Heart on the Line

Heart on the Line

By Karen Witemeyer

The Story

When Danger Arrives, It’s More Than Just Her Heart on the Line

Grace Mallory is tired of hiding. She hungers for a normal life, perhaps even a suitor like two of her friends in Harper’s Station have found. But when the man she believes responsible for her father’s death discovers her whereabouts, survival takes priority.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His fellow telegrapher, the mysterious Miss G, has been the ideal companion. For months, their friendship–dare he believe, courtship?–over the wire has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intends for him. However, when he intercepts an ominous message and discovers her life is in peril, Amos must shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House Publishers)

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            Karen Witemeyer has been a long-time favorite of mine. Her books always incorporate unique characters, humor, and a sweet romance. Heart on the Line is no exception to that formula. I could hardly pass it up, what with the heroine and I sharing a name.

I loved, in particular, Amos Bledsoe. He was such an interesting character, from his love for bicycles to his way of responding to different situations. I can see why Grace fell for him. 🙂 I also enjoyed how they met, on the line, as it were. The different elements of working for a telegraph office were fascinating, as I really knew nothing about that. I also appreciated how this wasn’t an easy journey for Grace and Amos. Just when you think they’re about to win, they get a setback, which is true to life, isn’t it?

This is a sweet read with some danger in the mix. If you’ve been reading the Ladies of Harper Station series, then you’ll enjoy this latest installment.

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 Publishers)

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

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Wings of the Wind

Book Review: Wings of the Wind

Author: Connilyn Cossette

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back cover summary from Baker Publishing Group:

Can vengeance give way to forgiveness when one woman’s destiny becomes entangled with the very enemies she sought to destroy?

Motherless and raised alongside her brothers, Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting. When her father and brothers are killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, has spent his share of time on the battlefield and is shocked to find an unconscious woman among the casualties. Compelled to bring her to a healer back at the Hebrew camp, he’s unprepared for the consequences of what he intended as an act of compassion.

In order to survive, Alanah must unite with her enemy. But will a terrible revelation drive her toward an even greater danger?

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            Like her previous books in the Out From Egypt series, Wings of the Wind is an entertaining and gripping novel. Connilyn weaves together just the right words into a tapestry that not only entertains but is a delight to read. Once again, she does a good job of handling the facts from the Bible and also taking artistic license where there is little to no information. She doesn’t hold back when describing the Canaanite way of life, but she does so with tact, even though the picture is still ugly and suited for more mature readers.

I love the romance that she puts into her books, but more than that and the historical picture she paints, I love how she brings new light to areas of God’s Word. Reading a personal—though fictitious—perspective of the events of the Israelites and Yahweh gave me a better understanding of our God and how He works, from Egypt to the present.

That’s the beauty of Christian fiction. It entertains, it can provide new information, it can give knowledge on past events, but ultimately it is designed to bring us closer to Christ, to the One who made us. And when a book succeeds in that goal, it is such a sweet thing.

About the Author

Biography from Baker Publishing Group: When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), 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 near Dallas, Texas. Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.

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

The Chapel Car Bride

Book Review: The Chapel Car Bride

Author: Judith Miller

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back cover summary from Baker Publishing Group:

After a sheltered life in Pittsburgh, Hope Irvine is ready for a new adventure. When her father takes a position as a preacher in a railroad car converted into a traveling church, she’s thrilled at the chance to accompany him. While accommodations in their new chapel car home are tight, Hope couldn’t be happier putting her musical skills to good use and ministering to the people of West Virginia alongside her father. But when their chapel car arrives in Finch, West Virginia, they find a coal mining community that has hit hard times and is suspicious of outsiders.

Luke Hughes works for the coal mine when he can, but the struggling company doesn’t always offer steady work. When Reverend Irvine and Hope arrive in town, Luke is intrigued by what the reverend can teach him–and by the lovely and kind Hope.

When Hope’s desire to bring supplies and Sunday school classes to neighboring counties leads to her traveling with a flirtatious young mine manager, Luke is hard-pressed to suppress his jealousy. But when he begins to suspect the manager’s motives are less than charitable, can he prove it without hurting Hope, or worse, putting her in danger?

