Tag Archives: Bethany House

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.

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Searching for You

Searching for You

By Jody Hedlund

The Story

Her Search for a Place to Call Home
Leads Her to the Last Place She Ever Expected

For years, Sophie Neumann has been running from the orphanages of 1850s New York City. Tasked with caring for two younger children, she’s determined not to let them be taken from her, and not to abandon them the same way her older sisters did her. But times are growing desperate, and when she falls in with the wrong crowd and witnesses a crime, she realizes fleeing the state is her only option.

Disappearing with her two young charges into a group of orphans heading west by train, Sophie hopes to find safety and a happy life. But when the train stops in Illinois, she faces an agonizing decision as the orphans will be placed in new homes. Afraid she’ll lose them forever, she finds help in a familiar face she never expected to see so far from New York.

Reinhold Weiss has finally purchased his own small farm in Illinois. With mounting debts, a harvest to bring in, and past scars that still haunt him, Reinhold is in no position to give his heart away . . . but can he say no when his long-lost friend shows up on a nearby farm pleading for his help?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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At long last, Reinhold gets his own story! I’ve felt for this poor guy throughout this series. He’s tangled up with the Neumann sisters, but can’t quite find the right place to be.

Both Reinhold and Sophie are driven by fear. For him, it’s fear of becoming the angry, out-of-control man his father was. Her’s is fear of losing her two young charges and in some way, losing her purpose and meaning in life. This fear logically works itself out in some not-so-great choices.

I liked seeing the orphan train from this perspective, as Sophie and the two children are placed out into homes.

It was so fun to see this gripping series come to a close and see these siblings finally find restoration and healing. The romance in this book is—as usual—right on. I think what I most enjoyed in this book were the supporting characters. The Duffs are such a wonderful family, and the various characters that color this book make it that much more fun.

As usual, Jody Hedlund left me wanting more, but also satisfied with this sweet, historical read.

About the Author

Jody Hedlund (www.jodyhedlund.com) is the author of over 20 novels, including Love UnexpectedCaptured by LoveUnending DevotionThe Preacher’s Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. 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 Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog.

(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.

Mark of the Raven

Mark of the Raven

By Morgan L. Busse

The Story

Dreamwalker. Nightwatcher. Lady of Ravenwood.

Lady Selene Has Come into Her Family’s Power.

But Has She Inherited a Gift or a Curse?

Lady Selene is heir to the House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking. As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person’s dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires. Soon after the gifting, however, Selene discovers that the Ravenwood women have been secretly using their gift to gather information or to assassinate those responsible for the fall of House Ravenwood to the Dominia Empire hundreds of years ago.

As she becomes more entrenched in Ravenwood’s dark past, Selene longs to find out the true reason behind her family’s gift, believing that its original intent could not have been for such evil purposes, but she is torn about upholding her family’s legacy–a legacy that supports her people. Selene’s dilemma comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations–but who is also prophesied to bring about the downfall of her own house.

One path holds glory and power and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and likely death. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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Fantasy is not a genre I’ve read for a while, so I enjoyed this foray back into it with Mark of the Raven.

I was thoroughly immersed in this world from page one. Selene is a divided character. She is not like her mother, as much as she tries to be. But she struggles with where that leaves her. Her gift is unique and it was so interesting to read about her exploring it.

The other characters that populate this book, Lord Maris in particular, are all multi-faceted and interesting. The gifts of the houses and their division reminds me a bit of spiritual gifting, and how it is most effective when all work together.

This was a good story, but it was only the first in The Ravenwood Saga. Again, fantasy isn’t my go-to genre, so it didn’t pull me in as some might. But it did hold my attention, and I’ll be looking for the next book in the series.

About the Author

Morgan L. Busse (www.morganlbusse.com) is a writer by day and a mother by night. She is the author of the Follower of the Word series and the new steampunk series The Soul Chronicles. Her debut novel, Daughter of Light, was a Christy and Carol Award finalist. During her spare time she enjoys playing games, taking long walks, and dreaming about her next novel. She and her family live in Bloomington, Illinois.

(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.

Shelter of the Most High

Shelter of the Most High

By Connilyn Cossette

The Story

The daughter of a pagan high priest, Sofea finds solace from her troubles in the freedom of the ocean. But when marauders attack her village on the island of Sicily, she and her cousin are taken across the sea to the shores of Canaan.

Eitan has lived in Kedesh, a city of refuge, for the last eleven years, haunted by a tragedy in his childhood, yet chafing at the boundaries placed on him. He is immediately captivated by Sofea, but revealing his most guarded secret could mean drawing her into the danger of his past.

As threats from outside the walls loom and traitors are uncovered within, Sofea and Eitan are plunged into the midst of a murder plot. Can they uncover the betrayal in time to save their lives and the lives of those they love?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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This book surprised and delighted me everywhere I looked! The cover is stunning, and the back and spine draw you even more into this unique era. The characters and plot were what really shone through, though.

This story picks up several years after A Light on the Hill left off. I loved getting to know Eitan as a young man, seeing how his past shaped him, and seeing that not everything was perfect after book #1. I liked that Connilyn explored what blending a family in this way might look like. Eitan’s growth lies in a large part in the area of patience (can anyone else relate?), but also in accepting grace. Those who were sentenced to live out their lives (or the lifespan of the current high priest) in cities like Kedesh must have struggled with the idea of accepting grace for what they’d done, and that is no foreign thing to Eitan.

How fun that Connilyn was able to work in a pirate raid in this story! Certainly not what I expected in a Biblical Fiction book. Sofea is delightfully complex as she learns more about the Hebrews and their culture, and this One God, Yahweh, that they worship. She learns her true value as she spends time among them, highlighting the major differences between the cultures of Canaan and the known world at that time, and the way God wanted His people to live.

