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Where the Road Bends by Rachel Fordham Review

About the Book

Title: Where the Road Bends

Author: Rachel Fordham

Publisher: Revell

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

Released: June 2022

The strongest love is formed in the crucible of hardship

As Norah King surveys her family land in Iowa in 1880, she is acutely aware that it is all she has left, and she will do everything in her power to save it–even if that means marrying a man she hardly knows. Days before her wedding, Norah discovers an injured man on her property. Her sense of duty compels her to take him in and nurse him back to health. Little does she realize just how much this act of kindness will complicate her life and threaten the future she’s planned.

Norah’s care does more than aid Quincy Barnes’s recovery–it awakens his heart to possibilities. Penniless and homeless, he knows the most honorable thing he can do is head on down the road and leave Norah to marry her intended. But walking away from the first person to believe in him proves much harder than he imagined.

My Impressions

“The farmland went on forever, and it smelled like happiness.”

One thing I can count on when I read a Rachel Fordham book. I know I’m going to love it, and Where the Road Bends is no exception.

Fordham writes with a sweet, historical romance, prairie-style. I love Norah King and her innocent, one-chance-left-self. She is stronger than she knows, and has a truly compassionate heart for others. How I wish she had had someone she trusted besides Jake Granger and Quincy Barnes to advise her!

Quincy is quite the dashing hero. I loved his willingness to share his faith and his compassionate heart as it prompts him to act, as well. He shares much of himself with Norah, trying to encourage her.

“But I don’t have an author weaving words together, ensuring a happy ending.”~ Norah

…“You do have an author,” he whispered. “He’s there, working for your good.” ~ Quincy

I think I identified most with the housekeeper, Mrs. Dover. She has seen enough of life to give some very sage advice to both Quincy and Norah.

Highly recommended, especially for readers of Kim Vogel Sawyer.

I found the story wonderfully unpredictable. So many heart-wrenching moments, where I wanted to grab up a character and hug them, or yell at them to make a different choice. (It didn’t work.)

I received a copy of the book from Revell through LibraryThing Early Reviewers, plus I purchased my own ebook. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Notable Quotables:

“The dark is easier to cure than other fears.”

“…if you add light, the dark dies.”

“I’m afraid of coming close to happiness, only to lose it again.

“Trust is a finicky thing.”

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Magnificent!! A Heart-wrenching, Unpredictable Prairie Romance

About the Author

Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children’s bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.

Learn more about Rachel’s current projects at rachelfordham.com

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Arms of Freedom by Kathleen Neely Review and Giveaway

About the Book

Book: Arms of Freedom

Author: Kathleen Neely

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Release date: October 6, 2021

Arms of Freedom--front cover--Final-04.30.21

With each page of the age-old journals, Annie discovers all that unites her with a woman who once lived in her farmhouse. One lived with wealth and one with poverty, but both knew captivity. Both longed to be free.

Miriam yearns to escape her life as a super model. She drops the pseudonym and uses the name she gave up years ago—Annie Gentry. Then she alters her appearance and moves to rural South Carolina to care for her grandmother. Can she live a simple life without recognition? Can she hide a net worth valued in the millions? Love is nowhere in her plans until she meets a man who wants nothing more than Annie Gentry and the simple life he lives.

Charlotte lived in the same farmhouse in the tumultuous 1860’s. The Civil War was over, but for a bi-racial girl, freedom remained elusive. She coveted a life where she wouldn’t bring shame to her family. A life where she could make a difference. As she experiences hope, will it be wrested from her?

The journals stop abruptly with a climactic event, leaving Annie to search for information. What happened to Charlotte? Did her life make a difference?  Did she ever find freedom?

Click here to get your copy!

My Impressions

“But no one found me precious. One mother gave me away. The other used me for her purposes.” So laments Annie Gentry as she considers her past. Arms of Freedom by Kathleen Neely ties together Annie’s story and that of Charlotte, who lived in the same house 150 years before.

I really appreciated the forward. It warned of hard-to-read material and explained why author thought it important to highlight such a difficult time in our country’s past.

Even though Annie is a famous person hiding out incognito in small-town South Carolina, I found the story plausible and mesmerizing. The historical part presented by Charlotte’s diary helped me see how awful life could be for a non-white in the Reconstructionist South. How I cheered for both ladies, but especially for Charlotte, who learns how to stand strong. I love how the author finally connects the two separate stories with beautifully intertwining threads.

We get to meet some very pivotal secondary characters. Reverend Platt, Mrs. Pearson, Aunt Imani; plus Lillian, Darlene, and Seth. They all greatly influence either Charlotte or Annie regarding love, forgiveness, family, and belonging.

Part of the fun of reading a book like this was its setting. The author uses Greenville, South Carolina, as one nearby town, and I was thrilled to see references to the Liberty Bridge, the statue of Joel Poinsett, and “the Mice on Main.” I was also thrilled to find out what small town Hickory Falls is based on. Fun!

I discovered this last fact because of sections at the end of the book. There is a “where fact meets fiction” section and a reader’s guide with discussion questions.

I received a copy of this book from the author through Celebrate Lit. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.

My Rating

Heartbreaking portrayal of two women, centuries apart, searching for love and belonging.

About the Author

Kathleen Neely is a retired elementary principal, and enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.

