Tag Archives: Inspirational Fiction

For the Record

51wbqyysdll-_sx322_bo1204203200_Book Review: For the Record

Author: Regina Jennings

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Bethany House’s website of For the Record:

Rather Than Wait for a Hero, She Decided to Create One

Betsy Huckabee has big-city dreams, but nobody outside of tiny Pine Gap, Missouri, seems interested in the articles she writes for her uncle’s newspaper. Her hopes for independence may be crushed, until the best idea she’s ever had comes riding into town.

Deputy Joel Puckett didn’t want to leave Texas, but unfair circumstances have made moving to Pine Gap his only shot at keeping a badge. Worse, this small town has big problems, and masked marauders have become too comfortable taking justice into their own hands. He needs to make clear that he’s the law in this town–and that job is made more difficult with a nosy reporter who seems to follow him everywhere he goes.

The hero Betsy creates to be the star in a serial for the ladies’ pages is based on the dashing deputy, but he’s definitely fictional. And since the pieces run only in newspapers far away, no one will ever know. But the more time she spends with Deputy Puckett, the more she appreciates the real hero–and the more she realizes what her ambition could cost him.

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            Regina Jennings outdoes herself in For the Record. This novel is full of wit, romance, and some mystery. I absolutely loved Betsy! Her quirkiness is unlike many heroines I’ve read about in that time period, and I was a big fan. Every time you think she will follow the normal pattern, she deviates, throwing the reader – and Joel – for a loop. Which brings me to Joel. *Sigh* He also broke the mold, Betsy’s mold in particular. He refused to be a gentleman when she needs him to be — for story’s purpose, of course.

The romance angle in this book – trademark Regina Jennings. For those who don’t know what that is, think similar to Karen Witemeyer or Melissa Jagears. She never disappoints, and For the Record is right up there with some of my favorite of her novels. Forgiveness and redemption play a part in this story. Regina writes great fiction, but she combines it with spiritual themes that go beyond entertainment and remind us of who God is and what He’s done for us.

If you’re looking for a quality historical fiction read, with great romance, a meaningful spiritual theme, and hilarity, then you must pick up For the Record.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: 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.

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

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.

Honor Redeemed

urlBook Review: Honor Redeemed

Author: Christine Johnson

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell Publisher’s website for Honor Redeemed:

Her future–and her heart–hang in the balance.

Two years ago, Prosperity Jones waved farewell to her beloved David as the army sent him to faraway Key West. Now with her parents gone, she has but one prospect for the future: make the dangerous journey from Nantucket to Key West to reunite with David and secure a happier life.

But when Prosperity arrives penniless in the South, she is dismayed to find David has not been eagerly awaiting their reunion. In fact, he is married to someone else. Scrambling to survive and nursing a broken heart, Prosperity gains the friendship–and the affection–of a kind doctor. Could he be the answer to her loneliness? Or will her life be upended by circumstance yet again?

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            Christine Johnson’s second book in the Keys of Promise series focuses on new characters, but adds in some old ones that will be familiar to readers of the first book. I liked this book in some ways, but in others it fell short for me. I was frustrated multiple times by Prosperity. She would jump to conclusions that just didn’t seem logical. Obviously emotions were running high in the book, but it was still annoying for me. The story was interesting, and the side note of mystery with the supplies disappearing from the worksite was intriguing, so I enjoyed that. I also really enjoyed the setting of Key West, and the different spin the author put on the island by focusing on some of the hospital issues. However, along with that, the fever that comes into play at the end of this book seemed very similar in circumstances and results to that of the first book. The characters did have some emotions that seemed very real, but overall the characters didn’t seem overly authentic or unique to me. The whole issue with Oliver and the prejudices involved was intriguing, and the ending of the book was satisfying. Overall, not my favorite book, but I did enjoy some parts of it.

About the Author

Biography from Revell Publisher’s website: Christine Johnson is the author of several books for Steeple Hill and Love Inspired and has been twice named a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® award. When not writing, she loves to hike and explore God’s majestic creation. These days, she and her husband, a Great Lakes ship pilot, split their time between northern Michigan and the Florida Keys.

I was given a review copy of Honor Redeemed from the publisher. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Without Warning

imgresBook Review: Without Warning

Author: Lynette Eason

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell Publisher’s website for Without Warning:

Intensity. Skill. Tenacity.

The bodyguards of Elite Guardians Agency have it all.

Katie Singleton, a partner with the Elite Guardians Protection Agency, stumbles upon her next assignment quite by accident. Spotting blue lights at a familiar restaurant, she stops to investigate, only to discover that owner Daniel Matthews has become the target of someone who will go to any lengths to put him out of business.

