Tag Archives: Romance

The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection

Book Review: The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection

Authors: Joanne Bischof, Amanda Dykes, Heather Day Gilbert,

Jocelyn Green, Maureen Lang

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon of The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection:

Join the journey as one word etched in Latin on an ancient bronze bottle travels through the centuries to reach five young women who are struggling to maintain their faith in God and love. An Irish princess, a Scottish story weaver, a Post-Colonial nurse, a cotton mill worker, and a maid who nearly drowned each receive a message from the bottle just when they need their hope restored. But will the bottle also bring them each to a man whose love will endure?

The Distant Tide by Heather Day Gilbert

1170: County Kerry, Ireland

When a Viking bent on revenge mistakenly raids the castle of a bookish Irish princess, will she cast her fears aside to befriend the enemy, finally realizing God’s plan for her life?

A Song in the Night by Amanda Dykes

1717: Scotland and England

When a Scottish story-weaver loses her family in a clan war, she finds herself aided by a handsome, secretive bagpiper in a race against time to reunite with someone she never dared hope she’d see again.

The Forgotten Hope by Maureen Lang

1798: New York

As a champion of the sick, a young New Yorker never doubted her worth until a new doctor arrives to work with her father, one who believes her to be nothing more than a social butterfly. Can she gain his respect—and his love?

A River Between Us by Jocelyn Green

1864: Roswell, Georgia

When a Georgian cotton mill worker is arrested and sent North, the Union officer who tries to protect her is the last person she wants to forgive—and the only man who can bring hope and healing to her heart.

The Swelling Sea by Joanne Bischof

1890: Coronado Island, California

After washing ashore on the California coastline, a young woman’s yearning to discover her past leads her to the courageous oarsman who helps her find the key.

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            The Distant Tide: So, I really enjoyed this story. Why? Easy: Viking heroes, courageous princesses, and a missionary heart. I loved the two main characters and their diversity. Heather’s writing style and word choice were also a delight to read. I really appreciated that the two main characters had attraction, but that Britta knew that love was a choice. I felt that was expressed very well.

A Song in the Night: I didn’t want this story to end! I loved the Scottish brogue coming through, with just enough to add color, but not too much to make it impossible to read. They were intriguing, colorful characters. I loved how Dykes wove this story of hope. Duncan’s story was a surprise to me, and it was such a sweet, beautiful ending, with twists and turns to the end.

The Forgotten Hope: I loved how Abigail had to figure out how to maneuver the tensions of societal and familial expectations and what she believed God had created her to do. Reading how she walked that line was sometimes humorous, though it annoyed me how often Cal misunderstood who she was and discounted her for it. A sweet story set in a favorite time-period for me.

A River Between Us: I had already figured out that I love Jocelyn’s books, and this story continued to confirm that for me. The issues and odds that these two characters have to overcome are enormous, but as each experience healing from God, they grow closer together. Both of the characters are tenacious and become more so as they experience true hope.

The Swelling Sea: This story fascinated me, both the premise and the characters, as Rosie is a very unique character with difficult challenges she has to deal with daily. Jonas is so sweet and understanding, and his own determination was inspiring. Their story is sweet and explores a place, a time period, and some personal issues that I had not read before.

About the Authors

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 three children.

Amanda Dykes is the author of Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale, the critically-acclaimed bicycle story that invited readers together to fund bicycles for missionaries in Asia. A former English teacher, she has a soft spot for classic literature and happy endings. She is a drinker of tea, a dweller of Truth, and a spinner of hope-filled tales, grateful for the grace of a God who loves extravagantly.

HEATHER DAY GILBERT, a Grace Award winner and bestselling author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood. Heather writes Viking historicals and Appalachian mystery/suspense.

Jocelyn Green is a former journalist who puts her investigative skills to work in writing both nonfiction and historical fiction to inspire faith and courage. Her books have finaled in the Christy Awards and Inspirational Readers Choice Awards, and have won gold from the Military Writers Society of America and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Maureen Lang has been writing stories since the age of ten, when she figured out a way to write the stories she feels like reading. Since then she’s become the award-winning author of over a dozen published novels. In the last ten years her faith has directed her to write stories that reflect Christian hope and traditional values. She’s also been an active member of the disability community since her oldest son was diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic form of mental retardation. Maureen loves going on research trips to get a feel for the settings of her novels, and lives in the Chicago area with her husband, children, and lovable Labrador Retriever.

