Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Wonderful! 'Underestimating Miss Cecelia' - Regency Brides Daughters of Aynsley 2 - by Carolyn Miller

About the book:

Will a shrinking violet and a prodigal son come together to better their world?

Cecilia Hatherleigh has many secrets in her shy, sweet heart⁠—but none bigger than her unrequited love for Edward Amherst, the earl's son next door. Her love has persevered over many years, even when he grows to be a bit of a rake. Yet despite his fondness for females, he never seems to see her as anything more than the quiet younger sister, and nothing Cecy does has changed that. Rather than pining after his perhaps unworthy love, she decides to turn her focus toward living out her newly found faith. Now she's determined to follow God's leading to make a better world for the poor and dispossessed around her.

A London riot awakens Edward to the responsibilities due his family name. It's time to turn his life around to please his noble father⁠—and that means restoring his abandoned legal career and making a marriage of convenience. Neither will be easy, given his past and the prejudices of the upper echelons of society to which he belongs.

When misadventure strikes at a house party, these two are thrown together even as their lives are upended. If Cecy can't trust God, overcome her shyness, and find her inner strength, the good work they've both done may be for naught--and neither will ever find true love . . .

My review:

This was another wonderful book by Carolyn Miller! Her characters seem so real and I could feel Cecelia's pain as she has loved Edward for years but comes to realize he will never feel that way about her.  I liked how the story dealt with how sometimes women, and men, can put love or another person first in their lives instead of God.  While I loved the first book in this series about Cecelia's sister, I definitely have more of a similar personality to Cecelia and felt we could have been great friends.  I really liked the focus on helping the poor and disenfranchised that both Cecelia and Edward take on and it was interesting to learn more about the state of the poor working class at the time.  The Peterloo Massacre was mentioned and I had to google that to find out more.  I was also surprised to learn how much the gypsy was reviled with the possibility of being hung just for talking to one!  This story also really highlighted how boring a life a society woman could lead, having to attend events a lot and make polite conversation all of the time, never talking about anything very important and always trying to make the best match possible.  Her younger sister Verity definitely bucks that mold and I've been excited since the first book to read her story, which will be next.  I admired Edward a lot, too, but he really struggled with forgiving himself and accepting God's grace for his past mistakes, so it got a little frustrating to see him punish himself.  Both Cecelia and Edward had a strong faith while many of the other characters didn't, so it was interesting to see the different viewpoints.  There were also some wonderful romantic moments.  I would highly recommend this book if you like regency romance.

I received this book from Kregel Publications.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Enjoyable! 'Clear Confusion' - by Kathy M. Howard

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About the book:

What am I going to do, God? Who am I?

Charlotte Hallaway needs to come to terms with her father's death. He had been her only family, and she wasn't handling her grief well. It was just supposed to be a few weeks of peace and quiet to process it all, but then she saw them-a drug deal and a murder within seconds of each other.
And they saw her.
Now running for her life, Charlotte boards a bus to escape her pursuers and wakes up the next morning in the woods of Jennings, Georgia, without a memory of how she got there or of who she is. All she knows is an underlying fear she can't seem to shake.
When two hunters find her battered and scared, can she put aside the clear confusion she's experiencing to trust them? She wants to trust them, especially Nicholas, but fear is holding her back. Trust is incredibly hard when one is so clearly confused. Could it be he and his friend are not who they claim to be?

Who are they really . . . and who is she?

My review:

This was a suspenseful story that really grabs your attention from the beginning!  I couldn't imagine how terrifying it would be to wake up in the woods not knowing who you were or how you got there.  I actually didn't remember what this story was about so I didn't find out for a while what she was doing there or how she got there, which made it even more suspenseful!  I admired her strength as she grapples with this and then when she does find out, how she deals with it as the trauma isn't over.  Her faith was such a strong part of that and the one thing she knew about herself, that she knew the Lord and loved Him.  Both her and Nicholas had a strong faith and I loved how that was a foundation for them.  I was glad to see a clear gospel message given and many references to prayer and depending on the Lord.  I also admired her grace and forgiveness in dealing with one of the bad guys.  Nicholas was such a great guy and had a wonderful attitude about life.  There was also a little bit of romance and action.  After such a suspenseful start the story did get a little too slow in the middle but I liked it overall.  I would recommend this story if you like romantic suspense!

