Tag Archives: Inspirational Fiction

The Sound of Rain

The Sound of Rain

By Sarah Loudin Thomas

The Story

In the Dark of the Mine, In the Face of Rising Water,

In the Shadows of the Hills, Faith Will See Them Through

Judd Markley knows he can never set foot underground again. The mine collapse that nearly killed him and claimed his brother’s life means leaving West Virginia forever. Although that hard Appalachian world is all he knows, he puts it behind him and heads for the open sky of the thriving town of 1954 Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Larkin Heyward’s life in the beach town is uncomplicated, mostly volunteer work and dancing at the Pavilion. But she dreams of one day doing more and being more–maybe moving to the hills and hollers of Kentucky to help the poor children of Appalachia. But she’s never even met someone who’s lived there–until she encounters Judd, the newest employee at her father’s timber company.

Drawn together in the wake of a hurricane that changes Myrtle Beach forever, Judd’s and Larkin’s dreams pull them in divergent directions. It will take a significant sacrifice to keep them together–or maybe, it will take a miracle.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House.)

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This is a sweet story about living your life the way God designed for you, not the way you’ve designed for yourself or others have designed for you. This book traverses the mines of West Virginia, the beaches of South Carolina, and the mountains of Kentucky. It opens with a bang and it kept me turning pages! I enjoyed the historical aspect of this book. I felt as if I was living there as Larkin visited the hospital as a candy striper, then learned how to live in an altogether different culture in Kentucky.

These characters learn and grow and face difficult decisions, just like any of us. Their personal journeys were fraught with difficult choices. The romance was sweet and gradual, and it all worked together so well.

This laid-back story even has a bit of mystery to it, which I enjoyed. Fans of Sarah Loudin Thomas will enjoy this most recent book, The Sound of Rain.

About the Author

Sarah Loudin Thomas is a fundraiser for a children’s ministry and has written for Mountain Homes Southern Style and Now & Then magazines, as well as The Asheville Citizen-Times. She is the author of Miracle in a Dry Season, Until the Harvest, and A Tapestry of Secrets. She holds a BA in English from Coastal Carolina University. She and her husband reside in Asheville, North Carolina. She can be found online at www.sarahloudinthomas.com.

(Biography from Bethany House.)

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Lady Jayne Disappears

Lady Jayne Disappears

By Joanna Davidson Politano

The Story

Lynhurst Manor is a house built on secrets . . . and the arrival of Aurelie Harcourt might reveal them all.

When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies suddenly, he leaves her just two things: his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll, and his wealthy family–who want very little to do with her.

As Aurelie struggles to find a home with her father’s family and learn the rules of society, she relishes in his parting gift–the beginning of his last story. The story she always wanted to hear, about her mother’s mysterious disappearance from the home where she now lives. To complete the novel, she’ll have to extract clues from relatives–and one enigmatic houseguest–who often seem reluctant to give them up.

(Back cover summary from Revell Publisher)

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I am so glad that I got the opportunity to read Lady Jayne Disappears. I’d heard others rave about this book but dismissed it. I shouldn’t have. This book entertained, with sweeping prose reminiscent of Dickens, a romance that gradually blossomed, and a mystery that climaxed in an altogether unexpected way.

What really touched my heart was the many areas where I could identify with Aurelie as a writer. In some ways, we are so alike, as if this were almost my journey. Aurelie is all about belonging. It’s what she craves, what drives her. And that’s something I believe we can all identify with. From those awkward years of Junior High, belonging becomes important, and it can be difficult to find, but what it really is isn’t always what we expect. Aurelie’s faith in this book is authentic and takes center stage often. Joanna writes in such a way that it feels as natural as your next breath, which is how our relationship with Jesus should be.

This book held me captive. I had to find out what happened, not only to Lady Jayne but more importantly to Aurelie. Beyond romance, would she find peace for herself? And she does, in such a satisfying way. Others have listed this book as their favorite of the year so far, and I have to agree. This book has taken up residence on my bookshelf and in my heart—permanently. It doesn’t happen very often that as soon as I finish a book I seriously want to turn back to page one and start all over again, but with Lady Jayne Disappears, that was exactly the case.

About the Author

Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her manuscript for Lady Jayne Disappears was a finalist for several contests, including the 2016 Genesis Award from ACFW, and won the OCW Cascade Award and the Maggie Award for Excellence. She is always on the hunt for random acts of kindness, people willing to share their deepest secrets with a stranger, and hidden stashes of sweets. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan and shares stories that move her at http://www.jdpstories.com.

(Biography from Revell Publisher)

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

Cherished Mercy

Cherished Mercy

By Tracie Peterson

The Story

As Oregon Territory teeters on the brink of armed conflict, one woman strives for peace.

Mercy Flanagan survived the Whitman Massacre as a child, and now her heart’s cry is for peace between the native peoples and the white settlers inhabiting Oregon Territory. Unfortunately, most of the settlers want the tribes removed from the land completely, one way or another.

