Tag Archives: Fiction

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.

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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.

A Daring Sacrifice

A-Daring-SacrificeBook Review: A Daring Sacrifice

Author: Jody Hedlund

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Goodread’s description of A Daring Sacrifice:

The only thing harder than fighting for what’s right…is fighting their feelings for each other.

For three years, the Cloaked Bandit has terrorized Wessex, robbing the nobility by knifepoint and a well-placed arrow. But little dos anyone know, this bandit is in fact Juliana Wessex, the rightful ruler of the land and a girl her tyrannical uncle—the current Lord Wessex—believes was killed along with her father.

Juliana has become skilled at hiding from Lord Wessex in the forest, using her stolen goods to provide food and shelter to the peasants her uncle has taxed into poverty. But when she robs Collin Goodrich, her red hair betrays her true identity. Lord Collin remembers Juliana from their childhood—and challenges her to stay on his estate for a week in hopes she will leave her thieving ways and become a proper lady once more. Juliana is intrigued by Collin and his charms, but only time will tell if he can overcome her distaste of the nobility—as well as win her heart.

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            In contrast to the heroine of An Uncertain Choice, Juliana is a fiery young woman with a lot of anger to deal with. She made for a very interesting main character, and one that I really enjoyed reading about, especially for this time period. At times I got a little frustrated with her, but I liked the different angle that Jody took with this character. Lord Collin wasn’t a perfect character by any means either, and I really liked how he grew throughout the book and realized what was truly important in life and to Juliana.

This book is aimed at teens, so it was a little shorter than what I usually find myself reading, but the pace made up for it. The ending—I couldn’t put it down. The book’s title made a whole lot of sense, A Daring Sacrifice, when the Jody hit the climax with both Juliana and Collin sacrificing for those they loved and for what they believed in. The villain was odious, as he should be. 😉 Overall, it was a quick read, but one I enjoyed. I admire Jody’s desire to write quality teen fiction, aimed at teen girls in particular. In An Uncertain Choice and now A Daring Sacrifice (which are connected) she is able to weave in Christian themes along with adventure, danger, real-life emotions, and a sweet romance. I would recommend both books in this series to pre-teen and teen girls who enjoy medieval fiction that contains romance, strong characters, and adventure, all written from a Christian world view. This is exactly the kind of book I would have loved to read as a teen.

About the Author

Biography from Jody’s website: Jody Hedlund is a best-selling and award-winning author who loves fairy-tales and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI with her husband and five teen-aged children. When she’s not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading. Find out more on her website: http://jodyhedlund.com/

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

With This Ring?

25822013Book Review: With This Ring?

Authors: Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, & Melissa Jagears

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Bethany House’s website description of With This Ring?:

The Husband Maneuver

When ranch foreman Daniel Barrett seems ready to leave her life forever, Marietta Hawkins decides to grab the reins on their relationship. But to have any hope of maneuvering him into a proposal, she has to act fast or risk losing him completely.

Her Dearly Unintended

Josiah Huckabee just wanted to make sure Katie Ellen Watson was safe, but when the only bridge to her farm is washed out, the two find themselves alone. Alone, that is, until a menacing stranger appears. Maybe by pretending to be newlyweds, they’ll save their reputations–but can pretending to be in love turn into the real thing?

Runaway Bride

Hired to help Carrie Halsey escape from a dangerous man intent on making her his wife, Big John Conroy never expected the job to interrupt his solitary Texas Ranger life. But now that he’s promised to keep Carrie safe, he discovers he may just want to make a few more promises.

Engaging the Competition

Harrison Gray and tomboy Charlotte Andrews have been rivals for years. With Charlotte intended for someone else, it seems they’ll never settle their differences until an accident changes things completely. When Charlotte breaks Harrison’s glasses–without which he’s nearly blind–she must help with his teaching position, and working together forces these former adversaries to reconsider everything.

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            This latest novella collection put out by Bethany House has a stellar cast of authors known for their stunning, hilarious, sweet, and touching novels. I love reading romances ‘gone awry’, and that is just what this collection is all about. It was funny and poignant by turns, and I loved every minute of it. I enjoyed how Karen Witemeyer wrote about Daniel’s story, because I had been curious when I finished A Worthy Pursuit on whether his story would get to be told. Mary Connealy also brought in a familiar character in Big John Conroy, which was fun to read about. I don’t know if the two other couples were mentioned in previous books or not, since I’m not as up to date on those authors. But both Melissa Jagears’ and Regina Jennings’ stories were so much fun to read. I have to say, though, that I enjoyed Regina’s the most, which was a very tough decision to come to. But Josiah’s cocky tenacity and Katie Ellen’s OCD perfection were such a great combo. Add into that a mysterious stranger, who was a hilarious character himself, and a natural disaster and this novella is a winner.

I thoroughly enjoyed this whole collection, and it was very hard picking which one was my favorite. Novella collections are perfect for those who don’t have the time or maybe attention span to read a full length novel, and this particular one is a five-star read. I highly recommend it.

