More Than Words Can Say

More Than Words Can Say

By Karen Witemeyer

The Story

An Impossible Situation. An Unlikely Couple.

A Recipe for Love?

After fulfilling a pledge to a dying friend, Zacharias Hamilton is finally free to live life on his own terms. No opportunities to disappoint those he cares about, just the quiet bachelor existence he’s always craved. Until fate snatches his freedom away once again when the baker of his favorite breakfast treat is railroaded by the city council. As hard as he tries to avoid getting involved, he can’t turn a blind eye to her predicament . . . or her adorable dimples.

Abigail Kemp needs a man’s name on her bakery’s deed. A marriage of convenience seems the best solution . . . if it involves a man she can control. Not the stoic lumberman who oozes confidence without saying a word whenever he enters her shop. Control Zacharias Hamilton? She can’t even control her pulse when she’s around him.

Once vows are spoken, Abigail’s troubles should be over. Yet threats to the bakery worsen, and darker dangers hound her sister. As trust grows between Zach and Abby, she finds she wants more than his rescue. She wants his heart.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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What I love about Karen Witemeyer is that, though the storylines are different every time, she can be counted on to provide humorous stories that leave me grinning, with a romance and plot sure to keep me engaged.

More Than Words Can Say has all of that and more. I do enjoy a good thrown-together story, and this is just that. Abigail is determined to keep her independence, and Zach is just as determined to hold on to his freedom. And sparks fly. The romance in this story is a bit different from Karen’s usual, as they are in this marriage of convenience.

The danger that is alluded towards with her sister, to me, seemed a bit played-up. Perhaps that will follow in her own story.

I liked that life wasn’t easy for either of these characters. They had to fight for what they wanted, and were often misunderstood in the midst of it.

The main theme of this book is trust. As Abigail and Zach learn to trust each other, they also learn that God is worth trusting too, with all aspects of our lives. Life isn’t meant to be partitioned, with only certain things given to God. And this is the lesson they learn, a timely one for us all.

This is another solid read by Karen Witemeyer, even with the confusion that I mentioned. Long-time and new fans alike will enjoy this marriage-of-convenience story.

About the Author

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 children. Learn more about Karen and her books at www.karenwitemeyer.com.

(Biography from Bethany House)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey

By Bethany Turner

The Story

After four years with her boyfriend, Cadie McCaffrey is thinking of ending things. Convinced Will doesn’t love her in the “forever” way she loves him, Cadie believes it’s time for her to let him go before life passes her by. When a misunderstanding leads to a mistake, leaving her hurt, disappointed, and full of regret, she finally sends him packing.

But for Will, the end of their relationship is only the beginning of his quest to figure out how to be the man Cadie wanted him to be. With the dubious guidance of his former pro-athlete work friends and tactics drawn from Cadie’s favorite romantic comedies, Will attempts to win her back. It’s a foolproof plan. What could possibly go wrong?

(Back cover summary from Revell)

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All of those recommendations from well-established authors like Colleen Coble and Carla Laureano—they’re so right. Bethany Turner is an author to watch. I loved The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, and Wooing Cadie McCaffrey may have surpassed that one for me. These characters struggle and sin but grace meets them exactly where they are.

I love the rom-com feel of Bethany’s writing. It’s fun and entertaining. This book made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. Full of pop culture references itself, this book made me think of a 90’s rom-com, just cleaner and with a spiritual lesson. But don’t let the pretty packaging fool you, this story has heart and an important message that touches the soul beneath it all.

The characters in this story don’t have it right. They mess up, sometimes in big ways. Ways that real-life women have and have potentially lived with the guilt ever since that moment. That’s what Bethany Turner tackles in this book. She’s discrete in her writing, but on the nose about the consequences of sin, but even more than that, the grace of God that meets His children wherever they are. I was reminded of that again while reading this book, and it still floors me. He calls us to higher living, higher loving of Him, but He’s gracious when we fail and seek His forgiveness.

Bethany Turner is a fresh voice in Christian fiction, I only wish that I could pause a bit longer to truly enjoy it, as I flew through this novel, just as I did her previous one. She’s quickly topped my go-to list for contemporary romance and has already won over this now long-time fan.

