Monday, February 29, 2016

The Prophetess: Deborah's Story - Daughters of the Promised Land 2 - by Jill Eileen Smith

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About the book:

Canaan has ravaged Israel. The people are in hiding. All that stands between surrender and hope is one untested woman.
Deborah will never forget the day her father and brothers left to worship at the Lord's tabernacle--or the wails of her mother after finding their bodies at the city gates. The memories of Canaan's cruelty haunt her and all of Israel. Now in this dark time, the Lord calls on Deborah to lead His people away from the idols of other nations and back to Him.

Deborah never asked to be a prophetess or a judge over God's people. Still, she cannot deny His voice or the visions that accompany it. Can her family ever understand? Will her people believe God's calling on her life? And can the Canaanite menace be stopped?

With her trademark impeccable research and imaginative storytelling, Jill Eileen Smith brings to life the story of Israel's most powerful woman in this intriguing and inspiring novel.

My review:

This was a wonderful story that really brought the Biblical Deborah to life!  I always enjoy the author's writing and the characters were so vivid and truly felt like real people with hopes and dreams, failures and problems.  I loved the multiple story lines, from Deborah to her daughter to Jael to Barak.  It's likely that Deborah struggled with knowing what God wanted her to say and do and feeling unworthy.  It was unheard of for a woman to have such an important place in society back then.  It was fascinating to think of what Deborah's relationship with her husband and daughter could have been like, especially assuming Deborah was a strong woman and that a daughter of hers could have followed in her footsteps.  Jael, the woman who ended up killing a Canaanite leader, was fleshed out and given a backstory and Barak was fighting for his people and still not over the death of his wife while starting to have feelings for Deborah's daughter, Talya.  There were some romantic moments between the different couples.  I really liked seeing Talya's growth from a spoiled and manipulative girl to a mature young woman.  Forgiveness and keeping God first were important themes.  It was hard to imagine how horrible it would have been to live back then as the cruel Canaanites' were always attacking and the Israelites were wondering when they would be rescued.  There was a great blend of historical, spiritual and personal elements in the story.  This is a complete stand-alone, though it's within a series.  I highly recommend this book for men or women who like historical and Biblical fiction!

I received this book free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.

 The Author

  1. Jill Eileen Smith
    © Amanda Matilla Photography

    Jill Eileen Smith

    Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling author of The Crimson Cord, The Wives of King David series, the Wives of the Patriarchs series, and the ebook novellas The Desert Princess and The Shepherdess. Her research into the lives of biblical...
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On Lone Star Trail - Texas Crossroads 3 - by Amanda Cabot

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About the book:

A woman without a future. A man running from the past.
One enchanting place where broken dreams are mended.

If there's one thing Gillian Hodge never wants to see again, it's a man on a motorcycle. Her last encounter with one left her right hand crushed, ending her promising career as a concert pianist. Unsure about the next phase in her life, she heads to Rainbow's End Resort for some R&R when a sudden thunderstorm causes a motorcycle to crash right in front of her.

When TJ Benjamin's wife died, he lost more than his best friend; he lost his faith. He has spent the past year wandering the country on his motorcycle, trying not to think about the future. When he finds himself stranded with a busted bike and a reluctant rescuer, he has to wonder about God's sense of humor.

As these broken people collide, they find that a bright future is still ahead--it just might not be the one they imagined for themselves.

My review:

I really enjoyed this story about two people looking for second chances!  I found it very interesting how both TJ and Gillian weren't sure what to do next in work and life and that they both ended up at the Rainbow's End Resort.  They both had been through some trauma and had dreams crushed, but where Gillian kept her faith in God, TJ had turned his back.  It was satisfying to see their relationship develop as they involved themselves with the local teenagers and community.  I loved how Gillian was willing to help whoever needed it.  I could also relate to her trying to figure things out on her own instead of giving God that burden.  TJ was dealing with a deep grief and anger and it was wonderful to see how they helped each other.  I really enjoyed their emotional and faith journeys;  I really like when characters grow throughout the story.  There was also another wonderful man who was interested in Gillian and she had a tough decision to make.  There were some sweet romantic moments.  I liked seeing characters from the previous books, though this one worked as a stand-alone.  I got a little frustrated with TJ and his reluctance to tell Gillian how he felt, but overall I really liked both characters.  I highly recommend this novel!

I received this book free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.

 The Author

  1. Amanda Cabot

    Amanda Cabot

    Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, Christmas Roses, At Bluebonnet Lake, and In Firefly Valley. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers' Best....
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Sunday, February 28, 2016

A Sweet Misfortune - Virtues and Vices of the Old West 2 - by Maggie Brendan

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About the book:

Rachel Matthews isn't one to rely on others to take care of her. Homeless and alone, she still wants to make her own way and her own money to buy back the family ranch--even if she's forced into the life of a dance hall girl. Horrified by her circumstances, Rachel's brother, who is away mining for gold, sends a friend to rescue her.

