
        Used to being one of the guys, to never relying on anyone, Scotty doesn’t believe in happily ever after—especially with someone like Owen. Her instinct is confirmed when Casper Christiansen arrives to drag his prodigal brother home, bringing with him a truckload of family drama—and even worse, the news that Casper is wanted for questioning in connection to a crime back in Minnesota.
        But Owen is more than the sum of his mistakes, a truth both he and Scotty discover when she escorts both brothers to Deep Haven as part of her new job on the Anchorage police force. Thrust into an unfamiliar world of family, faith, and fresh starts, Scotty begins to see potential for a happy ending…if she’s brave enough to embrace it.

        You’re the One That I Want is the sixth book in Susan May Warren’s Christiansen Family series, coming after Take a Chance on Me, It Had to Be You, When I Fall in Love, Always on My Mind, and The Wonder of You. I read the first four novels a few months ago, and absolutely loved each and every one of them, so much in fact, that I added all of them to my all-time favorites list. Then this past month I finally had the chance to read the fifth novel, and I fell in love with the Christiansen’s all over again. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy reading about them, so I cannot wait for this final installment to release.

On Lone Star Trail

        If there’s one thing Gillian Hodge never wants to see again, it’s a man on a motorcycle. Her last encounter with one left her right hand crushed, ending her promising career as a concert pianist. But as she heads to Rainbow’s End Resort, a sudden thunderstorm causes a motorcycle to crash in front of her.
        When TJ Benjamin’s wife died, he lost more than his best friend; he lost his faith. He’s spent the past year wandering the country on a motorcycle, trying not to think about his future. When he finds himself stranded with a busted bike and a reluctant rescuer, he has to wonder about God’s sense of humor.
        Can this woman without a future and this man running from his past find romance in the present? Or are they too tied to the way life used to be?

        On Lone Star Trail is the third book in Amanda Cabot’s Texas Crossroads series, coming after At Bluebonnet Lake and In Firefly Valley. Although I wasn’t able to read the second novel, I did get to read At Bluebonnet Lake, and I definitely enjoyed it. I may not describe it as my favorite book in the world, but I did love the story and am looking forward to getting to read more in the series.

The Prophetess

        Outspoken and fearless, Deborah has faith in God but struggles to see the potential her own life holds. As an Israelite woman, she’ll marry, have a family, and seek to teach her children about Adonai—and those tasks seem to be more than enough to occupy her time. But God has another plan for her. Israel has been under the near constant terror of Canaan’s armies for twenty years, and now God has called Deborah to deliver her people from this oppression. Will her family understand? Will her people even believe God’s calling on her life? And can the menace of Canaan be stopped?

        The Prophetess is the second book in Jill Eileen Smith’s Daughters of the Promised Land series, coming after The Crimson Cord. Although I have had bad experiences with Bible story retellings in the past, I decided to give Jill a chance, and I am so, so glad I did. The Crimson Cord was well worth reading, gave me such a great idea of what Rahab's life really could have looked like, and caused me to be excited to read any and all of Jill's novels in the future. Clearly, I cannot wait for this new installment in her series.

The Secret to Hummingbird Cake

When all else fails, turn to the divine taste of hummingbird cake.
        In the South you always say “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.” You know everybody’s business. Football is a lifestyle not a pastime. Food—especially dessert—is almost a religious experience. And you protect your friends as fiercely as you protect your family—even if the threat is something you cannot see.
        In this spot-on Southern novel brimming with wit and authenticity, you’ll laugh alongside lifelong friends, navigate the sometimes rocky path of marriage, and roll through the outrageous curveballs that life sometimes throws…from devastating pain to absolute joy. And if you’re lucky, you just may discover the secret to hummingbird cake along the way.

        The Secret to Hummingbird Cake is Celeste Fletcher McHale’s debut novel, so I cannot rave to you about her writing, because I haven’t really experienced it yet, but based on her synopsis I think it is going to be good. This novel sounds extremely wonderful and intriguing, and I absolutely love anything Southern related. As any good Southerner would, of course. I am highly anticipating getting to enjoy Celeste’s debut novel, and am hoping to hear of more of her works soon.

If I Run

Casey knows the truth. But it won’t set her free.
        Casey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they have failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested…or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.
        But what is the truth? That’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bring Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up. Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?
        Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices. The girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer…or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

        If I Run by Terri Blackstock sounds absolutely amazing, doesn’t it? Although I haven't yet read any of her novels, I am excited to make this one my first, as I am sure that it will definitely be something I enjoy. 

