Tag Archives: Bethany House Publishers

Still Life

Book Review: Still Life

Author: Dani Pettrey

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon of Still Life:

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

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            Dani Pettrey is brilliant at what she does. I loved her previous series set in Alaska, and I’m finding that I like these just as much. Still Life is the second book in the series, and I would definitely recommend reading them in order, it helps to set up some of the relationships and dynamics that happen in this book.

Still Life is…chilling. Reading it at night is not recommended. I rushed through this book in the same break-neck pace that Dani sets, with each ending to the chapter begging me to continue reading. I love how each character has their specialty that they bring to the team, but they don’t have those because they’re just unnaturally good at them, they all have motivation and reasons. The setting is different than her other series, but where the wilds of Alaska and its animals were an issue, abandoned buildings and unstable people are just as dangerous in the Chesapeake Valor series. The mystery, suspense, and adventure are great in this series, but the romance keeps perfect pace with it.

Over all, I really enjoyed Still Life, and would definitely recommend it!

About the Author

Biography from Amazon’s website: Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters. Visit her web site at www.DaniPettrey.com!

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

A Lady Unrivaled

LadyUnrivaled_mck.inddBook Review: A Lady Unrivaled

Author: Roseanna M. White

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Bethany House’s website for A Lady Unrivaled:

Her future–and her heart–hang in the balance.

Amid the Unforgettable Cotswolds, the Final Grasp for the Fire Eyes Diamonds Could Threaten Them All

Lady Ella Myerston can always find a reason to smile–even if it’s just in hope that tomorrow will be better than today. All her life everyone has tried to protect her from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well how the dangerous Fire Eyes diamonds have haunted her brother and their friends, and she won’t wait for peril to strike again. She intends to take action . . . and if that happens to involve an adventurous trip to the Cotswolds, then so much the better.

Lord James Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he’s determined to live a better life . . . but that proves complicated when old acquaintances pull Cayton into their desperate attempt to seize the jewels. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger, but the stubborn girl won’t budge. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her–and his daughter–from those intent on destroying them all?

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            I LOVED this last book in the Ladies of the Manor series. Ella always seemed an interesting character, but getting more to know her and her spunk and flare for life was so much fun. She is definitely one of my favorite heroines I’ve read about recently. Her tenacity, courage, and loyalty make her such a great character, yet not without her faults. I didn’t really like Cayton in the other books, but as I got to know him in this one, I couldn’t help but cheer him on. His inability to let go of his sinful past is something that so many struggle with, yet as he learned to accept God’s love for him, he was able to live in freedom. I also really enjoyed how Roseanna continued to have other character’s viewpoints in the book. Seeing some of their struggles really brought a well-rounded dynamic to the story. The climax of the Fire Eyes mystery kept me turning pages, holding my breath at times and then finally at the end letting out that satisfied sigh. No character is as he, or she, seems, and Roseanna always had a surprise waiting in the next few pages. I would highly recommend this whole series, not only because of the premise and how she carries it out, but because of the level of quality throughout all three books. Roseanna does a fantastic job, and not once was I bored while reading, or tempted to pick up some other book.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of nine novels, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. Roseanna lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.RoseannaMWhite.com.

I was given a review copy of A Lady Unrivaled from the author. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

A Heart Most Certain

imgresBook Review: A Heart Most Certain

Author: Melissa Jagears

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon’s website for A Heart Most Certain:

While Lydia King’s reasons for joining the Teaville Moral Society might be suspect to some members, her heart is in the right place. Because of her father’s debts and her mother’s persistent illness, her best chance at a secure future and curing her mother is to impress the politician courting her. Her first task–to ask the town’s wealthiest man to donate–seems simple enough . . . until he refuses.

Despite appearances, Nicholas Lowe wants to help others, but prefers to keep his charity private. When Lydia proves persistent, they agree to a bargain, but Nicholas still intends to do things his own way. Neither predicts what they’ll learn about true charity or foresee the complications their actions will bring to the town, forcing Lydia to decide where her beliefs and heart truly align.

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            I knew I liked Melissa Jagears’ books after reading her e-novella, but I’d never gotten the chance to read any of the others until this one. I have really been missing out.

It’s not too often that I find that I don’t really like either of the main characters very much. “But, isn’t that a bad thing?” you ask. Well, not really. Here’s why: Lydia’s prejudice and self-righteousness grated, but that was because in her, I saw pieces of myself. Nicholas is a crusader, but he goes about it in a rather arrogant, heavy-handed way. So at the beginning of the book, I didn’t really like either of these characters. All Lydia cared about was money (some of her reasoning was good), and Nicholas only seemed able to manipulate people into seeing things his way (and yes, he had great intentions). But what made this story incredible was how the characters changed. They were like normal people, people like me. People don’t change in a day, they don’t change in a week, sometimes not even in a year. We are very good at deceiving ourselves into thinking that we are better than we are, or something that we’re not. So when God shows us who we are, through others or through His word, it’s painful, humbling, and downright uncomfortable. This is what Nicholas and Lydia experienced, and the fact that it was genuine and difficult for them was what touched my heart. This book is all about God redeeming who we were and continuing to make us into the image of His Son. And that is an awesome, ground-shaking, heart-humbling thing.