I received this book from JustRead Tours.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Enjoyable! 'A Perfect Weakness' - by Jennifer A. Davids


About the book:

The Civil War left its mark on Dr. John Turner. He turns his back on medicine and sees his unexpected inheritance in England as an opportunity to start over. But he never imagines how God intends to use his new role as lord of Ashford Hall or the beautiful woman he finds there to ease his troubled soul.

A tragic loss led Penelope Howard to bury her heart and dreams in her work for the Hall and the village of Woodley. But the arrival of the new heir stirs not only her discarded longings but her compassion as well. What burden does he carry that he can't accept that grace covers the darkest of sins?

A deadly epidemic sweeps through Woodley revealing secrets which threaten everything. The doctor faces a choice: leave or dare to believe what the Lord whispers through the woman John has come to love.

No one is beyond redemption.

My review:

I enjoyed this story about redemption, grace and second chances!  I really liked that Penelope and John were shown as flawed people, both having made mistakes.  However, there was quite a difference between Penelope accepting God's forgiveness and John, who can't seem to believe he could ever be forgiven.  I couldn't help but wonder if he had ever read the Bible or really heard a sermon talking about grace and forgiveness.  People repeatedly tried to tell him but he just couldn't seem to listen so his stubbornness did frustrate me.  Other than that, I liked him pretty well and Penelope was incredibly caring and compassionate.  I admired her selfless attitude and strong faith as she hadn't had an easy life with what she had gone through and then how her father treated her afterwards.  There were some good romantic moments and some suspense as an epidemic breaks out that they're trying to stop.  It was interesting to see how doctors worked in the last half of the 1800's and how some could be stubborn in trying new methods or questioning years' old practices or possible causes.  I admired Arthur, John's stable boy, who was learning about medicine, as he did what had to be done twice at great risk to his potential career.  Overall, this book had a wonderful message and if you like historical romance, you should check it out!

I received this book from JustRead Tours,  I was not compensated for my review.  All opinions are my own.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Enjoyable! 'Cameo Courtships: 4 Stories of Women Whose Lives Are Touched by a Legendary Gift' - by Susanne Dietze, Debra E. Marvin, Jennifer Uhlarik and Kathleen Y'Barbo


About the book:

A Family Heirloom Inspires Romance
In 1851, a special cameo is gifted by Queen Victoria to Letitia Newton, who though considered an old maid, meets the perfect gentleman minutes after donning. Told by the Queen the cameo is to be shared, Letitia gifts the "Victoria Cameo" to a woman in her family, hoping adventure and romance will follow each of its subsequent wearers.

1851 – Pittsburgh, PA
After receiving the Victoria Cameo, aspiring journalist Clara Newton works to expose a smuggler, but reporter Byron Breaux must break the story first or lose his job. Working together is out of the question until they learn secrets that threaten Clara’s father. . .and her heart.

TAMING PETRA by Jennifer Uhlarik
1875 – Colorado Territory
Trouser-wearing frontierswoman Petra Jayne Hollingsworth has no intention of donning the heirloom cameo, but when a crooked brothel owner steals the treasure, securing its return becomes Petra’s highest priority. Assisting her, Reverend Dustin Owens is appalled to learn the price of its ransom is that Petra must work in the brothel. He may save the woman’s virtue, but can he help Petra regain her cameo and rediscover her faith?

MEET ME AT THE FAIR by Kathleen Y’Barbo
Spring 1885 – New Orleans during the 1884 World’s Fair and Cotton Exposition
It takes a Pinkerton to find a Pinkerton, and Ethan Butler has been charged with finding Elizabeth Newton. Just when he locates her, the cameo he is to deliver is stolen. It appears his previous case has discovered his presence in New Orleans, but he can’t return to that case until the cameo is found. With Miss Newton as a reluctant partner in crime fighting, can Ethan Butler locate the cameo and its thieves without losing his heart?

LENDING MY HEART by Debra E. Marvin
1895 – Pittsburgh, PA
The arrival of a handsome Scottish administrator ruins Miss Bertie Hart’s dream to oversee the new Carnegie Library children’s department. Yet bristly Mr. Russell Smart’s working-class determination and his love of books make him the perfect partner to better the lives of Pittsburgh’s poor. As for a partner in life? Not even her Victoria Cameo can narrow the social chasm he and her father keep between them.