Room for Hope

In a desperate time, can Neva find forgiveness for a grievous wrong—and make room for hope?
        Neva Shilling has a heavy load of responsibility while her husband travels to neighboring communities and sells items from his wagon. In his absence, she faithfully runs the Shilling Mercantile, working to keep their business strong as the Depression takes its toll, and caring for their twins.
        When a wagon pulls up after supper, Neva and her children rush out—and into the presence of the deputy driving a wagon carrying three young children. The deputy shocks her with the news that Warren and his wife have died, insisting it was their last request that the three children go live with “Aunt Neva.”
        Neva’s heart is shattered as she realizes that Warren’s month-long travels were excuses for visits with his secret family. She wants nothing more than to forget Warren, but can she abandon these innocent children to an orphanage. Yet if she takes them in, will she ever be able to see them as more than evidence of her husband’s betrayal and love them the way God does?

        Room for Hope by Kim Vogel Sawyer sounds so completely intriguing, doesn’t it? I have read so, so many of Kim’s novels in the past—the latest being When Mercy Rains and When Grace Sings—and have loved each and every one of them. Clearly that makes it easy for me to be almost 100 percent sure that this book will be one that I will enjoy, so I had no reservations about adding it to this list. I cannot wait for this novel’s release!

Kissed by a Cowboy

Cassidy was looking for a home and a place to belong…not for a cowboy to steal her heart.
        Having lived through her parent’s endless string of “matrimonial bliss gone wrong”, Cassidy Starr knows when the odds are not in her favor. Divorced and humiliated, her faith on rocky ground, Cassidy is through with love. She’s been bucked off that horse far too many times. Instead, she returns to Wishing Springs, Texas, and the rundown farm she’s inherited from her great aunt Roxie. She’ll reopen the strawberry farm and a bed and breakfast and follow in her aunt’s footsteps, remaining forever-independent, happy…and single.
        Rancher Jarrod Monahan’s hands are full running the ranch, looking after his ailing grandfather, and chasing down a group of rustlers on the loose. He’s pushed his longing for a family to the bottom of his list of priorities. Besides, he was in love once but ran scared and lost his shot at happiness. But suddenly, the biggest regret of his life has moved in next door with a wounded heart, determined to become a spinster…and that’s a challenge that Jarrod can’t pass up.
        Jarrod sets his mind to breaking down the walls around Cassidy’s stubborn heart. How can he show her that a cowboy’s kiss lasts forever? For the good folks of Wishing Springs, falling in love has never been so much fun to witness.

        Kissed by a Cowboy is the third book in Debra Clopton’s Four of Hearts Ranch Romance series, coming after Betting on Hope and Counting on a Cowboy. Although I didn’t get a chance to read the second novel because it wasn’t yet at my library—even though I’m absolutely dying to be able to devour it—I did read the first installment and LOVED it. Debra is a wonderful author, and I cannot wait to finally be able to read more of her novels!

        Well, those are the releases I am looking forward to, and that you—and I—absolutely must have! What about you? What are some February releases you cannot wait for?
        Happy reading!

To see where I’m linking up, check out my Where I Party page.

All credit for the italicized synopses goes to each author and their respective publishers.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Crimson Cord by Jill Eileen Smith

        Wife to a gambler who took one too many risks, Rahab finds herself sold as a slave to cover her husband’s debt. Forced into prostitution, she despairs of ever regaining her freedom and her self-respect. But when Israelite spies enter Jericho and come to lodge at her house, Rahab sees a glimmer of hope and the opportunity of a lifetime.
        In one risky moment, she takes a leap of faith, puts her trust in a God she does not know, and vows to protect the spies from the authorities. When the armies of Israel arrive weeks later, Rahab hopes they will keep their promise, but she has no idea what kind of challenges await her outside of Jericho’s walls—or if she will ever know the meaning of love.

