Tag Archives: Christian Fiction

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.

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Just Let Go

Just Let Go

By Courtney Walsh

The Story

For Quinn Collins, buying the flower shop in downtown Harbor Pointe fulfills a childhood dream, but also gives her the chance to stick it to her mom, who owned the store before skipping town twenty years ago and never looking back. Completing much-needed renovations, however, while also competing for a prestigious flower competition with her mother as the head judge, soon has Quinn in over her head. Not that she’d ever ask for help.

Luckily, she may not need to. Quinn’s father and his meddling friends find the perfect solution in notorious Olympic skier Grady Benson, who had only planned on passing through the old-fashioned lakeside town. But when a heated confrontation leads to property damage, helping Quinn as a community-service sentence seems like the quickest way out—and the best way to avoid more negative press.

Quinn finds Grady reckless and entitled; he thinks she’s uptight and too regimented. Yet as the two begin to hammer and saw, Quinn sees glimpses of the vulnerability behind the bravado, and Grady learns from her passion and determination, qualities he seems to have lost along the way. But when a well-intentioned omission has devastating consequences, Grady finds himself cast out of town—and Quinn’s life—possibly forever. Forced to face the hurt holding her back, Quinn must finally let go or risk missing out on the adventure of a lifetime.

(Back cover summary from Tyndale Publishers)

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Just Let Go is another literary masterpiece from Courtney Walsh. The cover reflects the detail and beauty of this novel.

Quinn is someone who is very much in control. Grady likes to skirt on the edges of control, teetering on the brink. They’re polar opposite in many ways, so when they’re forced together, sparks naturally fly. I loved both of these characters. I identified with Quinn a lot, as someone who likes order, who has a plan, and ideas for how to get that done. As she changed, grew, and learned, I felt as if I was part of that journey and process. At the beginning, Grady’s flaws are as real and front and center as many of ours, but I thought Courtney Walsh did a great job of balancing his character out. He’s not a perfect hero, and that’s what makes him so great for this story.

Just Let Go explores past mistakes and wrongs done to us and looks at whether those are worth hanging on to. It takes a look at the grace of God and delves into messy family relationships.

Per usual, I loved Courtney’s latest, and can’t recommend it enough.

About the Author

Courtney Walsh is a novelist, artist, theatre director, and playwright. Just Let Go will be her eighth inspirational romance novel. Her debut, A Sweethaven Summer, hit the New York Times and USA Today e-book bestseller lists and was a Carol Award finalist in the debut author category. A creative at heart, Courtney has also written two craft books and several full-length musicals. She lives in Illinois with her husband and three children. Visit her online at www.courtneywalshwrites.com.

(Biography from Tyndale)

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 Theory of Happily Ever After

The Theory of Happily Ever After

By Kristin Billerbeck

The Story

According to Dr. Maggie Maguire, happiness is serious–serious science, that is. But science can’t always account for life’s anomalies, like why her fiancé dumped her for a silk-scarf acrobat and how the breakup sent Maggie spiraling into an extended ice cream-fueled chick flick binge.

Concerned that she might never pull herself out of this nosedive, Maggie’s friends book her as a speaker on a “New Year, New You” cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Maggie wonders if she’s qualified to teach others about happiness when she can’t muster up any for herself. But when a handsome stranger on board insists that smart women can’t ever be happy, Maggie sets out to prove him wrong. Along the way she may discover that happiness has far less to do with the head than with the heart.

Filled with unforgettable characters, snappy dialogue, and touching romance, The Theory of Happily Ever After shows that the search for happiness may be futile–because sometimes happiness is already out there searching for you.

(Back cover summary from Revell)

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I have to start off with the cover of this book. It is so cute and different! I liked the colors and felt that it really pinpointed the feel of this book overall.

The Theory of Happily Ever After is definitely a unique book. I don’t think I’ve ever read another book that had a scientist who specialized in the field of happiness science. I loved the idea of this book and was often grinning at the antics of the characters. However, as much as I wanted to love The Theory of Happily Ever After, it just wasn’t for me.

Maggie’s friends annoyed me more often than not. That may have been part of the intent, but I really started to not like them the further I got into the story. Maggie is a great character, but her internal thoughts took up a lot of the story at times, and I felt like it slowed the story down too much.

I did enjoy the dialogue between Maggie and Sam. I also loved the growth in Maggie’s character as she understood more about herself and her relationship with God. I also loved the realism in these characters. Their insecurities and the tangles of life are very down to earth, and I appreciated that.

However, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t quite get into the flow of this book.

About the Author

Kristin Billerbeck is the bestselling, award-winning author of several novels, including What a Girl Wants, Perfectly Dateless, and Perfectly Invisible. A Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year, Billerbeck has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. She lives with her family in Northern California.

(Biography from Revell)

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.

First Impressions

First Impressions

A Contemporary Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

By Debra White Smith

The Story

In an attempt to get to know the people of London, Texas–the small town that lawyer Eddi Boswick now calls home–she tries out for a local theater group’s production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. She’s thrilled to get the role of lively Elizabeth Bennet . . . until she meets the arrogant–and eligible–rancher playing her leading man.

Dave Davidson chose London, Texas, as the perfect place to live under the radar. Here, no one knows his past, and he can live a quiet, peaceful life with his elderly aunt, who also happens to own the local theater. Dave doesn’t even try out for the play, but suddenly he is thrust into the role of Mr. Darcy and forced to spend the entire summer with Eddi, who clearly despises him.

Sparks fly every time Eddi and Dave meet, whether on the stage or off. But when Eddi discovers Dave’s secret, she has to admit there might be more to him than she thought. Maybe even enough to change her mind . . . and win her heart.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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I’ve long been a fan of Pride and Prejudice—the movies at least. I’m sad to say that I have not yet finished the original novel, but I’m working on it! Now, I won’t get started on which movie version I like the best, but I will say that length is a big factor for me. 😉

First Impressions is a sweet retelling of this classic story, this time set in London, Texas. The characters that Ms. Smith creates harken back to the original story, but each has a bit of a twist. I loved getting to know these beloved characters in new ways, and I felt that Ms. Smith did justice to the story.

I enjoyed watching as Eddi and Dave got to know each other better, and seeing the sparks fly as misunderstandings arose. There were times where I felt the story lagged a bit, but I did appreciate that Ms. Smith stayed true to the major plot points key to the book. I definitely would have been disappointed to see any missing. I liked the portrayal of the sisters in particular.

Overall, I enjoyed First Impressions, but it didn’t grip my attention as much as I would have liked. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen or Pride and Prejudice and looking for something a little different, I would definitely suggest First Impressions.

About the Author

Debra White Smith is a seasoned author, speaker, and media personality who has fifty-four books to her credit, both fiction and nonfiction, with more than one million copies in print. Her work has appeared on various bestseller lists, and she has repeatedly been voted a reader favorite. She holds a BA and MA in English and lives in Texas. Visit her at http://www.debrawhitesmith.com for more information.

(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.

Storm Front

Storm Front

By Susan May Warren

The Story

Life and love hang in the balance during a deadly summer of storms.

A tornado has destroyed a small Minnesota community, and among the missing are not only a group of students but also PEAK Rescue team leader Chet King. Ty Remington will stop at nothing to rescue his mentor, not even when the girl he loved–and lost–walks back into his life. But Brette needs his help more than he knows, despite her stubborn determination to push him away. And when he gets a second chance, loving her just might cost him more than he can imagine.

A blogger for Vortex Storm Chasers, Brette Arnold didn’t expect her adventures to land her in the same place as Ty, the guy who she walked–no, ran–from over a year ago. She had her reasons–good ones. The kind that tell her that falling for him again would only lead to heartache. But Ty isn’t the kind of man to give up–not on the missing students or on her.

(Back cover summary from Revell)

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At long last! The next installment of the Montana Rescue series. I’ve loved this series so far. It’s full of unforgettable characters, fast-paced-can’t-put-down plots, and romance that strikes just the right balance for me. What I love more than anything about this series is the faith journey Warren takes her characters on. It’s unforgettable, because it’s so similar to what we go through in real life.

I wasn’t sure how this book would be, because up until now, Ty has seemed like a background character. He’s sweet, yeah, and he’s helped Jess and has a tragic story behind why he’s not flying any more, but that was about it. Warren brings him to life in Storm Front.

Ty is sweet, kind, caring, and he never gives up. His goal is to rescue. As the story progresses, Ty must come to the realization that God loves and gives grace, not on the basis of all that we can bring to the table, but just as we are, in our most desperate and unlovely state.

Brette’s struggles are so raw and relatable. The storms she’s suffered makes her believe that only more struggles are on the horizon. Hope is too hard, too vulnerable for her to grab hold of. I loved how Warren worked through this in the story. Not giving easy answers, but really digging in and showing how we can trust God, even at the worst.

I also loved the continuation of Kacey and Ben’s story.

This Montana Rescue series installment is a little different, since it’s set in the Midwest, my stomping grounds. Tornadoes were a part of every summer growing up, so I felt as if I was home.

