Friday, June 16, 2023

Review: Her Heart's Desire by Shelley Shepard Gray



Mary Margaret, Lilly, and Betsy are young Amish women traveling to Pinecraft, Florida for a vacation. Though strangers on the bus, they become fast friends as they spend the night together in Georgia during an ice storm. They are all "wallflowers" and look forward to spending time together during their vacation.

All is well until Mary finds out the Esther, who bullied her through their school years, will also be at the inn with them. That which she was seeking to escape from has followed her to Pinecraft.

While in Pinecraft, the girls meet Jayson, Danny, and Michael - interesting young men, each with struggles of their own. 


Throughout the book we see these relationships unfold, friendships strengthen, and forgiveness and restoration occur. In some ways it is your typical Amish coming-of-age story, though it was not entirely predictable. It shows less of Amish life, and more of these characters as real people, with the same struggles and feelings as the rest of us.

It starts off a bit slow, yet through that the characters grow and we begin to see the depth of emotion in them. It is a bit choppy in places, but overall it was a nice story. 


I do need to mention that I received a complimentary e-book version for review purposes. 

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Review: An Untamed Heart by Lauriane Snelling


I loved this prequel!
Young Ingeborg thinks she is doomed to be an old maid. After losing her love to a tragedy, she accepts life caring for her family in Norway. Her mother, however, sees a future for her in America. While Ingeborg is interested in life in America, she has not money for the voyage. Roald Bjorklund is a young widower who is heading for America, and is willing to marry Ingeborg and take her to America as is wife and new mother to his son. 
Ingeborg must decide if she is content to stay in Norway with few options, or start a new life in a new land with a man she barely knows.

Readers who have read the other books will enjoy this look at young Ingeborg, the events that shaped her life, and even some of the family members that we meet in later books. The traits the make her uniquely her are developed in this book, and she is as easy to relate to as ever. Like most of Snelling's books, this is rich in historical detail and descriptions of daily life in another time. 

The story moves along at a very nice pace, and isn't too predictable - which seems to often be an issue in prequels.

If you have read any of the other novels, don't worry - start with this one and you will fall in love with Ingeborg too :-)

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

The Heart's Choice


Rebecca Whitman witnesses a crime and a grave injustice as a young child. She grows up and becomes a court stenographer with a passion for justice. She leaves home to become the first female court stenographer in Kalispell, Montana, and she's determined that she will not fall in love with the first man that she meets.

The first man that she meets is Mark Andrews. He grew up on a ranch, and though his father is determined that he will take over the ranch along with his sister, Mark has no interest in ranching. His passion is books, and he has his dream job opening the first library in Kalispell.

The Ashburys have helped and guided Mark since he was young, and Mr Ashbury is the district judge. His wife, the interesting wife, Marvella Ashbury. She is determine that Rebecca will meet both God and Mark Andrews. The Ashburys offer apartments in the same building to both Mark and Rebecca.

As the story unfolds we see Rebecca caught in another case of serious injustice, we see her wrestle with faith as she works her way through the Bible, and watch her relationship with Mark blossom. Meanwhile, Mark's father grows mysteriously weak and ill at the ranch, where family tensions are high. His sister has a mysterious new husband who seems quite willing to take over the ranch. Mark doesn't want to break his relationship with his father, but neither does he want to be a rancher. All these things come together as the court case unfolds.

I genuinely enjoyed this story. The characters are rich and unique, from the delightful Marvella Ashbury to the loathsome Mr Tuttle. The mystery unfolds at just the right pace, and it kept me up reading at night. I always enjoy Christian fiction that has a gospel message in it, which this does. I will definitely be looking for more books by these authors. 

I received a complimentary e-book in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Delightful, Faith-filled Historical Fiction - True Christian Fiction


David Carbury is a physician who is one of the early doctors using chloroform, as he is convinced it is safe and effective. 

Grace Stratton is happy to received a position as a companion to an older, wealthy woman.

Dr Carbury is forced to flee London after one of his patients dies, though he is convinced it was from cholera, not chloroform. He goes to stay with his wealthy aunt, pretending to be his cousin to keep his secret and have some peace while he faces charges in London. There he meets Grace, who suspects that something is wrong, yet still finds herself drawn to "John."

I loved the fast pace of this book, and the delightful and unexpected plot twist that spring up. But what I most loved about this book, along with most of Edwina Kiernan's books, is the strong gospel message. Readers will find the message of sin, repentance, and redemption through our precious Savior. So often Christian fiction just has hints of faith, or simply doesn't contain impure content, but her truly preaches Christ. It *is* Christian fiction.

Review: The Tapestry of Grace by Kim Vogel Sawyer


This charming historical fiction opens with a group of German Mennonite women forming a "Frauenverein" - a women's group to meet the needs of widows and orphans per James 1:27. It is here that we meet an interesting cast of characters.

Konrad is a widower with young twin boys. He finds himself facing two women who both have competing plans to help him over the summer break.

