Category Archives: Book Reviews

Hearts Entwined: A Historical Romance Novella Collection

Hearts Entwined: A Historical Romance Novella Collection

By Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, & Melissa Jagears

The Story

The ways of love can be complex. Sometimes a relationship full of unexpected twists and unlikely turns leads to a bond that’s strong and secure. Join Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Melissa Jagears for novellas that follow the winding path of romance in stories that celebrate a love that lasts forever.

The Love Knot

When Claire Nevin’s troubled younger sibling sends her an unexpected package by rail, the gift and the man who delivers it–an unexpected face from the past–threaten to upend Claire’s life forever. Fighting to hold on to all she has built, will she lose what matters most?

The Tangled Ties That Bind

Connor Kincaid returns home determined to win the hand of the woman he was too young for when he left. But Maggie is training to be a doctor in a distant town, while Connor’s about to settle on a ranch. Will either be willing to give up their dream? Or will they both have to give up the love of a lifetime?

Bound and Determined

As punishment for his recklessness, Private Bradley Willis is sent on an errand to help a retired cavalry officer move a herd across Indian Territory. No one told him the herd would be camels instead of cattle, nor that the officer’s headstrong daughter, Ambrosia Herald, would seem to be trying to undermine the whole enterprise. He’s definitely been saddled with more than he’s bargained for.

Tied and True

Wealthy Marianne Lister is in love with business assistant Calvin Hochstetler, but he can’t see past the difference in their social status. When Marianne takes a job to prove that she is prepared for a life of hard work alongside the man of her dreams, will it be enough to convince Calvin to risk it all for love?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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I have long enjoyed novella collections, especially those put out by Bethany House. Once again, they’ve released a stellar collection with a great bunch of authors.

The Love Knot

I really enjoyed this one because of how different the two characters were. While Claire is spit and fire, her alternate is sweet, quiet, and strong. Both have made mistakes in the past, and it is those mistakes that they must overcome. The situations that the characters encountered only proved the gold that was inside. This is a sweet story, and fans of Witemeyer’s previous Ladies of Harper Station novels will enjoy learning more about Claire.

The Tangled Ties that Bind

This story is a sweet novella that explores the sacrifices we’ll make for those we love. The characters are young, so as they explore their relationship and what it takes to make love work, they have a few adventures along the way. I love the hilarity that Mary Connealy always brings into her books, which was present in this novella, but also the serious, sweet elements.

Bound and Determined

This was probably my favorite out of all these great stories. Mainly because it was so unexpected. I mean, camels? I had no idea that the cavalry used them for a while. So not only was that funny, but the sabotage that Ambrosia tries to create was also hilarious. Add into that mix the adventurous and sweet Private Bradley Willis, and you have a story that will be over much too soon. Regina Jennings explores the various facets of courage, and how it’s not always what you might expect.

Tied and True

I liked the different take on this story, with Marianne taking an extremely difficult job of that time. I appreciate that Melissa Jagears had her fully commit to it. It lent authenticity to the story where it could have easily felt like she really didn’t put forth the effort. The way that twists and ties are brought into this story is truly sweet (cue the swoon). Melissa Jagears takes a deep, hard look at how our pasts can define us, and skew our view of reality for the future.

About the Authors

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

Learn more about Mary Connealy and her books at www.maryconnealy.com .

Learn more about Regina Jennings and her books at www.reginajennings.com .

Learn more about Melissa Jagears and her books at www.melissajagears.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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The Saturday Night Supper Club

The Saturday Night Supper Club

By Carla Laureano

The Story

Denver chef Rachel Bishop has accomplished everything she’s dreamed and some things she never dared hope, like winning a James Beard Award and heading up her own fine-dining restaurant. But when a targeted smear campaign causes her to be pushed out of the business by her partners, she vows to do whatever it takes to get her life back . . . even if that means joining forces with the man who inadvertently set the disaster in motion.

Essayist Alex Kanin never imagined his pointed editorial would go viral. Ironically, his attempt to highlight the pitfalls of online criticism has the opposite effect: it revives his own flagging career by destroying that of a perfect stranger. Plagued by guilt-fueled writer’s block, Alex vows to do whatever he can to repair the damage. He just doesn’t expect his interest in the beautiful chef to turn personal.

