Tag Archives: Texas

First Impressions

First Impressions

A Contemporary Retelling of Pride and Prejudice

By Debra White Smith

The Story

In an attempt to get to know the people of London, Texas–the small town that lawyer Eddi Boswick now calls home–she tries out for a local theater group’s production of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. She’s thrilled to get the role of lively Elizabeth Bennet . . . until she meets the arrogant–and eligible–rancher playing her leading man.

Dave Davidson chose London, Texas, as the perfect place to live under the radar. Here, no one knows his past, and he can live a quiet, peaceful life with his elderly aunt, who also happens to own the local theater. Dave doesn’t even try out for the play, but suddenly he is thrust into the role of Mr. Darcy and forced to spend the entire summer with Eddi, who clearly despises him.

Sparks fly every time Eddi and Dave meet, whether on the stage or off. But when Eddi discovers Dave’s secret, she has to admit there might be more to him than she thought. Maybe even enough to change her mind . . . and win her heart.

(Back cover summary from Bethany House)

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I’ve long been a fan of Pride and Prejudice—the movies at least. I’m sad to say that I have not yet finished the original novel, but I’m working on it! Now, I won’t get started on which movie version I like the best, but I will say that length is a big factor for me. 😉

First Impressions is a sweet retelling of this classic story, this time set in London, Texas. The characters that Ms. Smith creates harken back to the original story, but each has a bit of a twist. I loved getting to know these beloved characters in new ways, and I felt that Ms. Smith did justice to the story.

I enjoyed watching as Eddi and Dave got to know each other better, and seeing the sparks fly as misunderstandings arose. There were times where I felt the story lagged a bit, but I did appreciate that Ms. Smith stayed true to the major plot points key to the book. I definitely would have been disappointed to see any missing. I liked the portrayal of the sisters in particular.

Overall, I enjoyed First Impressions, but it didn’t grip my attention as much as I would have liked. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen or Pride and Prejudice and looking for something a little different, I would definitely suggest First Impressions.

About the Author

Debra White Smith is a seasoned author, speaker, and media personality who has fifty-four books to her credit, both fiction and nonfiction, with more than one million copies in print. Her work has appeared on various bestseller lists, and she has repeatedly been voted a reader favorite. She holds a BA and MA in English and lives in Texas. Visit her at http://www.debrawhitesmith.com for more information.

(Biography from Bethany House)

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.

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Every Girl Gets Confused

every-girl-gets-confused-by-janice-thompsonBook Review: Every Girl Gets Confused

Author: Janice Thompson

Review by Grace Olson

The Story

Taken from Revell’s website description of Every Girl Gets Confused:

How can she choose between the love she thought she lost and the love she stumbled upon in the aftermath?
Katie Fisher and Brady James may be a match made in heaven, but that doesn’t seem to guarantee them a happily ever after accompanied by angelic choirs. Katie’s almost-fiancé Casey is back in Fairfield, ready to rekindle their relationship. And there’s nothing Katie’s parents want more than for their small-town girl to leave Dallas and come home for good.
But can she really leave Brady behind? And will she ever be able to wear that gorgeous wedding dress she won?

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            I’ve read a couple books by Janice Thompson in the past, I may even have a few on my kindle currently (that should give you a hint of insight into the size of my TBR list). I hadn’t read the first book in the Brides with Style series, Every Bride Needs a Groom, but I still enjoyed this novel very much. However, if I had the chance to do it over again, I would have read the first book before this one.

Janice Thompson’s writing is characterized by humor, sweet romance, and a home-town feel. Though this book switched back and forth between the big city and small town, the cast of characters, who were a fantastic combo of quirkiness and authenticity, rooted the story in a familial atmosphere. I loved how Janice portrayed the different characters in the book. Often, people didn’t say what they meant, and confusion abounded after some conversations. Sounds like real life, doesn’t it? Which is why I so enjoyed reading this book. I was able to read it for a bit, put it down with a smile on my face, until I meandered back into the story again later. However, I wouldn’t say that the story gripped me as much as others I’ve read recently. I liked how Brady and Katie were the main couple of the story, yet there were so many other intertwining stories with the rest of the cast. The sometimes dry humor that Janice uses is very similar to my kind of humor, which I absolutely loved reading. Perhaps what I liked most was seeing a bit of the culture as far as the different Christian churches in Texas. Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, where I’m from the categories aren’t quite so defined. But what I especially appreciated was how Janice portrayed the people from these different denominations working together as believers in Jesus.