        The Crimson Cord is the first book in Jill Eileen Smith’s Daughters of the Promised Land series, and is also the first novel I have ever read by her. Since I have read a few not-so-great Bible story retellings in the past, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going in. However, I quickly realized that this was not the case when it comes to this book, but it was in fact one of the best Bible-story retellings I have ever encountered. Jill did a fabulous job of bringing Rahab to life, and I absolutely cannot wait to read more of her novels in the future.
        One of my favorite parts of this novel was the way that Jill made Rahab more than just a minor character in an Old Testament Bible story. She really brought Rahab to life, gave her a story, feelings, and a character that gave her such a huge amount of relatability. It was so easy for me to understand where she was coming from, why she held the doubts she did, and that just brought new life to the classic story I’ve heard over and over for as long as I can remember. Rahab became more than just a Bible character. She became a woman with doubts, fears, hurts; basically Jill was able to bring her to life in such a way that I could see her here right beside me today. Rahab became that real to me through the course of this book.
        Then there’s the ending of this story. Anyone who has ever read the Bible’s account of Rahab’s story knows what happens to her after she is rescued by the Israelites, but only because it is basically mentioned in passing before the writer moves on to other events. Jill expounds on it so much more, giving us a real insight into Rahab’s future, the spies, and other Old Testament events that happen around the same time. I wish I could tell you what she gives readers the best glimpse of, but for the sake of those who haven’t read Rahab’s story, or don’t really remember what all happened—I didn’t exactly either when I started this book—I won’t mention the details. But let me assure you, she really does paint all of it in a much more interesting and detailed light than what we see between the pages of the Bible.
        All of that is to say, I heartily applaud Jill for a job well done, for this novel is the perfect retelling of Rahab’s story. I absolutely loved this novel, and now I know I will never again look at this part of the Bible the same way. Reading this has opened my eyes once again to the reality that fills the Bible’s pages, and I have to say this book really helped refresh my love for the gift our Father left us in His book. I happily award this novel all five bookshelves, and like I said before, I cannot wait to read more of Jill’s books. I would recommend this book to anyone, and I can almost guarantee that reading it will change the way you look at Rahab from that day forward.
        Happy reading!

To see where I’m linking up, check out my Where I Party page.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Jill Eileen Smith and Revell Publishing.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

In Good Company by Jen Turano

        After growing up as an orphan, Millie Longfellow is determined to become the best nanny the East Coast has ever seen. Unfortunately, her playfulness and enthusiasm aren’t always well-received and she finds herself dismissed from yet another position.
        Everett Mulberry has quite unexpectedly become guardian to three children that scare off every nanny he hires. About to depart for Newport, Rhode Island, for the summer, he’s desperate for competent childcare.
        At wit’s end with both Millie and Everett, the employment agency gives them one last chance—with each other. As Millie falls in love with her mischievous charges, Everett focuses on achieving the coveted societal status of the upper echelons. But as he investigates the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of the children’s parents, will it take the loss of those he loves to learn whose company he truly wants for the rest of his life?

        In Good Company is the second book in Jen Turano’s A Class of Their Own series, second to After a Fashion. I read After a Fashion back in the summer and absolutely loved it, so I was absolutely dying to finally get my hands on Millie’s story. Jen is a wonderful author whose novels I always absolutely love, so I knew going in that this would be one of my favorite novels this quarter. And I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed.
        Millie Longfellow is one of my absolute favorite heroines of all time. She is such a sweet, hilarious, unique woman who gives this story such a great level of hilarity and intrigue, and makes it all the more heartwarming than it would have been otherwise. Her perky, always getting into a bit of mischief—on accident of course—personality is so sweet and cute, and the way she constantly looks up words in her little pocket dictionary in order to improve her vocabulary is one of my favorite things about her.
        Everett Mulberry seems extremely stuck up at the beginning of this novel—and during all of his limited appearances in the previous installment—but in all actuality he is, at least on the inside, a sweet and caring man who really isn’t nearly as much of a snob as he seems. He does actually care for “the brats” as he calls them, and he doesn’t really hold the “lower classes” in such low esteem as the rest of the high society seems to do. At the same time, his dry humor and quick fists make him all the more interesting, and those are two of my most favorite things about him.
        In Good Company is by far one of my favorite books of all time, which makes it extremely easy to award this wonderful story with all five bookshelves. Jen is by far one of my favorite authors; she has so much talent and is wonderful at writing the best historical romances with just the right amount of humor. I cannot imagine not ever reading this at least two more times, so I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good, hysterical novel.
        Happy reading!

