Category Archives: Contemporary Fiction

Storm Front

Storm Front

By Susan May Warren

The Story

Life and love hang in the balance during a deadly summer of storms.

A tornado has destroyed a small Minnesota community, and among the missing are not only a group of students but also PEAK Rescue team leader Chet King. Ty Remington will stop at nothing to rescue his mentor, not even when the girl he loved–and lost–walks back into his life. But Brette needs his help more than he knows, despite her stubborn determination to push him away. And when he gets a second chance, loving her just might cost him more than he can imagine.

A blogger for Vortex Storm Chasers, Brette Arnold didn’t expect her adventures to land her in the same place as Ty, the guy who she walked–no, ran–from over a year ago. She had her reasons–good ones. The kind that tell her that falling for him again would only lead to heartache. But Ty isn’t the kind of man to give up–not on the missing students or on her.

(Back cover summary from Revell)

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At long last! The next installment of the Montana Rescue series. I’ve loved this series so far. It’s full of unforgettable characters, fast-paced-can’t-put-down plots, and romance that strikes just the right balance for me. What I love more than anything about this series is the faith journey Warren takes her characters on. It’s unforgettable, because it’s so similar to what we go through in real life.

I wasn’t sure how this book would be, because up until now, Ty has seemed like a background character. He’s sweet, yeah, and he’s helped Jess and has a tragic story behind why he’s not flying any more, but that was about it. Warren brings him to life in Storm Front.

Ty is sweet, kind, caring, and he never gives up. His goal is to rescue. As the story progresses, Ty must come to the realization that God loves and gives grace, not on the basis of all that we can bring to the table, but just as we are, in our most desperate and unlovely state.

Brette’s struggles are so raw and relatable. The storms she’s suffered makes her believe that only more struggles are on the horizon. Hope is too hard, too vulnerable for her to grab hold of. I loved how Warren worked through this in the story. Not giving easy answers, but really digging in and showing how we can trust God, even at the worst.

I also loved the continuation of Kacey and Ben’s story.

This Montana Rescue series installment is a little different, since it’s set in the Midwest, my stomping grounds. Tornadoes were a part of every summer growing up, so I felt as if I was home.

Storm Front is another don’t-miss from Susan May Warren.

About the Author

Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels with more than 1 million books sold, including Wild Montana Skies, Rescue Me, A Matter of Trust, Troubled Waters, and Storm Front. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT Medallion and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. She makes her home in Minnesota. Find her online at http://www.susanmaywarren.com, on Facebook at Susan May Warren Fiction, and on Twitter @susanmaywarren .

(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.

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Things I Never Told You

Things I Never Told You

By Beth K. Vogt

The Story

It’s been ten years since Payton Thatcher’s twin sister died in an accident, forcing the entire family to cope in whatever ways they could. Now a lone twin, Payton reinvents herself as a partner in a successful party-planning business and is doing just fine—as long as she manages to hold her memories and her family at arm’s length.

But with the announcement of her middle sister Jillian’s engagement, Payton’s party-planning skills are called into action. Which means working alongside Johanna, her opinionated older sister, who always seems ready for a fight. They can only hope a wedding might be just the occasion to heal the resentment and jealousy that divides them…until a frightening diagnosis threatens Jillian’s plans for the future.

As old wounds reopen and the family faces the possibility of yet another tragedy, the Thatchers must decided if they will pull together or be driven apart for good.

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I’ve heard so much about Beth Vogt, but have never read any of her books until now. Which is interesting, because I’m generally not a Women’s Fiction reader. I usually tend toward contemporary or historical romance, which is what Beth has written in the past. But something about this story just grabbed me, and I knew I needed to give it a try.

Beth captures so beautifully the aches and pains, joys and triumphs of siblings, and specifically sisters. Things I Never Told You is written from both Payton and Jillian’s perspectives, which I really enjoyed.

I saw myself in each of these sisters, sometimes with a cringe as I realized the rough edges I still have to work on. I rarely ever get close to crying when I read, but I was tearing up with this book. The characters in this story are so compelling, that a plot was hardly needed in my opinion. I just wanted to know what would happen to them, because I saw myself in them.

I know that this book is the first in a series, but I do wish Beth had tied up a few more plot points. Especially the faith element. I would have liked to have seen more of that being resolved, but at the same time, leaving that part hanging may have been a good choice. Life is a process, as is faith, and I believe that Beth saw that as necessary for the character.

This book sucked me in and stayed in my thoughts. It was really my first foray into Women’s Fiction, and I loved it. I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next in this series.

About the Author

Beth K. Vogt is a nonfiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Now Beth believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A women’s fiction novelist, Beth’s first novel for Tyndale House Publishers, Things I Never Told You, releases May 2018.

Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner, a 2016 ACFW Carol Award winner, and a 2015 RITA® finalist. Her 2014 novel, Somebody Like You, was one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. A November Bride was part of the Year of Wedding series by Zondervan. Having authored nine contemporary romance novels or novellas, Beth believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Connect with Beth at bethvogt.com.

