My Review – A Name Unknown

My Review - A Name Unknown

about-the-book-2

Edwardian Romance and History Gains a Twist of Suspense

Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they concentrate on stealing high-value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. But when Rosemary must determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany, she is in for the challenge of a lifetime. How does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

Peter Holstein, given his family’s German blood, writes his popular series of adventure novels under a pen name. With European politics boiling and his own neighbors suspicious of him, Peter debates whether it might be best to change his name for good. When Rosemary shows up at his door pretending to be a historian and offering to help him trace his family history, his question might be answered.

But as the two work together and Rosemary sees his gracious reaction to his neighbors’ scornful attacks, she wonders if her assignment is going down the wrong path. Is it too late to help him prove that he’s more than his name?

Why This Book:

Having previously read and enjoyed Roseanna M. White‘s Ladies of the Manor series, I felt confident that I would enjoy this A Name Unknown as well.  Added to my confidence in the author was the uniqueness of a heroine who is a thief and a hero who writes novels. Such a unique combination promised an interesting read.

Opening Line:

London
May 1914

Rosemary Gresham may have been a thief, but she was a thief who preferred to work in broad daylight.

First Impressions:

This novel pulled me in the from the very first line. The first scene throws the reader immediately into danger and the first chapter adeptly sets up the rest of the novel. We immediately understand what is at stake and are given strong reasons to care about the heroine and root for her despite her profession. The second chapter introduces the hero and we immediately connect with him and his plight as well. The fact that the hero and heroine are secretly (at least on her part) at cross purposes, yet you want to root for them both, makes for quite a compelling start.

Book Quotes - A Name Unknown - silence cloaks monsters

Characters:

Rosemary Gresham is a deservedly complex heroine, with a well-developed backstory that supports who she is and why she makes the choices she does. She cares for her “family” to a point of self-sacrifice and it’s this very love which causes her such internal conflict as she begins to grow and change throughout the story.

Peter Holstein is a quieter style of hero. In fact, he and the heroine do a significant amount of communicating through hand-written notes because his stress-aggravated stutter makes speech difficult for him. It could be annoying reading stuttered dialogue throughout an entire book, so when I first realized he had a stutter I was on guard. However, I am happy to report that his stutter in no way detracts from the story, and in fact is handled so well, it becomes a positive quality in this character which highlights his positive virtues. Peter is a noble yet human hero you can admire, sympathize with, and root for.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

From the first scene, this novel held my attention and I never wanted to put it down. While it didn’t make me laugh out loud or cry, I cared strongly for the characters and wanted to see things work out for them in the end.

Book Quotes - A Name Unknown - fiction is truth

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I especially enjoyed seeing street life in 1914 London through Rosemary’s eyes. Her views on social injustices struck similar chords in my mind and heart and made me root for her all the more.

Peter’s unique position as a man with both German ancestry & royal friendships during a time of impending war provided a very interesting perspective on the events leading up to the first World War. Though I am unsure if it was a conscious intention of the author, I did note that several of the issues he faced were eerily similar to certain things going on in the United States currently or which have occurred here in the past. It provided solid food for thought.

Ending:

This ending came as a surprise to me – or at least, the way everything happened was surprising. The author managed to throw in some twists that I did not see coming, yet they still made complete sense in hindsight. That is certainly my favorite type of ending, but extremely difficult to pull off. If you ever read this, well done, Ms. White. Well done.

(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars (I honestly can’t think of a single thing I would change about this novel.)

Have you read A Name Unknown? Share your thoughts!

What other novels have you enjoyed which featured a hero and heroine at cross purposes?

TWEETABLES:

5 STARS for this compelling Christian romance with history & suspense! – Click to Tweet!

Treasure was never where one sought it. #ANameUnknown – Click to Tweet!

#BookReview- An Edwardian female thief, an author hiding his identity, & impending world war! – Click to Tweet!