To see where I’m linking up, check out my Where I Party page.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Jen Turano and Bethany House Publishers.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

My Bookshelf: Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist

It’s a battle of wills...and love is on the line.
        Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man’s world…which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder.
        Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He’s a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do. But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

        Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist is not the first novel I have ever read by her, but it is definitely one of my favorites. I have been an extremely big fan of hers ever since I read Beguiled—the first of her books I ever read—and haven’t been able to get enough of her works. Although up until this point I had only read Maid to Match, A Bride in the Bargain, Deep in the Heart of Trouble, Courting Trouble, and Beguiled (obviously), which now that I think about it is about half of her published novels, I’ve been dreaming of finally getting the chance to finish all of her books. Side note: only then, once I finish all of them, I would want her to write even more because I cannot get enough of them.
        Georgie Gail is such a cute character! She is so adorable, with her love for birds and her slightly naïve and chipper personality, and I love when she tries to be tough and intimidating. It is obvious why she is so loved in her town, and eventually by Luke, because she is just so kind, caring, and adorable. And I had to give her more brownie points simply because she believed so strongly in the abilities of women. We are strong, capable creatures, and I love how she tried to change the view of that time to fit this real image.
        Luke Palmer is definitely one of my favorite heroes. Dark and mysterious, he falls into Georgie’s life basically by chance, and it is quickly obvious to me that from that point on, he should never leave. The chemistry between them is palpable, and it makes for such a cute romance. The other mysterious part of this novel, however, is also extremely interesting, although I have to say I had begun to see it coming by the time all the secrets were revealed. Still, I think the storyline was extremely clever on Deeanne’s part. Anyway, Luke was, underneath his tough, Texas Ranger character a man with a heart of gold, which is a huge part of the reason why he is one of my favorite heroes.
        Love on the Line is such a sweet, captivating, heartwarming tale that will knock your socks off and prevent you from putting it down until you’ve finally finished every page. I absolutely loved this wonderful example of how much talent Deeanne has, and gladly award it all five bookshelves, and a place on my all-time favorites list. I am so glad that I own a copy of this one, because I know that I will be reading it again fairly soon. I highly recommend this novel, and hope you will read many more of Deeanne’s books, especially if you haven’t read any before.
        Happy reading!

To see where I’m linking up, check out my Where I Party page.

Photo creds go to my wonderful sister Allie, whose blog you can visit here.

All credit for the italicized synopsis goes to Deeanne Gist and Bethany House Publishers.

More Books to Read

        Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about the top ten books I recently added to my To Be Read list. There were quite a few novels I added in the span of just a couple of days, so I slimmed it down by not adding more than one by the same author or by listing books I’ve added to multiple other lists. So, without further ado, here are ten of the novels I’ve recently added to my TBR!

Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar
        Harvest of Rubies is the first book in Tessa Afshar’s Harvest of Rubies series, and is one of the many novels by her I added to my TBR. In all honesty, I added every book she’s written, because they all sounded wonderful. Although I haven’t read anything by her yet, I’m hoping I will in the future!

Remarkable talent threatens to cloud a life.
        The prophet Nehemiah has a cousin who can speak several languages, keep complex accounts, write on rolls of parchment and tablets of clay, and solve mysteries.
        This cousin is catapulted into the center of the Persian court—working long hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and completing high-level tasks as a scribe for the queen. Not bad, for a woman living in a man’s world.
        The talented Sarah has a glowing future, and those closest to her believe her good fortune is the product of none other than God’s glorious design. Yet a devastating past has left Sarah with two strong conclusions: that God does not love her, and that her accomplishments are the measure of her worth.
        The only thing that will help her escape her idol of success, Sarah must learn to love and be loved—a task that could prove dangerous.

A Sparrow in Terezin by Kristy Cambron
        A Sparrow in Terezin is the second book in Kristy Cambron’s Hidden Masterpiece series, coming after The Butterfly and the Violin. Although I haven’t read anything Kristy has written to-date, I am eagerly anticipating diving into her novels, especially this one!

Bound together across time, two women will discover a powerful connection through one survivor’s story of hope in the darkest days of a war-torn world.
        Present Day: With the grand opening of her new art gallery and a fairy-tale wedding just around the corner, Sera James feels like she’s stumbled into a charmed life—until a brutal legal battle against fiancé William Hanover threatens to destroy their future before it even begins.
        Now, after an eleventh-hour wedding ceremony and a callous arrest, William faces a decade in prison for a crime he never committed, and Sera must battle the scathing accusations that threaten her family and any hope for a future with the man she loves.
        1942: Kaja Makovsky narrowly escaped Nazi-occupied Prague in 1939 and was forced to leave behind her half-Jewish family. Now a reporter for The Daily Telegraph in England, Kaja discovers the terror has followed her across the Channel in the shadowy form of the London Blitz. When she learns Jews are being exterminated by the thousands on the continent, she has no choice but to return to her mother city, risking her life to smuggle her family to freedom and peace.
        Connecting across a century through one little girl, a Holocaust survivor with a foot in each world, these two women will discover a kinship that springs even in the darkest of times. In this tale of hope and survival, Sera and Kaja must cling to the faith that sustains them and fight to protect all they hold dear—even if it means placing their own futures on the line.