If you’re looking for a relaxing escape into a good book, I would recommend this series, based on reading the second book in the series, so take that advice with a grain of salt.

About the Author

Biography from Revell’s website: Janice Thompson is a seasoned romance author and screenwriter. An expert at pulling the humor from the situations we get ourselves into, Thompson offers an inside look at the wedding business, drawing on her own experiences as a wedding planner. She is the author of the hugely popular Weddings by Bella series and the Backstage Pass series, as well as Picture Perfect, The Icing on the Cake, and The Dream Dress. She lives in Texas. Learn more at www.janiceathompson.com

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

A Match Made In Texas

9780764211768Book Review: A Match Made In Texas

Authors: Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, Carol Cox

Review by Grace Olson 

The Story

Taken from Bethany House’s website synopsis of A Match Made In Texas:

 There’s a secret matchmaker at work in frontier Texas!

In the small town of Dry Gulch, Texas, a good-hearted busybody just can’t keep herself from surreptitiously trying to match up women in dire straits with men of good character she hopes can help them. How is she to know she’s also giving each couple a little nudge toward love?
A Cowboy Unmatched
Neill isn’t sure who hired him to repair Clara’s roof–he only knows Clara desperately needs his help. Can he convince this stubborn widow to let down her guard and take another chance on love?
An Unforeseen Match
Hoping to earn an honest wage on his way to the land rush, Clayton ends up on Grace’s doorstep, lured by a classified ad. He may have signed on for more than he expected though–and he may have found the one woman who can keep him from moving on.
No Match for Love
Andrew can’t fathom how refined Lucy ended up as the caretaker to his dotty aunt, and somehow her arrival has prompted even more bizarre occurrences around the ranch. When they join forces to unearth the truth, will the attraction between Andrew and Lucy develop into more?
Meeting Her Match
When the tables are turned and a tenderhearted meddler becomes the beneficiary of a matchmaking scheme, her world is turned upside down. As her entire life changes, will she finally be able to tell the banker’s son how much she cares for him?

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I absolutely fell in love with this collection and its characters. When I requested this book, I had read two of Regina Jennings’s novels, part of a book by Karen Witemeyer, and started the first five pages of a Mary Connealy novel. And while I had heard of Carol Cox, I had never read any of her books. Boy will I be changing that for these four authors.

First, Karen’s story, A Cowboy Unmatched. I was already somewhat familiar with Neill when I received this collection, so I was very interested to see what was going to happen with him. As I’m beginning to discover, Karen does not disappoint. This was a sweet love story with plenty of tension as far as the villain was concerned. What a great start to A Match Made In Texas!

In An Unforeseen Match, the heroine shared my name, fancy that, so I already had a connection with her. I have really loved Regina’s novels, and this one absolutely delivered. What a beautiful love story! Grace having to overcome her blindness and Clayton helping her with that was so compelling, and it had a marvelous ending!

My first look at Carol Cox’s writing, No Match For Love, got me hooked. This novella had some mystery in it, which I thought I had figured out, but she threw in a twist that had me chuckling. After the previous two authors that I had some experience with and whose writing I enjoyed, I wondered if Carol’s story would hold the same appeal for me. Did it? You betcha!

At last, in Meeting Her Match, I got to meet the woman who has been anonymously helping all these other couples to find their true loves. And what a story she had! Let’s just say that this matchmaker isn’t the only scheming lady in Dry Gulch. How this woman finally found her own match surprised me, but it was the perfect end to this novella collection.

Final thoughts? Love, love, loved it! All four of these romances flowed beautifully together, despite the fact that all of them have very different characters, plots, and even authors! A Match Made In Texas is definitely the best book I have read recently, and one I would highly recommend. Well done, ladies!

If you want a glimpse of what these characters might look like, take a look at this blog: http://ncharacters.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-many-characters-from-match-made-in.html I recently re-discovered it, and have been loving looking through the archives. Stop by and take a peek!

About the Authors 

Since there are four different authors involved in this book, I’m not going to introduce you to all of them. If you want to learn more about any of these ladies and the other books they’ve written, you can go to their respective websites: Karen Witemeyer: http://www.karenwitemeyer.com/ Mary Connealy: http://www.maryconnealy.com/ Regina Jennings: http://www.reginajennings.com/ Carol Cox: http://authorcarolcox.com/

I was given a review copy of A Match Made In Texas from Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group House, in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for my review. The opinions expressed are solely my own.

Wings of a Dream

imgresBook Review: Wings of a Dream

Author: Anne Mateer

Review by Grace Olson

What kind of book do you prefer? Are you drawn to nonfiction? Maybe you’re looking for a fiction book that lures you into the story and makes you really think. Or perhaps you’re looking for a novel that allows you to put up your feet and relax for a while as you immerse yourself in the story. If you currently fit the latter category, then the book Wings of a Dream just might be what you’re looking for. An easy read with colorful characters and a sweet romance, this book is perfect for a rainy day, or really any day when you need to unwind for a while.

The Story

Rebekah Hendricks longs for a life outside of her parents’ Oklahoma farm, so when Arthur Samson comes along, a young, handsome aviator, Rebekah becomes convinced this is the man she is intended to marry. But the Great War (World War I) is going on, so she must be patient in waiting for it to end before she and Arthur can start their adventurous life together. When her aunt contracts the Spanish flu, Rebekah journeys to Texas to care for her. Surely, she thinks, this will be more interesting than her mundane life at the farm. Her plans, however, are not meant to be. Left in charge of four young children, Rebekah searches for God’s will as the dreams of her heart seem to slip farther and farther from her grasp. Will Rebekah allow her dreams to change for something better, something entirely unexpected? Or will she miss happiness as she clings to her long-held goals?

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In Wings of a Dream Anne Mateer weaves a story of romance, heartache, and dreams realized. Her characters are engaging, and as they work through their struggles, she expertly captures the reader’s attention and carries it throughout the book. Written in the first person, the reader gets to know Rebekah well and roots for her as she struggles to learn what God’s will is for her.

I enjoyed the sweet romance Mateer creates throughout the story. From soaring on the clouds of love to plummeting to the earth in a mushroom cloud of heartbreak (okay, so maybe not that dramatic), Mateer keeps her readers guessing.

Rebekah’s struggle to know God’s will for her life is one that I think all believers in Jesus Christ can identify with. Sometimes the path before us is black and white and what we should do is clear, other times a gray fog seems to overwhelm us. When God’s will seems to differ from what Rebekah wants, she must learn to trust Him, a good lesson for us all.

While I’m on the subject of the book’s spiritual content, it should be noted that though it is clear that Rebekah is a Christian, the name of Jesus was not used as much as I would have preferred. The reason I say this is because Jesus Christ is the one who saves. Many different religions believe in a ‘god’, many people say they believe in God, but only belief in Jesus Christ saves us (see John 14:6 and Romans 10:9). That being said, Mateer did use Jesus’ name several times, but I personally felt that there should have been more of these references so there is no doubt in the reader’s mind who the Redeemer is.

About the Author

By her own admission Anne Mateer has been writing her whole life, but in 2001 she finished her first novel, thanks, in part, to the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge. From this time on, she began to study the craft of writing, being named a finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest three times before succeeding in publishing her first novel, Wings of a Dream. Mateer’s passion for history and historical fiction is evidenced in Wings of a Dream as well as her second novel At Every Turn, which is currently available, and A Home for My Heart, due to hit the bookstores in September of this year. Mateer currently resides near Dallas, Texas with her husband and their three teenagers.

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I really enjoyed Wings of a Dream. I was in need of a good book for the weekend and ended up reading this novel in two days. Mateer draws readers into the story in a way that makes them care about what happens to the characters, maybe because we see a little of ourselves in Rebekah as we search for God’s will in our own lives. Whatever the reason, be it the characters, easy-to-understand writing style, or theme, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read after a long day.

Wings of a Dream is available for check-out, download, or paper copy.