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Out of the Embers, #1 Mesquite Springs by Amanda Cabot

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About the Book

Title: Out of the Embers

Series: Mesquite Springs

Author: Amanda Cabot

Publisher: Revell

Released: March 2020

Genre: Historical Romance

Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents’ murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don’t include a family of his own.

At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?

Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.

My Review

There’s just something magnetic about a light romantic tale from the Old West. Add some mystery and suspense and you have the ingredients for a very enjoyable read by Amanda Cabot, Out of the Embers.
Evelyn Radcliffe and young Polly escape the orphanage fire that is deliberately set. How far must they run to find a new, secure life?
Evelyn is a very mature, loyal young woman who will do anything to protect those she loves. Her “adoption” of Polly proves how unselfish she is. I liked how her unselfish helping at the Circle C eventually leads to her dream future. But the path to get there is rocky.
Wyatt Clark is quickly interested in the young woman who comes to stay at the Circle C. However, the facts aren’t building a truthful foundation for a friendship, let alone anything more. Wyatt is a very responsible and caring individual who puts others above himself, as well. Which is why he is still present on the Circle C, a place he longs to leave. I love that Wyatt is not afraid to accept help and that he also listens to the voice of reason. These qualities go far in any relationship, be it friendship or love. Eventually, we see the far-reaching effects of lives lived for others.
I am not as impressed with Polly, the child in this novel. However, she does seem to act true to her identity.
Unless he shows up again in future books and bigger roles, I was unimpressed with the story thread of “the Watcher.” You’ll have to read the book to see if you agree. You may form a totally different opinion, which makes writing and reading these reviews fun. You get to read the actual text, write a review, then see what other readers think.
One thing I know. I got a sneak peek at a few pages of the next book, and I am anxious to read the next volume, Dorothy and Brandon’s story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell through NetGalley. This did not influence my opinions, which are solely my own.

My Rating

4 Stars – Excellent- I Gladly Recommend This Book

About the Author

1609844With both parents avid readers, it’s no surprise that Amanda Cabot learned to read at an early age. From there it was only a small step to deciding to become a writer. Of course, deciding and becoming are two different things, as she soon discovered. Fortunately for the world, her first attempts at fiction were not published, but she did meet her goal of selling a novel by her thirtieth birthday. Since then she’s sold more than thirty-five novels. When she’s not writing, Amanda enjoys sewing, cooking and – of course – reading. Follow Amanda’s writing on her website, http://www.amandacabot.com/

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Two Steps Forward, #3 The Deacon’s Family by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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About the Book

Title: Two Steps Forward

Series: #3 The Deacon’s Family

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher: Revell

Released: February 2020

Genre: Amish Romance

Length: 319 pg

Back and broke in Stoney Ridge, Jimmy Fisher has coasted as long as he could through life on charm, good looks, and deep-set dimples. They always worked just fine for him–until they didn’t. His smile has no effect on the violet-eyed beauty he met at the Bent N’ Dent, the one with that stunning horse. She’s offered him a job, but nothing else.

The last thing Sylvie Schrock King needs around Rising Star Farm is a grown boy working for her, especially her neighbor Edith’s son. The woman holds a serious grudge against Sylvie and her son, and hiring Jimmy Fisher will only fan the flames of Edith’s rancor. But Sylvie is desperate for help on the farm, and Jimmy understands horses like no one else.

While Jimmy’s lazy smile and teasing ways steal Sylvie’s heart, Edith is working on a way to claim her land. Has Sylvie made another terrible mistake? Or is it too late to outfox the fox? More importantly . . . just who is the fox?

Writing with both wit and warmth, Fisher delivers a supremely satisfying conclusion to the popular Deacon’s Family series.

 

My Review

In this heartwarming, soul-searching tale, Suzanne Woods Fisher invites us back to Stoney Ridge. In Two Steps Forward, we see Luke Schrock maturing as a deacon; Izzy still looking for her missing childhood, and Jimmy Fisher returning from Colorado. Unsure of his plans, Jimmy accepts an unexpected offer from widow Sylvie Schrock King to help with her horse and farm.
Sylvie is a very likable character. She is independent, a hard worker, and she will defend and protect those she loves. For her, the question seems to be, is Jimmy worth loving?
I really couldn’t decide how I felt about Jimmy. Fisher drew him in such a way that I liked him, felt sorry for him, but despised and wanted to be done with him.