About the Author

Bethany Turner is the author of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck and the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. A former bank executive and a three-time cancer survivor (all before she turned 35), Bethany knows that when God has plans for your life, it doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say. Because of that, she’s chosen to follow his call to write. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.

(Biography from Revell)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Whose Waves These Are

Whose Waves These Are

By Amanda Dykes

The Story

In the wake of WWII, a grieving fisherman submits a poem to a local newspaper: a rallying cry for hope, purpose . . . and rocks. Its message? Send me a rock for the person you lost, and I will build something life-giving. When the poem spreads farther than he ever intended, Robert Bliss’s humble words change the tide of a nation. Boxes of rocks inundate the harbor village on the coast of Maine, and he sets his callused hands to work.

Decades later, Annie Bliss is summoned back to Ansel-by-the-Sea when GrandBob, the man who gave her refuge during the hardest summer of her youth, is the one in need of help. But what greets her is a mystery: a wall of heavy boxes hiding in his home. Memories of stone ruins on a nearby island ignite a fire in her anthropologist soul to uncover answers.

Together with the handsome and enigmatic town postman, Annie uncovers the story layer by layer, yearning to resurrect the hope GrandBob once held so dear and to know the truth behind the chasm in her family’s past. But mending what has been broken for so long may require more of her and those she loves than they are prepared to give.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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Whose Waves These Are is a story to savor. This I knew from the moment I read the back-cover copy. Then as I delved into the story, it became even more apparent. Amanda Dykes writes in a literary style that pulls you in and invites you to soak in the thought-out and deep-rooted words. That alone made this a novel worth reading, but as I progressed deeper into the story, I fell in love with it even more.

I loved that this was a time-split novel. Part of it is told from Robert’s point of view, and part from Annie’s. Both are such strong, interesting characters. Their individual struggles and longings for courage were profound. Their journeys of faith as they came to understand who God is, and His loving, oh-so-dear presence through every storm, is one that resonates deeply. I rarely cry when it comes to a story, whether movies or books, but this one had tears falling at one point.

There is a bit of romance in this book, but it’s not the central theme. Whose Waves These Are reminded me of a Russian Nesting Doll. Stories within stories, waves upon waves, this book was multi-layered and richly done. This is a don’t-miss novel, in my opinion.

About the Author

Amanda Dykes (www.amandadykes.com) is a drinker of tea, dweller of redemption, and spinner of hope-filled tales who spends most days chasing wonder and words with her family. Give her a rainy day, a candle to read by, an obscure corner of history to dig in, and she’ll be happy for hours. She’s a former English teacher, and her novella, Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale, was met with critical acclaim from Publishers Weekly, Readers’ Favorite, and more. She is also the author of a novella in The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection. Whose Waves These Are is her debut novel.

(Biography from Bethany House)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Sweet on You

Sweet on You

By Becky Wade

The Story

Britt Bradford and Zander Ford have been the best of friends since they met thirteen years ago. Unbeknown to Britt, Zander has been in love with her for just as long.

Independent and adventurous Britt channels her talent into creating chocolates at her hometown shop. Zander is a bestselling author who has spent the past eighteen months traveling the world. He’s achieved a great deal but still lacks the only thing that ever truly mattered to him–Britt’s heart.

When Zander’s uncle dies under mysterious circumstances, he returns to Merryweather, Washington, to investigate, and Britt is immediately there to help. Although this throws them into close proximity, both understand that an attempt at romance could jeopardize their once-in-a-lifetime friendship. Britt is determined to resist any change in their relationship, but Zander finds it increasingly difficult to keep his feelings hidden.

As they work together to uncover his uncle’s tangled past, will the truth of what lies between them also finally come to light?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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Reading the final book in a series is always a mixed bag of emotions for me. On the one side, I was so excited to FINALLY read Britt and Zander’s story, but the other part of me never wanted to leave Merryweather and the dear people I’ve come to love. Then there are the expectations that come with a final book. Will it live up to the expectation that has grown in my heart? Or will I ultimately be disappointed? Thank goodness that was not the case with Sweet on You!

I loved this book, for so many reasons. Becky Wade writes such real books. Yes, they’re fiction, and yes, unfortunately, there isn’t a chocolate shop in my hometown with the most delicious chocolate on the planet. But the characters that populate them are real and sometimes messy, and so very relatable.

