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A Reluctant Belle, Daughtry House, #2 by Beth White

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About the Book

Author: Beth White

Title: A Reluctant Belle

Series: Daughtry House

Publisher: Revell

Released: June 2019

With the Civil War over, Mississippi Belle Joelle Daughtry wants to establish a school to teach freed slaves. But she might have to form an alliance with her childhood nemesis and reveal her deepest secret to make changes in her world and her heart.

Get your copy here.

My Review

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Beth White produces vivid descriptions of anarchy in post-Civil War times in The Reluctant Belle, Daughtry House #2. Reconstruction was a very slow, painful process. Some championed it, some quietly supported it, and some outright spoke against it. Others secretly opposed it with an infectious hatred that developed into the KKK. This terror might start in an area slowly, like a glowing ember, then quite quickly fan into a ferocious, deadly flame that was meant to undo the liberation of the slaves. Author White brings the era to exciting, fearful life for a heart-stopping, engaging read.
So many themes presented here. We learn that God sees us all as we are. We see, if we choose, comparisons for racial issues in our own times.

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I really was impressed by how God used each character, especially the main characters, despite their flaws, using the talents He HAD given them.
I saw more than a historical romance. I saw an example of what I want to be for my husband-what Joelle represents to Schuyler. Am I a refuge for my husband, anchoring him the way Joelle anchors Schuyler?
Great quotes, true for today.
“ If you admitted that you loved, you put yourself in danger of rejection.”
“The only way they got through that year had been laying their bruised souls at the feet of Jesus.”
“People who had a lot to lose, he’d noticed, took more time to pray. They relied on each other, trusted one another, became vulnerable as brothers and sisters.”
The author’s notes at the end are interesting and essential for history buffs. Grab this one for yourself and start following Beth White. This book can stand alone, but I enjoyed it, even more, knowing the background of book one.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. This in no way affects my opinions which I am for which I am solely responsible.

My Rating

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About the Author

Beth White teaches music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama. Her hobbies include playing flute and pennywhistle and painting, but her real passion is 7129454writing historical romance with a Southern drawl.

A native Mississippian, she is a pastor’s wife, mother of two, and grandmother of two–so far.

Also published as Elizabeth White, her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award.

 

 

 

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The Refuge by Ann H. Gabhart

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About the Book

Title: The Refuge

Author: Ann H. Gabhart

Publisher: Revell

Released: April 2019

When Darcie and Walter Goodwin hear of a new cholera epidemic sweeping the area, they join the Shakers whose villages seem immune to the disease. It’s meant to be a temporary stay, but Walter is killed in a riverboat accident. With no family and no money, Darcie has little choice but to stay with the Shakers. To complicate matters, she is expecting a baby conceived before she and her husband came to the Shaker village. Marital relationships are considered sinful in this celibate community, putting Darcie in a unique–and lonely–position. Can the arrival of widower Flynn Keller and his headstrong daughter offer Darcie the hope of happiness . . . and family?

Ann H. Gabhart returns to the enigmatic world of the Shakers in this emotional exploration of the power of love and the bond of family.

Get your copy here.

My Review

An author who can grab your attention in the first sentence usually is skilled enough to keep it. I found this especially true of Ann H. Gabhart in The Refuge, her latest about a young widow, Darcie, in a Shaker village. ”You can’t cheat death.” Immediately, the reader wants to know why the narrator, Darcie, feels like this. While life in a Shaker village could be monotonous and dreary, devoid of family and marital relations, Gabhart managed to keep me eagerly reading to see what would befall
anxious Darcie. Her experiences in Harmony Hill as Gabhart recounts them are far from boring. 
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For the founders of communes such as this (and we had one similar in our community, set up in 1930 by a woman, where marriage was “wrong”), the Bible speaks plainly against this type of community. First, the Bible is clear that marriage is to be revered, sacred, and ENJOYED. Secondly, God clearly states that one should not add to His Word. Both in the case of the Shakers and our local commune, the leader’s ideas were considered equal, if not above, God’s Word. Of course, this community also died out.
Gabhart has a great cast of three-dimensional characters. Flynn struggles with how to raise his daughter, Leatrice. Silas struggles with how to help Flynn. The answers they choose have far-reaching consequences. I wished we could have seen more of wise Granny Hatchell.
“A body shouldn’t be trying to change other folks just to make things more convenient for her.”
Overarching themes I saw are learning to trust God day by day and not borrow tomorrow’s troubles; taking that step of faith as we see God leading; learning from others and living peaceably with them even not being in total agreement. How much richer Darcie’s life was for her time with Sisters Genna, Ellie, Helene, and even Eldress Maria.The Refuge... marriage quote.png
For those who will feel the ending was rushed: I believe circumstances in times like those often made it so. We need to stay true to history over having a “more satisfying ending” like we would plan.
Quotes:
“Marriage causes stressful living and not the peace and unity we seek here in our village.”
~ Mother Ann- founder of Shakers 

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“You prayed when my heart was too discouraged to hope.” ~Genna on answered prayer, showing the power of intercessory prayer for others. May this be said of me!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. This did not affect my opinions, which are solely my own. 

