Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Killing Tide

The Killing Tide

By Dani Pettrey

The Story

A Corpse That Only Leads to Secrets.

An Old Flame with Danger Written all over Her.

Things Are about to Get Very Complicated.

When one Coast Guard officer is found dead and another goes missing, Coast Guard Investigative Service special agent Finn Walker faces his most dangerous crime yet. His only clues are what little evidence remains aboard the dead officer’s boat, and the direction the clues point to will test Finn and the Guard to their limits.

The already volatile situation is complicated even further by the arrival of Gabby Rowley–Finn’s boss’s sister and an investigative reporter with unrelenting questions about the crime. Now that she’s returned, the tug on Finn’s heart is strong, but with the risks she’s taking for her next big story, he fears she might not live through it.

Thrown together by the heinous crime, Finn and Gabby can’t ignore the sparks or judgments flying between them. But will they be able to see past their preconceptions long enough to track down an elusive killer, or will they become his next mark?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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The Killing Tide starts off Pettrey’s next series with a cast of characters who are likeable and engaging, with strong ties that make them feel more like a family unit than coworkers. I enjoyed each new character as they came across the page and am looking forward to several of them being featured in future books.

While this novel had a strong premise and characters I enjoyed, I just didn’t like it as much as her previous books. Some of the circumstances felt disjointed, and a little forced, at least from my perspective.

However, there was still a lot I enjoyed about this book. I really liked the different angle that she explored in this book with the Coast Guard. I learned a lot about what the Coast Guard does and how they operate, and it was all very fascinating.

I’ll certainly be reading the next book in this series, and would recommend this novel—especially to Pettrey fans—just for me, it wasn’t to my taste completely.

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 half a million 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).

From her early years eagerly reading Nancy Drew mysteries, to paging through Agatha Christie novels or watching on-the-edge-of-her-seat adventure movies, Dani has always enjoyed mystery and suspense. She considers herself blessed to be able to write the kind of stories she loves–full of plot twists and peril, love, and longing for hope and redemption. 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 publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

Until the Mountains Fall

Until the Mountains Fall

By Connilyn Cossette

The Story

Recently widowed, Rivkah refuses to submit to the Torah law compelling her to marry her husband’s brother and instead flees Kedesh, hoping to use her talents as a scribe to support herself. Without the protection of her father, Kedesh’s head priest, and the safety of the city of refuge, Rivkah soon discovers that the cost of recklessness is her own freedom.

Malakhi has secretly loved Rivkah for years, but he never imagined his older brother’s death would mean wedding her. After her disappearance, he throws himself into the ongoing fight against the Canaanites instead of dwelling on all he has lost. But with war looming over Israel, Rivkah’s father comes to Malakhi with an impossible request.

As the enemies that Rivkah and Malakhi face from within and without Israel grow more threatening each day, is it too late for the restoration their wounded souls seek?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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Until the Mountains Fall is another stellar novel from Connilyn Cossette. I love how she brings the Bible times to life, sticking as close as she can to what we know of that time period.

Rivkah is a rebel at heart, and that displays itself in different ways throughout the book. It really reminded me that all of us have rebel hearts. None of us want to submit, and show it in our own subtle or not so subtle ways. Reading this novel challenged me to look at my own life and consider my own heart.

I love how Connilyn tied this story with that of the prodigal son. She uses subtle undertones, but it painted such a beautiful picture, and astounded me again at God’s love and grace for us, and His heart to have us home with Him.

Rivkah and Malakhi are both deeply flawed and broken people, but as they give that brokenness to God, they see how He works out their lives for good, even those parts they are deeply ashamed of.

Yet again, Connilyn delivered a novel that pulled me in and wouldn’t let me go. It touched my heart, challenged me, and certainly left me entertained.

About the Author

When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), bestselling author Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure, out-of-print history books. There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus. Her novel Counted With the Stars won the 2013 Frasier Contest and was a semifinalist in the 2013 ACFW Genesis Contest. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives in North Carolina. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.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 Number of Love

The Number of Love

By Roseanna M. White

The Story

The Toughest Puzzle She’ll Have to Solve

Might Be the Wishes of Her Own Heart

Three years into the Great War, England’s greatest asset is their intelligence network–field agents risking their lives to gather information, and codebreakers able to crack German telegrams for hints of the enemy’s plans. Margot De Wilde thrives in the environment of the secretive Room 40, where she spends her days deciphering intercepted messages. But when her world is turned upside down by an unexpected loss, she discovers for the first time in her life that numbers aren’t enough.

Drake Elton returns wounded from the field, followed by an enemy who just won’t give up. He’s smitten quickly by the quick and brainy Margot, but soon the dangers of the war draw ever closer. Margot and Drake will have to team up to save themselves from the very secrets that brought them together.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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At long last, we get a book about Margot! After getting a glimpse into her unique character in previous books, I was eager to read her story. And as usual with Roseanna White, I was not disappointed.

This story, like her most recent series, is set during World War 1. It was fascinating getting a glimpse inside what it was like for the codebreakers and spies during that time period. I’d only recently heard about the women who worked as codebreakers, so this novel was timely for my curiosity. Margot’s unique way of thinking was fascinating to me, as I am not a numbers person at all. I liked that she stood apart from any other character I had read about in that way.

Margot and Drake are both very interesting characters whose stories kept me engaged throughout the whole book. Their struggles, some obvious, some subtle, were relevant for all people in all eras. I appreciated how Roseanna explored the effects of grief, especially as it relates to our relationship with God.

I think this was a good opening to another series I’ll be keeping close tabs on. Roseanna White always delivers it all, high-quality historical fiction with characters and plots that keep me engaged to the very end.

About the Author

Roseanna M. White (www.roseannamwhite.com) is a bestselling, Christy Award-nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, designing book covers, editing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books . . . to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary.

(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.

Ever Faithful

Ever Faithful

By Karen Barnett

The Story

Vibrant historic Yellowstone National Park comes to life in this romantic mystery about a man hiding the truth, braving the west to become something more–and the woman who must confront his deception.

A man who can’t read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain “requirements.” Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well.

Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger’s daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park’s hotels, she still hasn’t saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate’s secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?

(Back cover summary from Penguin Random House)

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I had the pleasure of meeting Karen Barnett at a conference last year, and so enjoyed chatting with her, that I knew I had to try one of her novels. I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to dive into one of her Vintage National Parks novels!

The history in Ever Faithful is astounding. It felt like a step back in time, to a place as real and alive as the present. I loved being able to learn about the park’s early years and experience the good, the bad, and the strange.

The characters of this book were compelling as well. Elsie knows the power of fear and the past and how it can grab hold of you. Her growth as she faces those fears was moving, and I really enjoyed reading about it. Nate is a great hero. Unsure of himself, definitely, but his qualities of leadership, loyalty, and love for others are ones to be admired.

The plot and the mystery that begins to spin out as the book progresses were both great. It kept me second guessing almost all the way to the end, which I really enjoyed.

In all, I liked Ever Faithful. The theme of faith and God’s work in our lives was subtle but powerful. This book made me want to pick up the others and go on a road trip to our other national wonders, which I think was exactly what Ms. Barnett wanted.

About the Author

KAREN BARNETT, author of Mistaken, Out of the Ruins, and Beyond the Ashes, is a former park ranger. She worked as a ranger naturalist and outdoor educator at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Silver Falls State Park, and Mount Rainier National Park. When not writing, Karen enjoys photography, hiking, and public speaking. She lives in Oregon with her family.

(Biography from Penguin Random House)

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

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.