Bethany House, BLOG, NetGalley

The Major’s Daughter, #3 Fort Reno Series by Regina Jennings

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About the Book

Title: The Major’s Daughter

Series: Fort Reno Series (#3)

Author: Regina Jennings

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Released: December 2019

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Caroline Adams returns to Indian Territory craving adventure after tiring of society life. When she comes across swaggering outlaw Frisco Smith, his dreams to obtain a piece of property on the Unassigned Lands are very persuasive. When the gun sounds, they find themselves battling over a claim–and both dig in their heels.

My Review

Regina Jennings tells us the story of the land rush in Oklahoma when the territory was opened to homesteaders. Jennings’s main players in The Major’s Daughter are Caroline, born to privilege and respect; and Frisco Smith, who comes from an orphanage but gains respect through his lobbying for land for the common man.

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I gained respect for so many people as I read this book. For the Indians, who had been driven off their land, and made many false promises. For those men like Frisco, opportunists, yes. Yet, they were the ones who scouted out the new Unclaimed Territories and brought back to civilization the depiction of what life there could be. For those who, like the Major, had the responsibility to oversee the fairness of the land distribution on the day the lands were opened. Oy vey, the headaches! And last, but not least, for the people themselves who bravely attempted to race to claim the land, only to be hoodwinked, or beaten by Sooners, the capricious weather, or circumstances.
I liked the depictions of human nature as they emerge in the brand-new town of Plainwell. Will Caroline and Frisco get what they are really searching for, or will they settle for more than they bargained for?

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For me, a wonderful history/sociology lesson wrapped up in an attractive, delectable story. Thank you, Ms. Jennings.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This does not affect my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

132117Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City with her husband and four children.

 

Barbour, BLOG, NetGalley

The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock

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About the Book

Title: The Gray Chamber

Series: True Colors: Historical Stories of American Crimes

Author: Grace Hitchcock

Publisher: Barbour

Released: January 2020

Step into True Colors — a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

Will Edyth prove her sanity before it is too late?

On Blackwell Island, New York, a hospital was built to keep its patients from ever leaving.

With her late father’s fortune under her uncle’s care until her twenty-fifth birthday in the year 1887, Edyth Foster does not feel pressured to marry or to bow to society’s demands. She freely indulges in eccentric hobbies like fencing and riding her velocipede in her cycling costume about the city for all to see. Finding a loophole in the will, though, her uncle whisks Edyth off to the women’s lunatic asylum just weeks before her birthday. Do any of Edyth’s friends care that she disappeared?

At the asylum, she meets another inmate, who upon discovering Edyth’s plight, confesses that she is Nellie Bly, an undercover journalist for The World. Will either woman find a way to leave the terrifying island and reclaim her true self?

 

My Review

Grace Hitchcock’s The Gray Chamber would probably win my “Sleeper of the Year” award. (And, yes, I know it’s only January.) I thought this book would be fun and interesting. I did not bargain for a love in danger of being lost nor a trip to Blackwell’s Island, infamous in its time for housing “insane” women. This series of historical American crimes gives a fictional façade to journalist Nellie Bly’s visit to the island. 

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At first, we are immersed in an enjoyable turn-of-the-century account of Edyth and fencing master Raoul Banebridge. Edyth is dying to have her best friend Raoul “Bane” notice her as a woman, but her eccentricities seem to block his view. When finally, he begins to see Edyth for the woman she is, her eccentricities have enabled other shocking developments. 
This book is the stuff my nightmares are made of. It made perfect sense, and I could visualize it all happening. The evil mankind can perpetrate on another, made in the image of the same God!! My only hope as I read with elevated blood pressure and eyes scurrying over the pages was for a happy ending. Certainly, a chiller. However, as I think more about it, I can think of the Great Shepherd going after that one lost sheep, as well. The ultimate love that conquers hate. 