This is a romance, and Melissa is obviously a pro at her craft. I could hardly put this book down. There’s adventure, danger, prejudice, romance, and like I mentioned above, a message that goes deeper than the pages. A Heart Most Certain is populated with a group of characters who are not always what they seem, for people seldom are. Everyone’s motivations are in question. The historicity in the book was super fun and informative too.

To wrap up my gushing, I loved A Heart Most Certain, because Melissa went beyond just a love story, to touch on the ultimate Love Story, and it was an incredible journey.

About the Author

Biography from Amazon’s website: Much to her introverted self’s delight, Melissa Jagears hardly needs to leave her home to be a homeschooling mother and historical romance novelist. She doesn’t have to leave her house to be a housekeeper either, but she’s doubtful she meets the minimum qualifications to claim to be one in her official bio. Her passion is to help Christian believers mature in their faith and judge rightly. Find her online at http://www.melissajagears.com, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

I was given a review copy of A Heart Most Certain from the publisher. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Her One and Only

26974629Book Review: Her One and Only

Author: Becky Wade

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Bethany House’s website for Her One and Only:

After ten years in the NFL, superstar Gray Fowler is accustomed to obsessive fans. But when Gray starts receiving death threats from a stalker, his team hires an executive protection agency to guard him until the culprit is caught. Dealing with bodyguards 24/7 is a headache, especially when one of them is a young, beautiful woman. How can a female half his size possibly protect him better than he can protect himself?

Dru Porter is a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt–none of which saved her from disaster on her last assignment. In order to rebuild her tarnished reputation, she’s determined to find Gray’s stalker and, since relationships between agents and clients are forbidden, avoid a romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past.

Yet every secret that leads Dru closer to the stalker also draws her closer to Gray. As the danger escalates, they’ll survive only if they can learn to trust their lives–and their hearts–to one another.

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            Becky Wade delivers another stellar novel in Her One and Only as she finishes out the saga of the Porter family. The book is characterized by her signature headstrong characters, strong romance, and building suspense. As far as her writing goes, this one matched, if not exceeded, the excellence that readers have come to expect from her. I enjoyed this final book, because it focused on Dru, the last member of the Porter siblings, who is quite a spitfire. However, unlike what normally happens for me, this book simply didn’t suck me in. The romance aspect of the book didn’t seem quite ‘genuine’ to me, even though, yes, it is fiction. I also wasn’t on board with Dru pushing aside her doubts about faith and going ahead with a relationship with Gray. That was concerning for me, because as far as spiritual or emotional consequences, it didn’t really seem to be a factor.

So even though for many this book is another homerun hit, for me it just didn’t quite click.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: Becky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and now lives in Dallas. A favorite among readers of Christian contemporary romance, Becky has won a Carol Award, an Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and an INSPY Award. Learn more at www.beckywade.com.

I was given a review copy of Her One and Only from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Like Never Before

51m2kJ4QWWL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Book Review: Like Never Before

Author: Melissa Tagg

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Bethany House’s website for Like Never Before:

Maple Valley became Amelia Bentley’s haven after her heart and her dreams of a family were shattered. But when the newspaper she runs is in danger of closing, she pins all her hopes on a story that just might convince the new owner to keep the paper running.

After his biggest campaign success yet, widowed speechwriter Logan Walker has the chance of a lifetime: a spot on a presidential campaign. But first he has to return to his hometown to sell the newspaper he’s suddenly inherited.

But instead of a quick sale, Logan finds himself helping Amelia chase her story. She’s scrappy, but wounded. He’s dependable, but lost. And working together to break the story on Maple Valley’s unsolved mystery is just the start of the sparks that fly in the office and in their hearts.

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            I love family-based series. In case that hasn’t become apparent yet. The Walker Family series is no exception. I love seeing a family of flawed people (yes, I know they’re fictional) grow and change and ultimately find their purpose and meaning in God.

Like Never Before is another great installment in this series. Logan is so broken and hurt after his wife’s death, that his daughter is the light in his world, rivaled only by his consuming passion for his job. Amelia has her own scars and secrets, namely her dirtbag former husband. That man’s insensitiveness, even for the brief time he showed up in the book, made me so irritated. But I digress. Amelia’s determination and passion for her job and the people around her was so endearing. I loved how she pursued the story of her benefactor to the bittersweet end. Logan’s compassion for those around him, including a difficult past relationship with a bitter family, was really what made me like him, beyond the normal male-lead qualities. I appreciate how Melissa handles her characters’ spiritual growth. It can be difficult to keep from coming across as preachy, but Melissa avoids this with grace as she delivers the reality of the struggles people face, but also the faithfulness and goodness of Christ.