Alex agrees to help rebuild Rachel’s tarnished image by offering his connections and his home to host an exclusive pop-up dinner party targeted to Denver’s most influential citizens: the Saturday Night Supper Club. As they work together to make the project a success, Rachel begins to realize Alex is not the unfeeling opportunist she once thought he was, and that perhaps there’s life—and love—outside the pressure-cooker of her chosen career. But can she give up her lifelong goals without losing her identity as well?

(Back cover summary from Tyndale)

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I fell in love with this novel! I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this story. It far exceeded any expectations.

Carla Laureano knows her food. Or at least I assume she does. She beautifully described different dishes, the cooking process, and used food and cooking-related words as descriptions. Being only acquainted with the very basics of cooking, I really enjoyed that aspect of this story.

Rachel is a multi-faceted character, and I loved getting to know her slowly throughout the book. As she learns, grows, and achieves her dreams, I was pulling for her 100%. Alex is also an unforgettable character. He’s sweet, funny, intelligent, an all-around great hero. He doesn’t try to rescue Rachel but instead assists her in recovering her dream.

This story is about discovering our true identity and trusting God with our dreams. The premise was fun, the romance was so sweet, and the characters are ones that I must demand an encore from! I’m so excited for the next Supper Club novel, Brunch at Bittersweet Café, with Melody!

Whether you’re a foody or not, this new contemporary romance is one you’ll want to read. It’s unique, fresh, and entertaining.

About the Author

Carla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night. Visit her website at http://www.carlalaureano.com/ .

(Biography from Tyndale)

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.

Under a Cloudless Sky

Under a Cloudless Sky

By Chris Fabry

The Story

1933: In the mining town of Beulah Mountain, West Virginia, two young girls form an unbreakable bond against the lush Appalachian landscape, coal dust and old hymns filling their lungs and hearts. Despite the polarizing forces of their fathers—one a mine owner, one a disgruntled miner —Ruby and Bean thrive under the tender care of Bean’s mama, blissfully unaware of the rising conflict in town and the coming tragedy that will tear them apart forever.

2004: Hollis Beasley is taking his last stand. Neighbors up and down the hollow have sold their land to Coleman Coal and Energy, but Hollis is determined to hold on to his family legacy on Beulah Mountain. Standing in his way is Buddy Coleman, an upstart mining executive who hopes to revitalize the dying town by increasing coal production and opening the Company Store Museum. He’ll pay homage to the past—even the massacre of 1933—while positioning the company for growth at all costs.

What surprises them all is how their stories will intersect with a feisty octogenarian living hundreds of miles away. When Ruby Handley Freeman’s grown children threaten her independence, she takes a stand of her own and disappears, propelling her on a journey to face a decades-old secret that will change everything for her and those she meets.

(Back cover summary from Tyndale)

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I’m going to be honest and admit something.

I have never read a Chris Fabry adult novel (disclaimer: I have read some of his children’s books). Never.

I know, crazy, huh? He’s won some big awards in the Christian Fiction business, but I’ve never got around to reading his books. I’m more of a romance girl. After attending a Christian writer’s conference in Nashville and hearing him speak, I knew I needed to give it a try. So I volunteered to read and review Under a Cloudless Sky and was blown away.

This story is all about forgiveness, redemption, and grace. It’s about fighting for the truth, for what really matters. It’s about the struggle of everyday life, when circumstances hurt, when family falls apart, when life doesn’t make sense. It’s about turning to God in the hard times and giving life to Him.

This novel has been compared to the popular memoir Hillbilly Elegy. Having had the privilege to spend some time in the Appalachian Mountain area, I was attracted to this type of story. It’s noble, beautiful, and compelling, and it shows what a wonderful area it is.

The story slowly unwinds, and at first, I had no idea how it all worked together. It didn’t make sense in my brain. It’s split between Ruby’s life modernly, and her past. But as the two develop, it all begins to make sense. I smiled at points and blinked back tears at others, especially at the end. This story is a poignant tale and it resonates with my heart. It has twists that are shocking, but as I thought over the story, it all made sense!

Under a Cloudless Sky is a novel that I’ll keep for a long time and one that will leave me thinking for just as long. It’s a must-read, even if you’re like me and rarely deviate from anything that doesn’t involve romance. It’s beauty and grit, loss and restoration, all wrapped up in one.