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Having read Hitchcock’s previous novel in this collection, The White City, I was pleased to meet Jude Law again. I always like it when novelists include fun tie-ins like this to their other works. 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. This in no way influences my opinions, which are my own. 

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

Grace Hitchcock is the author of The White City and The Gray Chamber from Barbour 16145482Publishing. She has written multiple novellas in The Second Chance Brides, The Southern Belle Brides, and the Thimbles and Threads collections with Barbour Publishing. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace lives in southern Louisiana with her husband, Dakota, and son. Visit Grace online at GraceHitchcock.com.

 

 

 

 

BLOG, Favorite, NetGalley, Revell

An Uncommon Woman by Laura Frantz

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About the Book

Title: An Uncommon Woman

Author: Laura Frantz

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Publisher: Revell

Released: January 7, 2020

Unflinching and plainspoken, Tessa Swan is not your typical 18th-century woman. Born and bred on the western Virginia frontier along with her five brothers, she is a force to be reckoned with.

Quiet and courageous, Clay Tygart is not your typical 18th-century man. Raised by Lenape Indians, he returns a hero from the French and Indian War to the fort that bears his name, bringing with him Tessa’s long-lost friend, Keturah, a redeemed Indian captive like himself.

Determined to avoid any romantic entanglements as fort commander, Clay remains aloof whenever he encounters the lovely Tessa. But when she is taken captive by the tribe Clay left, his hand–and heart–are forced, leading to one very private and one very public reckoning.

Intense, evocative, and laced with intricate historical details that bring the past to life, An Uncommon Woman will transport you to the picturesque and dangerous western Virginia mountains of 1770.

My Review

 

If Laura Frantz’s name is on it, that is enough to tell me I’m going to love a novel, and most probably, consider it a favorite. An Uncommon Woman is no exception. Ms. Frantz takes the reader back to colonial Virginia, but the far side of the Appalachians, where the Buckhannon River runs free and life is hard. At a time when the Colonies are bursting at their seams, some have traversed the mountains to make the wildlands their home. But with Indian tribes both mistreated and feared, life on the frontier is unstable at best.

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Laura Frantz has an enviable way with words that mesmerizes the reader as she paints a comprehensive word picture of the dangers of the forts established at this time.
“How would I feel if” is the question I find myself asking when reading a Laura Frantz novel. One can’t help but be drawn into the lives of Tessa and her bereft family, who are honoring her pa by continuing the life he staked out for them. Yet Tessa remembers a fearful time in childhood that affected the whole community. She also longs to return to the East, a refined land she has never seen.
Colonel Clay Tygart, for whom the fort is named, is an enigma both in appearance and personality. A “white Indian,” where will his loyalties lie when the Indian unrest breaks loose?

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The secondary characters of Keturah, Tessa’s brothers, Tessa’s ma and the neighbor fill in the background to help weave a taut, suspenseful narrative that exposes human prejudices for what they are.
Vengeance-based feelings against people who might differ from oneself, held accountable for someone else’s actions. I wanted to cry at times, at others beg and plead with characters and whole groups of people to think more clearly, with forgiveness.
This is a story of many loves. A few romantic. * Sigh. * Several familial, but each different depending on the character of the persons involved. One strong friendship that supersedes all, beautifully portraying that “friend that is closer than a brother.”
I received a complimentary copy of this book. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.
 

 

My Rating

5 Stars- Hits My Reading Sweet Spot Straight On!!

About the Author

Now that you’ve read about a real favorite book of mine (Laura Frantz rarely misses!) it’s time to learn a little about the author herself.

Laura Frantz is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes 2986307that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Frantz lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. According to Publishers Weekly, “Frantz has done her historical homework.” With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, she is represented by Janet Kobobel Grant, Literary Agent & Founder, Books & Such Literary Agency of Santa Rosa, California. Readers can find Laura Frantz at www.laurafrantz.net.