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            I had just heard about chapel cars and their fascinating history a couple weeks before I had the opportunity to read and review The Chapel Car Bride, so I couldn’t pass up the offer. This book gives some insight into what the chapel cars were like as well as adding some imagination as to how their inhabitants lived and spent their time. It also takes a look at a period of history in West Virginia that is fascinating

The plot is multi-faceted, with several different characters’ point of views. The Chapel Car Bride explores mining troubles, moonshining and revenuers, and opportunities in that day for spreading the Gospel.

While the plot and setting were intriguing, I’m afraid this book just didn’t strike home for me. It didn’t keep my attention, and some of the characters seemed kind of flat. However, the story and history were there in abundance.

About the Author

Biography from Baker Publishing Group: Judith Miller is an award-winning writer whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. Judy and her family make their home in Kansas. Learn more at www.judithmccoymiller.com.

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

To the Farthest Shores

Book Review: To the Farthest Shores

Author: Elizabeth Camden

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back cover summary from Bethany House Publishers:

The unpredictability of her upbringing prepared army nurse Jenny Bennett to face any challenge at the Presidio Army base, but the sudden reappearance in her life of the dashing naval officer who broke her heart six years ago is enough to rattle even her.

Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher is one of the few men in the world qualified to carry out a daring government mission overseas–an assignment that destroyed his reputation and broke the heart of the only woman he ever loved. Honor-bound never to reveal where he was during those years, he can’t tell Jenny the truth, or it will endanger an ongoing mission and put thousands of lives at risk.

Ryan thinks he may have finally found a solution to his impossible situation, but he needs Jenny’s help. While her loyalty to her country compels her to agree, she was too badly hurt to fall for Ryan again despite his determination to win her back. When an unknown threat from Ryan’s past puts everything at risk–including his life–can they overcome the seemingly insurmountable odds stacked against them in time?

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            To the Farthest Shores is a unique look at the early part of the 18th century set in California. It differs from other books of that time period, because the focus isn’t San Francisco, but espionage, nursing, and pearls. The history that Elizabeth Camden focuses on is always unique, and it was interesting to learn about early espionage institutions in the U.S. and the quest to create cultivated pearls. But beyond the history, there is always a great story line, and this book is no different. Because of Ryan’s loyalty to the U.S. and his mysterious assignment, he and Jenny have a lot of ground to cover, a large part of it focusing on the issue of trust. How can you trust someone who has repeatedly broken that trust? That’s something that Jenny struggles with, and Ryan desires to prove. I really enjoyed Finn’s character in this book, he’s funny, sassy, and unconventional.

I did enjoy this book, but it didn’t draw me in like some of Elizabeth Camden’s previous novels. I also was a bit disappointed with the fairly minor role that faith had to play in the story.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House Publishers: Elizabeth Camden is the author of nine historical novels and has been honored with the RITA Award, the Christy Award, and the Carol Award. With a master’s in history and a master’s in library science, she is a research librarian by day and scribbles away on her next novel by night. She lives with her husband in Florida. Learn more at www.elizabethcamden.com

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

The One True Love of Alice-Ann

Book Review: The One True Love of Alice-Ann

Author: Eva Marie Everson

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon of The One True Love of Alice-Ann:

Living in rural Georgia in 1941, sixteen-year-old Alice-Ann has her heart set on her brother’s friend Mack; despite their five-year age gap, Alice-Ann knows she can make Mack see her for the woman she’ll become. But when they receive news of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Mack decides to enlist, Alice-Ann realizes she must declare her love before he leaves.

Though promising to write, Mack leaves without confirmation that her love is returned. But Alice-Ann is determined to wear the wedding dress her maiden aunt never had a chance to wear—having lost her fiancé in the Great War. As their correspondence continues over the next three years, Mack and Alice-Ann are drawn closer together. But then Mack’s letters cease altogether, leaving Alice-Ann to fear history repeating itself.