Daniel might be concerned, but he’s not convinced that a bodyguard–and a female one at that–is necessary. A new attack and his niece’s urgings are enough to make him reconsider. He and Katie must figure out who’s behind the intimidation and threats–before a would-be killer strikes again.

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            I’ve heard a lot of good things about Lynette Eason’s books, but never felt compelled to try one out for myself. However, I’ve been on a murder mystery kick lately (I’ve been reading a lot of Agatha Christie’s novels), so I thought I’d give Without Warning a try. I was so out of the loop, that I didn’t even realize until halfway through the book that I was reading the second book in the series. Oops. It worked out, though, because this book can easily be read as a stand-alone, though I’m sure reading the books in the series in order would enhance the experience.

I must say, my expectations were high. Did I mention I was reading from the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie? This book blew me away, though (for those of you who’ve read it, there’s a pun for you. Cheesy, I know.). This novel was action-packed, with suspense riding high. I found myself reading it any chance I got, just to try to figure out who-dun-it, and what they would do next! At one point, I was reading in my room and someone knocked on my door, and I had to take a few seconds to keep from grabbing the nearest pillow to use as a defense against the ‘intruder’. I really was gripped by this story!

I liked the idea of a body guard service made up of a group of women, a different take from what’s been done before by most authors (one of the exceptions being Becky Wade’s Her One and Only). The different viewpoints in the story, particularly Riley’s, were enjoyable to read. This book also tackles the issue of PTSD. Lynette treats it realistically, giving Without Warning more depth. The romance in this book was fun too, but wasn’t really the focus. Trust was a real issue in this book, trusting the people around them, and also trusting God, even when He allows things that don’t make sense.

So this book wasn’t quite Agatha Christie, but I did get sucked in by the adventure. I’ll definitely be taking another look at Lynette’s novels, but not when I’m home alone. At night. With creepy night noises. 😉

About the Author

Biography from Revell Publisher’s website: Lynette Eason is the bestselling author of the Women of Justice series, the Deadly Reunions series, and the Hidden Identity series, as well as Always Watching and Without Warning in the Elite Guardians series. She is the winner of an ACFW Carol Award, the Selah Award, and the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. She has a master’s degree in education from Converse College and lives in South Carolina. Learn more at www.lynetteeason.com.

I was given a review copy of Without Warning from the publisher. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

A Heart Most Certain

imgresBook Review: A Heart Most Certain

Author: Melissa Jagears

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon’s website for A Heart Most Certain:

While Lydia King’s reasons for joining the Teaville Moral Society might be suspect to some members, her heart is in the right place. Because of her father’s debts and her mother’s persistent illness, her best chance at a secure future and curing her mother is to impress the politician courting her. Her first task–to ask the town’s wealthiest man to donate–seems simple enough . . . until he refuses.

Despite appearances, Nicholas Lowe wants to help others, but prefers to keep his charity private. When Lydia proves persistent, they agree to a bargain, but Nicholas still intends to do things his own way. Neither predicts what they’ll learn about true charity or foresee the complications their actions will bring to the town, forcing Lydia to decide where her beliefs and heart truly align.

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            I knew I liked Melissa Jagears’ books after reading her e-novella, but I’d never gotten the chance to read any of the others until this one. I have really been missing out.

It’s not too often that I find that I don’t really like either of the main characters very much. “But, isn’t that a bad thing?” you ask. Well, not really. Here’s why: Lydia’s prejudice and self-righteousness grated, but that was because in her, I saw pieces of myself. Nicholas is a crusader, but he goes about it in a rather arrogant, heavy-handed way. So at the beginning of the book, I didn’t really like either of these characters. All Lydia cared about was money (some of her reasoning was good), and Nicholas only seemed able to manipulate people into seeing things his way (and yes, he had great intentions). But what made this story incredible was how the characters changed. They were like normal people, people like me. People don’t change in a day, they don’t change in a week, sometimes not even in a year. We are very good at deceiving ourselves into thinking that we are better than we are, or something that we’re not. So when God shows us who we are, through others or through His word, it’s painful, humbling, and downright uncomfortable. This is what Nicholas and Lydia experienced, and the fact that it was genuine and difficult for them was what touched my heart. This book is all about God redeeming who we were and continuing to make us into the image of His Son. And that is an awesome, ground-shaking, heart-humbling thing.

This is a romance, and Melissa is obviously a pro at her craft. I could hardly put this book down. There’s adventure, danger, prejudice, romance, and like I mentioned above, a message that goes deeper than the pages. A Heart Most Certain is populated with a group of characters who are not always what they seem, for people seldom are. Everyone’s motivations are in question. The historicity in the book was super fun and informative too.

To wrap up my gushing, I loved A Heart Most Certain, because Melissa went beyond just a love story, to touch on the ultimate Love Story, and it was an incredible journey.