Cattle baron John McIntyre is focused on acquiring as much land as possible in Montana and has little time to deal with a dance hall gal. Rachel isn't sure she can take one more day in John's home--especially once she discovers that he's the one who holds ransom the key to her family's future.

Sparks fly between this spunky, independent heroine and the ruggedly handsome hero as they navigate the snarled terrain of pride, greed, faith, and love in Maggie Brendan's delightful series set in the Old West.

My review:

This was an interesting story with a wonderful heroine!  I liked Rachel and her independent ways, but she was a little too stubborn for her own good.  The story started out with a lot of promise, but ended up losing steam and some of my interest toward the end.  There wasn't enough romance or chemistry between the characters for me to really root for their relationship.  I enjoyed Rachel's friendships with her co-worker Molly and John's grandmother Estelle.  Estelle, especially, was wise and gave her good advice.  I liked the message John needed that acquiring more land wouldn't make him happy, but who he shared it with would.  I also liked seeing the importance of forgiveness and trusting in God's plan.  It was wonderful to see how much Rachel cared for others, including the soiled doves she had worked with, and that she put her words into action.  I did think she made a really stupid decision that bothered me, but I guess we can't be smart all of the time.  This was a complete stand-alone even though it was book two.  You might like it if you like historical romances.

I received this book free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.

 The Author

  1. Maggie Brendan

    Maggie Brendan

    Maggie Brendan is the CBA bestselling author of the Heart of the West series and The Blue Willow Brides series, as well as The Trouble with Patience. Her books have received the Book Buyers Best Award from the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of...
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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Always Watching - Elite Guardians 1 - by Lynette Eason

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About the book:

Intensity. Skill. Tenacity.
The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have it all.

When it becomes clear that popular psychiatrist and radio personality Wade Savage has a stalker, his father secretly hires Elite Guardians to protect his son. But when Wade's bodyguard is attacked and nearly killed, agency owner Olivia Edwards must step in and fill the gap.

Olivia's skills are about to be tested to the limit as Wade's stalker moves from leaving innocent gifts at his door to threatening those closest to him--including Olivia. But in her mind, even more dangerous than the threats to her life is the hold her handsome client has on her heart.

My review:

I really enjoyed this suspenseful story!  There was plenty of excitement as you never knew when Wade's stalker was going to show up.  There was some good action, too.  Olivia was incredibly tough and a strong female character.  She struggled with believing in a good God, though, as there were some sad circumstances she had gone through and felt like her prayers weren't answered.  Wade had a strong faith and their conversations caused her to question her beliefs.  It was hard to figure out who his stalker was; I kept thinking it was one person and then it wasn't.  It was interesting to see Olivia deal with her fear of water and Wade's daughter with her panic attacks.  There was a little bit of romance.  I'm really excited to read the next books in the series as I love the idea of these tough female bodyguards and learning their back stories.  There were also some other interesting characters I hope to see more of.  I highly recommend this story if you like suspense!

I received this book free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.

 The Author

  1. Lynette Eason

    Lynette Eason

    Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series and the Deadly Reunions series, as well as No One to Trust, Nowhere to Turn, and No Place to Hide in the Hidden Identity series. She is a member of American Christian...
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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hannah's Choice - Journey to Pleasant Prairie 1 - by Jan Drexler

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About the book:

When love and family conflict, will she listen to her head . . . or her heart?

Hannah Yoder loves her quiet life on the banks of Conestoga Creek. In 1842, this corner of Lancaster County is settled and peaceful--yet problems lurk beneath the placid fa├žade. Hannah strives to be the one person who can bind the threads of her family together in spite of her father's worries, her mother's depression, and her sister's rebellious ways. But her world threatens to unravel.

When two young men seek her hand in marriage--one offering the home she craves and the other promising the adventure of following God's call west--Hannah must make a choice. Will she stay true to the faith of her family or defy her father and abandon her community?

My review:

This was an interesting story set during the years leading up to the Civil War.  I liked Hannah and felt for her situation, where she had to deal with a depressed mother who blamed her for her siblings' deaths and also with a lazy sister who got away with everything, also as a result of their deaths.  Her sister drove me crazy and I thought Hannah should have told her parents what her sister was doing.  She was really messing with a dangerous situation and it would have been good if they'd known to keep a better eye on her.  Hannah did her best to take care of her siblings and parents and be the perfect daughter.  I found this story to be a little slow moving for my taste.  There was some romance as she was torn between her Mennonite friend, Adam, and an Amish man she just met, but it felt like she couldn't make up her mind and would like one more, then the other.  I really liked the parts that dealt with helping runaway slaves and Hannah's feeling that she couldn't help and stay true to her Amish faith while Adam felt he had to help because that's what God wanted him to do.  There were some interesting discussions about that and also some about the differences in their faiths.  The setting was beautifully described and almost felt like another character.  If you like Amish or Mennonite stories, you'd probably like it.

I received this book free from Revell in exchange for an honest review.

