Category Archives: Historical Fiction

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.

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.

Far Side of the Sea

Far Side of the Sea

By Kate Breslin

The Story

In 1918 England, Lieutenant Colin Mabry spends his days decoding messages for MI8 after suffering injuries at the front. When he receives an urgent summons by carrier pigeon from Jewel Reyer–a woman who saved his life and whom he believed to be dead–he can only hope he’ll regain the courage he lost on the front lines as he’s driven back into war-torn France.

But Jewel isn’t the one waiting for him in Paris. Instead, it is a stranger who claims to be her half sister, Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence. She found Jewel’s diary and believes her sister is alive and in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is at first skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust grows.

That trust is quickly put to the test, however, when their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot and their search for answers quickly turns into a battle for their lives.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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Kate Breslin is a master at taking little-known events and details from WWI and weaving them into high-stakes adventures with compelling characters and just the right amount of romance. I think Far Side of the Sea is now my second favorite of her books, surpassed only by Not By Sight, which is connected to this novel.

Far Side of the Sea is complicated by characters who are guarded for many reasons, not the least being that a war is going on and spies abound. I love that this story is written in such a way that I had to keep guessing who the true allies were and who were enemies in disguise.

Though Colin is a wounded veteran of WWI, the struggles he deals with surpass the boundaries of time. I thought Kate handled his struggles with PTSD with grace, as Colin figured out the man he had become. Johanna’s own journey was compelling and timeless as she fought to find those who loved her, and in the end, was blessed with more than she could have imagined.

Both of their journeys of faith were real and honest, which always resonates with me. The romance that develops as the book went on was sweet and avoided the tropes that so often can weasel their way into romance fiction.

I would certainly recommend this book to the reader who enjoys learning as they are entertained by a good story.

About the Author

A Florida girl who migrated to the Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin was a bookseller for many years. She is a Carol Award winner and a RITA and Christy Award finalist and lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington. Find her online at www.katebreslin.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.

Within These Lines

Within These Lines

By Stephanie Morrill

The Story

Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family living in San Francisco in 1941 is quiet and ordinary until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to an internment camp.

Degrading treatment makes life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world is treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out against injustice, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their ideals and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.

(Back cover summary from Blink YA Books)

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Within These Lines peers past the popularized views of post-Pearl Harbor U.S.A. to the injustices that were happening even on American soil. It explores how it might have felt to be part of the evacuation of the Japanese-Americans and what those who loved them experienced.

This young adult novel is well-written and clearly well-researched. It truly felt like I was stepping back in time, though there were times when I wanted to pull back from the harsh realities of what these people experienced.

I loved how passionate a character Evalina was. She was stubborn enough to stand for the truth and speak up for those who had lost their voice. Taichi’s point of view was my favorite, and Stephanie did a great job with his growth as a character.

The faith element of this book is pretty minor, with characters mentioning praying, but not much else.

If you enjoy well-written historical fiction that doesn’t pull any punches, then Within These Lines just might be the book for you.

About the Author

Stephanie Morrill lives in Overland Park, Kansas, with her husband and three kids. She is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series, Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft Into a Published Book, and the Ellie Sweet series. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog, GoTeenWriters.com. To connect with Stephanie and read samples of her books, check out StephanieMorrill.com.

(Biography from Blink YA Books)

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.

Between Two Shores

Between Two Shores

By Jocelyn Green

The Story

She Has Always Moved Between Worlds,

But Now She Must Choose a Side

The daughter of a Mohawk mother and French father in 1759 Montreal, Catherine Duval would rather remain neutral in a world tearing itself apart. Content to trade with both the French and the British, Catherine is pulled into the Seven Years’ War against her wishes when her British ex-fiancé, Samuel Crane, is taken prisoner by her father. Samuel claims he has information that could help end the war, and he asks Catherine to help him escape.

Peace appeals to Catherine, even if helping the man who broke her heart does not. But New France is starving, and she and her loved ones may not survive another winter of conflict-induced famine. When the dangers of war arrive on her doorstep, Catherine and Samuel flee by river toward the epicenter of the battle between England and France. She and Samuel may impact history, but she fears the ultimate cost will be higher than she can bear.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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This novel was enthralling. I knew that it was going to be a different sort of tale Jocelyn Green told this time, but I wasn’t prepared for this. Between Two Shores is not a historical romance like Jocelyn’s last few novels. This time, she explores the bonds of family and a love that can be stretched beyond empires and difficult choices.

Catherine Stands-Between has always longed to be loved. She returned to help her father with the hope that she could bring him back from his dark places, and that he would love her in turn.  A fair trade. In her youth, her romance was built upon a similar idea. But as her story unwinds, neither of those two loves are enough. This novel explores the love of family, and the love that will ultimately meet our loneliest places.

Between Two Shores explores a period of the Seven Years War that I was unfamiliar with, since the little I knew covered only the French and Indian War from the American colonists’ perspective. It truly is a breathtaking historical masterpiece, that incredibly walks between, as the novel spans nations: the Kahnawake Mohawks, the French, and the British. Jocelyn Green strikes the balance in this novel of not painting any of the nations as the villain or the hero, as so often we do looking back through history.