At the request of family friend Eletta Browning, who is experiencing a difficult pregnancy, Mercy travels south to the Rogue River Valley to help. At the Browning Mission, she meets Eletta’s brother-in-law, Adam. Despite her attempts to befriend him, Adam seems determined to focus on ministering to the local tribes and keeps her at arm’s length. Why is he so intent on pushing her away?

When tragedy strikes and tensions in the territory reach the combustion point, Mercy is pushed to the limit of her strength. She and Adam will have to rely on their faith in God and on each other in order to make it out alive.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House Publishers)

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I have always been interested in Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, ever since I first heard their story on my family’s cassette tapes ( 😉 ) that told the tale of their journey west, their mission, and their subsequent sacrifice. However, I came in a little late on the scene for this series. Cherished Mercy is the third book in the Heart of the Frontier series, but I felt that I was able to understand and not get lost, though I’d not read the previous two books.

This is a sweet story that considers forgiveness and God’s plan for our lives. Mercy embarks on a journey that’s neither safe nor secure, yet she puts her trust in what God’s plan is for her and follows His leading. I enjoyed this read as I got some insight into the Indian troubles following the Whitman massacre. The characters were compelling and the plot kept me from putting the book down for long. Fans of Tracie Peterson’s previous books will surely love this one as well.

All considered, Cherished Mercy is a sweet, informative read that I very much enjoyed.

About the Author

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana. Learn more at www.traciepeterson.com

(Biography from Bethany House Publishers)

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

These Healing Hills

These Healing Hills

By Ann H. Gabhart

The Story

Francine Howard has her life all mapped out–until the man she loves announces his plans to bring home an English bride from war-torn Europe in 1945. Devastated, Francine seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Service.

Deeply affected by the horrors he witnessed at war, Ben Locke has never thought further ahead than making it home to Kentucky. His future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he’s at a loss when it comes to envisioning what’s next for his life.

When Francine’s and Ben’s paths intersect, it’s immediately clear that they are from different worlds and value different things. But love has a way of healing old wounds . . . and revealing tantalizing new possibilities.

(Back cover summary from Revell Publishers)

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I’m always looking for new authors to try, as long as the story line sounds interesting. The plot of These Healing Hills sounded interesting, and I’d never read anything by Ann H. Gabhart, so there was that. But when I saw that the setting was an area that I knew, I knew I had to try it out. I’m very glad I did.

These Healing Hills whisks you back to a time that seems both familiar and foreign. The Frontier Nurses were remarkable women, and the nurse-midwife training still goes on today. It was fascinating getting more of a peek of what their lives may have been like day-to-day.

As I read, I could tell that a native Kentuckian had written the book. Flavored with authentic dialogue and colloquialisms, this story was close to my own experiences. As someone who has fallen in love with those same mountains, it was a delight for me to read.

The story line kept me involved too. The push for some sort of connection between Ben and Francine prodded me to read more.

If you’re looking for a sweet, informative, authentic historical read, then I would definitely recommend These Healing Hills. You may even find some direction in your own winding paths between the pages.

About the Author

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels–The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and The Gifted–as well as Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, Love Comes Home, Words Spoken True, and The Heart of Hollyhill series. She lives with her husband a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Learn more at www.annhgabhart.com

(Biography from Revell Publishers)

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

Loving Luther

Loving Luther

By Allison Pittman

The Story

Germany, 1505

In the dark of night, Katharina von Bora says the bravest good-bye a six-year-old can muster and walks away as the heavy convent gate closes behind her.

Though the cold walls offer no comfort, Katharina soon finds herself calling the convent her home. God, her father. This, her life. She takes her vows—a choice more practical than pious—but in time, a seed of discontent is planted by the smuggled writings of a rebellious excommunicated priest named Martin Luther. Their message? That Katharina is subject to God, and no one else. Could the Lord truly desire more for her than this life of servitude?

In her first true step of faith, Katharina leaves the only life she has ever known. But the freedom she has craved comes with a price, and she finds she has traded one life of isolation for another. Without the security of the convent walls or a family of her own, Katharina must trust in both the God who saved her and the man who paved a way for rescue. Luther’s friends are quick to offer shelter, but Katharina longs for all Luther has promised: a home, a husband, perhaps even the chance to fall in love.

(Back cover summary from Tyndale Publishers)

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I developed an interest in Katharina von Bora’s life while I was in college. As I casually researched more about her, I realized that I’d stumbled upon a treasure. I even ended up writing a paper on her. So when I saw that a novel was being written about her specifically, I was intrigued. Would it stay somewhat close to the story? What sort of liberties would the author take—and would I agree? After all, it’s a great challenge to take the story of a notable person like this, who really has little information to draw on, and respectfully and as truthfully as possible, tell her story in an interesting way. The saying is true, that behind every great man, is a great woman. And Katharina von Bora was just such a woman.

Allisson Pittman wove her way through what we know of Katharina’s story, adding some here, drawing on imagination there, in a way that read like history, but didn’t feel like a dusty old history tome. Katharina was a remarkable, though flawed, woman, just as her husband, Martin Luther, was. But these two flawed people were instrumental in drawing the Protestant church to where it is today.

With the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation coming up in less than a month, I would recommend Loving Luther for those who wish to know a little more about these movers and shakers in an interesting, somewhat imaginative way.

About the Author

Allison Pittman is the author of more than a dozen critically acclaimed novels and a three-time Christy finalist—twice for her Sister Wife series and once for All for a Story from her take on the Roaring Twenties. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, blissfully sharing an empty nest with her husband, Mike. Connect with her on Facebook (Allison Pittman Author), Twitter (@allisonkpittman) or her website, allisonkpittman.com

(Biography from Tyndale Publishers)

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Promise of Breeze Hill

The Promise of Breeze Hill

By Pam Hillman

The Story

Natchez, MS; 1791

Anxious for his brothers to join him on the rugged frontier along the Mississippi River, Connor O’Shea has no choice but to indenture himself as a carpenter in exchange for their passage from Ireland. But when he’s sold to Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation, Connor fears he’ll repeat past mistakes and vows not to be tempted by the lovely lady.

The responsibilities of running Breeze Hill have fallen on Isabella’s shoulders after her brother was found dead in the swamps along the Natchez Trace and a suspicious fire devastated their crops, almost destroyed their home, and left her father seriously injured. Even with Connor’s help, Isabella fears she’ll lose her family’s plantation. Despite her growing feelings for the handsome Irish carpenter, she seriously considers accepting her wealthy and influential neighbor’s proposal of marriage.

Soon, though, Connor realizes someone is out to eliminate the Bartholomew family. Can he set aside his own feelings to keep Isabella safe?

(Back cover summary from Tyndale Publishers)

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            The Promise of Breeze Hill appealed to me on several levels. The setting, Natchez, MS for one. And Pam Hillman made that setting come alive. From the cloying humidity to the hazardous trace, I felt as if I was walking, living, and breathing in that time period. She wrote beyond history into the personality and feelings of that era.

She also did a great job with the suspense. Though I figured out some of those elements, there were many things that she added that kept me on my toes, which I always appreciate from an author.

The romance, though, is what she excelled at. These two characters are drawn to each other, and I was rooting for them all the way! They had ups and downs, miscommunication and upset. Sounds kinda like real life, doesn’t it? I will definitely be picking up more novels from her if they’re all like this.

This story is as beautiful and enthralling as the book’s cover. I definitely recommend it to fans of historical, romance, or Christian fiction. If you like Jody Hedlund, Christine Johnson, or Melissa Jagears, you will enjoy Pam Hillman’s The Promise of Breeze Hill.

About the Author

Award-winning author Pam Hillman writes inspirational fiction set in the turbulent times of the American West and the Gilded Age. Her debut novel, Stealing Jake, was a finalist in the International Digital Awards and the 2013 EPIC eBook Awards. Claiming Mariah, her second novel, won Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart. She lives in Mississippi with her husband and family. Visit her website at www.pamhillman.com

(Biography from Tyndale Publishers)

The Two of Us

The Two of Us

By Victoria Bylin

The Story

After two broken engagements, Mia Robinson is done with dating. From now on, she’s focusing on God and her goal to join an international aid organization as a nurse practitioner. But when her 18-year-old sister, Lucy, calls with an invitation to her Vegas wedding, it throws a wrench into Mia’s plans.

Jake Tanner has recovered from the injuries he sustained as a police officer–on the outside. Inside, he’s yet to heal from losing his partner in the tragedy, but finds some solace in keeping an eye on her young adult son, Sam, who’s asked him to be best man at his wedding.

Mia expects a mess when she arrives to sort out the situation with Lucy, but she wasn’t expecting Jake, who views the marriage a little differently. As Jake’s and Mia’s lives slowly become more intertwined, could his courage and her caring heart be enough to bring them a lifetime of healing?

(Back cover summary from Bethany House Publishers)

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Like Ms. Bylin’s other books, The Two of Us is a sweet, satisfying read. Mia is torn between what she believes serving God looks like and what her heart starts to feel. However, as she gets to know Jake and the other people in the community, she begins to learn what trusting God is all about.

That’s really what this whole book is about. It’s written from Mia, Jake, and Lucy’s point of view, and all three of them have to learn in different ways how to trust God above all else. Which is so relatable to everyone, isn’t it? Giving up our control and surrendering to God’s plan, whatever it might be, isn’t easy. But it’s right and He works it out in the end.

This book is so much more than what the back cover might lead you to believe. It takes you on a journey of faith, trust, and changing plans. I could relate on many different levels with Mia as she struggles with her decisions. It’s definitely a contemporary romance, but the faith element is what really drew me in.

I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author

Victoria Bylin writes contemporary and historical romances known for their realistic, relatable characters. Her work has finaled in contests such as the Carol Awards, the RITAs, and the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award. A native of California, she and her husband now make their home in Lexington, Kentucky. Visit her website at www.victoriabylin.com to find out more.

(Biography from Bethany House Publishers)