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Rave Review! – Turtles in the Road

Turtles in the Road

You know that feeling when you finish a book and you just can’t wait to tell someone about it? That’s how I felt when I finished Turtles in the Road by Rhonda Rhea and Kaley Rhea.

Typically, I wait several days to write my reviews so that I’ve had time to process and thoroughly consider my reading experience. I will make notes about the characters and all the various sections I usually include in my regular reviews. Then I schedule the review to come out whenever I can fit it into my blogging calendar.

I haven’t the patience for that today. I just want to be a fangirl for a moment and tell you about this hilarious book I just read! And I want to tell you now. Not in two months when I have an empty Monday.

Seriously. I cannot remember the last book that made me laugh this loud, this often.

I started off reading this book in my usual spot:  in bed beside my sleeping husband. However, that didn’t last long. Within minutes I was shaking the entire bed with the full-body laughter I was desperately trying to contain. You guys, I was smashing a hand over my mouth and it was still escaping in very unflattering snorts. There were tears trickling down my cheeks.

I cannot tell you how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!

Turtles in the Road Quote Image

This heroine is bizarre… and I LOVE IT!  Without giving too much away, one of my favorite scenes involves sports equipment, a turtle, and revenge in the woods. That one had me bent in half, holding my stomach, and swiping the tears away so I could keep reading. And it was just the beginning. The entire book was like the best romantic comedy movie you have ever seen.

 

Turtles in the Road Quote Image - Turtle Soup

Oh how these two authors must have died laughing as they wrote this novel, because I about died reading it.

You might wonder if the comedy prevented the romance from developing in a believable way, but rest assured it did not. There are legit reasons for these two people to have fallen in love with each other (unlike another book I am currently suffering through and may not finish) and there is a reasonable amount of time allotted for their feelings to grow. This love story has true heart.

In addition to a legit love story, the characters have plausible relationships with God that don’t get in the way of the story, but enhance it. And you never feel preached to. Ever.

I will admit that I noticed the authors break a few writing “rules” and there’s probably even one or two typos I didn’t notice, but you know what? I only noticed them because I was in “edit mode” with my own manuscript at the time and thus extra sensitive to those things. Their rule breaking totally works for me. I could not care less that they do things differently. Because it works.

I will also admit that I almost passed on this book strictly because of the cover. It just isn’t my cup of tea and told me almost nothing about the book… or so I thought. In hindsight I can see how it sorta fits. That said, I am still not a big fan of the cover.

BUT.

The cover is not the story and the story is SO worth reading! Especially if you’ve been having a tough time lately and just need a good laugh. This is THE book for you! Trust me.

How much do I love this book? I sincerely cannot remember the last time I read any book more than once which was not assigned to me for a class. I am just not a re-reader. There are too many books out there – too many waiting in my TBR pile – to read something twice, regardless of how well written it is. Yet I am seriously contemplating reading this book a second time. Next week. Because it was that enjoyable. And I could do with some more laughs right now.

The link below is NOT an affiliate link. I do not know these authors. I did not even get a free copy for review. I bought it myself. I do not benefit from you buying or reading this book in any way. I only decided to give this book a try because a fellow blogger had raved about it. So trust me on this one. If you love contemporary, clean romantic comedy, you will love this book.

BUY IT! BORROW IT! READ IT! Today! You can thank me later. 🙂

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My Review – Love at First Laugh

My Review - Love at First Laugh

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Dive into eight brand new contemporary Christian romantic comedies from some of your favorite inspirational authors.

From light-hearted romance to laugh-out-loud love, this set will put a smile on your face and keep you reading long into the night.

Second Impressions by award-winning author Pepper Basham
He likes streamline. She prefers embellishments. His forte is business. Hers is atmosphere. Will they realize each has what the other needs most to create the perfect romance with a touch of Jane Austin flair?

Mowed Over by USA Today bestselling author Christina Coryell
A tiny, chatty fairy artist with multicolored pastel hair. A burly, bearded landscaper who can’t get a word in edgewise. They have nothing in common, but is that enough to keep them apart?

An Informal Affair by award-winning author Heather Gray
She’s tired of waiting for happily-ever-after, so she takes matters into her own hands…with online dating. He has the worst bad-date streak ever. How will God show two people who are determined to do things their own way that He’s had a perfect plan all along?

A Heart Restored by Elizabeth Maddrey
She renovates old houses. Can he restore her heart?

Unleashing Love by Jessica R. Patch
She’s a dog walker who agrees to a full-time position caring for a puppy. In total shock, she’s handed a precious baby girl. He’s a construction mogul who’s taken his infant niece into temporary relative placement — keyword: temporary. Unless the sassy southern nanny can change his mind…and his heart.

A (nearly) Normal Nanny by Krista Phillips
Normal is highly overrated…

That’s When I Knew by award-winning author Laurie Tomlinson
When two childhood sweethearts find themselves thrown together on the road to a trade show that could save her career, past mistakes threaten to ruin her chances—and the possibility of rekindling a romance. Will the end of the summer find them apart once again?

A Time to Laugh by USA Today bestselling author Marion Ueckermann
When an unexpected inheritance and a lung disease diagnosis coincide, a missionary couple realizes God is telling them it’s time to retire. But sometimes retirement comes with strings attached. Will their life-long dream be a blessing or a curse?

Why This Book:

Well there were several reasons, actually:

  1. I enjoy novellas.
  2. Pepper Basham is one of the included authors.
  3. Romantic Comedy may be my favorite kind of anything – book, movie, song, ice cream.  (Is there a romantic comedy ice cream? Because if there is, I’d probably love it.)

Opening Line(s):

Second Impressions:  Birthdays were not her happy place.

Mowed Over:  With the magnifying glass dangling from the contraption atop her head, Willow Sharpe barely touched the tip of her toothpick into the black ink and made one more slight adjustment to the book that measured only an inch in height.

An Informal Affair:  Lia Promise stared at eh man across the table from her. 

A Heart Restored:  “You did what?”

Unleashing Love:  Just once Emma Kate Lambert wanted to be the center of the sandwich and not the crust. 

A (nearly) Normal Nanny:  “… eighteen-one-thousand, nineteen-one-thousand, twenty-one-thousand! Ready or not, here I come!”

That’s when I knew:  Bless her heart.

A Time to Laugh:  Arms still extended on the Vortex Spin Bike’s handles, Elizabeth Dunham sat back down on the narrow seat.

First Impressions:

Since the first novella in the Love at First Laugh collection was Pepper’s, I’ll use her beginning for my “first impression.” Now you know I’m a major Pepper Basham fan, but I have to admit, I just wasn’t feeling it at the start of Second Impressions. Knowing Pepper, though, I kept reading and eventually I warmed to the story.

Love At First Laugh - Intelligence Quote Image

Characters:

The characters in these stories ran the gamut from a popular fairy artist to a retired missionary. Yet they each held their own when it came to keeping my attention and engaging my heart. Although you can’t typically flesh out any character in a novella to the same depth that you can in a full-length novel, these characters came across as three-dimensional and real.

Love At First Laugh - Overthinking Quote

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

Some of the novellas were page turners while others kept me reading at a steady pace, but none of them bored me. There were some I related to more than others, but I was rooting for each and every relationship to succeed.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

My favorite novella in this collection would have to be Mowed Over by Christina Coryell, because I felt her characters were the most unique. Perhaps it’s because I have a crafty side and three active young boys at home so I could relate to her angst over her little fairy village being threatened by the big nasty mower. Whatever it the reason, Mowed Over is the story that made me smile the most.

However, I have to add that I enjoyed the surprise of the final novella in the collection being very different from the rest. I’m not sure you can call it a romance in the classic sense (the couple is already married and very much in love at the start of the story and that never changes), but the story very much reflects true love in action both through the couple themselves and through their relationship with God.

 

Ending:

I was very satisfied with each of the endings in this collection. Some I enjoyed more than others, but that’s inevitable.