 The Author

  1. Jan Drexler
    © Magnified Photography

    Jan Drexler

    Jan 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. Their experiences are the basis for her stories. Jan lives in...
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Friday, February 5, 2016

With This Ring? - by Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings & Melissa Jagears

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About the book:

Sometimes Love is Found in the Most Unexpected Places!

Love isn't always a fairy tale, and it doesn't always go as planned. Sometimes the best stories, though, are the ones that are the most unexpected. Join Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Melissa Jagears for novellas that celebrate the power of love to triumph . . . even when circumstances go awry!

The Husband Maneuver
When ranch foreman Daniel Barrett seems ready to leave her life forever, Marietta Hawkins decides to grab the reins on their relationship. But to have any hope of maneuvering him into a proposal, she has to act fast or risk losing him completely.

Her Dearly UnintendedJosiah Huckabee just wanted to make sure Katie Ellen Watson was safe, but when the only bridge to her farm is washed out, the two find themselves alone. Alone, that is, until a menacing stranger appears. Maybe by pretending to be newlyweds, they'll save their reputations--but can pretending to be in love turn into the real thing?

Runaway BrideHired to help Carrie Halsey escape from a dangerous man intent on making her his wife, Big John Conroy never expected the job to interrupt his solitary Texas Ranger life. But now that he's promised to keep Carrie safe, he discovers he may just want to make a few more promises.

Engaging the CompetitionHarrison Gray and tomboy Charlotte Andrews have been rivals for years. With Charlotte intended for someone else, it seems they'll never settle their differences until an accident changes things completely. When Charlotte breaks Harrison's glasses--without which he's nearly blind--she must help with his teaching position, and working together forces these former adversaries to reconsider everything.

My review:

I absolutely loved this amusing and romantic collection, available just in time for Valentine's Day! Each story was well-written and really drew me in.  I didn't want to put the book down!  The plots were fun and there were a lot of amusing moments.  They also all had wonderful romantic moments.  Faith in God was something each main character lived by, but it was more of a background element and not something they struggled with or developed.  There was also quite a bit of action in each story.  I loved how the women were strong and independent.  They were great heroines for this historical period.  I also liked how most of the characters had flaws, such as OCD, bad eyesight, speaking before thinking and too much pride, etc.  I don't like my characters to be too perfect.  I highly recommend this collection for lovers of historical romance!

I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The Authors
  1. Karen Witemeyer
    Photo courtesy of Amber Gilbert

    Karen Witemeyer

    Winner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance to give the world more happily-ever-afters. Karen makes her home in Texas, with her husband and three...
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  2. Mary Connealy
    Photo courtesy of Ginger Murray Photography

    Mary Connealy

    Mary Connealy writes "romantic comedies with cowboys" and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has over half a million books sold. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed...
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  3. Regina Jennings
    Photo courtesy of Ginger Murray Photography

    Regina Jennings

    Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of A Most Inconvenient Marriage, Sixty Acres and a Bride, and Caught in the Middle, and contributed a novella to...
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  4. Melissa Jagears

    Melissa Jagears

    Melissa Jagears, an ESL teacher by trade and the author of A Bride for Keeps, A Bride in Store, and A Bride at Last, is a stay-at-home mother on a tiny Kansas farm with a fixer-upper house. She's a member of ACFW and CROWN...
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Love in the Details - A Year of Weddings Novella - by Becky Wade

About the book:

She left him to save his future, but they’ve never gotten over each other.
When Josh returns to his hometown of Martinsburg, Texas, to help his best friend get married, he didn’t intend to run into church wedding coordinator—and ex-girlfriend—Holly. He can’t help but pine after the girl he never got over.

Holly broke up with Josh years ago in an attempt to ensure his future success. But she loved him then and still loves him now. As she helps him plan his best friend’s wedding, she can’t help but feel horrible for the pain she caused him. And even though she longs to be with Josh, she doesn’t feel worthy of his big-time lifestyle when she is more comfortable in her small town world. Will Josh and Holly be able to keep things as they are when their true feelings threaten to surface at every turn?

My review:

This was a wonderful romance!  I absolutely loved Holly and the life she'd made for herself.  She had a great apartment, job and fun friend she hung out with.  I loved that they decided to try one hundred different restaurants in a year.  I would have loved to join them!  I loved Josh, too, and that he was a little bit out of the normal mold with more of a nerdy side and super smart.  It was great to get both perspectives so we knew what they were thinking and feeling.  There were some amusing moments and cute romantic ones.  They both had a strong faith and I really liked that she examined why she was feeling afraid and and realized that she was listening to lies about her worth instead of to what God says.  Then she became determined to not let fear control her.  I admired that about her.  I've read quite a few of these novellas and this was one of my favorites!  I just love Becky Wade!  I highly recommend this story!

I received this novella free for kindle from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

This is only available as an e-book and audio now, though it will probably be in a print compilation at some point.

About the Author:

Becky Wade makes her home in Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three children. She's the Carol Award and Inspirational Reader's Choice Award-winning author of contemporary Christian romances My Stubborn Heart, Undeniably Yours, and Meant to Be Mine.