Tag Archives: Bethany House

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?


            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.


After a Fashion

22504489Book Review: After a Fashion

Author: Jen Turano

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Bethany House’s website description of After a Fashion:

Miss Harriet Peabody dreams of the day she can open up a shop selling refashioned gowns to independent working women like herself. Unfortunately, when an errand for her millinery shop job goes sadly awry due to a difficult customer, she finds herself out of an income.

Mr. Oliver Addleshaw is on the verge of his biggest business deal yet when he learns his potential partner prefers to deal with men who are settled down and wed. When Oliver witnesses his ex not-quite-fiance cause the hapless Harriet to lose her job, he tries to make it up to her by enlisting her help in making a good impression on his business partner.

Harriet quickly finds her love of fashion can’t make her fashionable. She’ll never truly fit into Oliver’s world, but just as she’s ready to call off the fake relationship, fancy dinners, and elegant balls, a threat from her past forces both Oliver and Harriet to discover that love can come in the most surprising packages.


With her signature flair for the humorous, Jen Turano delivers another hilarious, mishap-filled novel in After a Fashion. She’s one of my go-to authors when I’m looking for something funny, historical, and romantic.

Harriet is indeed a different sort of lady, what with her dubious past (I loved the twist that went along with her aunt), and the fact that she simply seems to find herself in hot water more often than not. It was hilarious, reading about Oliver trying to convince Harriet to accept his insane sounding proposal, and then about the mishaps and misunderstandings that riddled their relationship thereafter. How each of their feelings developed for each other was also enjoyable and funny to read about, since each dealt with the confounding feelings differently.

In all, this was another fun, relaxing read that I enjoyed greatly.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: Jen Turano, author of six 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 http://www.jenturano.com.

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


SabotagedSM1Book Review: Sabotaged

Author: Dani Pettrey

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Bethany House’s website description of Sabotaged:

Finally Returned Home, Reef McKenna Finds His Beloved Alaska Facing Its Greatest Threat

Growing up, goody-two-shoes Kirra Jacobs and troublemaker Reef McKenna were always at odds. Now, working together as search-and-rescue for Alaska’s arduous Iditarod race, a growing attraction seems to be forcing aside old arguments. Then Reef catches Kirra sneaking from camp in the middle of the night.

Kirra’s uncle, a musher in the race, has disappeared. Kirra and Reef quickly track the man, but what they discover is harrowing: Frank’s daughter has been kidnapped. Kirra and Reef, along with the entire McKenna family, are thrown into a race to stop a shadowy villain who is not only threatening a girl’s life–but appears willing to unleash one of the largest disasters Alaska has ever seen.


I love the suspense that Dani is able to create in her books; Sabotaged was no exception. I was kept guessing, along with Kirra and the McKennas, as to who was behind the kidnapping and why they had taken Meg in the first place. I liked how there were false leads, but they were kept interesting so that they didn’t detract from the story.

The romance in this book is well done. Though Kirra and Reef are only together a short period of time, they’re with each other pretty much 24/7 as they race to find Meg and her kidnappers. Their feelings for each other progress naturally, and in such a sweet way.

I genuinely liked both Kirra and Reef. They feel like more than just characters on a page. Each has individual struggles that they must overcome in the book, and I felt for them both as they muddled their way through those. I couldn’t help but cheer them on towards healing, a better relationship with God, and each other.

Confession time: I haven’t read books 3 and 4 in this series yet, so I’ll definitely be going back and reading those, though I’ll already know a few spoilers. So far, though, Dani has become one of my favorite authors as far as suspense, doesn’t matter what genre. She does a great job of crafting a sweet romance and a heart-racing suspense that balance each other out perfectly. I’m eagerly anticipating the next series she takes on. If you’re a fan of the suspense found in Colleen Coble’s books, but also love the warm-hearted family aspect of Susan May Warren’s books, then you’ll enjoy the Alaskan Courage series.

About the Author

Biography from Baker Publishing Group’s website: Dani Pettrey is a wife, home-schooling mom, and the acclaimed author of the Alaskan Courage romantic suspense series, which includes her bestselling novels Submerged, Shattered, Stranded, and Silenced, and new release, Sabotaged. Her books have been honored with the Daphne du Maurier award, two HOLT Medallions, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, and Christian Retailing’s Best Award, among others. 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 her characters’ faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland, where they enjoy time with their two daughters, a son-in-law, and a super adorable grandson. You can find her online at danipettrey.com.

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

Like a Flower in Bloom

51nc7JQcbpL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Book Review: Like a Flower in Bloom

Author: Siri Mitchell

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Bethany House’s website description of Like a Flower in Bloom:

He Stole the Work She Loved.
Will She Let Him Steal Her Heart as Well?

It’s all her uncle’s fault. For years Charlotte Withersby has been free to pursue her love of plants and flowers by assisting her botanist father. But now that she’s reached the old age of twenty-two, an intrusive uncle has convinced her father that Charlotte’s future–the only proper future for a woman–is to be a wife and mother, not a scholar.