Dreading the war will leave her with a beautiful dress and no happily ever after, Alice-Ann fills her days with work and caring for her best friend’s war-torn brother, Carlton. As time passes and their friendship develops into something more, Alice-Ann wonders if she’ll ever be prepared to say good-bye to her one true love and embrace the future God has in store with a newfound love. Or will a sudden call from overseas change everything?

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            As soon as I picked up this book, I knew it was going to be a good read. Don’t ask me how, I just knew. And I wouldn’t have been surprised at all if that ‘knowing’ had led me wrong, but amazingly, I was right! The One True Love of Alice-Ann is such a sweet story. As Alice-Ann grows and experiences life, I saw so much of my younger self in her. Her hopes, dreams, and perceptions of life all felt very familiar, almost as if I were stepping back in time, visiting with younger me.

This is a sweet coming-of-age story set in an extremely difficult time in American history. Alice-Ann learns how to grow up, what infatuation and love are, and what her place is in the world. All set in rural Georgia, with a setting so authentic you could swear that you’re standing right there on the streets of Bynum.

In at time period and time of life where all seems uncertain, Alice-Ann learns to trust God with her world, her friends and family, and herself. I fell in love with this book, and I hope, if you choose to pick it up and read, that you will too.

About the Author

Biography from Goodread’s website: Eva Marie Everson is a best-selling, multiple award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction. She is the president of Word Weavers International and the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference. She enjoys teaching and speaking at writers conferences across the US as well as coaching new writers via her company, Pen In Hand, Inc.

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

When Tides Turn

Book Review: When Tides Turn

Author: Sarah Sundin

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell of When Tides Turn:

In a time of war, sometimes battles take place in the heart.

Tess Beaumont is tired of being thought of as just a pretty face. Eager to do her part for the war effort, she joins the Navy’s newly established WAVES program for women. Perhaps there she can convince people that there is more to her than meets the eye.

Lt. Dan Avery has been using his skills in the fight against German U-boats and hoping to make admiral. The last thing he wants to see on his radar is a girl like Tess. Convinced that romance will interfere with his goals, Dan is determined to stay the course, no matter how intriguing a distraction Tess is.

But love, like war, is unpredictable. When Dan is shipped out at the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, he finds himself torn between his lifelong career goals and his desire to help the beguiling Tess root out a possible spy on shore. Could this fun-loving glamour girl really be the one?

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            The third book in the Waves of Freedom series, When Tides Turn is a fascinating look at the Navy and Naval culture during WW2 encompassed in a sweet story that challenges the reader. I loved the different aspects of the Navy that Sundin brought out, from research to actual ship-submarine warfare. I felt as if I’d taken a step into a history book that educated as well as entertained. I didn’t know much about the WAVES, and learning about the women’s service and impact on the war was very cool.

Tess and Dan are as different as two people can be, which made their story so fun to read. They complemented each other and challenged each other by turns, and I loved reading how their story played out. The mystery thrown in also helped to keep my attention as I tried to figure out who-dun-it.

When Tides Turn is a sweet story that explores looking beyond a person’s surface to who they truly are on the inside, and who they can become. It’s also about submitting our will to God, in every area and aspect of our lives, and what that looks like practically. I highly recommend it, though you may want to learn from my example and not start at the end of the series. 😊

About the Author

Biography from Goodread’s website: Sarah Sundin enjoys writing about the drama and romance of the World War II era. She is the author of the Waves of Freedom series (Through Waters Deep, 2015, Anchor in the Storm, 2016, When Tides Turn, March 2017), the Wings of the Nightingale series, and the Wings of Glory series. Her novel Through Waters Deep won the 2016 INSPY Award, was a Carol Award finalist, and was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A mother of three, Sundin lives in northern California. She works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies. She enjoys speaking to community, church, and writers’ groups.

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

The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection

Book Review: The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection

Authors: Joanne Bischof, Amanda Dykes, Heather Day Gilbert,

Jocelyn Green, Maureen Lang

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon of The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection:

Join the journey as one word etched in Latin on an ancient bronze bottle travels through the centuries to reach five young women who are struggling to maintain their faith in God and love. An Irish princess, a Scottish story weaver, a Post-Colonial nurse, a cotton mill worker, and a maid who nearly drowned each receive a message from the bottle just when they need their hope restored. But will the bottle also bring them each to a man whose love will endure?