Augusta is a widow, teacher, and mother to Juliana. She is kind and gentle, and seeking to meet the needs of others though she herself is a widow. She genuinely enjoys the twins, who she teaches during the school year, and wants to give them a loving and safe place to spend the days during the summer.

Martina leads the Frauenverein, and she at first appears to be a stern leader with selfish ambitions. As the story unfolds we see another side of her, a gentle and hurting side. Childless and concerned about her husband's drinking, she hopes that bringing one of the twin boys into an apprenticeship with her husband will heal their relationship.

An interesting and delightful story unfolds as these women discover that sometimes blessing others bring blessing on oneself.

One of the things that I most appreciate about Kim Vogel Sawyer's books is the godly wisdom sprinkled throughout. There are always a few quotes for my commonplace book. Here is one from this book:

"We must chop sin from our lives the way we chop weeds from the garden rows. Sin keeps us from growing strong in the faith. and producing fruit for God's kingdom. One weed left to flourish can take over the entire garden. One sin can grow into many that overtake the soul." -Mutter

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

You can purchase your copy beginning April 18, 2023.

Disclaimer: I received an advance ebook for review purposes. 


Saturday, April 6, 2019

Review: The Governess of Penwythe Hall

Cordelia Greythorne is comfortable in her role as governess to the children of Randall Twethewey. Having fled Cornwall following the death of her husband, she has settled into life at Easten Park a truly loves the children under her care. These children had earlier lost their mother, and look to her with love and respect.

 All of that is upended by the sudden death of Randall Twethewey. Twethewey, in the moments before his death, requests that she and the tutor stay on to care for the care for the children, at the estate of his brother, Jac Twetheway, in Cornwall. Though she fears the return to Cornwall she stays with the children and they all depart for Penwythe Hall.

Jac Twetheway, accused of having stolen Penwythe Hall from Randall, is busy trying to establish the orchards and make the estate profitable again. He does not receive the letter regarding his brothers death, and is quite surprised at the arrival of the tutor, five children, and their mysterious governess.

At the Frost Ball rumors swirl about Delia and her background, and the arrival of her brother in law leaves her rattled, yet Jac is sure of her character and trusts her fully even when she evades his questions.

This story was rich and captivating. I loved Delia’s devotion to the children, the way that their relationship with Jac slowly grows and flourishes, and the mystery and suspense that builds throughout the story.

The book also has rich descriptions of the orchards, garden, crags, and moors that bring the setting to life.

This light romance was a joy to read, and the suspense kept turning the pages until late at night. I finished this book the day I started it.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary review copy of this book through the Amazon Vine reviewers program.

This book will be available April 16, 2019.

Review: A Silken Thread by Kim Vogel Sawyer

This story opens with Lauren Millard receiving a visit from her five older siblings, during which they declare that it is her duty to give up marriage in order to care for their mother. Lauren, the youngest, was only three when her crying chased off their mother’s suitor so they blame her for their mother being alone.

Meanwhile, Langdon Rochester is lounging in his family’s library when his father comes in. Though he has graduated from the university, he has done nothing with his life. His father gives him an ultimatum: become his apprentice and marry by September first or be disinherited.

Willie Sharp has been working at the Rochester’s factory and caring for his father, who also worked for the Rochester’s until he was disabled by an attack of apoplexy. His father needs rehabilitation in the convalescent hospital, but they cannot afford that.

Quincy Tate is Willie’s friend, and is struggling to find his place and a sense of equality as a young black man in the South.

For all four of these young people think that Atlanta Cotton Exposition of 1895 seems to offer an answer to their problems.  Langdon believes it will be a good place to find a young woman who will suit his needs. Lauren, who has been weaving at her mother’s loom, believes she might meet a young man who would be willing to take on her and her mother, Willie can earn enough money for his father’s care, and Quincy would be able to help his family financially.

Their lives all come together at the Exposition, where issues of race and class surface. Laurel begins to see that though the North and South are united, black and white are still divided.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story. The characters were unique, and Lauren was perfectly loveable. I found myself genuinely caring about what happens to her. The story unfolds at the perfect pace, with a thread of mystery weaving throughout. As these characters interact, each learns valuable lessons about life that are applicable to all of us.

This book is also rich in symbolism if you take the time to look for it. From Lauren's single shelf of well-loved books to the floor-to-ceiling shelves in Langdon's library, even the descriptive details in the story have meaning.

Often Christian fiction is just “clean” fiction. This book, however, is true Christian fiction with a strong message of faith and the value of the family of God. Willie’s church rallies around him and his father and blesses them richly.
 “Everybody who’s born got two choices – be owned by God or be owned by sin.”
-Mam (Quincy’s mother)

Lines like these are ones that we can all take to heart.

That brings me to one last thing – each character has their own unique voice, which makes the dialogue colorful and real.

This is an excellent and inspiring piece of Christian fiction.

I must mention that I received a complimentary review copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah.