Category Archives: Book Reviews

A Defense of Honor

A Defense of Honor

By Kristi Ann Hunter

The Story

When Katherine “Kit” FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she’s forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes much more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend’s missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she’s telling.

After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different for the first time in her life, but what she wants can’t matter. Long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and to raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. But as much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, the risk of revealing the truth may come at too high a price for those she loves.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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A Defense of Honor is a refreshing breath of air to the Regency genre. It’s very different from any other novel I’ve read set in that era—and I loved it!

Kristi Ann Hunter’s Hawthorne House series hooked me first, but now I’m a forever-fan. Her characters are unforgettable. Kit is not your average lady of the period. She’s strong, to the point of weakness, and she’s driven. Graham is searching for an aim, a purpose, before he even knows it. I loved how he pursued Kit, with a desire to know her, not an easy task to achieve. The secondary characters, from Kit’s fellow workers and charges, to Graham’s friends and Priscilla, are all stellar as well. I am so looking forward to the next book in this series!

The faith element of this book is boots-on-the-ground Christianity. It is easy to say one is trusting Christ, but it is another thing entirely to live like it. I appreciated that Kristi didn’t skirt around this, but faced it head-on in an honest, and sometimes painful, way.

If you’re looking for a story that’s a bit out of the norm, yet still has a strong plot, excellent historical detail, and an engaging romance, all in the genre you love (Regency) then you MUST try A Defense of Honor. If any of the above qualities in fiction appeal to you, then this story is for you too.

About the Author

Kristi Ann Hunter is the author of the Hawthorne House series and a 2016 RITA Award winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence winner. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at www.kristiannhunter.com.

(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.

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Dead Drift

Dead Drift

By Dani Pettrey

The Story

The Final Countdown to Stop an Imminent Attack Has Begun.

Burning debris littering the ground . . . smoke pluming in the acrid air . . . this is just the beginning if he fails.

Seven years ago, operative Luke Gallagher vanished to become part of an elite team set on capturing a deadly terrorist. When Luke returns to face those he left behind, their help becomes his only hope of stopping his target’s latest threat of an attack that would shake America to its core.

Private investigator Kate Maxwell never stopped loving or looking for Luke after he disappeared. But she also never imagined he left her or his life by choice. Now he’s back, and together they must unravel a twisting thread of secrets, lies, and betrayal, all while on the brink of a biological disaster.

Will they and their love survive, or will Luke and Kate become the terrorist’s next mark?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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Anyone who has kept up with Dani Pettrey’s Chesapeake Valor series has long been awaiting the conclusion, including this blogger!

What I love about this series is how Dani continues with the previous character’s storylines and writes (though not often) from their point of view as well. At long last, in this final book, we find out what happened to Jenna (Griffin’s sister) and come face-to-face with the killer. A thrilling conclusion, to say the least!

We also get to finally meet the elusive and mysterious Luke. I loved reading how Dani explored the challenges he might face in stepping into the same roles he had before, or at least attempting to. Luke is a loner, has been for the past 7 years, so it’s no easy transition. The twists and turns that Dani takes to race towards a heart-stopping finish kept me turning pages.

I definitely enjoyed Dead Drift, but I wouldn’t say it was my favorite book in the series. I felt that some of the other characters had more compelling stories. But I would still give Dead Drift four out of five stars. A great conclusion to an engrossing series.

About the Author

Praised by New York Times best-selling author Dee Henderson as “a name to look for in romantic suspense,” Dani Pettrey has sold more than 400,000 copies of her novels to readers eagerly awaiting the next release. Dani combines the page-turning adrenaline of a thriller with the chemistry and happy-ever-after of a romance. Her novels stand out for their “wicked pace, snappy dialogue, and likable characters” (Publishers Weekly), “gripping storyline[s],” (RT Book Reviews), and “sizzling undercurrent of romance” (USA Today). Her greatest joy as an author is sharing the stories God lays on her heart.  She researches murder and mayhem from her home in Maryland, where she lives with her husband. Their two daughters, a son-in-law, and two adorable grandsons also reside in Maryland. For more information about her novels, visit danipettrey.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.

Falling for You

Falling For You

By Becky Wade

The Story

Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is taking a temporary break from her hectic schedule to work as the innkeeper at her family’s small-town bed-and-breakfast. She was enjoying the peace of her hometown, Merryweather, Washington, right up until she came face-to-face with Corbin Stewart, the man she loves to hate. A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin–and suffered the consequences when it all fell apart.

Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants . . . except where Willow Bradford is concerned. Unable to forget her, he’s never stopped regretting what happened between them. When their paths unexpectedly cross again, he’s determined to make her give him a second chance.

When a decades-old missing persons case finds Corbin and Willow working together, they’re forced to confront their past and who they’ve become–and whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

(Back cover summary from Amazon)

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Becky Wade’s storytelling just keeps getting stronger.

In Falling For You, Willow is a character I could identify with. She’s cautious and a rule-follower. She strives for perfection, but knows she’s fallen woefully short. Corbin is everything Willow is not. He’s wild and bold. A man who knows what he wants and is used to getting it. Their story is equal parts sweet and grounded as it plays out.

The theme of forgiveness, trust, and grace is so beautifully woven throughout this story. Willow is so used to striving for perfection, that accepting Jesus’ forgiveness for her mistakes as a Christian is difficult. I could identify with her struggle, and I loved how Becky resolved this. Then Corbin’s struggle of not really knowing if God was present in his life, and seeing how He was there, in all the moments, quietly working, was a great reminder that God does work. He may work slowly (from our point of view) or silently, but He is always, always at work in our lives.

I loved the mystery aspect of this story. Charlotte was a great character, and I definitely want to see more of her in the future.

This story ended with a hint at what was coming next—Britt’s story, which I am beyond excited for! What I love about Becky Wade’s books is that she’s able to bring it all. A great plot, unique characters, sweet romance, and a grounding in spiritual truths.

About the Author

Becky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and now lives in Dallas. A favorite among readers of Christian contemporary romance, Becky has won a Christy Award, a Carol Award, an Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and an INSPY Award. Learn more at www.beckywade.com .

(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.

The Love Letter

The Love Letter

By Rachel Hauck

The Story

Romance has never been actress Chloe Daschle’s forte—in life or on screen. But everyone knows who to call for a convincing death scene . . . and it might be killing her career.

When Chloe is given a peek at the script for an epic love story, she decides to take her destiny into her own hands and request an audition for the lead female role, Esther Kingsley. The compelling tale, inspired by family lore and a one-page letter from the colonial ancestor of scriptwriter Jesse Gates, just might break her out of this career-crippling rut. Jesse would rather write about romance than live through it after his past relationship ended in disaster. But once on-set together, the chemistry between Jesse and his leading lady is hard to deny.

Centuries earlier, in the heart of the Revolutionary War, Hamilton Lightfoot and Esther Longfellow wrote their saga off the silver screen. Esther’s Loyalist father opposes any relationship with Hamilton, but Esther must face her beloved father’s disapproval and the dangers of war in order to convince Hamilton of their future together. Hamilton has loved Esther for years, and on the eve of battle pens the love letter she’s always wanted—something straight from the heart.

(Back cover summary from Netgalley)

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The Love Letter is a split-time novel that follows the lives of strong, unique, and flawed characters.

I loved Hamilton and Esther’s story. It was intriguing reading how a young couple might handle the American Revolution and the trials it brought during their time. As they strive to hold onto each other and their love, they learn about themselves and the God who holds it all together. It was intriguing to watch how Rachel Hauck resolved their story.

I enjoyed Chloe and Jesse’s story, but I couldn’t get on board with it as much as the historical one. Chloe seemed rather overdramatic. However, I liked watching these two characters grow more. Their growth was more measured and I felt like I connected with that more than Hamilton and Esther.

I enjoyed this novel, but it didn’t grip me as many have this year.

About the Author

Rachel Hauck is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling author. She is a Christy Award Winner and a double RITA finalist. Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Club. She is also the recipient of RT’s Career Achievement Award. A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, and a former sorority girl, Rachel and her husband live in central Florida. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan. Visit her at http://www.rachelhauck.com or www.facebook.com/rachelhauck.

(Biography from Amazon)

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.

More Than Meets the Eye

More Than Meets the Eye

By Karen Witemeyer

The Story

Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes–one bright blue, the other dark brown–Evangeline has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. Yet the support of even one person can help overcome the world’s judgments, and Evangeline has two–Seth and Zach, fellow orphans she now counts as brothers.

Seeking justice against the man who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father’s death. Only instead of finding a solitary ruthless gambler, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. And when Hamilton’s unique sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time they cross paths, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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More Than Meets the Eye is another sweet read from Karen Witemeyer. I loved how she turned this story on its head. My previous review was on Jody Hedlund’s take on the orphan train era, so this was delightfully different.

I liked that Karen included what thrust the three together out into the world, rather than just some backstory brought up mid-way through the book.

Each character in this book stretches the norm from what I’ve read recently. In some way or another, they all are somewhat social outcasts. Eva with her mismatched eyes. Seth, with his confining asthma. Zach, with his abrupt personality. And Logan’s scar. These outward marks are just the surface of these characters. Karen goes deep and explores the depths of human personality. Eva chooses joy, though so often she’s dealt pain. Logan thirsts for his own justice. They’re an unlikely pair, thus so much fun to read about.