The Distant Tide by Heather Day Gilbert

1170: County Kerry, Ireland

When a Viking bent on revenge mistakenly raids the castle of a bookish Irish princess, will she cast her fears aside to befriend the enemy, finally realizing God’s plan for her life?

A Song in the Night by Amanda Dykes

1717: Scotland and England

When a Scottish story-weaver loses her family in a clan war, she finds herself aided by a handsome, secretive bagpiper in a race against time to reunite with someone she never dared hope she’d see again.

The Forgotten Hope by Maureen Lang

1798: New York

As a champion of the sick, a young New Yorker never doubted her worth until a new doctor arrives to work with her father, one who believes her to be nothing more than a social butterfly. Can she gain his respect—and his love?

A River Between Us by Jocelyn Green

1864: Roswell, Georgia

When a Georgian cotton mill worker is arrested and sent North, the Union officer who tries to protect her is the last person she wants to forgive—and the only man who can bring hope and healing to her heart.

The Swelling Sea by Joanne Bischof

1890: Coronado Island, California

After washing ashore on the California coastline, a young woman’s yearning to discover her past leads her to the courageous oarsman who helps her find the key.

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            The Distant Tide: So, I really enjoyed this story. Why? Easy: Viking heroes, courageous princesses, and a missionary heart. I loved the two main characters and their diversity. Heather’s writing style and word choice were also a delight to read. I really appreciated that the two main characters had attraction, but that Britta knew that love was a choice. I felt that was expressed very well.

A Song in the Night: I didn’t want this story to end! I loved the Scottish brogue coming through, with just enough to add color, but not too much to make it impossible to read. They were intriguing, colorful characters. I loved how Dykes wove this story of hope. Duncan’s story was a surprise to me, and it was such a sweet, beautiful ending, with twists and turns to the end.

The Forgotten Hope: I loved how Abigail had to figure out how to maneuver the tensions of societal and familial expectations and what she believed God had created her to do. Reading how she walked that line was sometimes humorous, though it annoyed me how often Cal misunderstood who she was and discounted her for it. A sweet story set in a favorite time-period for me.

A River Between Us: I had already figured out that I love Jocelyn’s books, and this story continued to confirm that for me. The issues and odds that these two characters have to overcome are enormous, but as each experience healing from God, they grow closer together. Both of the characters are tenacious and become more so as they experience true hope.

The Swelling Sea: This story fascinated me, both the premise and the characters, as Rosie is a very unique character with difficult challenges she has to deal with daily. Jonas is so sweet and understanding, and his own determination was inspiring. Their story is sweet and explores a place, a time period, and some personal issues that I had not read before.

About the Authors

Biography from Amazon’s website: A Carol Award and three-time Christy Award-finalist, Joanne Bischof writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the reader’s heartstrings. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her three children.

Amanda Dykes is the author of Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale, the critically-acclaimed bicycle story that invited readers together to fund bicycles for missionaries in Asia. A former English teacher, she has a soft spot for classic literature and happy endings. She is a drinker of tea, a dweller of Truth, and a spinner of hope-filled tales, grateful for the grace of a God who loves extravagantly.

HEATHER DAY GILBERT, a Grace Award winner and bestselling author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood. Heather writes Viking historicals and Appalachian mystery/suspense.

Jocelyn Green is a former journalist who puts her investigative skills to work in writing both nonfiction and historical fiction to inspire faith and courage. Her books have finaled in the Christy Awards and Inspirational Readers Choice Awards, and have won gold from the Military Writers Society of America and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Maureen Lang has been writing stories since the age of ten, when she figured out a way to write the stories she feels like reading. Since then she’s become the award-winning author of over a dozen published novels. In the last ten years her faith has directed her to write stories that reflect Christian hope and traditional values. She’s also been an active member of the disability community since her oldest son was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic form of mental retardation. Maureen loves going on research trips to get a feel for the settings of her novels, and lives in the Chicago area with her husband, children, and lovable Labrador Retriever.

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