Tag Archives: Christian Fiction

Knox

Knox

By Susan May Warren

The Story

Montana rancher Knox Marshall’s danger years are behind him. A former bull-rider, he now runs the Marshall family ranch, raising champion bucking bulls for the National Professional Bullrider’s Expo (NBR-X). Wealth and success are his, but life is stable, expected, and…ordinary. He can’t help but wonder if his best years are behind him.

Kelsey Jones just wants a safe life, a family, a home. Onstage, the beautiful rising star of the Yankee Belles becomes the person she longs to be – vivacious and confident – burying the brokenness she carries from a violent assault. Becoming NBR-X’s next country act is key to outrunning her past and achieving the success and security she craves.

Knox and Kelsey’s paths collide when an explosion at an NBR-X event traps them in the rubble and leaves them reeling. Kelsey’s crippling nightmares return, but for Knox, an obsession to find the bomber is ignited.

When Kelsey’s past threatens Knox’s family, he’ll have to choose between saving the Marshall legacy or becoming the protector he’s always longed to be.

(Back cover summary from Amazon)

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Susan May Warren delivers another action-packed adventure in Knox, the first novel in the Montana Marshalls series. I love when I pick up a Susan May Warren book that I can expect certain things: a strong family element, strong characters, and a strong romance. Those key things that I love are present in Knox.

The Marshall family is fascinating in their own right, and I’m looking forward to learning more about them. Knox is an interesting character, but Kelsey was the character that pulled me in. The pain of her past is her true enemy in this novel, and I thought Susie did a good job of exploring that.

There were a few things that pulled me out of the book. It felt like the main characters all began to sound alike by the end of the book. And like I said, I enjoyed Kelsey’s character, but Knox didn’t capture my interest as much.

Knox isn’t my favorite novel by Susie May, but is a good book and one that I enjoyed as a long-time fan of this author.

About the Author

Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling, Christy and RITA award-winning novelist of over sixty-five novels. An eight-time Christy award finalist, a three-time RITA Finalist, she’s also a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol Award.

A seasoned women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation and the author of the beginning writer’s workbook: The Story Equation.

She is also the founder of http://www.MyBookTherapy.com, and Novel.Academy, a school for aspiring novelists. You can find her online at www.susanmaywarren.com.

(Biography from Susan May Warren’s site)

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.

Far Side of the Sea

Far Side of the Sea

By Kate Breslin

The Story

In 1918 England, Lieutenant Colin Mabry spends his days decoding messages for MI8 after suffering injuries at the front. When he receives an urgent summons by carrier pigeon from Jewel Reyer–a woman who saved his life and whom he believed to be dead–he can only hope he’ll regain the courage he lost on the front lines as he’s driven back into war-torn France.

But Jewel isn’t the one waiting for him in Paris. Instead, it is a stranger who claims to be her half sister, Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence. She found Jewel’s diary and believes her sister is alive and in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is at first skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust grows.

That trust is quickly put to the test, however, when their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot and their search for answers quickly turns into a battle for their lives.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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Kate Breslin is a master at taking little-known events and details from WWI and weaving them into high-stakes adventures with compelling characters and just the right amount of romance. I think Far Side of the Sea is now my second favorite of her books, surpassed only by Not By Sight, which is connected to this novel.

Far Side of the Sea is complicated by characters who are guarded for many reasons, not the least being that a war is going on and spies abound. I love that this story is written in such a way that I had to keep guessing who the true allies were and who were enemies in disguise.

Though Colin is a wounded veteran of WWI, the struggles he deals with surpass the boundaries of time. I thought Kate handled his struggles with PTSD with grace, as Colin figured out the man he had become. Johanna’s own journey was compelling and timeless as she fought to find those who loved her, and in the end, was blessed with more than she could have imagined.

Both of their journeys of faith were real and honest, which always resonates with me. The romance that develops as the book went on was sweet and avoided the tropes that so often can weasel their way into romance fiction.

I would certainly recommend this book to the reader who enjoys learning as they are entertained by a good story.