(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)

Overall Rating:

I always have a difficult time reviewing novella collections because it’s like reviewing a box of chocolates. They’re usually all pretty good. Some are amazing. Some are just okay. In the end, you just wanted chocolate and chocolate is what you got. So you’re happy.

I would say the same could be said about this collection (although I’m having trouble thinking of any of them as “just okay”).  I would definitely read more work by any of these authors.

4 out of 5 stars

What do you think of including a non-romance in a romantic comedy collection?

TWEETABLES:

A novella collection is like a box of chocolates.  – Click to Tweet

Check out this review of a romantic comedy novella collection. – Click to Tweet

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My Review – A Twist of Faith

about-the-book-2

Will a wager against her future steal her chance at true love?

Dr. Adelina Roseland has worked ten years in research as an accent reduction specialist to attain her dream job. But a secret wager to transform Appalachian cattle farmer Reese Mitchell into corporate material challenges Adelina in ways she never expected, threatening her new position.

For one, Adelina didn’t plan for the faith and friction of Reese, or the unexpected influence of his chaotic family. Now, drawn into a culture she’d tried to forget, Adelina finds the warmth of family, the hope of faith, and the joy of love melting away the deep wounds of her past.

But when Reese discovers that he’s a pawn in her climb up the academic ladder, will he forgive Adelina’s deceit or will their miscommunication end in two broken lives?

Why This Book:

As with my last review, this choice was all about the author. If you have been following my blog you know that I absolutely adore Pepper’s Penned in Time historical romance series. So when I heard she was releasing a contemporary romance, I knew I had to give A Twist of Faith a chance.

Opening Line:

PHD was not supposed to smell like this.

First Impressions:

Above is the actual first line of Pepper’s novel. However, the book opens with a quote from Pygmalion, Act 1:

“Remember that you are a human being with a soul and the divine gift of articulate speech:  that your native language is the language of Shakespear and Milton and The Bible; and don’t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon.”

In fact, each of the chapters in this novel begins with a Pygmalion quote. The quotes appropriately set the stage for what is to come and add a unique element of fun and familiarity to the reading.

The first paragraph continues from the first line to describe the contrast between her perceived prestigious new title – Ph.D. – and her less-than-prestigious new surroundings – namely farmland aromas.  Living not so far from farmlands myself I could instantly smell the particular odors Pepper is referring to and it made me chuckle when she concluded her second paragraph with “Country charm it was.”

Characters:

Adelina Roseland – (First, can I just say how much I love this name in a contemporary romance?) She is less than happy to have returned to her home region of the Appalachians. Her entire focus has been to educate and work her way out of this area and into the big city, but life has thrown her a detour she couldn’t avoid. She’s determined to make it the briefest detour possible until the unexpected warmth and acceptance of the people in her new home force her to reconsider not only her career and life goals, but the very lens through which she has always viewed life and God. She is a well-developed character with layers and depth. She isn’t perfect, but I was definitely in her corner and sympathetic to her flaws.

Reese Mitchell – Loaded with baggage of his own, widower Reese must find his way around and through his emotional scars to follow the incredible pull of his attraction to Adelina. Adding to the complexity is his love and concern for his two young children who are growing attached to the new lady in their lives. This is no two-sided hero, but a richly written man you’ll cheer on through the end.

Rounding out the cast are:  Adelina’s colleague, Dr. Alex Murdock, and Reese’s family, which includes his spunky widowed mother, a few meddling sisters, a big brother battling cancer, and a young niece. None of these characters fall flat and each has their own personality, strengths, and struggles which add to the story.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

This isn’t an edge-of-your-seat page turner, but it does keep you reading. There is a gentle but persistent tug to the story which makes you want to know what happens next without making you feel breathless. Though there is some predictability to the plot given its Pygmalion references and the fact that it is a romance, there is nothing boring or disappointing about it. Instead, those elements are received with a sense of enjoyable familiarity. Like cuddling up in your favorite blanket.

Although I struggled to really like Adelina in the very beginning, by the end of the first chapter I was emotionally engaged with the characters and I wanted to see how the story played out. I laughed out loud. I held my breath. My heart ached for them. I grin that silly grin of a romantic ending well earned.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I quite enjoyed the Pygmalion quotes along the way. It made for a unique reading experience.

I also enjoyed how unintentionally poor word choices and believable emotional reactions played out in the story with real impact.

Additionally, I appreciated how Pepper showed that grief is not a linear path but one that ebbs and flows and sometimes surprises us with how it pops back into our lives even after we think it has passed.

Themes:

Don’t judge a book by its cover could be part of the theme, but I think it goes deeper than that. I think the true theme for this book deals with judging an entire group of people based on an experience with one or two of them.

The book also deals with the parent-child bond, as well as the struggle of forgiveness and how the granting or withholding of it affects a person’s life.

Finally, there is an ongoing consideration of what true love really looks like, as well as whether and how dreams can change.

Ending:

I was very pleased with how the twists near the end brought things full circle and even pushed the characters to overcome final emotional hurdles. There is a heart-warming depth and truth to the love the two main characters develop in the end. Nothing shallow in this story.

(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)

Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

What do you think of Pepper’s contemporary romance? Do you have a preference between historical or contemporary romance in general?

TWEETABLES:

A talented historical author conquers contemporary romance with depth and humor. – Click to Tweet!

Don’t miss Pepper Basham’s Pygmalion in the Appalachians. – Click to Tweet!

Like cuddling up with a favorite blanket, this romance will warm your heart. – Click to Tweet!

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos in this post for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !

My Review – Heart on the Line

My Review - Heart on the Line

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Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can’t let the villain she believes responsible for her father’s death release his wrath in Harper’s Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she’s ever known.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship–dare he believe, courtship?–has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

Why This Book:

It was written by Karen Witemeyer. Sometimes knowing the author is all it takes to make me read a book. Karen Witemeyer is one such author.

It also helped that this is another book set in Harper’s Station – a nineteenth century women’s colony – which I loved reading about it Witemeyer’s first book in the series, No Other Will Do, and her in-between-novella, Worth the Wait.

I did receive a free advance copy of this book from the publisher, however, I was not obligated to review it, only to give them feedback. As always, my review is honest, sincere, and entirely my own.

Opening Line:

January 1894
Denver, CO

The cheerful tinkle of a bell alerted Grace Mallory to the arrival of a guest.

First Impressions:

The prologue for this book was included as a teaser at the end of the preceding novella, Worth the Wait, and tease it did. From the first page, Grace Mallory is someone you want to root for and hers is a story you want to follow.

 Characters:

Grace Mallory – the heroine. Despite her shy demeanor and natural reluctance to be in the spotlight, she is independent, courageous, and has an inextricable determination to do what’s right no matter the cost to herself.

Amos Bledsoe – the hero. Skinny, introverted, and academically inclined, Amos views himself as odd and distinctly different from what the typical female is looking for in a husband.  For that matter, so do the women of his town. Amos has yet to meet a female who finds his uniqueness attractive, so when he finally works up the courage to suggest a meeting with the mysterious “Miss G” he has been conversing with across the telegraph wires, he braces himself for rejection.

Helen Potter – One of the ladies of Harper Station introduced to us in the first book, Helen gets a significant subplot role in this novel. As with most of the women in this colony, Helen’s troubled past has left her with many emotional scars, clouding her view of the world, and even a little of her sense of right and wrong. When a certain situation arises, Helen is forced to decide if she will let those scars dictate her decisions.

Elliot Dunbar – A Pinkerton agent… or is he? There are many questions surrounding this man’s appearance and his true motives.

Emma & Malachi Shaw – Fans will be happy to know that the (now) happily married couple from book one are very much a part of this second book. (Especially Malachi in his capacity as lawman for Harper’s Station.)

Tori (Victoria) Adams & Ben Porter – This couple’s story began in the first book as a subplot and held center stage in the novella. In this book Tori is in a few scenes and Ben certainly lends a hand when danger looms, but they are not a large part of the story.

The rest of the ladies of Harper Station all have their small supporting roles to play and it’s lovely to see them. Amos even comes up with some humorous nicknames for a couple of them.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

As I mentioned in my First Impressions, section, the heroine is someone you immediately care about and root for. The hero is thoroughly likable and you want him to succeed as well. While this story did not take me as deep nor as high as some other novels, there were times when I laughed out loud and audibly gasped, so I can confidently say I was emotionally engaged.

I enjoyed the pacing of this novel. There is a steady tension to it which appropriately ratchets up as the reader nears the climax. Following the climax there is a bit more tension, though not as intense, prior to the conclusion of the story.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I enjoy the unique setting of a women’s colony and the problems that come along with it. I liked that the hero was not your typical hero and he knew it, yet he didn’t even try to change himself to fit expectations. He simply kept looking for the woman who would love him as he was.

Themes:

The theme of this novel is best summed up in this quote:

 

Heart on the Line Weaver Quote

Ending:

In the end, all the loose threads were tied up nicely, though not so easily as to seem implausible. I was satisfied and I closed the book with the expected happy sigh.

(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)

Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

Have you read any of Karen Witemeyer’s books? Has God woven dark and light threads for beauty in your life?

TWEETABLES:

 

The Master Weaver creates beauty from the light & dark threads of life. 

You’ll root for this hero – rejected for his difference, but doesn’t try to conform. 

Tired of running & hiding, she finally stands her ground, but at what cost? 

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos in this post for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !

My Review & GIVEAWAY! – The Patriot & the Loyalist

My Review The Patriot & the Loyalist
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The Patriot & the Loyalist is the second book in the Hearts at War series by Angela K. Couch. (My review of the first book, The Scarlet Coat, may be read HERE.)

Completing his three years in the Continental Army, Daniel Reid still has no desire to return home—not after losing the woman he loves to a British Captain—so he volunteers to ride south through enemy lines and deliver a message to Colonel Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox. With his temper needing a release and a dark haired beauty finding her way into his broken heart, Daniel decides to join the Swamp Fox’s efforts against the British. Little does he know the British still have the upper hand.

Lydia Reynolds has learned that love comes at a price, and she refuses to pay. Better to close her heart to everything and everyone. When her brother-in-law won’t grant her passage to England, where she hopes to hide from her pain, New Englander, Daniel Reid, becomes her only hope—if she can induce him to give her information about the notorious Swamp Fox and his troops. When the British grow impatient and Daniel evades her questions, Lydia must decide how far to take her charade. The poor man, already gutted by love, hasn’t grown as wise as she. Or so she supposes…

Until the truth is known, the muskets are loaded…and it is time to decide where true loyalties lie.

Why This Book:

The hero of this book, Daniel Reid, was a secondary character in The Scarlet Coat and left quite an impression on me. Thus I was very interested to see where the author would take his story.

Opening Line(s):

South Carolina, November 1780

Daniel Reid slowed his horse and sucked air into his lungs as he reined to the road’s grassy edge. Blood pulsated behind his ears but in no way drowned out the pounding hooves of the approaching soldiers, the green of their coats almost deceptive. 

First Impressions:

This book wastes no time throwing its readers straight into the action. From the first page, the hero’s life is in danger and that tension never lets go. Our heroine enters on page 6 and it is clear from the first that we have two very strong-willed, intelligent, passionate characters whose goals are at odds in a very real and dangerous way. Shortly thereafter, we realize that our heroine, too, is playing at a very perilous game – one that could cost her her life.

The Patriot & The Loyalist - Quote Image 1

Characters:

If you’ve read, The Scarlet Coat, you know that Daniel Reid has trouble controlling his temper. To say the least. While the consequences of his actions in the previous book continue to haunt him in The Patriot and the Loyalist, and his temper is far from gone, Daniel is certainly a changed man. Like many of us, he is aware of his character flaws but still struggles to overcome them. He is also plagued with self-doubt in the area of women which only serves to complicate matters in his relationship with Lydia.

Lydia Reynolds is nearly the last survivor of her family which has seen more than its share of tragic loss over the years. This loss has left her fearful of emotional attachment and desperate to flee the memories which haunt her home in Georgetown. Though a highly astute and intelligent woman, her desperation has set her on a one-way track and pushes her to make decisions without always fully considering the consequences.

Gabe Marion & Colonel Francis Marion – Gabe is Francis’ nephew. Both are actual figures from history, and members of the rebel army. It is interesting to see them brought to life through the author’s skillful writing.

As always, there are a few more characters I could mention here, but I don’t wish to reveal their unexpected importance to the story.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

Confession:  I lost several hours of sleep to this book!

If you’ve ever read a book where the suspense is so great you cannot put it down, yet the writing is so well-done – every word so important to the story – that you don’t even consider skipping a single word to hurry ahead, then you’ll understand the powerful read that is this book. There is no urge to skip ahead because there is never a moment where something important isn’t happening.

The Patriot & The Loyalist - Quote Image 2

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

It is extremely evident that this author has done her research! Every detail was so rich and realistic, I felt I now knew what it might have been like living in Georgetown during the revolutionary war. Every movement of either army which was relevant to the story was relayed in such a way as to feel organic and easily understandable. Never once did I sense a notorious “info dump” or get the slightest impression of a history lesson. Yet, I still feel as though I learned something about the war which birthed our country.

I also very much enjoyed the true historical characters involved in the story and seeing their lives play out as a thread woven into the lives of the fictional characters. Again, it felt natural to have this bit of actual history included. They were written so well, that had I not known they were true historical figures, I would not have been able to separate them from the fictional characters.

BONUS: Although the Lydia in this novel is entirely fictional, did you know there was a real revolutionary war spy named Lydia?

Themes:

The Patriot and the Loyalist grapples with issues of truth, deceit, trust and, of course, loyalty. In a setting where right and wrong can seem blurry, these characters are not cookie-cutter people. They face authentic, difficult choices and don’t always make the best decisions. In fact, they often make poor ones, which naturally lends itself to the topic of forgiveness and the struggles involved with moving on after being hurt or hurting others.

Ending:

When the book was over I was disappointed not because the ending wasn’t satisfying (it was!) but because I didn’t want to leave Daniel and Lydia’s world. All the important threads were tied up, and those which shouldn’t realistically be tied were left undone (i.e. the war continued). I felt joy and satisfaction in this ending and couldn’t wait to tell others about the book. There isn’t much more you can ask from a novel.

Additional Thoughts:

As I mentioned, I was reluctant to leave Daniel and Lydia’s world. So, I am so excited to note that this is not the end of the Hearts at War series! Angela K. Couch has another book in the series, The Tory’s Daughter, coming out soon!

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Be sure to check back on Monday, May 1st to catch my upcoming interview with Angela K. Couch! 

Have you read any of Angela K. Couch’s books? Which part of this novel most appeals to you?

(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)

TWEETABLES:

Confession:  I lost several hours of sleep to this book! ~ @KathleenDenly #bookreview 

“And I would hardly mistake you for a gentleman.”  #bookreview @KathleenDenly

Richly written & thoroughly researched, this historical romance has it all! ~ @KathleenDenly #bookreview 

Spies! Battles! Love! A can’t miss read! #bookreview ~ @KathleenDenly

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos in this post for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !

giveaway-5

As a special thank you to our readers, Angela and I have decided to offer a giveaway!

The winner will receive BOTH of the Hearts at War books!:

  • 1 digital copy of The Scarlet Coat by Angela K. Couch
  • 1 digital copy of The Patriot & The Loyalist by Angela K. Couch

Already own The Scarlet Coat? Not to worry! The winner’s copy of The Scarlet Coat will be emailed in gift card form, so that if you already own it, you can exchange it (btw Angela has another book out) or regift it to a friend who hasn’t read it yet.