She is the author of The Street Singer, Beauty for Ashes, The Least of These, Arms of Freedom, and In Search of True North. Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions.

Kathleen continues to speak to students about writing and publication processes. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

More from Kathleen

I’d like to introduce myself and then share a little bit about my book, Arms of Freedom. I am a retired educator having taught preschool, fourth grade, and then moving into administration as an elementary principal. When I retired, I pursued my desire to write. My first novel, The Least of These, won first place in a contest titled Fresh Voices. That honor renewed my confidence, and since then, I’ve written five novels. Arms of Freedom is my first timeslip (dual timeline) novel.

Arms of Freedom was birthed during a time of racial tension in our nation; a time when social injustice and protests were forefront in the news. Many publishers safely avoided manuscripts with any mention of racial issues—perhaps a wise decision from a business perspective.

However, failure to look at our past denies us the opportunity to learn from history. Our fear of offending can push major historical offenses into a dark closet. I chose to illuminate those offenses by launching this book. Following the Civil War, the period of twelve years known as Reconstruction was perhaps the most brutal period of racial terrorism. The contents may be hard to read. I confess that I often wrote through tears.

In the end, I hope your takeaway is this: Regardless of race and ethnicity, all people are created in the image of God, a one-of-a-kind miracle, loved by Him, and created for a purpose. We are called to unity, to be perfectly one (John 17:23). May we join together in raising our arms of freedom to the Savior who released us from the captivity of sin.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. — John 8:36 NIV

I hope you enjoy Annie’s story as the life of this contemporary character intersects with Charlotte’s story from 150 years earlier. Both experience a coming-of-age change as they seek to escape from what holds them captive.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, March 3

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, March 4

The Avid Reader, March 4

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 5

Inklings and notions, March 6

For Him and My Family, March 7

Locks, Hooks and Books, March 8

Miriam Jacob, March 8

deb’s Book Review, March 9

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, March 10

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, March 11

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, March 12

Bizwings Blog, March 13

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, March 14 (Spotlight)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, March 14

Simple Harvest Reads, March 15 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, March 16

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Kathleen is giving away the grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/1b4bd/arms-of-freedom-celebration-tour-giveaway

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A Heart Deceived by Michelle Griep Review

About the Book

Title: A Heart Deceived

Author: Michelle Griep

Publisher: David C. Cook

Released: June 2013

Genre: Gothic Regency

MIRI BRAYDEN teeters on a razor’s edge between placating and enraging her brother, whom she depends upon for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he’ll be committed to an asylum—and she’ll be sent to the poor house.

ETHAN GOODWIN’s been on the run all of his life—from family, from the law…from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity—an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder. When Ethan Goodwin shows up on Miri’s doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces.

Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit—fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free. 

My Impressions

Recently I discovered some of Michelle Griep’s earlier books that I hadn’t read. A Heart Deceived is a gripping Gothic regency, much along with the style of her latest, Lost in Darkness. In fact, A Heart Deceived could easily be a part of Griep’s newest series, Of Monsters and Men. Maybe not the physical type of monster, but a monster, nonetheless.

I loved poor, conflicted Miri Brayden. She is torn between fearing and loving her brother, who alternates between treating her hatefully and regressing into partial insanity. Can she keep him safe and both of them housed and respected? What will the arrival of Ethan Goodwin do to her physical and emotional stability?

I loved Ethan because he is both despicable and charming. God gets ahold of his life through John Newton and transforms his desires. But will it be soon enough to salvage his character and keep him from reaping the whirlwind his wastrel life has sown?

Best supporting actor award goes to John Newton, whom we meet as an older, merciful clergy who understands depravity, grace, and faith. He is not afraid to present God to the basest of society. He does so with such humor, love, directness, and confidence that one can’t help but like him. If Griep portrays him correctly, what a transformation God made in his life! Newton’s goal is then to transform as many other lives for the kingdom as possible, but he is so winsome and positive about it!
“God believes in you. Your belief or lack of it doesn’t change His existence.” “When we are at our weakest, God’s at His strongest.”

Michelle Griep had me smiling so many times, even as she wrote about very serious topics. Her ability to turn a phrase at a precise moment gave comic relief to extremely suspenseful scenes. I love that! “‘Your brother treads in dangerous waters, Miss Brayden. Dangerous and deep. See if you can talk some sense into the man.’
Miri dipped a curtsy. She might more easily talk a chicken into giving milk. “And I chortled at, “Why did it never fail that her most wicked thoughts crept out in the holiest of places?”

Jails and insane asylums were horrible places in the regency era, and Griep provides an accurate, eerie look at both. You will think you are in either location with our hapless characters.

The climax and resolution of this wonderful novel are superb, just like the rest of the book. The action is very quick.

A Griep book is always full of “Notable Quotables,” treasures of words, often Biblically-based, that transcend the time into our present lives. How I love this feature of Griep’s books!

If you haven’t discovered this early Griep work, the time to change that omission is now! Most highly recommended!!

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Magnificent!! Gothic Regency Highly Recommended!

About the Author

I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I chose the latter. Way cheaper. I’ve been writing since I discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write…except for that graffiti phase I went through as a teenager. Oops. Did I say that out loud?

You can connect with Michelle on her website, http://michellegriep.com

or on Twitter @michellegriep.