As this novel sped to a conclusion, there were times when my eyes were filled with tears. Like life, the end of an adventure does not always look as one would like, and it does not leave one unmarked. But I loved how Jocelyn resolved it all, with a love highlighted from our Creator that meets our every need, exactly where we are.

About the Author

Jocelyn Green (www.jocelyngreen.com) inspires faith and courage as the award-winning and bestselling author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including The Mark of the King, Wedded to War, and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman. Her books have garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and have been honored with the Christy Award, the gold medal from the Military Writers Society of America, and the Golden Scroll Award from the Advanced Writers & Speakers Association. She graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a BA in English, concentration in writing. Jocelyn lives with her husband, Rob, and two children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.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 Alamo Bride

The Alamo Bride

By Kathleen Y’Barbo

The Story

Will Ellis Lose All at the Alamo?

Ellis Dumont finds a man in New Orleans Grey unconscious on Dumont property in 1836. As his fevers rage, the man mutters strange things about treasures and war. Either Claiborne Gentry has lost his mind or he’s a spy for the American president—or worse, for the Mexican enemy that threatens their very lives. With the men of her family away, Ellis must stand courageous and decide who she can trust. Will she put her selfish wants ahead of the future of the republic or travel with Clay to Mission San Jose to help end the war?

(Back cover summary from Barbour Publishing)

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The Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with a story (and a cover) that I knew I couldn’t pass up. The Alamo Bride takes place during the war for Texas’s independence. I’ve long been fascinated with the battle of the Alamo, so I was eager to read a book set during this time.

I had the misconception that much of this book would take place at the Alamo. In reality, less then a quarter of the book is set there. Despite that, I did enjoy this novel.

I love that each author in this series writes strong, relatable heroines, and yet they’re all very different. Ellis is headstrong and stubborn, and it’s that tenacity that equips her to pull through many struggles. Clay is an intriguing character with flaws of his own, but it was fun to read how he dealt with his loss of identity.

The Alamo Bride is rich in history, and I learned a lot about the Texans’ struggle for independence. There were times when I felt that the story dragged or lost my interest, but overall I enjoyed The Alamo Bride.

About the Author

Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than eighty titles with over two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. Her novel Sadie’s Secret was named the Romantic Times Magazine Inspirational Romance Book of the Year.

A certified paralegal and tenth generation Texan, Kathleen has also been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine.

To find out more about Kathleen or connect with her through social media, check out her website at www.kathleenybarbo.com.

(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.

The Curse of Misty Wayfair

The Curse of Misty Wayfair

By Jaime Jo Wright

The Story

Left at an orphanage as a child, Thea Reed vowed to find her mother someday. Now grown, her search takes her to turn-of-the-century Pleasant Valley, Wisconsin. When the clues she finds lead her to a mental asylum, Thea uses her experience as a postmortem photographer to gain access and assist groundskeeper Simeon Coyle in photographing the patients and uncovering the secrets within. However, she never expected her personal quest would reawaken the legend of Misty Wayfair, a murdered woman who allegedly haunts the area and whose appearance portends death.

A century later, Heidi Lane receives a troubling letter from her mother–who is battling dementia–compelling her to travel to Pleasant Valley for answers to her own questions of identity. When she catches sight of a ghostly woman haunting the asylum ruins in the woods, the long-standing story of Misty Wayfair returns–and with it, Heidi’s fear for her own life.

As two women across time seek answers about their identities and heritage, they must overcome the threat of the mysterious curse that has them inextricably intertwined.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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Known for her deliciously creepy mysteries that have the reputation of keeping readers up at night, Jaime Jo Wright delivers again with her latest, The Curse of Misty Wayfair.

What I really love about Wright’s novels is that she creates characters that are so different. Heidi deals with sometimes crippling anxiety, and a childhood that has left her feeling anything but wanted. Rhett, a friend she makes while in Pleasant Valley, is abrupt, sometimes coming off as rude, but ends up being such an intriguing character. I so wanted to find the answers Thea sought for herself, but I think Simeon is the one who stole the show for me. Both Heidi and Thea are set on journeys of self-discovery, but it doesn’t end like you expect. The answers they find are relevant and timeless, creating a seamless tale, though separated by decades. All this wrapped up in a mystery so tangled that I had trouble figuring out exactly how it all could end with any resolution.

Wright approaches a tricky topic in this novel, and one that I don’t think has been addressed as much in Christian fiction. Mental illness, the stigmas around it, and the ways people have tried to address it, wrong and right, are key factors in this book.

This novel breaks some molds and will keep you reading long past your bedtime.

About the Author

Jaime Jo Wright is the Christy Award-Winning author of The House on Foster Hill. She’s also the Publishers Weekly and ECPA bestselling author of two novellas. Jaime works as a human resources director in Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and two children. To learn more, visit www.jaimewrightbooks.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.