Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: The Last Bride by Beverly Lewis

Book Description:

Of her Old Order parents' five daughters, Tessie Miller is the last to marry. She has her heart set on Amishman Marcus King, but Tessie's father opposes the match.

Impetuously, Tessie and Marcus elope to the English world, then return to Hickory Hollow to live as singles, trusting they'll convince the Millers to give their love a chance over time. But when the unthinkable happens, Tessie faces the almost-certain censure of the People. Will she find a reason for hope in spite of her desperate plight?

My Review:

Sweet Tessie Ann! I just loved her. Such a gentle soul, who despite her one rash decision genuinely wanted to obey her parents and the church.

This is one of my favorite books by Beverly Lewis. I enjoyed the familiar setting of Hickory Hollow, and the look back into the lives of the minor recurring characters. There is a lot of depth to this book. Between the struggles of Tessie and her sister Mandy and a father who, in trying to prevent heartbreak, breaks the heart of his daughters there is much to be learned and appreciated.

As long time readers of Lewis have likely come to expect, there is beautiful look inside both Amish life and Amish faith. With a strong view of the sovereignty of God, I found this book to encourage me in my faith, too.

The story unfolds at just the right pace, and I loved seeing the soft romances unfold.

I would strongly recommend this book.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Tide and Tempest by Elizabeth Ludwig

Book Description:

Dreaming of a better life, Tillie McGrath leaves Ireland behind and, with her beloved fiance by her side, sets sail for America. But when illness robs her of the man she holds dear, she's left alone with only a handful of tattered memories. While forging on proves difficult, Tillie soon finds some new friends at her New York boardinghouse, and begins pursuing a new dream--to open a home for orphaned children.

Despite two years passing, Captain Keondric Morgan has never forgotten the lass who left his ship so heartbroken. When a crewman's deathbed confession reveals her fiance's demise was the result of murder, the captain knows he must try to contact her. But his attention draws the notice of others as well--dangerous men who believe Tillie has in her possession something that could expose their crimes. And to their way of thinking, the best way to prevent such an outcome is to seize the evidence and then hand Tillie the same fate as her naïve fiance.

My Review:

This is the third book in the Edge of Freedom series, and I think it is my favorite.
One can't help but love the sweet and humble Tillie McGrath, and seeing her thrust into danger from a foe she does not know makes this book a read-in-a-weekend story. And the tough yet surprising sensitive Morgan makes the perfect hero.
The story moves along at the perfect pace, with the mystery unfolding at just the right times to keep you reading way past bedtime.
Those who have read the previous books will love the look back into the lives of Cara, Amelia, Tillia, Rourke, Eoghan and the rest.
If you haven't read the previous books, I would recommend reading from the beginning of the series. There is a lot of background information that is needed for you to really understand the characters as well as the plot.  

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate

Book Description:

Allie Kirkland has always heard the call of her father's unfinished destiny. When she's offered a production assistant's job on a docudrama filming in the hills near Moses Lake, Texas, the dream of following in her director-father's footsteps suddenly seems within reach. The reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step into the film industry. A summer on set in the wilderness is a small price to pay for a dream. 

But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities. Town founder Harland Delavan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip. Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the region's folk songs. Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned.
When filming begins, strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, and everyone in Wildwood--including Blake Fulton, Allie's handsome neighbor on the film set--seems to be hiding secrets. Allie doesn't know whom she can trust. If she can't find the answers in time, history may repeat itself...with the most unthinkable results.

My Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this Moses Lake novel by Lisa Wingate. I have read the other three, and would recommend them as well, but this one is my favorite.

This book contains two distinct storylines, one set in the 1860's and one is current day. The author weaves these two storylines together in a most incredible way, making the past "touch" today.

I loved both Allie Kirkland (present day) and Bonnie Rose (from the past). Both were very unique characters in their own way, and the unfolding story of Bonnie Rose touched my heart. 

I believe the author must have done quite extensive research for this book. This historical detail was amazing, and it made the story very believable.

What really made this book stand out for me was the subtle suspense that builds throughout the book as the mystery of Bonnie Rose unfolds. 

I believe this book will appeal to many types of readers. It contain historical fiction, action/suspense, mystery, as well as contemporary fiction.

For those who have read previous Moses Lake novels, you will enjoy appearance from old favorites such as Mart McClendon, Pop Dorsey, and the Frontier Woman. If you haven't read them, this book will read quite well as a stand alone.

This is an all-around great story to read.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Review: The Governess of Highland Hall

Book Description:

Worlds lie between the marketplaces of India and the halls of a magnificent country estate like Highland Hall. Will Julia be able to find her place when a governess is neither upstairs family nor downstairs help?

Missionary Julia Foster loves working alongside her parents, ministering and caring for young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden for her parents’ financial support. Taking on a job at Highland Hall as governess, she quickly finds that teaching her four privileged, ill-mannered charges at a grand estate is more challenging than expected, and she isn’t sure what to make of the estate’s preoccupied master, Sir William Ramsey.

Widowed and left to care for his two young children and his deceased cousin Randolph’s two teenage girls, William is consumed with saving the estate from the financial ruin. The last thing he needs is any distraction coming from the kindhearted-yet-determined governess who seems to be quietly transforming his household with her persuasive personality, vibrant prayer life, and strong faith.

While both are tending past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, Julia and William are determined to do what it takes to save their families—common ground that proves fertile for unexpected feelings. But will William choose Julia’s steadfast heart and faith over the wealth and power he needs to secure Highland Hall’s future? - See more at: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?work=226884#sthash.SvrqRMET.dpuf

 My Review:

This was an easy-to-read and fairly fast moving book. I found the characters to be interesting and engaging. There was just enough description to help the reader visualize the scene without being heavy on minute details. I enjoyed the occasional twists in the plot that kept the story interesting.

However, I couldn't help but feel that this storyline has been done too many times. From Jane Eyre to The Silent Governess the story of the caught-between-upstairs-and-downstairs governess and the strong but somewhat sensitive master of the house has already been done, and done very well. While the former missionary aspect is new, there really wasn't much else to set this book apart from the others.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Review: The Dancing Master

Book Description:

Finding himself the man of the family, London dancing master Alec Valcourt moves his mother and sister to remote Devonshire, hoping to start over. But he is stunned to learn the village matriarch has prohibited all dancing, for reasons buried deep in her past.

Alec finds an unlikely ally in the matriarch's daughter. Though he's initially wary of Julia Midwinter's reckless flirtation, he comes to realize her bold exterior disguises a vulnerable soul--and hidden sorrows of her own.

Julia is quickly attracted to the handsome dancing master--a man her mother would never approve of--but she cannot imagine why Mr. Valcourt would leave London, or why he evades questions about his past. With Alec's help, can Julia uncover old secrets and restore life to her somber village...and to her mother's tattered heart?

Filled with mystery and romance, The Dancing Master brings to life the intriguing profession of those who taught essential social graces for ladies and gentlemen hoping to make a "good match" in Regency England.

My Review:

I enjoyed this Regency-era book by Julie Klassen. She is one of my favorite authors, and this book did not disappoint.
The book begins very slowly, but it is worth reading through. Getting to know the characters and the subtle details early bring the book to life later on. 
I loved the vivid description of the English country dances and the look inside the Manor House life. 
As always, Klassen's character were unique and interesting. 
What I most enjoyed about this book was the beautiful way that Klassen wove together multiple plot lines with characters that each have their own mysteries, which slowly unfold throughout the story.
The strong themes of grace and forgiveness make this book both delightfully entertaining and encouraging.
I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

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