About the Author

Biography from Amazon’s website: Much to her introverted self’s delight, Melissa Jagears hardly needs to leave her home to be a homeschooling mother and historical romance novelist. She doesn’t have to leave her house to be a housekeeper either, but she’s doubtful she meets the minimum qualifications to claim to be one in her official bio. Her passion is to help Christian believers mature in their faith and judge rightly. Find her online at http://www.melissajagears.com, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

I was given a review copy of A Heart Most Certain from the publisher. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

The Lady and the Lionheart

The-Lady-and-the-LionheartBook Review: The Lady and the Lionheart

Author: Joanne Bischof

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon’s website for The Lady and the Lionheart:

Virginia, 1890

Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Big Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. Here he humbly cares for his pride of lions as if they were his brothers, a skill of bravery and strength that has prepared him for his most challenging feat yet—freeing an orphaned infant from the dark bondage of a sideshow. A trade so costly, it requires his life in exchange for hers, leaving him tarnished by the price of that choice.

As the circus tents are raised on the outskirts of Roanoke, nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this Gypsy girl. All under the watchful eye of a guardian who not only bears a striking resemblance to the child, but who protects the baby with a love that wraps around Ella’s own tragic past, awakening a hope that goodness may yet reign. When their forbidden friendship deepens, Charlie dares to ask for her heart, bringing her behind the curtain of his secret world to reveal the sacrifice that gave hope to one little girl—boldly showing Ella that while her tattered faith is deeply scarred, the only marks that need be permanent are his own.

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            I am continually impressed by Joanne Bischof’s writing. No matter what genre she writes, she continues to get better and better at her craft. As a fellow writer, she is someone I definitely look up to, and as a reader, someone I will be eagerly awaiting every new release from. The Lady and the Lionheart is poignant, gripping, and sweet. The dark shadows of the circus are explored, and as the secrets that are held close to the hearts of those Ella cares about, I felt for these characters. Joanne is able to write her characters with such authenticity, that I honestly thought about them when I wasn’t reading. I considered their unique struggles, and the story of redemption behind those. I also found myself humming or thinking about the hymn that Charlie loves. She delves into real-life problems in this fictional story in such a raw, real way that it’s impossible to disregard. This book touched my heart, and it’s definitely on my favorites list.

If you’re looking for an intriguing view of what the circus was like in the late 1800s, characters that are nearly breathing, and an honest look at what it means to discover and live out the redemption we have in Jesus, then please take a look at this book. You won’t regret doing so.

About the Author

Biography from Amazon’s website: A Carol Award and three-time Christy Award-finalist, Joanne Bischof writes deeply layered fiction that tugs at the reader’s heartstrings. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children. www.joannebischof.com

I was given a review copy of The Lady and the Lionheart from the author. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Her One and Only

26974629Book Review: Her One and Only

Author: Becky Wade

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Bethany House’s website for Her One and Only:

After ten years in the NFL, superstar Gray Fowler is accustomed to obsessive fans. But when Gray starts receiving death threats from a stalker, his team hires an executive protection agency to guard him until the culprit is caught. Dealing with bodyguards 24/7 is a headache, especially when one of them is a young, beautiful woman. How can a female half his size possibly protect him better than he can protect himself?

Dru Porter is a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt–none of which saved her from disaster on her last assignment. In order to rebuild her tarnished reputation, she’s determined to find Gray’s stalker and, since relationships between agents and clients are forbidden, avoid a romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past.

Yet every secret that leads Dru closer to the stalker also draws her closer to Gray. As the danger escalates, they’ll survive only if they can learn to trust their lives–and their hearts–to one another.

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            Becky Wade delivers another stellar novel in Her One and Only as she finishes out the saga of the Porter family. The book is characterized by her signature headstrong characters, strong romance, and building suspense. As far as her writing goes, this one matched, if not exceeded, the excellence that readers have come to expect from her. I enjoyed this final book, because it focused on Dru, the last member of the Porter siblings, who is quite a spitfire. However, unlike what normally happens for me, this book simply didn’t suck me in. The romance aspect of the book didn’t seem quite ‘genuine’ to me, even though, yes, it is fiction. I also wasn’t on board with Dru pushing aside her doubts about faith and going ahead with a relationship with Gray. That was concerning for me, because as far as spiritual or emotional consequences, it didn’t really seem to be a factor.

So even though for many this book is another homerun hit, for me it just didn’t quite click.

About the Author

Biography from Bethany House’s website: Becky Wade is a native of California who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and now lives in Dallas. A favorite among readers of Christian contemporary romance, Becky has won a Carol Award, an Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, and an INSPY Award. Learn more at www.beckywade.com.

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