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The creek, which divides Sylvie’s property from Edith Fisher Lapp’s, is slowly meandering closer and closer to Edith’s house. Perhaps symbolic of the way Edith’s sphere of influence gets smaller and smaller the more in control of others she tries to be.
Edith is NOT a nice person, but Bishop David Stolzfus gives her lots of room (grace) to be herself. In our time in Stoney Ridge, I have enjoyed watching his people-handling skills, honed by hours of prayer. David is a very patient and wise bishop and is teaching Luke well by example.
While Luke has grown by leaps and bounds, Izzy is still chained to her unfulfilled childhood longings. Will she ever feel that she can move on without the ability to settle her past?

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Themes include righting wrongs towards others (mending fences); forgiveness (can those already given grace pay it forward)?; protecting those who can’t defend themselves (adoption or fostering). It’s important to take action, realizing by being part of the solution, we can help people, one by one.
Yet, a fourth theme was the importance of a loving father in the home.
I totally enjoyed this story and recommend it. That being said, I wish there had been one less twist at the end.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell and the author through NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions, for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior – Hits My Reading Sweet Spot and makes me want to stay in Stoney Ridge.

 

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling, award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books, host of the radio-show-turned-blog Amish Wisdom, a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine.

Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain. A theme in her books (her life!) is that you don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate the principles of simple living.

Suzanne lives in California with her family and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To her way of thinking, you just can’t take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth.

Suzanne can be found online at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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

 

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The Roll of the Drums, #2 The Amish of Weaver’s Creek by Jan Drexler

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(This site uses affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on a link, I may be compensated.)

About the Book

Title: The Roll of the Drums

Series: The Amish of Weaver’s Creek

Author: Jan Drexler

Publisher: Revell

Released: October 2019

Ruby Weaver’s curly red hair isn’t the only thing that sets her apart from her Amish community in 1863. Twenty-eight and single, Ruby doesn’t believe a woman needs to be married in order to be happy. Her ailing friend Lovinia Fischer, however, has other ideas and wants Ruby to promise to marry her husband after she dies. Never imagining she’d have to fulfill that vow, Ruby agrees. And she’s not the only one. Lovinia has extracted a similar promise from her husband, Gideon.

With both Ruby and Gideon reluctant to keep their promises, a compromise must be reached. Ruby will spend her days with Gideon’s family–helping to raise the children and keep the house–but her nights will be spent at her sister’s neighboring house. But this arrangement raises eyebrows in their conservative Amish community, and it soon becomes clear that Ruby must make a decision–marry Gideon or turn her back on her friend, the children she’s grown to love . . . and their father.

Get your copy here.

My Review

This series, The Amish of Weaver’s Creek, presents an unusual view of the Civil War. The first book, A Sound of Distant Thunder, saw Jonas off to war, taking the place of his (pacifist) drafted brother. Now, Jan Drexler provides us with the story of Ruby Weaver, Jonas’s sister. 
Poor Ruby is outspoken, red-haired, and brash. No wonder she is still single. When a new family moves into the area and settles, Ruby has no idea the effect that befriending them will have on her life. 

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Who, as a reader, won’t fall in love with Ruby? She isn’t your typical beauty, she doesn’t fit the typical behavior norms, and she isn’t just “perfect.” But she is loyal, kind, and she loves children. 
Gideon was a puzzle to me. I liked his determined character, his hard work, and his loyalty to those around him. Gideon feels like he failed God, and God cannot forgive him or use him. But the more I think about it, the more I believe his understanding of right and wrong or what he should have done, was very skewed in real life. Just my opinion. You’ll have to read the book to see what I’m referring to, and even then, you may have a different opinion. 

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All in all, I really enjoyed this book. If you like Amish, romance, or the Civil War, this might be a book for you. I can’t wait for book three! 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Revell via NetGalley
. This in no way affects my opinions, which are solely my own. 

My Rating

5 Stars- Superior – Hit My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

6583749.jpgJan Drexler brings a unique understanding of Amish traditions and beliefs to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband of thirty-five years, where she enjoys hiking in the Hills and spending time with their expanding family.

 

 

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Stitches in Time, #2 The Deacon’s Family by Suzanne Woods Fisher

(My post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on a link.)

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About the Book

Title: Stitches in Time

Series: The Deacon’s Family

Author: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher: Revell

Released: October 2019

Detachment had worked well as a life strategy for horse trainer Sam Schrock. Until he met Mollie Graber . . .