Her father is so dependent on her assistance that Charlotte believes he’ll soon change his mind…and then Edward Trimble shows up. A long-time botany correspondent in the South Pacific, Trimble arrives ready to step in as assistant so that Charlotte can step out into proper society–a world that baffles her with its unwritten rules, inexplicable expectations, and confounding fashion.

Things aren’t perfectly smooth between Trimble and her father, so Charlotte hatches a last gasp plan. She’ll pretend such an interest in marriage that the thought of losing her will make her father welcome her back. Only things go quickly awry, and she realizes that the one man who recognizes her intelligence is also the person she’s most angry with: Edward Trimble, her supposed rival. Suddenly juggling more suitors than she knows what to do with, Charlotte is caught in a trap of her own making. Will she have no choice but to leave her beloved flowers behind?


Siri Mitchell has such a way with words, her books always stand out to me. I felt immersed in the Victorian England culture as I read this book, feeling deeply Charlotte’s sense frustration and unfairness. I found, when I would put down the book, that my thoughts had even been converted to that singular form of thinking (see, it just happened!). One of the reasons I particularly enjoyed this book was how it put me in mind of Pride and Prejudice or Emma or Sense and Sensibility, which I love to watch in movie form, though the book is set several decades after those time periods.

Charlotte was a completely unique character. Her love of botany and her way of thinking are so completely different than my own, that she was fascinating to read about. I liked also, how she viewed the social conventions of the time. She wasn’t caught up in what was expected or behaving in exactly the right way. Her ignorance was fun to read about, since most of the books I’ve read set in this time period depict the heroines from another viewpoint.

Another interesting feature of this book, which characterizes many of Siri’s books, is that it is written from the first person point of view ( “I” ), and the hero’s viewpoint was completely left out. This made me feel a lot closer to Charlotte, and I was able to experience with her the confusion that Mr. Trimble’s comments elicited.

In all, this book was a refreshing read that I would definitely recommend if you’re a fan of Jane Austen’s works. In the process, I guarantee that you’ll learn quite a bit of history about botany, Great Britain’s opium war, and what it was like to live as a woman in this particular time and place.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: Siri Mitchell is the author of nearly a dozen novels, among them the critically acclaimed Christy Award finalists Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door. A graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in business, she has worked in many different levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived in places as varied as Tokyo and Paris. Siri currently lives in the DC-metro area. Visit Siri’s website at www.sirimitchell.com

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

Love Unexpected

51v0Acxrh0LBook Review: Love Unexpected

Author: Jody Hedlund

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Bethany House’s website description of Love Unexpected:

Presque Isle, Michigan

What Is the Secret That Could Shipwreck Both of Their Lives?

All Emma Chambers ever wanted was a home, but when her steamboat sinks just outside Presque Isle, she’s left destitute and with no place to stay.

An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper arrives in town. He’s just lost his wife and is having a difficult time caring for his child. So a traveling preacher gets the idea that the keeper and Emma might be the answer to each other’s dilemma. After a hasty marriage, she finds herself heading to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger. Nothing in her aimless life, though, has prepared her for parenting a rambunctious toddler, as well as managing a household.

Emma soon suspects Patrick may be hiding something from her, and then she hears a disturbing rumor about the circumstances surrounding his late wife’s death. It seems as if her wish for a home and family of her own could end up leading her once more into turbulent waters.


Love Unexpected is a great start to Jody’s new series, Beacons of Hope. I fell in love with this book for several reasons. 1. I love lighthouses. I always have, so when I found out Jody was writing a series that is set around lighthouses I got very excited. 2. The suspense in this novel is excellent. Just when you think you understand what’s going on and know what will happen next, Jody throws a curve ball that alters the course of the story. 3. The characters in this book are so real, and they are what I’ve always loved about Jody’s books. Emma wants a home and a family. Patrick wants to be able to keep the job he loves and the son he adores. They find that the other is the answer to their problems, but that’s only the beginning.

I liked how Emma is not portrayed as a beautiful heroine. She sees herself as plain and nondescript. She’s not confident in her abilities, but she’s humble and willing to learn. Her interactions with Josiah, Patrick’s son, were great. Jody was really able to capture the essence of a toddler, with all the joys and struggles. I also liked how Emma made mistakes, some big ones at times. She didn’t always do what was wise or what was right—meaning she’s a lot like me sometimes.

Patrick is a different type of hero as well. He’s hesitant to grow closer to Emma, because he’s afraid of being rejected like he has been in the past. He wants to protect her and himself, but by doing so he risks pushing her away and ruining the chance of every having a family like they could. His background is slowly revealed, and I found it fascinating. It was definitely a twist on this character.