The romance in this book is spot-on, as usual, and I felt even more invested in these characters because of having read of Eitan in the past.

Though I’m generally not a huge reader in the Biblical Fiction category, Connilyn Cossette is one of my don’t-miss authors, and if you pick up one of her books, you’ll quickly see why.

About the Author

When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), bestselling author 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.

(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.

An Hour Unspent

An Hour Unspent

By Roseanna M. White

The Story

With Danger Creeping Ever Closer, Do Their Dreams Still Matter?

Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war, including keeping an eye on a talented engineer working as a clockmaker. But not until he rescues the man’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.

Evelina Manning has constantly dreamed and worked for independence, but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end their engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clock repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.

As 1915 England plunges deeper into war, the race is on for any technological edge, and Evelina’s father’s ideas have captured the attention of many–perhaps too many. As danger seems to encroach from every side, it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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The Shadows Over England series has been so much fun to read, and the conclusion does not disappoint. An Hour Unspent finally gets to Barclay’s story, and I loved getting to know more about this caring man.

Barclay has given up thieving, at least for his own needs. He’s experienced a heart-change, but he struggles to know how he fits into that change. When Jesus saves us and changes our hearts, it’s something that changes everything, and Barclay learns in this story what that means in his life. I loved watching his fledgling faith grow.

I really enjoyed Evelina’s character, as she navigated the times in which she lived. She’s strong in some ways, and vulnerable in others. I liked seeing how she learned, and her viewpoint was changed on various things. The romance between the two characters is strong and sweet.

I like how Roseanna always weaves in various themes into her novels, and this one with clockmaking was an excellent one. It’s prevalent in Evelina’s life as she realizes God isn’t a clockmaker who sits back and watched the world unwind. Instead, He’s intricately and intimately involved in it all.

A page-turning conclusion to the series, An Hour Unspent left me satisfied, but longing for more maybe (hopefully!) someday from this unusual family.

About the Author

Roseanna M. White (www.roseannamwhite.com) is a bestselling, Christy Award-nominated author who has long claimed that words are the air she breathes. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two kids, designing book covers, editing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of a slew of historical novels that span several continents and thousands of years. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to find their way into her books . . . to offset her real life, which is blessedly ordinary. You can learn more about her and her stories at www.RoseannaMWhite.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.

A Defense of Honor

A Defense of Honor

By Kristi Ann Hunter

The Story

When Katherine “Kit” FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she’s forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes much more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend’s missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she’s telling.

After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different for the first time in her life, but what she wants can’t matter. Long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and to raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. But as much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, the risk of revealing the truth may come at too high a price for those she loves.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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A Defense of Honor is a refreshing breath of air to the Regency genre. It’s very different from any other novel I’ve read set in that era—and I loved it!

Kristi Ann Hunter’s Hawthorne House series hooked me first, but now I’m a forever-fan. Her characters are unforgettable. Kit is not your average lady of the period. She’s strong, to the point of weakness, and she’s driven. Graham is searching for an aim, a purpose, before he even knows it. I loved how he pursued Kit, with a desire to know her, not an easy task to achieve. The secondary characters, from Kit’s fellow workers and charges, to Graham’s friends and Priscilla, are all stellar as well. I am so looking forward to the next book in this series!

The faith element of this book is boots-on-the-ground Christianity. It is easy to say one is trusting Christ, but it is another thing entirely to live like it. I appreciated that Kristi didn’t skirt around this, but faced it head-on in an honest, and sometimes painful, way.

If you’re looking for a story that’s a bit out of the norm, yet still has a strong plot, excellent historical detail, and an engaging romance, all in the genre you love (Regency) then you MUST try A Defense of Honor. If any of the above qualities in fiction appeal to you, then this story is for you too.

About the Author

Kristi Ann Hunter is the author of the Hawthorne House series and a 2016 RITA Award winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence winner. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at www.kristiannhunter.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.

Together Forever

Together Forever

By Jody Hedlund

The Story

Will the Mistakes of Their Past Cost Them a Chance at Love?

Determined to find her lost younger sister, Marianne Neumann takes a job as a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York. She not only hopes to offer children a better life, but prays she’ll be able to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train so they can finally be reunited.

Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing-out trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children, firm but tender and friendly. Underneath his charm and handsome looks, though, seems to linger a grief that won’t go away–and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden.

As the two team up, placing orphans in the small railroad towns of Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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Jody Hedlund has long been outstanding in her field of historical romance, and she just keeps delivering over and over again. Her latest, Together Forever, is part of her Orphan Train Series. The series follows the Neumann sisters. It explores the difficulty and disillusionment some immigrants experienced and the enormous problem of children who could no longer be cared for, were unwanted, or abandoned during this era in history.

This time, it’s Marianne’s turn. Marianne is still swamped by guilt over losing her sister, Sophie. This leads her to take a job with Children’s Aid Society in placing out orphans with willing families in Illinois. Marianne feels deeply, and I loved how this played into the story. It was so fun to see her interacting with Drew and the children. Her journey leads her to come into her own and realize that she needs to let go of the past and realize the forgiveness God has already given her.

Drew is a strong, funny character. But he’s a flirt. At times, this got to be too much (which was probably the author’s intent). I liked seeing more of his true self, not the persona he’s crafted for others to see.

Marianne and Drew have a strong attraction, but as they grow closer, they start to learn what love is really all about: sacrifice and pouring oneself out for another’s good. Jody Hedlund goes beyond the surface to really explore what this means between these two characters.

I liked the first book in this series better, but I did enjoy this second installment. It was a good, sweet, informative read, and has earned a spot on my bookshelf.

About the Author

Jody Hedlund is the author of over a dozen novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher’s Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. 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 Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at www.jodyhedlund.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.