New to Stoney Ridge, schoolteacher Mollie has come to town for a fresh start. Aware of how fleeting and fragile life is, she wants to live it boldly and bravely. When Luke Schrock, new to his role as deacon, asks the church to take in foster girls from a group home, she’s the first to raise her hand. The power of love, she believes, can pick up the dropped stitches in a child’s heart and knit them back together.

Mollie envisions sleepovers and pillow fights. What the 11-year-old twins bring to her home is anything but. Visits from the sheriff at midnight. Phone calls from the school truancy officer. And then the most humiliating moment of all: the girls accuse Mollie of drug addiction.

There’s only one thing that breaks through the girls’ hard shell–an interest in horses. Reluctantly and skeptically, Sam Schrock gets drawn into Mollie’s chaotic life. What he didn’t expect was for love to knit together the dropped stitches in his own heart . . . just in time.

Suzanne Woods Fisher invites you back to the little Amish church of Stoney Ridge for a touching story of the power of love.

 

Get your copy here.

My Review

Suzanne Woods Fisher’s trademark warmth, humor, and faith combine to make Stitches in Time (The Deacon’s Family, #2) another of her special, not-to-be-missed books. While this book is touted as the story between Mollie and Sam, it is very much also a continuation of the story of a maturing Luke Shrock and his marriage to Izzy. Will we see Luke chosen by lot to be the new deacon? In the last book, Luke desperately needed to grow up. In this book, God has been at work in Luke. Yet others need to find God’s help for their situations and stations in life.

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The fun thing about this story is that God had bigger plans than the characters. You can’t outmaneuver God; He lined up situations and people in such a way to bring the outcome He desired, despite the characters. God does this in real life, too.

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As you might guess, I was most impressed with Luke and Izzy, but Mollie and Sam do have a great story.
“…the more I pray, the more things happen.” Just one of the super great quotes in this book. You don’t need to read book one to enjoy this book, although I would highly suggest it. I found the three pages of “who’s who” in the front of the book helpful as I could see which books I’ve missed by which characters I didn’t know well.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and publisher via NetGalley. (I also bought my own paperback copy.) This in no way influenced my opinions, which are solely my own.

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My Rating

5 stars – Superior- Hit My Reading Sweet Spot

About the Author

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Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling, award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books, host of the radio-show-turned-blog Amish Wisdom, a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazine.

Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, who was raised Plain. A theme in her books (her life!) is that you don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate the principles of simple living.

Suzanne lives in California with her family and raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To her way of thinking, you just can’t take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth.

Suzanne can be found online at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com

 

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One Final Breath, #3 Dive Team Investigations by Lynn H. Blackburn

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About the Book

Title: One Final Breath

Series: Dive Team Investigations

Author: Lynn H. Blackburn

Publisher: Revell

Released: September 2019

Investigator Gabe Chavez and Dive Team Captain Anissa Bell have a complicated history. But when Anissa’s fractured past collides with Gabe’s investigation of a shooting, they must work together to catch the murderer before someone else dies.

Lynn Blackburn has returned for the last hurrah for her Dive Team series, #3, One Final Breath. Gabe Chavez and Anissa Bell rise to the foreground on this novel, falling for each other while trying to escape painful pasts.
The rest of the team is back, fleshing out the character list and bringing love, amusement, and memories from former books. Which leads me to relate that this novel is quite capable of being a standalone; it’s just sweeter when the reader can identify with the backstory presented.

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The friendship and camaraderie of the dive team and their significant others really impressed me. Between the locale, the season, and the warm atmosphere the friends create, life was almost idyllic…
Until it wasn’t. Then life was frantic, uncertain, vomiting past terrifying experiences up in front of those who most needed to remain calm and collected.
Paisley Wilson is an interesting character to watch. The reader won’t know what to make of Gabe’s arch-nemesis who is suddenly very much a part of this case.

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If the romance, intrigue, and suspense aren’t enough motivation, Mr. Cook returns and is a great reason to read this book. Everyone needs a Mr. Cook in their lives! He prays his way through adversity and sees much more than is actually visible.
Get this book and dive deep into some great suspense.
I received this book from the author through Revell and NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are solely my own.

My Rating

5 Stars – Superior- Hit my reading sweet spot!

About the Author

Lynn H. Blackburn is the author of Beneath the SurfaceIn Too Deep, Hidden Legacy, and Covert Justice. Winner of the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense, and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel, Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially 17521786those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in Simpsonville, South Carolina, with her true love, Brian, and their three children.