 My Rating

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About the Author

Ann H. Gabhart grew up on a farm in Kentucky. By the time she was ten she knew she wanted to be a writer. She’s published over twenty novels. She and her husband have three children and nine grandchildren. She still lives on a farm not far from where she grew up. She loves playing with her grandkids, walking with her dog, reading and, of course, writing. Her Shaker books, set in her fictional Shaker village of Harmony Hill in the 1800’s, are popular with readers. The Outsider was a Christian Fiction Book Award Finalist in 2009. Her Heart of Hollyhill books are Small Town, America books set in the 1960’s. Angel Sister, a Rosey Corner book set during the Great Depression, will be followed by Small Town Girl. Visit Ann’s website http://annhgabhart.com or her two blogs, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com, and the Hollyhill Book of the Strange, www.hollyhillbookofthestrange.blogspo…. Giveaways several times a year.

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On a Summer Tide, #1 Three Sisters Island by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

TITLE: On a Summer Tide, #1 Three Sisters Island

AUTHOR: Suzanne Woods Fisher

PUBLISHER, PUBLISHED: Revell, April 2019

GENRE:  Contemporary Romance (Not Amish or Mennonite)

When her father buys an island off the coast of Maine with the hope of breathing new life into it, Camden Grayson thinks he’s lost his mind. An unexpected event sends Cam to his rescue, and she discovers the island has its own way of living . . . and loving.

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MY REVIEW: 

Family dynamics can be really messy. I can’t imagine a father selling his home (the children are grown, or nearly so); buying an island in the state of déshabillé; AND expecting all three daughters to move there improve it. Maybe Paul Grayson truly has lost his mind.
Suzanne Woods Fisher writes about this widower’s family with three disconnected sisters in such a beautiful way that I found myself quickly mired in the quicksand of uncomfortable and dysfunctional family relationships.
Each sister is delightful, yet shortsighted in her own way, which leads to a mess for them and an intriguing story for us, the readers. The island and its wildlife sound wonderful, yet there are drawbacks.
Anybody not born there is a foreigner. No wi-fi. And a diner with a lady who can’t cook anything, let alone make coffee. I laughed and laughed over the silly antics until the tale wove back upon itself in a serious way that calls for tears.
So many worthy quotes.
“Mom always told us that life would surprise us with important choices, and our true character would emerge in how we responded.”
“…life was full of simple miracles if you just opened your eyes to them.”
“Life presents you with important choices. You can lash out, become bitter. Or draw closer to God, become better.”
“…it’s never too late to learn to listen.”
“We love each other, we tell each other the truth, and we keep working on things. That’s what families are all about.”
Woods leaves just enough threads dangling that I am anxious for the next book in the series already. Good discussion questions follow, making this an excellent choice for book clubs.
I received this complimentary book from the publisher and NetGalley. No positive review is required and all opinions are my own.

 

MY RATING:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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. 1922565

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 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

 

 

Just one more word… look for this amazing book on April 30th!

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Courting Mr. Emerson by Melody Carlson

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

TITLE:  Courting Mr. Emerson

AUTHOR: Melody Carlson

PUBLISHER: Revell

PUBLISHED: March 2019

GENRE: Christian Romance

When the fun-loving and spontaneous artist Willow West meets buttoned-up, retired English teacher George Emerson, it’s not exactly love at first sight. Though she does find the obsessive-compulsive man intriguing. Making it her mission to get him to loosen up and embrace life, she embarks on what seems like a lost cause–and finds herself falling for him in the process.

A confirmed bachelor, George vacillates between irritation and attraction whenever Willow is around–which to him seems like all too often. He’s not interested in expanding his horizons or making new friends; it just hurts too much when you lose them.

But as the summer progresses, George feels his defenses crumbling. The question is, will his change of heart be too late for Willow?

With her signature heart and touches of humor, fan favorite Melody Carlson pens a story of two delightfully eccentric characters who get a second chance at life and love.