Storm Front is another don’t-miss from Susan May Warren.

About the Author

Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels with more than 1 million books sold, including Wild Montana Skies, Rescue Me, A Matter of Trust, Troubled Waters, and Storm Front. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT Medallion and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. She makes her home in Minnesota. Find her online at http://www.susanmaywarren.com, on Facebook at Susan May Warren Fiction, and on Twitter @susanmaywarren .

(Biography from Revell)

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.

Things I Never Told You

Things I Never Told You

By Beth K. Vogt

The Story

It’s been ten years since Payton Thatcher’s twin sister died in an accident, forcing the entire family to cope in whatever ways they could. Now a lone twin, Payton reinvents herself as a partner in a successful party-planning business and is doing just fine—as long as she manages to hold her memories and her family at arm’s length.

But with the announcement of her middle sister Jillian’s engagement, Payton’s party-planning skills are called into action. Which means working alongside Johanna, her opinionated older sister, who always seems ready for a fight. They can only hope a wedding might be just the occasion to heal the resentment and jealousy that divides them…until a frightening diagnosis threatens Jillian’s plans for the future.

As old wounds reopen and the family faces the possibility of yet another tragedy, the Thatchers must decided if they will pull together or be driven apart for good.

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I’ve heard so much about Beth Vogt, but have never read any of her books until now. Which is interesting, because I’m generally not a Women’s Fiction reader. I usually tend toward contemporary or historical romance, which is what Beth has written in the past. But something about this story just grabbed me, and I knew I needed to give it a try.

Beth captures so beautifully the aches and pains, joys and triumphs of siblings, and specifically sisters. Things I Never Told You is written from both Payton and Jillian’s perspectives, which I really enjoyed.

I saw myself in each of these sisters, sometimes with a cringe as I realized the rough edges I still have to work on. I rarely ever get close to crying when I read, but I was tearing up with this book. The characters in this story are so compelling, that a plot was hardly needed in my opinion. I just wanted to know what would happen to them, because I saw myself in them.

I know that this book is the first in a series, but I do wish Beth had tied up a few more plot points. Especially the faith element. I would have liked to have seen more of that being resolved, but at the same time, leaving that part hanging may have been a good choice. Life is a process, as is faith, and I believe that Beth saw that as necessary for the character.

This book sucked me in and stayed in my thoughts. It was really my first foray into Women’s Fiction, and I loved it. I’ll be anxiously awaiting the next in this series.

About the Author

Beth K. Vogt is a nonfiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Now Beth believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” A women’s fiction novelist, Beth’s first novel for Tyndale House Publishers, Things I Never Told You, releases May 2018.

Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner, a 2016 ACFW Carol Award winner, and a 2015 RITA® finalist. Her 2014 novel, Somebody Like You, was one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. A November Bride was part of the Year of Wedding series by Zondervan. Having authored nine contemporary romance novels or novellas, Beth believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Connect with Beth at bethvogt.com.

(Biography from Tyndale Publishers)

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 Captured Bride

The Captured Bride

By Michelle Griep

The Story

A War-Torn Countryside Is No Place for a Lady

Mercy Lytton is a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause. . .to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not her life that is threatened. It is her heart.  Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he is offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort—but he is the one they stole it from in the first place. It turns out that the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought.   Can love survive divided loyalties in a backcountry wilderness?

Join the adventure as the Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep.

(Back cover summary from Barbour)

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I absolutely fell in love with this book! I’ve been a long-time fan of Laura Frantz’s frontier novels, and The Captured Bride had a similar feel.

This novel brings together a unique setting in a commonly known time in history, a sweet romance, and a can’t-put-it-down plot.

The characters in this book are so compelling. Mercy is very independent, and having been raised in two worlds, not a little confused as to where she fits. Her feelings towards her mother also brought this character alive. Elias is a man of mystery, not all is as it seems with him, but he has a faith that carries him through. Both of them are such strong characters, and they complimented each other so well. The story they make up and play out to keep them all safe made for some fun moments! The secondary characters were unforgettable as well.

It’s been a long time since I read a book in one day. But I could not put down The Captured Bride, not until I found out what happened!

If you’ve been following this series, you’re in for a treat with this novel! If you love historical fiction, romance, and sweeping tales similar to what Laura Frantz delivers, then you MUST read The Captured Bride! One of my top 10 reads of 2018 so far!

About the Author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones while rambling around a castle. Michelle is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and MCWG (Minnesota Christian Writers Guild). Keep up with her adventures at her blog “Writer off the Leash” or visit michellegriep.com

(Biography from Barbour)

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.