 

 

 

 

Barbour, BLOG, NetGalley

The Rebel Bride, #10 Daughters of the Mayflower by Shannon McNear

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About the Book

Title: The Rebel Bride

Series: The Daughters of the Mayflower

Author: Shannon McNear

Publisher: Barbour

Released: December 2019

During the clash between Union and Confederacy, quiet Tennessean Pearl MacFarlane is compelled to nurse both Rebel and Yankee wounded who seek refuge at her family’s farm. She is determined to remain unmoved by the Yankee cause—until she faces the silent struggle of Union soldier Joshua Wheeler, a recent amputee. The MacFarlane family fits no stereotype Joshua believed in; still, he is desperate to regain his footing—as a soldier, as a man, as a Christian—in the aftermath of his debilitating injury. He will use his time behind enemy lines to gather useful intelligence for the Union—if the courageous Rebel woman will stay out of the line of danger.

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear.

More in the Daughters of the Mayflower series:
The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)
The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)
The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)
The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)
The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)
The Alamo Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1836 Texas (February 2019)
The Golden Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1849 San Francisco (April 2019)
The Express Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1860 Utah (July 2019)
The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1863 Tennessee (December 2019)
The Blizzard Bride by Susanne Dietze – set 1888 Nebraska (February 2020)
The Chisholm Trail Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – (April 2020)

My Review

I was really looking forward to this book after reading an earlier Daughters of the Mayflower novel by Shannon McNear. While her previous book brought to mind authors such as Laura Frantz, Michelle Griep, or Jocelyn Green; The Rebel Bride fights for its place in a full field of Civil War novels. It alternately is compelling and then more of a textbook. The first sign of struggle is when the author, Shannon McNear, pens a very cautious “note from the author.” While I was impressed McNear wants me to follow her way of thinking, I did not feel she came across as confident in her ability to convince me.

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The storyline itself was sound and seemed at times strong, at other times weaker. A Sergeant from the Union Army, Joshua Wheeler, has had an arm amputated. He finds himself and several other very ill, POW Union soldiers billeted in a humble house in Georgia, following the Battle of Chickamauga. Pearl McFarlane, on the other hand, is the one pressed into caring for these grievously ill enemies. Can she handle the events God allows into her life around this time?
I liked the secondary characters that McNear factored into the story.
A father who is progressing through dementia; a wandering, curiously absent brother when work needs doing; and a shunned sister-in-law.
There were times the narrative shone, but it just didn’t flow smoothly, consistently, as I would have liked.

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The author’s ending note was quite long and a little off-putting because of said length. In retrospect, I believe there may have been too much information the author wanted to share, and the pressure of that came across in the written page. Please remember this is only my opinion and others, including yourself, may see the book quite differently.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley, which in no way influenced my opinions.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – I Would Recommend This Book.

About the Author

6880909Shannon has been writing one thing or another since third grade and finished her first novel at age fifteen—but waited more than thirty years for her first book contract. In the meantime, she graduated from high school, attended college, met and married her husband, birthed nine children, lost one, taught five to drive, revised that first story innumerable times, and completed six others.

Her first published novella, Defending Truth, in A Pioneer Christmas Collection (Barbour, 2013 & 2015), was a 2014 RITA® nominee. She writes regularly for Colonial Quills, is a member of ACFW and RWA, and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Transplanted to North Dakota after more than two decades in Charleston, South Carolina, she loves losing herself in local history. When this homeschooling mom isn’t sewing, researching, or leaking story from her fingertips, she enjoys being outdoors, basking in the beauty of the northern prairies.

Connect with Shannon online at https://www.shannonmcnear.com/ or on Twitter @ShannonMcNear.

 

 

 

Bethany House, BLOG, NetGalley

Echoes Among the Stones by Jaime Jo Wright

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About the Book

Title: Echoes Among the Stones

Author: Jaime Jo Wright

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: December 2019

After Aggie Dunkirk’s career is unceremoniously ended by her own mistakes, she finds herself traveling to Wisconsin, where her grandmother, Mumsie, lives alone in her vintage, though very outdated, home. Aggie didn’t plan for how eccentric Mumsie has become, obsessing over an old, unsolved crime scene–even going so far as to re-create it in a dollhouse.