I also loved the secondary plot with Christie. It went much deeper than I expected, and I really enjoyed that. Karen Witemeyer doesn’t create characters waiting for rescue, but strong people who seek that themselves, with a healthy reliance on the Lord as well.

Family is a vein that runs throughout the whole book. One line struck me as profound and follows that line.

“Trusting the wrong person might lead to temporary heartache, but trusting the right one provides a strength that can fuel you for a lifetime.”

More Than Meets the Eye has a storyline that simply won’t let you go. Characters that call you back to talk for a while more. And a hope that points to a God who is good and does good things.

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.

Together Forever

Together Forever

By Jody Hedlund

The Story

Will the Mistakes of Their Past Cost Them a Chance at Love?

Determined to find her lost younger sister, Marianne Neumann takes a job as a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York. She not only hopes to offer children a better life, but prays she’ll be able to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train so they can finally be reunited.

Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing-out trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children, firm but tender and friendly. Underneath his charm and handsome looks, though, seems to linger a grief that won’t go away–and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden.

As the two team up, placing orphans in the small railroad towns of Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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Jody Hedlund has long been outstanding in her field of historical romance, and she just keeps delivering over and over again. Her latest, Together Forever, is part of her Orphan Train Series. The series follows the Neumann sisters. It explores the difficulty and disillusionment some immigrants experienced and the enormous problem of children who could no longer be cared for, were unwanted, or abandoned during this era in history.

This time, it’s Marianne’s turn. Marianne is still swamped by guilt over losing her sister, Sophie. This leads her to take a job with Children’s Aid Society in placing out orphans with willing families in Illinois. Marianne feels deeply, and I loved how this played into the story. It was so fun to see her interacting with Drew and the children. Her journey leads her to come into her own and realize that she needs to let go of the past and realize the forgiveness God has already given her.

Drew is a strong, funny character. But he’s a flirt. At times, this got to be too much (which was probably the author’s intent). I liked seeing more of his true self, not the persona he’s crafted for others to see.

Marianne and Drew have a strong attraction, but as they grow closer, they start to learn what love is really all about: sacrifice and pouring oneself out for another’s good. Jody Hedlund goes beyond the surface to really explore what this means between these two characters.

I liked the first book in this series better, but I did enjoy this second installment. It was a good, sweet, informative read, and has earned a spot on my bookshelf.

About the Author

Jody Hedlund is the author of over a dozen novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher’s Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at www.jodyhedlund.com.

(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.

A Rebel Heart

A Rebel Heart

By Beth White

The Story

Five years after the final shot was fired in the War Between the States, Selah Daughtry can barely manage to keep herself, her two younger sisters, and their spinster cousin fed and clothed. With their family’s Mississippi plantation swamped by debt and the Big House falling down around them, the only option seems to be giving up their ancestral land–until a hotel management agent for the railroad offers her hope for the future.

If she’ll turn her home into a hotel, Levi Riggins says, he can all but guarantee it will be saved. Selah isn’t sure she entirely trusts the handsome Yankee. Yet what other options does she have? She’ll have to stay on her guard . . . but she never expected to have to guard her heart.

(Back cover summary from Revell Publishers)

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Oh, how long I’ve waited for Beth White to release another novel! I discovered her book, The Pelican Bride, when it first came out. Then a year or so after, I had the privilege of meeting her in person. She’s as kind, genuine, and gracious as her writing.

A Rebel Heart explores a time period that is not often looked at. Set several years after the close of the Civil War, this is a fascinating story that studies what reconciliation and survival may have looked like in the years following. I love the historical detail she holds to, even down to the words she uses in the narrative.

I loved the character of Selah. She’s strong, practical, and does what it takes to help her family. Her relationship to her sisters and her former slaves isn’t perfect, but feels authentic. Beth allows for the process that relationships are. Levi is a strong character, but I loved how Beth White gave him flaws as well. I also enjoyed getting a look at the beginning of the Pinkertons, a product of the Civil War.

The plot pulled me along, and it was all I could do to put the book down when I had to. I love that Beth doesn’t back down from the hard issues, she faces them head on. Forgiveness isn’t easy or immediate, but a process, and she allows for that.

As usual, I can’t get enough of Beth White and her writing. Five stars for this beautiful, poignant novel!

About the Author

Beth White’s day job is teaching music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama. A native Mississippian, she writes historical romance with a Southern drawl and is the author of The Pelican Bride and The Creole Princess. 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. Learn more at www.bethwhite.net.

(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.