About the Author

A Florida girl who migrated to the Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin was a bookseller for many years. She is a Carol Award winner and a RITA and Christy Award finalist and lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington. Find her online at www.katebreslin.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.

Courting Mr. Emerson

Courting Mr. Emerson

By Melody Carlson

The Story

It’s never too late to fall in love

When fun-loving artist Willow West meets buttoned-up George Emerson, it’s not exactly love at first sight. More like intriguing project at first sight. Willow makes it her mission to get the obsessive-compulsive, newly retired English teacher to loosen up and embrace life, but even she has to admit it seems like a lost cause.

A confirmed bachelor, George vacillates between irritation and attraction whenever Willow is around–which to him seems like all too often. He’s not interested in expanding his horizons or making new friends; it just hurts too much when you lose them.

But as the summer progresses, George feels his defenses crumbling. The question is, will his change of heart be too late for Willow?

(Back cover summary from Revell)

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Courting Mr. Emerson is a sweet, signature Melody Carlson read. It has that down-home feel that readers have come to expect, with sweet romance and a meaningful faith element.

First off, I just love the simplicity of that cover, don’t you? It’s straightforward, but it evokes just the right feel for me.

When I read the description of the book, I don’t think I read it close enough, because I was surprised by a few things as I read the book. However, once I adjusted what I thought it was about to what it really was about, I enjoyed it.

The romance fiction I read generally have the couples in the age range of 20s-late 30s. So Courting Mr. Emerson was out of the norm for me there. I enjoyed the maturity of these characters, as well as the life experiences they’d already had that made them who they were. Both George and Willow are vibrant characters. They’re unique, and yet realistic. I loved reading about Willow challenging George and George being the balance for Willow, especially in her relationship to her family.

Something I always enjoy is when there’s some sort of subtle or not-so-subtle tie-in to why the book is titled what it is. I LOVED how Melody Carlson did that here.

While I don’t know that Willow and I would agree on all theology, I did appreciate how this book emphasized each of us has our own journey to understanding who God is and what He’s done for us. It’s always on His timeline, not what we might expect or hope for others.

To wrap up, this was a sweet story that Melody Carlson fans will enjoy, as well as those who like small-town romance with a twist on family.

About the Author

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over 200 books with sales of more than 7 million, including many bestselling Christmas novellas, young adult titles, and contemporary romances. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.

(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.

Between Two Shores

Between Two Shores

By Jocelyn Green

The Story

She Has Always Moved Between Worlds,

But Now She Must Choose a Side

The daughter of a Mohawk mother and French father in 1759 Montreal, Catherine Duval would rather remain neutral in a world tearing itself apart. Content to trade with both the French and the British, Catherine is pulled into the Seven Years’ War against her wishes when her British ex-fiancé, Samuel Crane, is taken prisoner by her father. Samuel claims he has information that could help end the war, and he asks Catherine to help him escape.

Peace appeals to Catherine, even if helping the man who broke her heart does not. But New France is starving, and she and her loved ones may not survive another winter of conflict-induced famine. When the dangers of war arrive on her doorstep, Catherine and Samuel flee by river toward the epicenter of the battle between England and France. She and Samuel may impact history, but she fears the ultimate cost will be higher than she can bear.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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This novel was enthralling. I knew that it was going to be a different sort of tale Jocelyn Green told this time, but I wasn’t prepared for this. Between Two Shores is not a historical romance like Jocelyn’s last few novels. This time, she explores the bonds of family and a love that can be stretched beyond empires and difficult choices.

Catherine Stands-Between has always longed to be loved. She returned to help her father with the hope that she could bring him back from his dark places, and that he would love her in turn.  A fair trade. In her youth, her romance was built upon a similar idea. But as her story unwinds, neither of those two loves are enough. This novel explores the love of family, and the love that will ultimately meet our loneliest places.

Between Two Shores explores a period of the Seven Years War that I was unfamiliar with, since the little I knew covered only the French and Indian War from the American colonists’ perspective. It truly is a breathtaking historical masterpiece, that incredibly walks between, as the novel spans nations: the Kahnawake Mohawks, the French, and the British. Jocelyn Green strikes the balance in this novel of not painting any of the nations as the villain or the hero, as so often we do looking back through history.