About the Author

Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live on Moody Radio. He is also heard on Love Worth Finding, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, and other radio programs. A 1982 graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University and a native of West Virginia, Chris and his wife, Andrea, now live in Arizona and are the parents of nine children.

Chris’s novels, which include Dogwood, June Bug, Almost Heaven, and The Promise of Jesse Woods, have won three Christy Awards, an ECPA Christian Book Award, and a 2017 Award of Merit from Christianity Today. His eightieth published book, Under a Cloudless Sky, is a novel set in the coalfields of his home state of West Virginia. His books include movie novelizations, like the recent bestseller War Room; nonfiction; and novels for children and young adults. He coauthored the Left Behind: The Kids series with Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, as well as the Red Rock Mysteries and the Wormling series with Jerry B. Jenkins. Visit his website at www.chrisfabry.com .

(Biography from Tyndale)

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 Song Unheard

A Song Unheard

By Roseanna M. White

The Story

If Betraying Her Heart Means Saving Countless Lives, Will She Find the Courage?

Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which makes her the perfect choice for a critical task at the outset of World War I–to secure a crucial cypher key from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he’s won–until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father’s work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only distraction he finds from his worry is in meeting the intriguing and talented Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn’t–that she must betray him and find that key, or her own family could pay the same price his surely has.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House.)

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It is a special thing when you read the final pages of a novel, when you sigh a bit because it’s over, but feel that contentment that it ended—or rather began (for the characters)—just right.

After reading A Name Unknown, the first book in the Shadows Over England series, and meeting Willa, I was so excited for A Song Unheard. I love the musical elements of this book. Every part of this book sings, from the prose to dialogue, suspense to romance.

Willa is different. She’s tough and sharp, but when she picks up a violin, she softens. She’s a multi-faceted character, and Roseanna did a great job spinning her story, highlighting the hurts from the past and healing those.

Lukas was a great hero. Though a lady’s man at the beginning, he starts to change and becomes a truly great character. He’s heroic, loyal, and is duty-driven.

I really liked the alternate viewpoint of a secondary character. Her viewpoint was unique and fascinating. I personally would love to read more about her in the future.

While this book has a great plot that really drives you forward and keeps the pages turning, this is also a read to savor. Another must-read from Roseanna M. White.

About the Author

Roseanna M. White 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. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.com .

(Biography from Bethany House.)

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Lacemaker

The Lacemaker

By Laura Frantz

The Story

It is the eve of a new age of freedom in the colonies.

But can a proper English lady dare hope for her own independence?

Lady Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson has nearly everything a lady of her position could want. Daughter of the British lieutenant governor of the Virginia Colony and a darling of fine society in a rugged land, she is anticipating an advantageous marriage. That her betrothed is a rake and love is lacking is of little consequence–or so she tells herself.

Though her own life seems in order, colonial Williamsburg is a powder keg on the verge of exploding, and her fiancé’s cousin Noble Rynallt carries the flame of revolution in his heart. Those with connections to the British nobility are suspected as spies, and Liberty soon finds herself left with a terrible choice. Will she stay true to her English roots? Or side with Noble and the radical revolutionaries?

(Back cover summary from Revell)

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What starts as a sweet stroll through colonial Williamsburg soon picks up speed in Laura Frantz’s latest novel, The Lacemaker.

Whether racing across the Kentucke Territory or waltzing through the ballrooms of Williamsburg, Laura Frantz delivers multi-layered stories packed with romance, rich historical detail, and intricate plots. Frantz has been my go-to author for years now. Her novels are ones that I’ve visited again and again when in need of an all-encompassing read.

The Lacemaker is set to a different speed than her previous novel, A Moonbow Night. It’s more a sweet, moonlit, oft fraught with danger, stroll across Virginia. It’s slow and thoughtful at times, brisk and heart-racing at others. I loved the personal journey that Liberty had to walk, how she grew and learned, was tested and tried. It gave even more depth to this novel.

As usual, the romance between these two main characters was spot-on. As detailed and painstaking as lacemaking, their relationship was unhurried, but beautiful.

The faith elements that Laura Frantz always brings in were also encouraging.

While I can’t deny that I love her Kentucke Territory wilderness novels, I still enjoyed this novel and its unique, just-right pacing.

About the Author

Laura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the ECPA bestselling author of several books, including The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel’s Lady, The Mistress of Tall Acre, A Moonbow Night, and The Ballantyne Legacy series. She lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. Learn more at www.laurafrantz.net .