Overall, I loved this book, as I knew I would. Jody does an excellent job crafting the romance, the characters, and the suspense, making Love Unexpected a novel I would highly recommend to those in my circle. If you’ve never read anything by Jody before and would like to give her a try (for free!) please check out the prequel to this book, Out of the Storm. It’s not very long, only novella length, but it’s a very sweet story. You won’t want to miss out on it. Here’s the link: http://www.amazon.com/Out-Storm-Beacons-Hope-Novella-ebook/dp/B00NB3LMEG/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1418755418&sr=8-3&keywords=jody+hedlund

About the Author

Biography from Baker Publishing Group’s website: Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of seven novels, including Captured by Love, A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for Historical Fiction, and The Preacher’s Bride, winner of the 2011 Award of Excellence. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. She can be found online at www.jodyhedlund.com

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

Full Steam Ahead


urlBook Review: Full Steam Ahead

Author: Karen Witemeyer

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Bethany House’s website description of Full Steam Ahead:

When love simmers between a reclusive scientist and a wealthy debutante, will they abandon ship or is it full steam ahead?

Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole’s father has always focused on what she’s not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping.

Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it’s too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family’s greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father’s rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole’s plans.

After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world.

Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father’s rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family’s legacy?


I was so excited to get the chance to request a review copy of Karen’s latest, Full Steam Ahead, since I am a big fan of her writing. I’m always a big fan of romance, history, and suspense all set in the wild west.

This novel is a bit different than her other offerings. Rather than the dusty west, this story takes place on the banks of various Texas rivers. This particular heroine comes from a wealthy family. Our hero is obsessed with finding a way to make riverboat travel safer.

In other ways, Full Steam Ahead is just as I expected from Karen. Nicole is a feisty heroine who will do whatever it takes to keep her family safe, even to the point of putting herself in danger. Darius is driven to right past wrongs, revealing a tender heart scarred by the tragic steamboat explosion. And, as always, Karen infused Full Steam Ahead with rich historical detail and a subtle, yet poignant spiritual message.

I loved how these characters were willing to sacrifice for each other, be it their dreams, their safety, or even their lives. Nicole and Darius’s relationship is fun to read about, as each are passionate about certain things, and when they begin to be attracted toward each other it is truly full steam ahead. 🙂

The danger in this book is real, with a no-holds-barred feel. Nicole and Darius must be truly willing to risk everything to keep those they love safe.

Darius and Nicole both must realize that in order to truly be whole, to be fixed, they have to place themselves in God’s hand. They are incapable of fixing their many flaws on their own, but God is willing to fix their broken vases.

Who are your go-to authors? I’d love to hear who you would recommend!

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: Two-time RITA finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion and ACFW Carol Award, CBA bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance because she believes that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at www.karenwitemeyer.com

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


Shadow Hand



Book Review: Shadow Hand


Author: Anne Elisabeth Stengl


Review by Grace Olson



The Story


Taken from Bethany House’s website description of Shadow Hand:

This is a story about blood.
And love.
And the many things that lie between.

By her father’s wish, Lady Daylily is betrothed to the Prince of Southlands. Not the prince she loves, handsome and dispossessed Lionheart, but his cousin, the awkward and foolish Prince Foxbrush. As her wedding day dawns, Daylily flees into the dangerous Wilderlands, her only desire to vanish from living memory.

But Foxbrush, determined to rescue his betrothed, pursues Daylily into a new world of magic and peril, a world where vicious Faerie beasts hold sway, a world invaded by a lethal parasite.

A world that is hauntingly familiar.


As you all should know by now, I love Anne Elisabeth’s books. As I read Shadow Hand, I was unsure at first as to whether I would feel the same about this book. I had a bit of trouble getting into this story world, a world made darker by the villain of this tale. By the time I finished, however, I realized this too was a book that I would gladly return to in the future, but maybe not for the reason you might think.

I was reminded, yet again, why I love Anne Elisabeth’s writing. It is the underlying themes that catch at my heart and beg me to return again and again. Redemption. New life. Hope eternal in the One who created us, and molds those who will let Him into the people we were designed to be. Shadow Hand was entertaining, the characters unique and memorable, but it is this element of mercy and unfathomable love that thrills my heart and revives in me the desire to become closer to and truly know my Savior. This is what I look for in the various novels I read. What resonates with me is that underlying tone that goes beyond entertainment or even creating an emotional experience, to what truly matters.

I would highly recommend this book. For those of you who have read the other Tales of Goldstone Wood, you’ll find some familiar faces and some altogether new. The characters in Shadow Hand are all flawed, and some can be difficult to like, but be on your guard against prejudging them, for none are beyond redemption.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, Dragonwitch, and Shadow Hand. Heartless, Veiled Rose, and Moonblood have each been honored with a Christy Award. ~ To learn more about Anne and her other books, visit her web page: http://anneelisabethstengl.blogspot.com/

I was given a review copy of Shadow Hand from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are solely my own.