As this novel sped to a conclusion, there were times when my eyes were filled with tears. Like life, the end of an adventure does not always look as one would like, and it does not leave one unmarked. But I loved how Jocelyn resolved it all, with a love highlighted from our Creator that meets our every need, exactly where we are.

About the Author

Jocelyn Green (www.jocelyngreen.com) inspires faith and courage as the award-winning and bestselling author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including The Mark of the King, Wedded to War, and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman. Her books have garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and have been honored with the Christy Award, the gold medal from the Military Writers Society of America, and the Golden Scroll Award from the Advanced Writers & Speakers Association. She graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a BA in English, concentration in writing. Jocelyn lives with her husband, Rob, and two children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at www.jocelyngreen.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.

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

By Carla Laureano

The Story

From the RITA Award–winning author of Five Days in Skye comes a sweet, romantic treat that will leave you hungry for more.

Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.

Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country—an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.

Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.

(Back cover summary from Tyndale House)

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I love how unique Carla Laureano’s novels are! Each one is an experience as rich and textured as any French pastry (I’m sure!). Be warned, though, reading any of these Saturday Night Supper Club novels will leave you with some serious cravings. I wish I had my own friend skilled in the art of French pastries, but alas, some things happen only rarely. 😉

Brunch at Bittersweet Café continues to explore these three friends, this time from Melody’s point of view. Melody is such a fun character and one I could relate to more than Rachel. She’s driven, but flighty. Talented, but still yearning for something more. Justin is an equally strong, convincing character. He’s not your ‘typical’ pilot. Pain from his past makes him shy from commitment, and yet he is one of the most loyal, thoughtful guys. What I really loved about their dynamic was that it felt real-world. They struggled and dealt with all the questions that go into a relationship—and more as their deadline drew close. And when it finally came down to it, the things they learned along the way were just as applicable to my life as theirs.

Carla brings home truth in this fun, engaging, and romantic novel, and I really never wanted to leave. If you enjoy a solid, stick-with-you contemporary romance and don’t mind the distinct possibility you may end up binge watching The Great British Baking Show, then I beg of you, pick up Brunch at Bittersweet Café.

About the Author

Carla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night.

(Biography from Tyndale 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.

The Alamo Bride

The Alamo Bride

By Kathleen Y’Barbo

The Story

Will Ellis Lose All at the Alamo?

Ellis Dumont finds a man in New Orleans Grey unconscious on Dumont property in 1836. As his fevers rage, the man mutters strange things about treasures and war. Either Claiborne Gentry has lost his mind or he’s a spy for the American president—or worse, for the Mexican enemy that threatens their very lives. With the men of her family away, Ellis must stand courageous and decide who she can trust. Will she put her selfish wants ahead of the future of the republic or travel with Clay to Mission San Jose to help end the war?

(Back cover summary from Barbour Publishing)

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The Daughters of the Mayflower series continues with a story (and a cover) that I knew I couldn’t pass up. The Alamo Bride takes place during the war for Texas’s independence. I’ve long been fascinated with the battle of the Alamo, so I was eager to read a book set during this time.

I had the misconception that much of this book would take place at the Alamo. In reality, less then a quarter of the book is set there. Despite that, I did enjoy this novel.

I love that each author in this series writes strong, relatable heroines, and yet they’re all very different. Ellis is headstrong and stubborn, and it’s that tenacity that equips her to pull through many struggles. Clay is an intriguing character with flaws of his own, but it was fun to read how he dealt with his loss of identity.

The Alamo Bride is rich in history, and I learned a lot about the Texans’ struggle for independence. There were times when I felt that the story dragged or lost my interest, but overall I enjoyed The Alamo Bride.

About the Author

Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than eighty titles with over two million copies of her books in print in the US and abroad. Her novel Sadie’s Secret was named the Romantic Times Magazine Inspirational Romance Book of the Year.

A certified paralegal and tenth generation Texan, Kathleen has also been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine.

To find out more about Kathleen or connect with her through social media, check out her website at www.kathleenybarbo.com.

(Biography from Amazon)

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 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.