(Biography from Revell)

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

The House on Foster Hill

The House on Foster Hill

By Jaime Jo Wright

The Story

Kaine Prescott is no stranger to death. When her husband died two years ago, her pleas for further investigation into his suspicious demise fell on deaf ears. In desperate need of a fresh start, Kaine purchases an old house sight unseen in her grandfather’s Wisconsin hometown. But one look at the eerie, abandoned house immediately leaves her questioning her rash decision. And when the house’s dark history comes back with a vengeance, Kaine is forced to face the terrifying realization she has nowhere left to hide.

A century earlier, the house on Foster Hill holds nothing but painful memories for Ivy Thorpe. When an unidentified woman is found dead on the property, Ivy is compelled to discover her identity. Ivy’s search leads her into dangerous waters, resurrecting painful memories and forcing a reunion with the man who broke her heart. Can Ivy unravel the mystery and find a renewed hope before any other lives–including her own–are lost?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House.)

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Chilling. Gripping. Those are words that would describe The House on Foster Hill quite aptly. I’ve not delved much into split-time novels. Generally, I like my historical fiction separate from the contemporary genre, but I knew from all the buzz surrounding this book that I needed to give it a try.

The key to a good split-time novel is for both storylines to be equally compelling. Jaime did a superb job of that with this book. She would switch the POV at just the right moment, leaving me wanting to learn more about whichever character I was leaving. The suspense in both of the women’s lives was well done. I even jumped at one point, which doesn’t usually happen for me. What I loved about these characters was that they were willing to fight for the helpless and themselves. When trouble came, they didn’t wait around for someone to rescue them, they went out and did it themselves.

The romance thread in this book, while not as prominent, was also very well done. I really liked how Jaime slowly wove together the different mysteries of this book, inexplicably linking the characters.

Hope was the overall tying thread. Hope in a world that is dark and difficult, because our hope isn’t tied to this earth. It’s tied to Jesus, and that’s a thread that cannot be broken.

This is a unique book, from a unique voice, and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for further work from Jaime.

About the Author

Jaime Jo Wright is the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas, and a human resources director by trade. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two children, and The House on Foster Hill is her debut novel. Find her online at www.jaimewrightbooks.com.

(Biography from Bethany House.)

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

Holding the Fort

Holding the Fort

By Regina Jennings

The Story

With Miss Bell as the Teacher, Everyone’s Bound to Learn an Interesting Lesson

Dance hall singer Louisa Bell has always lived one step from destitution. When she loses her job at the Cat-Eye Saloon, she has nowhere else to go but to her brother, a cavalry soldier stationed in Indian Territory. But he’s run afoul of his commanding officer. Unsure what she can do to help him and desperate for a job, she doesn’t protest when she’s mistaken for a governess at the fort. How hard can teaching really be?

Major Daniel Adams has his hands full at Fort Reno, especially raising two adolescent daughters alone. If this new governess doesn’t work out, his mother-in-law insists she’ll raise the girls herself–far away from the fort. Miss Bell bears little resemblance to Daniel’s notion of a governess–they’re not supposed to be so blamed pretty–but he finds himself turning a blind eye to her unconventional methods. Louisa has never faced so important a performance. Can she keep her act together long enough to help her brother and to secure the respectable future she’s sought for so long?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House.)

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I’ve always been a big fan of Regina Jennings’ novels. Humor, history, and page-turning romance are her trademarks, and Holding the Fort delivered on those. Holding the Fort was a little different from her previous books in that the humor was a bit more subtle than usual. Some of the ridiculous things characters have done in previous books were toned down, but still hilarious. Owing to Daniel’s reserved, military background, that makes a lot of sense, though he doesn’t keep from falling into mishaps and experiencing crazy things.

This story was so sweet, as Louisa grew and changed and learned of God’s true love for her. The girls were such vibrant characters, the whole fort was, actually! Daniel is an intelligent, compassionate character, though quite frustrating at times.

Holding the Fort takes you on a ride through the Wild West, something fans of Regina Jennings’ previous novels won’t want to miss.

About the Author

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a minor in history. She’s the winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award, a two-time Golden Quill finalist and a finalist for the Oklahoma Book of the Year Award. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and at First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She lives outside of Oklahoma City with her husband and four children and can be found online at www.reginajennings.com.

(Biography from Bethany House.)

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.