Both Britt and Zander must learn the hard-won lesson of reliance. Both in relation to others and to God. Getting to that point often takes a breaking, and it’s one that’s not easy or simple for either one of them.

I loved that there was some mystery to this story as well. The plot pulled me along just as much as the characters.

The romance, per usual, was spot-on. It was so fun reading about friends falling for each other, which was a step outside the norm for Becky Wade.

With the sweet elements of romance, family, and funny characters combined with a deep-reaching spiritual element, this novel is just what Becky Wade fans have come to love and expect from her. Though this novel closes the page on any more stories from Merryweather and the Bradford family, this series is one that I will certainly return to in the future.

About the Author

Becky Wade is the 2018 Christy Award Book of the Year winner for True to You. She is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and moved to Dallas.  She published historical romances for the general market, then put her career on hold for several years to care for her children. When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction. Her humorous, heart-pounding contemporary romance novels have won three Christy Awards, the Carol Award, the INSPY Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award for Romance. Becky lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband and three children. To find out more about Becky and her books, visit www.beckywade.com.

(Biography from Bethany House)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Joyful Surrender

Joyful Surrender

By Elisabeth Elliot

The Story

Finding freedom and happiness in divine surrender

In our age of instant gratification and if-it-feels-good-do-it attitudes, self-discipline is often overlooked. Yet it may be one of the most important lost virtues of our time. In Joyful Surrender, former missionary and beloved author Elisabeth Elliot offers her understanding of discipline and its value for people of all times. She shows you how to

  • discipline your mind, body, possessions, time, and feelings
  • overcome anxiety
  • change poor habits and attitudes
  • trust God in times of trial and hardship
  • let Him have control in all areas of life

Elliot masterfully and gently takes you through Scripture, personal stories, and incisive observations to help you discover the understanding that your fulfillment as a human being depends on your answer to God’s call to obedience.

(Back cover summary from Revell)

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Elisabeth Elliot’s book is full of practical advice for believers, particularly when it comes to surrendering our whole lives to Christ.

I enjoyed the timeless quality of her insight in this book. Though she’d written these words and disciplines years ago, they still hold true.

The writing style of this book was a bit different from previous books I have read from her. It didn’t feel quite so conversational and was a bit harder for me to get into. And just from my personal opinion, at times there were things that she said we should do that were more preferences than actual commands from Scripture. Not to say they weren’t good ideas, just still preferences. There were also several areas that felt a bit off-topic to what the book and chapter were intending to discuss.

Overall, I found it a little more difficult to engage and track with her in this book. That being said, I did have many good takeaways from her insights into God’s Word and examples from her own life.

About the Author

Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015) was one of the most perceptive and popular Christian writers of the last century. The author of more than twenty books, including Passion and Purity and The Journals of Jim Elliot, Elliot offered guidance and encouragement to millions of readers worldwide.

(Biography from Revell)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

The King’s Mercy

The King’s Mercy

By Lori Benton

The Story

For readers of Sara Donati and Diana Gabaldon, this epic historical romance tells of fateful love between an indentured Scotsman and a daughter of the 18th century colonial south.

When captured rebel Scotsman Alex MacKinnon is granted the king’s mercy–exile to the Colony of North Carolina–he’s indentured to Englishman Edmund Carey as a blacksmith. Against his will Alex is drawn into the struggles of Carey’s slaves–and those of his stepdaughter, Joanna Carey. A mistress with a servant’s heart, Joanna is expected to wed her father’s overseer, Phineas Reeves, but finds herself drawn instead to the new blacksmith. As their unlikely relationship deepens, successive tragedies strike the Careys. When blame falls unfairly upon Alex he flees to the distant mountains where he encounters Reverend Pauling, itinerate preacher and friend of the Careys, now a prisoner of the Cherokees. Haunted by his abandoning of Joanna, Alex tries to settle into life with the Cherokees, until circumstances thwart yet another attempt to forge his freedom and he’s faced with the choice that’s long hounded him: continue down his rebellious path or embrace the faith of a man like Pauling, whose freedom in Christ no man can steal. But the price of such mercy is total surrender, and perhaps Alex’s very life.

(Back cover summary from Waterbook & Multnomah)

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This book isn’t due to release until June, but I was able to read an early copy via NetGalley. I had just finished Many Sparrows, and found myself fallen in love with the way Benton tells a story, as well as the setting she paints so vividly. It was then I remembered that newest novel waiting on my Kindle.

The King’s Mercy is a little different from what Lori Benton normally writes, but it still contains her signature elements. Though it begins in the Old World, the story quickly moves to a plantation in North Carolina, and the troubles there. I loved the characters in this book. Alex is a hero who possesses strength and leadership, but he also is deeply flawed in several ways. The same with Joanna. While strong, she’s also distinctly human, and able to be hurt just as any other.

The plot of this story was engrossing. As it progressed, I was trying to figure out who was causing the troubles at Severn, and though I was right on a couple things, it unfolded into so much more. The villain’s intentions and background speak to real-world situations that grieve the characters, and my own heart.

The romance in this book is also spot-on. It felt like a natural progression of shared hopes and dreams and mutual respect for the other’s strengths.

Last, I loved the secondary characters in this book. They were colorful, meaningful, and added so much to the story. The King’s Mercy focuses on just that: mercy. The mercy God gives us primarily, but also mercy toward others, and giving up control and surrendering to Him.

In all, this is a satisfying tale that once again leaves me looking for more books from Lori Benton.

About the Author

LORI BENTON was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring and photographing the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards; The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn; Christy nominee The Wood’s Edge; A Flight of Arrows; and Many Sparrows.

(Biography from Waterbrook & Multnomah)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

A Cloud by Day, A Fire by Night

A Cloud by Day, a Fire by Night

Finding and Following God’s Will for You

By A.W. Tozer

Compiled and Edited by James L. Snyder

The Story

Discover Where God is Leading You!

How can I know God’s will for me, personally? It’s a question that haunts us all at times–maybe when we’re looking for the right job, thinking about moving to a new city, or deciding whether or not to get married. At every stage we have difficult decisions to make, and we long for God’s direction and His warm reassurance that we’re heading the right way.

A Cloud by Day, a Fire by Night captures A.W. Tozer’s teaching on the will of God. Taken from sermons he preached just before he left his successful church in Chicago, the title comes from the story of God leading His people out of Egypt and into the promised land.

Tozer was no stranger to facing difficult decisions. His wisdom and biblical insight will help guide you in decisions of your own and reassure you of God’s presence every step of the way.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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I’ve enjoyed A.W. Tozer’s insight and easy-to-follow style in previous books, so I jumped at the opportunity to review one that had been compiled from sermons and writings of his.

The premise of this book is based on how God led the Israelites through the wilderness, and the lessons and trials they faced along the way. Each chapter looks at their experience in a different way, while constantly moving forward in that journey.

I like to use a highlighter while reading Christian living books like this and had it handy every time I opened this book. There were many good points that I highlighted, some convicting, others encouraging. This quote really sums up much of what the book deals with:

“If we let God lead us and give up on our own wisdom, He will lead us on a path that we never imagined we would be on.”

While there is much to be gleaned from this book, there were some things that made it difficult for me to engage as a reader. Some chapters felt like repetitions of previous ones. I’m sure there was an enormous amount of material to condense and include in this book, but there were parts that seemed like mere restatements of previous chapters. It also felt vague at times, like uncollected thoughts, not the well-thought out works that I’d read from him before.

There is plenty to glean and learn from in A Cloud by Day and A Fire by Night, there were just a few things that I personally struggled to get past.

About the Author

A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) was a self-taught theologian, pastor, and writer whose powerful words continue to grip the intellect and stir the soul of today’s believer. He authored more than forty books. The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy are considered modern devotional classics. Get Tozer information and quotes at www.twitter.com/TozerAW.

Reverend James L. Snyder (www.jamessnyderministries.com) is an award-winning author whose writings have appeared in more than 80 periodicals and 15 books. He is recognized as an authority on the life and ministry of A.W. Tozer. His first book, In Pursuit of God: The Life of A.W. Tozer, won the Reader’s Choice Award in 1992 by Christianity Today. Because of his thorough knowledge of Tozer, James was given the rights from the A.W. Tozer estate to produce new books derived from over 400 never-before-published audio tapes. James and his wife live in Ocala, Florida.

(Biography from Bethany House’s site)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.