My review:

I enjoyed these stories a lot as they were all interesting, with something always going on!  There was a lot of action, some romance, all with elements of faith as they forgive and open their hearts to love, both God's and human's.  I mostly liked the characters; the women were strong and stubborn and the men tried to keep up with them, which was amusing.  One character made me shake my head over some of her choices and sometimes there was a little bit of confusion for me with the plots but mostly I looked forward to seeing what would happen next and enjoyed watching the characters fall in love.  I liked how the stories were connected by the cameo and the characters were related to each other and there was a fun epilogue tying them all together.  I also liked a section Y'Barbo put in with interesting facts she found out as she researched her story.  Only one author was familiar to me but I'll definitely be reading more by all of them.  I recommend this book if you like historical romances.

I received this book from JustRead Tours.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Wonderful! 'Live Without You" - Live Without You 1 - by Sarah Grace Grzy


About the book:

Piper Redding is a loner, but lonely. Everyone she loves has abandoned her and opening her heart to others is just asking for more pain. She can't help but blame herself for her brother's tragic death six years ago, and in her guilt, she shuts herself off from the world. No one could love her-not even the God who promised to be there for her but wasn't. For paramedic Ezra Bryant, failure is not an option. He's had enough of it, and only by God's grace is he able to put it behind him. But when a traumatic event brings Piper's greatest fear and Ezra's failures to light, can they use that event to allow God to mend their broken pieces? Can love triumph over fear, and grace over guilt?

My review:

This was a wonderful story about learning to trust and love again!  I really felt for Piper and my heart broke as she listened to the lies over and over again that everyone leaves her and that her brother's death was her fault.  She's so afraid to love again because she doesn't want to get hurt.  I thought the story portrayed really well how debilitating it can be when we listen to our own negative thoughts and dwell on that instead of focusing on the truth of Scripture to replace it.  Ezra had a bit of that issue, too, as he kept thinking about how he failed his mom.  I really liked how we see Piper's faith journey, from someone who feels God abandoned her to learning to trust that He's always there.  The spiritual message was my favorite thing about the story as I was reassured again through Piper's story how much God loves me and every one of us and it's not because we're worthy; it's because He's love.  We also need to decide to put Him first as that's the only way to be truly happy but that's not always easy!  There were a couple unanswered questions that were left open and I would have liked closure on those.  There was a little bit of romance, some fun banter, a twist and I was holding my breath to see how it would end.  I'd recommend this story if you like books with a great spiritual message!

I received this ebook from JustRead Tours.  I was not compensated for my review.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Very Informative! 'Core 52: A Fifteen-Minute Daily Guide to Build Your Bible IQ in a Year' - by Mark E. Moore


About the book:

In just fifteen minutes a day, you can master the 52 most important verses in the Bible in a year.

While there are lots of one-year Bible reading plans, few help you understand the words that you're reading. What if we could introduce you to a Bible reading plan that would dramatically increase your mastery of the Bible in one year? Mark Moore coaches you through 52 of the Bible's most important verses. These are the "core" of the Bible. Each verse clears the path to master and manage dozens of other verses that run along the same principle path. At the end of this journey, you will move from curiosity about the Bible to competence in the Bible. It is the quickest onramp to understanding the whole of God's Word for your life.

My review:

At first I thought this was going to be a book for people who didn't know anything about the Bible but there was a lot of great information in here that even someone who's been taught and read the Bible their whole life like me can discover.  For instance, I liked how he explained what a verse would have meant to Jews in their culture because most of us don't really understand all of the nuances if we're not from that culture.  He also gives examples from history or Jewish literature.  Each chapter focuses on one verse and a question such as "how does a person become holy."  There's a checklist for 5 days so you read the chapter first, the next day memorize the verse, then read a passage, think about a few other passages and do an action.  He lists a few key points at the end of the chapter which brings you back to the focus and there's even suggested books if you want to go deeper in the topic.  This felt like a Bible study and a devotional rolled into one!  I found this fascinating and I highly recommend it for everyone, from seekers to Christians who have been so for decades.  You won't be disappointed!

I received this book from Waterbrook Multnomah.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.