All the characters in this book have a sense of genuineness and depth to them, so that whenever I delve into one of Melissa’s books, I find myself quite involved. As other authors have said of her, I believe Melissa just keeps getting better at her craft. I can’t wait to see which Walker family member she writes about next.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: Melissa Tagg, author of Made to Last and Here to Stay, is a former newspaper reporter, current nonprofit grant writer, and total Iowa girl. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever. She’s passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings. Melissa blogs regularly at www.melissatagg.com.

I was given a review copy of Like Never Before from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Reluctant Duchess

ReluctantDuchess_mck.inddBook Review: The Reluctant Duchess

Author: Roseanna M. White

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Amazon’s description of The Reluctant Duchess:

Lady Rowena Kinnaird may be the heiress to a Highland earldom, but she has never felt good enough–not for her father, not for the man she thought she’d marry, not for God. But after a shocking attack, she’s willing to be forever an outcast if it means escaping Loch Morar.

Brice Myerston, the Duke of Nottingham, has found himself in possession of a rare treasure his enemies are prepared to kill for. While Brice has never been one to shy away from manor-born ladies, the last thing he needs is the distraction of Lady Rowena, who finds herself in a desperate situation. But when Rowena’s father tries to trap Brice into marrying his daughter, Brice makes a surprising decision.

Rowena wanted to escape the Highlands, but she’s reluctant to marry a notorious flirt. And when she learns that Brice is mixed up in questionable business with a stolen treasure, she fears she’s about to end up directly in the path of everything she was trying to avoid.

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            Mystery, deep hurts, and a promise of renewal in more ways than one have colored this series by Roseanna M. White. Despite dealing with college finals, this was one book that was very difficult to walk away from. The Reluctant Duchess is a little different, because a lot of the romance takes place after the marriage. I loved how Roseanna showed Brice as a flawed person, who is sometimes careless in his flirtation, yet he had many redeeming qualities. His steadfast love of Rowena was a hazy, imperfect picture of how Christ loves us unconditionally when we are saved. Which leads me to another part of the book I liked: Brice and Rowena had to puzzle through what love is. Is it an emotion? A physical attraction? A nebulous idea? They had to figure that out on their own, realizing that love is a commitment, and is proved when the other person is unlovable. Rowena was also an intriguing character. At first I wasn’t sure if I would like her, but she quickly showed her backbone, and though she dealt with deep hurts, I loved how Roseanna was able to change her character through the book in a way that wasn’t rushed, but realistic.

If you enjoy Downton Abbey, you may want to take a look at The Reluctant Duchess. It has some of the same elements, a mystery, a complicated and varied cast of characters, and romance. The Reluctant Duchess would be in the time period just prior to the start of that television series. However, Roseanna also wove in a strong faith in Jesus through the book in a way that neither preaches nor is heavy-handed.

About the Author

Biography from Amazon’s website: Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna has a slew of historical novels available, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at www.RoseannaMWhite.com

I was given a review copy of The Reluctant Duchess from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Playing the Part

25695484Book Review: Playing the Part

Author: Jen Turano

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Amazon’s description of Playing the Part:

Lucetta Plum is an actress on the rise in New York City, but is forced to abandon her starring role when a fan’s interest turns threatening. Lucetta’s widowed friend, Abigail Hart, is delighted at the opportunity to meddle in Lucetta’s life and promptly whisks her away to her grandson’s estate to hide out.

Bram Haverstein may appear to simply be a somewhat eccentric gentleman of means, but a mysterious career and a secret fascination with a certain actress mean there’s much more to him than society knows.

Lucetta, who has no interest in Abigail’s matchmaking machinations, has the best intentions of remaining cordial but coolly distant to Bram. But when she can’t ignore the strange and mysterious things going on in his house, it’ll take more than good intentions to keep her from trying to discover who Bram is behind the part he plays.

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            Playing the Part is the final book in Jen Turano’s latest trilogy, and it focuses on the spunky and unpredicatable Lucetta Plum. I’ve always enjoyed Jen’s books, they’re chock full of romance, humor, and historicity. I really enjoyed reading about Lucetta and Bram, as both of them have misconceptions about life and each other that seem to block them at every turn.

Abigail is probably one of my favorite characters in these books. She loves to meddle and set up her friends, and is a lot of fun to read about. Bram is a great character, with a lot of eccentricities. As a writer myself, I can understand some of those. 😉 I loved the idea of an old castle with hidden passageways and mystery added in this story, it was such fun to read about! Lucetta’s own dilemma seemed to be more of a side story, but eventually it caught up with her. I liked how despite she was in a dangerous situation, she kept up her spunky attitude. Her back story with her parents was so sad, though! All the pressure she put on herself, and her mother put on her. The poor thing.

This story is full of hilarious mishaps, such as run-ins with goats and moats, and a great end to this series. Any long-standing fan of Jen Turano’s novels will enjoy this book about Lucetta. I can’t wait to see what she cooks up next.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: Jen Turano, author of seven books, is a graduate of the University of Akron with a degree in clothing and textiles. She is a member of ACFW and lives in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Visit her website at www.jenturano.com.

I was given a review copy of Playing the Part from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.