Mystery seems to follow Aggie when she finds work as a secretary helping to restore the flooded historical part of the town’s cemetery. Forced to work with a puzzling yet attractive archaeologist, she exhumes the past’s secrets and unwittingly uncovers a crime that some will go to any length to keep hidden–even if that means silencing Aggie.
In 1946, Imogene Grayson works in a beauty salon but has her sights set on Hollywood. But coming home to discover her younger sister’s body in the attic changes everything. Unfamiliar with the burgeoning world of forensic science and, as a woman, not particularly welcomed into the investigation, Imogene is nonetheless determined to stay involved. As her sister’s case grows cold, Imogene vows to find justice . . . no matter the cost.

My Review

“My mother told me that when the boys came home from the war, people thought the world would go back to the way it was before. But it didn’t. The war lived on in souls for years after, and people were just never really the same again.”
This quote by Jaime Jo Wright in Echoes Among the Stones so aptly captures the mood of Mill Creek, Wisconsin in July of 1946. Wright recreates the ominous heaviness that the war brings to America’s hearts. Some people, like the young men who survive, come home brooding or unable to find their way out of the horror now relegated to memory. Others are affected by the loss of family members or the great personality change in a family member who returns. Still others like Imogene and Hazel are also affected second-hand by the war brought to America.

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Jaime Jo Wright has penned yet another mystery novel with spooky, ominous undertones that beckon the tentative reader in. Echoes Among the Stones is a time-slip novel, marrying two distinctly different and at first seemingly unrelated plots, no pun originally intended. In the present day, Aggie loses her real estate job and returns to her selfish, demanding grandmother’s home, while working a cemetery job. Collin, the archaeologist who works with Aggie, frustrates her, intrigues her, and challenges her by turns.
There was enough eerie mystery, romance, and humor (“You have all the sense of an addlepated muskrat, ”) plus faith scattered throughout the book that this book is a big winner for me. Also, I loved the way the solution took me by surprise. Look for this book among my favorites in 2019.

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Quotes:
“Sometimes…you must step outside of your own strength and realize there’s a greater Strength waiting to hold you.”

“All I can say right now is that we sell God short when we look at the pain. Instead, we should focus on what He’s provided us to help us heal.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House through NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars- Hit My Reading Sweet Spot!

About the Author

Daphne du Maurier and Christy Award-Winning author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the 13916081hills of Wisconsin writing suspenseful, mysteries stained with history’s secrets. Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com!

 

Bethany House, BLOG, NetGalley

Seconds to Live, #1 Homeland Heroes by Susan Sleeman

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About the Book

Title: Seconds to Live

Series: Homeland Heroes

Author: Susan Sleeman

Publisher: Bethany House

Released: December 2019

When cybercriminals hack into the U.S. Marshal’s Witness Protection database and auction off personal details to the highest bidder, FBI Agent Sean Nichols begins a high-stakes chase to find the hacker. Trouble is, he has to work with U.S. Marshal Taylor Mills, who knows the secrets of his past, and the seconds are ticking down before someone dies.

My Review

As usual, Susan Sleeman draws readers in with the very first sentence. Sleeman’s writing in Seconds to Live, like her other works, is concise, taut, and suspenseful in a beyond-terrifying way. Yet Sleeman uses her remarkable knowledge of the cyber crimes world to craft a novel that is both thoughtful and uplifting. When I finished this book, my thought was, if Taylor and Sean can learn to trust God in their over-the-top FBI dangerous jobs, surely I can trust Him with my own life. Besides, even though both Taylor and Sean have jobs most of us can only imagine, their feelings, actions, and conversations make them very relatable.