(Biography from Tyndale Publishers)

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 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.

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.

Troubled Waters

Troubled Waters

By Susan May Warren

The Story

Billionaire Ian Shaw can have everything he wants–except a happy ending. Or at least that’s what it feels like with his fortune recently liquidated, his niece, Esme, still missing, and the woman he loves refusing to speak to him. In fact, he doubts she would date him even if they were stranded on a deserted island.

Despite her love for Ian, Sierra Rose knows he has no room in his life for her as long as the mystery of his missing niece goes unsolved. The only problem is, Sierra has solved it, but a promise to Esme to keep her whereabouts secret has made it impossible to be around Ian.

When the PEAK chopper is damaged and Sierra lacks the funds to repair it, Ian offers a fundraising junket for large donors on his yacht in the Caribbean. But the three-day excursion turns into a nightmare when a rogue wave cripples the yacht and sends the passengers overboard. Shaken up and soaked to the bone, Ian finally has a chance to test his theory when he and Sierra do indeed find themselves washed up on a strange, empty shore.

It will take guts and gumption for the PEAK team to rescue the duo. But it will take a miracle to rescue Ian and Sierra’s relationship.

(Back cover summary from Revell.)

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Oooh, I’ve been waiting for Sierra and Ian’s story for so long, and at last, it arrived! Ian and Sierra’s relationship has been—ahem, stormy—for this whole series. A series of roller-coaster-like ups and downs, and I was so ready for everything to be resolved. Susan May Warren doesn’t resolve things easily, though. This story is fraught with danger from the elements and danger in trusting in self to fix problems. The romance was better than even the snippets Susan had given in the previous books. I liked the different survival aspect that was brought in by the ocean, and finally getting some answers about Esme! I always appreciate the spiritual aspect of the books too. Ian is self-reliant, and it takes stripping everything—and I mean everything—away to see his need for God. Sierra’s a fixer and she feels as if she must earn her place in the lives of those around her. Both of these characters felt so real and unique, I frankly didn’t want their story to end—though I did want that happy ending, and boy, it’s a good one!

This story kept me up late. Like, glance-at-the-clock-oooh-that’s-not-going-to-be-good-for-tomorrow late. This book will not disappoint fans of Susie’s novels, and any newcomers will be in for an enjoyable ride.

About the Author

Susan May Warren is the ECPA and CBA bestselling author of over fifty novels, including Wild Montana Skies, with more than one million books sold. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. She can be found online at http://www.susanmaywarren.com, on Facebook at SusanMayWarrenFiction, and on Twitter @susanmaywarren.

(Biography from Revell.)

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

Blind Spot

Blind Spot

By Dani Pettrey

The Story

The Wrath is Coming. But They Don’t Know Where–Or When.

“The wrath is coming” were the final words that FBI agent Declan Grey heard the suicide bomber say. Now Declan is in the chase of his life–but isn’t sure exactly what he’s chasing after or when the threat will be unleashed on American soil. When his investigation’s best clue leads him to a closed immigrant community, he turns to Tanner Shaw for assistance. She’s sought justice for refugees and the displaced around the world, and if there’s anyone who can help him, it’s Tanner.

Tanner Shaw has joined the FBI as a crisis counselor . . . meaning she now has more opportunity to butt heads with Declan. As they work together to uncover the mounting threat, the tension between them also includes a spark she can’t deny–and she’s pretty sure Declan feels the same. But before anything more can develop, they find themselves in a race against time to stop the coming “wrath” that could cost thousands their lives.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House Publishers)

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Any-current-crime-thriller-on-TV, you’ve got nothing on the Chesapeake Valor series! I have been closely following Dani Pettrey’s releases for a while now, because they are not something you would want to miss!

Dani combines suspense, espionage, terrorists, and near-death experiences in a way that reminds of the latest crime thriller on T.V., minus the immorality, language, and gore. I love how she keeps me reading, keeps me guessing as she weaves the plot. The side plot that continues throughout the book, bringing in different points of view from previous characters is also a part that I really enjoy. Dani is able to do this without detracting from the main plot.

I also love the romance element. Because this is a series, the groundwork for Declan and Tanner has already been laid, but comes to a head in Blind Spot, and it’s not something you want to miss!

What I admire most, is the outspoken faith element. These characters rely on each other, as friends, but rely on God more. It’s refreshing and energizing when compared to the many crime shows and novels available these days with nothing more to offer than entertainment.

I am eagerly anticipating the next release in this series, and I have a feeling it’s only getting better from here!

About the Author

Dani’s adventure-focused Alaskan Courage series climbed the CBA bestseller lists, with Submerged staying in the top twenty for five consecutive months. The five-book series also won multiple awards, including the Daphne du Maurier Award, two HOLT Medallions, and Christian Retailing’s Best Award, among others. She turns her attention to crime and law enforcement in her home state of Maryland in her new Chesapeake Valor series, starting with Cold Shot, which Library Journal called, “a harrowing and thrilling ride.” For more information about her novels, visit danipettrey.com.

(Biography from Bethany House Publishers)

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