The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell
        The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell was the first book I had ever heard of by her, which makes it clear that I have never read one of her novels. This one sounds wonderful, however, and I hope to have the chance to read it once it releases next week.

“Feathers—no matter what size or shape or color—are all the same, if you think about them. They’re soft. Delicate. But the secret thing about feathers is…they are very strong.”
        In the pre-Katrina glow of New Orleans, Amanda Salassi is anxious about chaperoning her daughter’s sixth grade field trip to the Big Easy during Halloween. And then her worst fears come true. Her daughter’s best friend, Sarah, disappears amid the magic and revelry—gone, without a trace.
        Unable to cope with her guilt, Amanda’s daughter sinks into a depression. And Amanda’s husband turns destructive as he watches his family succumb to grief. Before long, Amanda’s whole world has collapsed.
        Amanda knows she has to save herself before it’s too late. As she continues to search for Sarah, she embarks on a personal journey, seeking hope and purpose in the wake of so much tragedy and loss.
        Set amidst the murky parishes of rural Louisiana and told through the eyes of two women who confront the darkest corners of humanity with quiet and unbreakable faith, The Feathered Bone is Julie Cantrell’s master portrait of love in a fallen world.

Your Heart’s Desire by Melody Carlson
        I have read a few of Melody Carlson’s novels in the past, so I naturally add her newer releases to my TBR on a regular basis. Your Heart’s Desire is her latest work that just released earlier this month, and it sounded wonderful, so I quickly added it to by TBR.

        It’s almost New Year’s 1946, a perfect time for Caroline Marshall to start a new chapter in her life. Widowed three years ago when she lost her husband in the war, she has decided to move with her nine-year-old son to join her sister’s family in sunny California. Her sister’s new house has a basement apartment for Caroline to rent, and though jobs for women are scarce with so many veterans returning from the war, it seems the local chocolate factory is hiring. The apartment turns out to be rather dingy, and the job may be working the assembly line—a step down from Caroline’s office job as a secretary back in Minnesota. But Caroline is determined to make a great new life for herself and her son. As she goes about making that happen, she keeps running into a handsome stranger—at the diner, at church, and he even works for M. G. Chocolates. With a New Year, a new home, and a new job, is Caroline ready to find new love?

No Way Up by Mary Connealy
        No Way Up is the first book in Mary Connealy’s Cimarron Legacy series, but isn’t the first of her novels I have added to my TBR. Unfortunately, I haven’t actually gotten around to reading any of them yet; hopefully this book will be different and I’ll be able to read it sometime after it releases in July.

        When Cimarron ranch patriarch Chance Boden is caught in an avalanche, the quick actions of hired hand Heath Kincaid save him. Badly injured, Chance demands that his will be read and its conditions be enforced immediately.
        Without anyone else to serve as a witness, Heath is pressed into reading the will. If Justin, Sadie, and Cole Boden don’t live and work at home for the entire year, the ranch will go to their low-down cousin Mike.
        Then Heath discovers the avalanche was a murder attempt, and more danger might follow. Deeply involved with the family, Heath’s desire to protect Sadie goes far beyond friendship. The danger keeps them close together, and their feelings grow until being apart is the last thing on their minds.

Fading Starlight by Kathryn Cushman
       I have read one of Kathryn’s novels in the past, and have added a couple of them to my TBR list, so when I first heard of Fading Starlight, it wasn’t difficult for me to decide to add it to my list. It so sounds captivating, and I cannot wait for it to release in May so I can hopefully read it!

A tale of unexpected friendship and old Hollywood glamour.
        Lauren Summers is hiding. Her fashion house internship should have launched her career, but a red carpet accident has left her blackballed. The only job she finds is unpaid, but comes with free lodging—a run-down cottage in the shadow of a cliff-side mansion. Unsure of what comes next, she’s surprised to be contacted by a reporter researching a reclusive former Hollywood ingénue who lives in the nearby mansion.
        Kendall Joiner wants Lauren’s help uncovering the old woman’s secrets. In return, she’ll prove the red carpet accident was a publicity stunt so Lauren can regain her former job. With all her dreams in front of her, Lauren’s tempted by the offer, but as she and the old woman get to know each other, Lauren realizes nothing is quite as it seems.