About the Author

Biographies from Bethany House’s website: Winner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance to give the world more happily-ever-afters. Karen makes her home in Texas, with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at www.karenwitemeyer.com

Mary Connealy writes “romantic comedies with cowboys” and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has over half a million books sold. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie’s Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero. Learn more at www.maryconnealy.com

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of A Most Inconvenient Marriage, Sixty Acres and a Bride, and Caught in the Middle, and contributed a novella to A Match Made in Texas. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children and can be found online at www.reginajennings.com

Melissa Jagears, an ESL teacher by trade and the author of A Bride for Keeps, A Bride in Store, and A Bride at Last, is a stay-at-home mother on a tiny Kansas farm with a fixer-upper house. She’s a member of ACFW and CROWN fiction marketing, and her passion is to help Christian believers mature in their faith and judge rightly. Find her online at www.melissajagears.com

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

Keeper of the Stars

51qXzBnHYpL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Book Review: Keeper of the Stars

Author: Robin Lee Hatcher

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Amazon’s website description of Keeper of the Stars:

Forgiveness is the only cure for heartbreak. But can Penny forgive the man she holds responsible for her brother’s death?

When her mother died from pneumonia, Penny Cartwright was heartbroken. But now, after burying her younger brother just 12 years later, she is devastated. Anger, guilt, and sorrow cloud Penny’s mind, and the last thing she wants is to be reminded of her pain—but that’s exactly what happens when a stranger comes to town.

Trevor Reynolds has been chasing fame for more than a dozen years, but his musical career can’t get off the ground. While on the road, an accident kills his young drummer, Brad Cartwright. Trevor wasn’t behind the wheel, but he still blames himself . . . and so does Brad’s sister, Penny. Now Trevor finds himself in Kings Meadow, determined to follow through on his final promise to his friend.

Still feeling the pain of Brad’s death, Penny and Trevor must learn that forgiveness is the only thing that can heal their hearts. And if they do forgive, something beautiful may rise from the ashes of heartbreak.

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            Penny and Trevor are both broken people carrying around a good deal of baggage. And who wouldn’t, after the losses they’ve both suffered in their lives. Yet God has a way of using the broken, weary people of this world for His great purposes. I truly enjoyed reading this story. The romance was played out well, especially in light of Penny and Trevor’s rocky beginning. I liked the inclusion of Penny’s dad’s point of view, as well as being able to get a better look at who Brad really was. The setting was also really fun, and had that small-town comforting feel to it. But what I enjoyed most was how Robin was able to take such a heavy subject, and weave in a story of God’s forgiveness and pursuing grace, without down playing the difficulties. This theme was subtle, yet that’s what made it so powerful, and that’s what is going to have me reading more of Robin’s novels.

I haven’t read many books by Robin Lee Hatcher, and I’ve only reviewed two of her novels, both historical romances. However, she is going to be on my watch-list in the future, especially as far as contemporary romances. Keeper of the Stars is the third book in the Kings Meadow Romance series, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone novel.

This sweet romance is perfect for a cozy evening by the fire, or wherever your reading ‘happy place’ is. I would highly recommend it.

About the Author

Biography from Robin’s website: Best-selling novelist Robin Lee Hatcher is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. She discovered her vocation after many years of reading everything she could put her hands on, including the backs of cereal boxes and ketchup bottles.

After fifteen years writing for the general fiction market and a change in her own heart, Robin began to write stories that included her Christian faith and values.

Winner of the Christy, the RITA, the Carol, the Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and many other awards, she is also a recipient of the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from both Romance Writers of American (2001) and American Christian Fiction Writers (2014). Robin is the author of over 70 novels and novellas.

Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. Her main hobby (when time allows) is knitting, and she has a special love for making prayer shawls. A mother and grandmother, Robin and her husband make their home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with Poppet, the high-maintenance Papillon, and Princess Pinky, the DC (demon cat) .~ To learn more about Robin and her other books, visit her web page: http://www.robinleehatcher.com/

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

You’re the One That I Want

51h96g4pw9L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Book Review: You’re the One That I Want

Author: Susan May Warren

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Tyndale’s website description of You’re the One That I Want:

Owen Christiansen has been in a downward spiral since an injury ended his NHL career. But a job on an Alaskan crabbing boat offers a fresh start . . . maybe even a shot at romance with Elise “Scotty” McFlynn, the captain’s daughter.

Used to being one of the guys, to never relying on anyone, Scotty doesn’t believe in happily ever after—especially with someone like Owen. Her instinct is confirmed when Casper Christiansen arrives to drag his prodigal brother home, bringing with him a truckload of family drama—and even worse, the news that Casper is wanted for questioning in connection to a crime back in Minnesota.

But Owen is more than the sum of his mistakes, a truth both he and Scotty discover when she escorts both brothers to Deep Haven as part of her new job on the Anchorage police force. Thrust into an unfamiliar world of family, faith, and fresh starts, Scotty begins to see potential for a happy ending . . . if she’s brave enough to embrace it.

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            Yes, I have reached that point…the Christiansen Family Series has come to an end. However, Susie knows how to close out a series, packed with all the action, drama, and poignancy of the previous books.