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While I didn’t much like Dustee, I almost felt sorry for her. Not many in our techie world today would be able to go long periods without some connection to technology. Yet, Dustee had to stay completely away from the internet. Oy, vey!
All of Sleeman’s characters on the Red Team are introduced with enough character that my reading mind is tantalized with the idea of wanting to know them more.
Quotes:
” ‘And all this pacing and frustration out here in the hall means you’re trusting Him?’ It was just like her to call him on his struggle.”

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“But if Sean had learned anything on the Montgomery Three investigation, he’d learned God was in control. Not him. God. That was true now, too, and was worth remembering.”

“We all live in hiding to some degree…people in hiding want someone to care enough to look for them…”

I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Bethany House through Netgalley. I also received a copy direct from the author. This does not affect my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars – Hit My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

SUSAN SLEEMAN is the bestselling author of over thirty-five novels with more than one 4053429million books sold. She writes romantic suspense novels that are clean with inspiring messages of faith. Readers love her series for the well-drawn characters and edge-of-your-seat action. She graduated from the FBI and local police citizen academies, so her research is spot-on and her characters are real.
In addition to writing, Susan also hosts TheSuspenseZone.com. She has lived in nine states but now calls Oregon home. Her husband is a retired church music director, and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law, and an adorable grandson.
To learn more about Susan’s books sign up for her monthly email that includes exclusive excerpts, giveaways, and other goodies. http://www.susansleeman.com/susans-ne…

Or stop by any of these locations on the web.
Website – http://www.susansleeman.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/SusanSleemanB…
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/susansleeman
Review Site – http://www.TheSuspenseZone.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLOG, NetGalley, Revell

Deadly Deceit, #2 Harboring Secrets by Natalie Walters

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Affiliate links are used in this blog. I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on a link.

About the Book

Title: Deadly Deceit

Series: Harbored Secrets

Author: Natalie Walters

Publisher: Revell

Released: November 2019

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Independent and tenacious journalist Vivian DeMarco is back in Walton, Georgia, for one reason — to do her job and get out. When her boss suddenly dies under suspicious circumstances, Vivian’s only hope for finding the truth — and the next big story — is small-town law enforcement’s lanky poster boy, Deputy Ryan Frost. But the deeper they dig, the more twisted the truth becomes. False leads, incriminating emails, and someone called the Watcher force Vivian to fight for answers — and her life.

Get your copy here.

My Review

I was both excited and apprehensive when I saw this title, Deadly Deceit, by Natalie Walters was available. Excited because I love romantic suspense. Apprehensive because I realized I hadn’t yet read the first book in the series.
So let me answer that unasked question first. As someone who hasn’t read the first book, Deadly Deceit can stand well on its own.
Vivian DeMarco is a reporter at the Gazette, a small-town newspaper. Her boss, Harold, dies before he can tell her about a huge story- a ”marmalade dropper.” Enter Deputy Ryan Frost, who wants De Marco out of his professional life but deep in his personal life.

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Walters does a great job of causing the reader to identify with the characters. I felt so bad for Vivian’s loss of the father-figure when Harold dies. I could feel her resentment and understand the issues. I did have trouble understanding the lack of a firm trust between Vivian and Ryan as their relationship progresses. I also took issue with the fact that the author would suddenly switch point-of-view between any characters she wished without some kind of warning. Often authors use separate chapters, curlicue signs between paragraphs, scribbles, anything to separate two different paragraphs coming at the reader from different point-of-views. I was left rereading paragraphs and feeling put-out. I am told this issue may be corrected in the final paperback (and kindle?) version.

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The mystery aspect was good. The danger ratchets up near the end, as it should, and the ending was well-timed and brought a true sense of relief.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent – I would recommend it to a friend.

About the Author

My world revolves around GIJOE and our three adult (or almost adult) children who 18471823keep my life anything but predictable. Our boots hit the ground wherever the Army sends us but home is when we’re all together no matter the zipcode. My passion is writing stories where adventure meets love and share my belief that life rooted in purpose is a story worth telling.

You can follow Natalie Walters at the following:

Twitter