MY REVIEW:

Why should you read Courting Mr. Emerson? The first line might snag your attention. It sure did mine. “George Emerson didn’t need anybody.”
Melody Carlson’s narrative has an easy flow about it. Like a weekend afternoon car ride on a warm spring day. This is going to be fun, enjoyable, humorous, etc, …until it isn’t.
Which brings me to the two next reasons to read Courting Mr. Emerson. Because this is a romance between two mature adults, we have a departure from the usual beautiful, young heroine and wonderfully handsome, young Adonis. Some readers will especially appreciate this. I know I did.
Which leads into the next motive for reading this wonderful book. After a few chapters, it stops being the “joyride” I described above. Instead, real life hits from many angles and Willow, George, Collin, and others have to figure out how to navigate around obstacles to find the peace and relationships they desire. One thing is for sure… I thought this would be a cute, breezy romance. Instead, it is a slightly humorous romance filled with broken people with weighty problems, who need God to help them.
Quotes I would like to share:

“I don’t know if you can measure pain…it’s probably relevant, different for everyone…The thing is, you have to keep going.”

“…when I discovered God was really real, well, I grabbed on tight and I’ve been holding on ever since.”

“…an atheist is simply a seeker who is hoping that God will show up.”

I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher. I was not required to leave a positive review and all opinions are my own. 

MY RATING:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 7383

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books, several of them Christmas novellas from Revell, including her much-loved and bestselling book, The Christmas Bus.

She also writes many teen books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series, the TrueColors series, and the Carter House Girls series.

Melody was nominated for a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her books, including the Notes from a Spinning Planet series and Finding Alice, which is in production as a Lifetime Television movie. She and her husband serve on the Young Life adult committee in central Oregon.

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Mending Fences, #1 The Deacon’s Family by Suzanne Woods Fisher

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

SERIES: The Deacon’s Family

PUBLISHER, DATE: Revell, February 2019

GENRE: Amish Romance

Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future.

Luke Schrock is a new and improved man after a stint in rehab, though everyone in Stoney Ridge only remembers the old Luke. They might have forgiven him, but nobody trusts him.

Amos and Fern Lapp allow Luke to live at Windmill Farm under two conditions. First, Luke must make a sincere apology to each person he’s hurt–a four-page, single-spaced list. Second, he must ask each victim of mischief to describe the damage he caused.

Simple, Luke thinks. Offering apologies is easy. But discovering the lasting effects his careless actions have caused . . . that isn’t so simple. It’s gut-wrenching.

And his list keeps growing. Izzy Miller, beautiful and frustratingly aloof, also boards at Windmill Farm. Luke’s clumsy efforts to befriend Izzy only insult and annoy her. Eager to impress, Luke sets out to prove himself to her by locating her mother. When he does, her identity sends shock waves through Stoney Ridge.

Bestselling and award-winning author Suzanne Woods Fisher returns to her beloved Stoney Ridge for this brand-new series featuring some of her readers’ favorite characters.

 

MY REVIEW:

Suzanne Woods Fisher has become an author whose books I snatch up as soon as they are available. She is such a wordsmith that one’s whole being is drawn into the worlds she creates. In Mending Fences, Fisher combines a couple different series as Luke Schrock returns home to Amish Stoney Ridge after his third stint in rehab.
This is a novel of second chances; caring for the unlovable; longing for what one doesn’t have, while perhaps missing what is offered one; discovering that one’s foolish actions can have both negative and positive consequences. And the laughter!! Fisher knows how to present serious truths in a hilarious setting.
I felt my heart sympathize with quiet Izzy who is learning to be plain. I wanted to like bad boy Luke who is trying to reform, but still carries a bit of an attitude. I especially liked the characterizations of Amos, Fran, and Bishop David Stoltzfus. Each is more than they initially appear. David is unlike many of the bishops one reads about, very caring, respected, thoughtful, and wise.
Since it is forbidden to quote the whole book, here are a few quotes I liked:
“Like I said, forgiveness, that comes naturally for us. It’s trust that’s hard to restore. Trust is a fragile thing. There’s no such thing as a little violation of trust, especially if you are the one who was betrayed.”
“He was a pity party of one.”
and,
“at any given moment, your life is going to be determined by your view of you, or God’s view of you.”

I can’t wait for the next installment, book two of The Deacon’s Family.

This book can be read without benefit of the other series, as enough backstory is revealed. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I was not required to leave a positive review.

 

 

MY RATING: 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

suzanne-woods-fisherSuzanne 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 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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In Too Deep, #2 Dive Team Investigations by Lynn H. Blackburn

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ABOUT THE BOOK

AUTHOR: Lynn Blackburn

SERIES: Dive Team Investigations, #2

PUBLISHER, PUBLISHED: Revell; November 2018

When the dive team is called in to recover a body from a submerged car, they aren’t prepared to find an encrypted laptop–or an unsettling connection between investigator Adam Campbell and the dead accountant.