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

Still Life

Book Review: Still Life

Author: Dani Pettrey

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Amazon of Still Life:

Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright–and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart.

Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead–and the photographer insists he didn’t take the shot. Worse, her friend can’t be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat.

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            Dani Pettrey is brilliant at what she does. I loved her previous series set in Alaska, and I’m finding that I like these just as much. Still Life is the second book in the series, and I would definitely recommend reading them in order, it helps to set up some of the relationships and dynamics that happen in this book.

Still Life is…chilling. Reading it at night is not recommended. I rushed through this book in the same break-neck pace that Dani sets, with each ending to the chapter begging me to continue reading. I love how each character has their specialty that they bring to the team, but they don’t have those because they’re just unnaturally good at them, they all have motivation and reasons. The setting is different than her other series, but where the wilds of Alaska and its animals were an issue, abandoned buildings and unstable people are just as dangerous in the Chesapeake Valor series. The mystery, suspense, and adventure are great in this series, but the romance keeps perfect pace with it.

Over all, I really enjoyed Still Life, and would definitely recommend it!

About the Author

Biography from Amazon’s website: Dani Pettrey is a wife, homeschooling mom and author. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves–the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of one’s faith and plenty of romance. She’s a huge fan of dark chocolate, is always in search of the best iced mocha and her dream is to one day own a little cottage on a remote stretch of beach. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters. Visit her web site at www.DaniPettrey.com!

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

Rescue Me

rescue-me-book-cover-final-smlBook Review: Rescue Me

Author: Susan May Warren

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Back Cover from Revell’s website of Rescue Me:

When Deputy Sam Brooks commits to something, nothing can sway him–not just on the job but in his private life. He’s the one who stuck around to take care of his mother after his father’s accidental death. And he’s the one–perhaps the only one–who believes Sierra Rose is the perfect girl for him. Safe, practical, and organized, she’s nothing like her hippie, impulsive, bleeding-heart sister, Willow.

Willow, however, has been in love with Sam Brooks for as long as she can remember. But she wants her sister to have a happy ending. Besides, Willow has other things to focus on–namely, nabbing the job of her dreams. Best thing for her to do is to purge Sam from her heart.

Neither can predict the events that will bring them together in a fight for their lives in the forbidding wilderness of Glacier National Park. Stranded, injured, and with the winter weather closing in, Sam and Willow will have to work together to save a crew of terrified teenagers. As they fight to survive, they might just discover a new hope for love.

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            If I thought the first book of the Montana Rescue series was good, then this one is great. It’s hard to believe that Rescue Me only spans a week or two, but so much is packed into that time frame that it feels way longer.

Rescue Me is full of action and adventure. If it’s not a bear mauling—which, hello people? Stop going into the woods! Bears! *Ahem* Anyways. If it’s not a bear mauling, it’s a youth group that’s in serious trouble. I could NOT stop reading because each page brought a new challenge to the PEAK team and to Willow and Sam.

Per usual, Susan creates a great plot, with fantastic characters. Willow and Sam are not perfect by any means, which made me identify so well with them. Their struggles looked a lot like some that I’ve gone through, some questions that I’m asking myself right now. And how they learned about redemption and knowing more about God really taught me a lesson too. This novel dug down deep in my heart and planted truths there that I so appreciate. It’s rare, even in Christian fiction, that I read a book that actually changes me, but this one did.

The romance between the characters was spot-on, typical Susan May Warren writing. And the secondary characters, Jess and Pete, I loved, but I am still frustrated by them! C’mon guys, get your act together!

All in all, I really loved this book. With Susan’s writing, it goes beyond entertainment, down to the heart of a person, and that’s why I love her novels, and I love Rescue Me.

About the Author

Biography from Revell’s website: Susan May Warren is the ECPA and CBA bestselling author of over fifty novels, including Wild Montana Skies, with more than one million books sold. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. She can be found online at http://www.susanmaywarren.com, on Facebook at SusanMayWarrenFiction, and on Twitter @susanmaywarren.

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

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.

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.