I admit, I was nervous to read this last book, since it focuses on bad-boy Owen, and so far in the series, I wasn’t really a fan. However, that’s what made You’re the One That I Want such a compelling read. I could hardly put it down. Right from the start we take off running with a dark feeling of foreboding hanging over the fishing vessel we find Owen on. Per usual, the book has multiple points of view, with Casper and the questions about his involvement with the odious Monte keeping me guessing as to how it would end. Owen and Scotty are both so broken and flawed, so real, that it hurt to read about them. I saw parts of them in me, and in people I’ve known, so I couldn’t help but cheer for them to succeed and for God’s love to break through their resistance and touch their hearts (yeah, yeah, I know, they’re not actually real). Faith is tested, family is brought back together, and Susie spins a tale that puts the spotlight on God’s grace.

Because this is a story about grace, God’s grace mainly, and then the grace we show to others. Which is what makes it such a thing of beauty and impact. We all need grace, none of us deserve it, yet God offers it to all who will trust in His Son.

Here are 2 quotes from the book that I absolutely loved:

“Some of God’s best players were His imperfect, broken prodigals. In fact, iffy players are God’s best picks. He specializes in short-tempered, reckless, flawed people to accomplish His plans…God is constantly using broken, messy people to restore the world and bring glory to Himself.”

“…to do something daring and wild and reach out for grace, even though it doesn’t make sense. But I warn you, once you embrace Christ, you too become a rule breaker. Because a life committed to God requires us to live uncomfortable. Inconveniently. Accountably. Bravely. Transparently. Vulnerably. It requires us to love without rules. Welcome to grace.”

Susie hit it out of the park with this last installment in the series, and while I’m sad to see it end, I can’t help but be thankful for these books. Because Susie has discovered how to combine romance, adventure, drama, and faith in an authentic way that makes me think, and teaches me along the way. I would highly recommend any of Susie’s books, but especially this series.

About the Author

Biography from Tyndale House Publishers’ website: Susan May Warren is the bestselling, Christy and RITA Award–winning author of more than forty novels whose compelling plots and unforgettable characters have won acclaim with readers and reviewers alike. She served with her husband and four children as a missionary in Russia for eight years before she and her family returned home to the States. She now writes full-time as her husband runs a lodge on Lake Superior in northern Minnesota, where many of her books are set. She and her family enjoy hiking, canoeing, and being involved in their local church.

Susan holds a BA in mass communications from the University of Minnesota. Several of her critically acclaimed novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. Five of her books have been Christy Award finalists. In addition to her writing, Susan loves to teach and speak at women’s events about God’s amazing grace in our lives.~ To learn more about Susan and her other books, visit her web page: http://www.susanmaywarren.com/

I was given a review copy of You’re the One That I Want from the author in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Golden Braid

_225_350_Book.1770.coverBook Review: The Golden Braid

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Book Look Bloggers’ website description of The Golden Braid:

The one who needs rescuing isn’t always the one in the tower.

Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man around. And her skills as an artist rival those of any artist she’s met. But for a woman in medieval times, the one skill she most desires is the hardest one to obtain: the ability to read.

After yet another young man asks for Rapunzel’s hand in marriage, Mother decides they need to move once again, but this time to a larger city. Rapunzel’s heart soars—surely there she can fulfill her dream. But Mother won’t let her close to a man. She claims that no man can be trusted.

After being rescued by a knight on the road to the city, and in turn rescuing him farther down the road, Rapunzel’s opportunity arrives at last. This knight, Sir Gerek, agrees to educate Rapunzel in order to pay back his debt. She just has to put up with his arrogant nature and single-minded focus on riches and prestige.

But this Rapunzel story is unlike any other and the mystery that she uncovers will change everything—except her happily ever after.

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I have been a huge fan of Melanie Dickerson and her books since I first read The Healer’s Apprentice when I was a teenager. I have always loved fairytales, and Melanie has a way of taking well-known stories and twisting them into a new, beautiful tale.

The Golden Braid was so much fun to read, from the somewhat arrogant Sir Gerek, to the overbearing and slightly insane Mother Gothel, to Rapunzel herself, in all her misconceptions and quiet strength. The characters in this book were just as interesting and infuriating as in Melanie’s other books. And, as always, the setting is crafted in such a way that it shines through as almost a character unto itself. I enjoyed how the plot touched on those from previous books, allowing us to see beloved characters from another angle.

As usual, I loved Melanie’s latest book, and I eagerly anticipate her next release. She has one more book in the same medieval fairytale vein as The Golden Braid, but she has a new book releasing in February that is a Regency novel, which I am beyond excited to read! What I love about Melanie’s books, is that they are perfect for a teen reader, but they are also well-suited and interesting for an older reader as well. If you’ve never read anything by Melanie, but enjoy books that retell old stories, with romance, adventure, and mystery, then you have got to pick up one of her books!

About the Author

Biography from Book Look Bloggers’ website: Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama. Visit her on line at melaniedickerson.com, Facebook: MelanieDickersonBooks, and Twitter @melanieauthor.

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