Adam turns to his friend Dr. Sabrina Fleming–a professor at the local university with unparalleled computer security and forensics skills–to recover the files from the laptop. But the deeper they dig, the deadlier the investigation becomes. When evidence uncovers a human trafficking ring and implicates members of Adam’s own family, he and Sabrina will have to risk everything to solve the case.

The truth could set hundreds free–but someone is willing to do whatever it takes to silence anyone who threatens to reveal their secrets. Award-winning author Lynn H. Blackburn invites readers back to Carrington, North Carolina, where everything is not as it seems and sinister elements lurk behind the idyllic façade.

 

MY REVIEW:

A forensic dive team in North Carolina is the focus of Lynn H Blackburn’s series, Dive Team Investigations. In book one, we met the team members and focused on Ryan and Leigh’s story. Book two, In Too Deep, tells the chilling tale of Adam and Sabrina. While I believe the book could stand on its own, I started out feeling that the team members were already my friends, not people I had just met.

What’s to love about this book? Blackburn strikes a good balance between great romantic suspense and relationship-driven narrative. What I loved most is that Sabrina is intelligent beyond belief, yet that character trait is countered by an unusual lack of common social skills. In other words, a great, but lovable, flawed protagonist.

Heavy topics are handled within these pages. My antennae went up. We’re talking about sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Where is the author taking me? Guilt, awareness, action? For me, I choose awareness.

I loved that prayers are a part of everyday needs in the novel, and some are spoken aloud. They’re not preachy, but natural, clear, and honest.

Points to Blackburn for exhibiting a sense of humor at a few critical points. Some thoughts just made me laugh. Try “baby cops.” Another was a paragraph listing Sabrina’s many injuries, followed by the statement she had never looked more beautiful. That just tickled my funny bone.

Thought-provoking quotes:
“You love the victims and the victimizers. We don’t understand that, Lord.”(How true!)
and
“…it’s not about how big our faith is. What matters is how big our God is.”~Sabrina

I highly recommend this series, and can’t wait for Gabe and Anissa’s story. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are solely my own, and no positive review was required.

 

MY RATING:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

17521786Lynn H. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those 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 South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. Her first book, COVERT JUSTICE, won the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery/Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Her second book, HIDDEN LEGACY, released in June 2017. She began a new series, Dive Team Investigations with BENEATH THE SURFACE in March of 2018.

 

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A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz

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ABOUT THE BOOK:

TITLE: A Bound Heart

AUTHOR: Laura Frantz

PUBLISHER, PUBLISHED: Revell, January 2019

GENRE: Christian Historical Romance

Though Magnus MacLeish and Lark MacDougall grew up on the same castle grounds, Magnus is now laird of the great house and the Isle of Kerrera. Lark is but the keeper of his bees and the woman he is hoping will provide a tincture that might help his ailing wife conceive and bear him an heir. But when his wife dies suddenly, Magnus and Lark find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of accusations, expelled from their beloved island, and sold as indentured servants across the Atlantic. Yet even when all hope seems dashed against the rocky coastline of the Virginia colony, it may be that in this New World the two of them could make a new beginning–together.

Laura Frantz’s prose sparkles with authenticity and deep feeling as she digs into her own family history to share this breathless tale of love, exile, and courage in Colonial America.

 

MY REVIEW:

Laura Frantz is truly a master of vivid descriptions of beautiful landscapes and sea/skyscapes as she lyrically composes the lives and times of her historical characters. A Bound Heart is set in Scotland. While Ms. Frantz is such a romantic writer she could probably make Antarctica sound like a vacation spot, I had to wonder if I would like the island of Kerrera any more than Isla did.
Smugglers, fighting against unjust taxes, a corrupt court, an ocean voyage of horrors, several love triangles; all make for a very tightly woven story. Frantz’s characters are full of life, passion, and pride in their heritage. When these freedoms are removed, what will remain behind?
It was very interesting to learn about the Scots’ way of life in the 1750s. I must admit, I had a hard time with a love triangle involving a married person. While no wrong actions occurred, I would have preferred to see one party or the other take steps to put physical distance between them. The glossary was a huge help, as was the context in which Frantz used the unfamiliar words. A few wonderful quotes:
On the horrid ship: “Lord, all I have is Ye. Make that enough.”
“Fear had a terrible taste.”
This is a good book, but it will not be my favorite Frantz book. To each his own. Anxiously awaiting the next Frantz novel.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. All opinions expressed here are solely my own and no positive review was required.

MY RATING:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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 that 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 2986307credited 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.