The Wedding Shop Rachel Hauck
        I have absolutely loved everything I’ve read by Rachel Hauck to-date, so every time she comes out with a new work in progress, I immediately add it to my TBR. The Wedding Shop is no exception. I just can’t wait for it to release in August so I can finally read it.

Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled.
        It’s the 1930’s, and Cora is taking the reins at her family’s wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee. Brides come from far away to be doted on by Cora and her family while they find the perfect wedding dress. Meanwhile, Cora has found her true love, Rufus, a riverboat captain. Cora counts the days until his return from the river, and she continues to wait for him as days turn into months and months turn into years. When he finally returns, she receives the shock of a lifetime: he is married to another. Nursing her heartbreak, she must find a way to continue pouring her heart into the hopes and dreams of the brides who visit her shop, all while wondering if she will ever find true love or if it has passed her by.
        In present day, Haley has finished her time as a soldier, and suffering from PTSD, wants nothing to do with the heartbreak of this world. She sets off for Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, and in order to honor the memory of a fallen friend, she takes on the task of reopening an abandoned and long-forgotten wedding shop. Perhaps through helping others, she can forget the pain and disappointment in her own life.
        Haley isn’t looking for love, but when her friend’s former fiancé becomes involved in the shop’s renovations, they both find that healing and restoration can perhaps happen in their lives too.

Where Hope Prevails by Janette Oke
        Where Hope Prevails is the third book in Janette Oke’s Return to the Canadian West series, coming after Where Courage Calls and Where Trust Lies. Although I haven’t read any of the novels in this series, I have read many of Janette’s previous stories and absolutely loved them, so I knew I had to add this one to my TBR. Besides, I’ve been watching When Calls the Heart—the TV tie in—since the day it debut on television. How could I not want to read these books?

        When Beth Thatcher returns to Coal Valley, she has much to be excited about. She anticipates Jarrick’s proposal of marriage and perhaps a spring wedding. The mine is expanding, and there are more schoolchildren than ever.
        But the town’s rapid growth brings many challenges. A second teacher is assigned, and Beth finds herself going head-to-head with a very different philosophy of education—one that dismisses religion and rejects God. Fearful for the children who sit under the influence of Robert Harris Hughes, Beth struggles to know how to respond.
        At the same time, Beth wonders if Jarrick is considering a position at her father’s company simply for her sake. Should she admit her feelings on the matter? Or keep silent and allow Jarrick to make up his own mind.

No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer
        I have read almost every single one of Karen Witemeyer’s novels and loved every single one, so as soon as I heard she was coming out with No Other Will Do this June, I absolutely had to add it to my TBR. I’m already dying to read it!

        Men are optional. That’s the credo Emma Chandler’s suffragette aunts preached and why she started a successful women’s colony in Harper’s Station, Texas. But when an unknown assailant tries repeatedly to drive them out, Emma admits they might need a man after all. A man who can fight—and she knows just the one.
        Malachi Shaw finally earned the respect he craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma’s plea arrives, he bolts to Harper’s Station to repay the girl who once saved his life. Only she’s not a girl any longer. She’s a woman with a mind of her own and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn’t deserve.
        As the danger intensifies, old feelings grow and deepen, but Emma and Mal will need more than love to survive.

With This Ring: A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry by Various Authors
        I always love a good romance collection, and With This Ring? seems like just the perfect one. Plus, all of the installments are by some of my favorite authors, so I just had to add this to my TBR.

Humorous historical romance novella collection offers love and laughs.
        Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor. In Karen Witemeyer’s “The Husband Maneuver,” Marietta Hawkins decides to grab the reins when the ranch foreman she loves seems to be leaving forever. Regina Jennings offers “Her Dearly Unintended,” where friends stranded by a rising river pretend to be newlyweds when a dangerous stranger arrives. Mary Connealy’s “Runaway Bride” finds a Texas Ranger getting more than he expected when he rescues a young woman fleeing a dangerous arranged marriage. And Melissa Jagears’ “Engaging the Competition” finds a young woman forced to assist the man she’s often sparred with after an accident leaves him helpless. Each tale is a fun blend of history and romance that will delight readers.

        So, those are the top ten novels I recently added to my TBR. What about you? What are some new books you’re looking forward to reading?
        Happy Tuesday and happy reading!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

To see where I’m linking up, check out my Where I Party page.

All credit for the italicized synopses goes to each author and their respective publishers.