HOW TO ENTER:

  1. Sign up to become a member of Kathleen’s Readers’ Club HERE. (Which automatically makes you eligible for my exclusive KRC giveaways!)
  2. Sign up to receive Angela’s newsletter for information on new releases HERE.
  3. Comment on this post with the answer to this question:  Which part of The Patriot & The Loyalist most appeals to you?

Make sure to use an email address you check frequently. If you win, I will use the email address you provided when signing up for my KRC to contact you and send you your prizes.

All 3 of the above steps must be completed to count as your ONE original entry.

BONUS ENTRIES:  If you share this giveaway on any social media, reply to your original comment with the link to your post/tweet and it will count as an extra entry – but ONLY if you have already completed the first 3 steps. Each share will count as an extra entry. IMPORTANT: We don’t want to spam your friends, so you may only share to each social media site once per day!

The Rules:

You MUST complete ALL 3 STEPS to enter. Multiple entries are allowed, providing they fulfill the above entry requirements. All entries must be complete by 11:59pm PST on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017. Winner will be announced Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 on http://www.KathleenDenly.com and contacted directly within 24 hours via the email address they used to sign up for Kathleen’s Readers’ Club. Winner must acknowledge the congratulatory email within 48 hours, otherwise an alternate winner will be chosen. I’m excited to say that since this giveaway involves no shipping, it is open to both U.S. AND International entries. Void where prohibited.

How it works:

I will assign a number to each entry (1 number per original comment, plus 1 number for each bonus entry).  I will then enter those numbers into Random.org‘s Random Sequence Generator. Whichever number comes up at the top of the list will be the winner. I will then verify that that person has completed all 3 steps and that the links provided in their bonus entries are valid. If they have not completed all 3 steps or their links are invalid, they will be disqualified and the process will be repeated until a valid winner is found.

Remember: Check back May 3rd to see who won! Or just subscribe to receive my blog updates by email and have the announcement delivered to your inbox! 

IMPORTANT UPDATE!!!!!

Update 4/28/17:  Hi everyone! Please remember that in order to complete Steps 1 & 2 you must CONFIRM YOUR EMAIL by going to your email and clicking on the link in the confirmation email sent to you at sign up. I haven’t checked with Angela yet, but I’m noticing a lot of comments by people who seem to have entered, but whose emails are not in my list of KRC Members. I would hate for you to miss out because of this tiny but important step!!!

My Review – Such A Hope

My Review Such A Hopeabout-the-book-2

Such A Hope is the first book in Sondra Kraak‘s Paths of Grace Series.

Washington Territory, 1871

Anna Warren grew up on the seat of a wagon, the daughter of Seattle’s busiest freighter. After her father’s death—a tragedy away from home—she returns to their cabin on the outskirts of Seattle, seeking the sense of belonging that eluded her childhood. But will her desire to pray for miraculous healing for the sick and wounded endear or alienate her to the community? Her most aggravating challenger is also her staunchest defender and has brown hair and eyes, stands six feet tall, and farms with unchecked tenacity. Tristan Porter. This farmer her father had befriended holds more secrets than Yesler’s Mill holds logs.

When ugly rumors arise about her spiritual gift and her property, Anna fears her quest to find belonging will be thwarted.

Tristan holds the truth to set her free, but revealing it will require him to face the disappointments of his past and surrender his plans for the future—a sacrifice he’s not sure he can make.

Why This Book:

I first discovered Sondra’s writing when I happened upon her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble. It turned out to be the first in her Love That Counts series and I eagerly awaited the next installment. After reading Two Ways Home, the second book in her Love That Counts series, I knew I’d found a new favorite author. So when I learned that Such A Hope would be releasing soon as part of a new series, I immediately added it to my TBR (to be read) list.

Then I attended the Asheville Christian Writer’s Conference and met someone who ACTUALLY KNEW SONDRA!!! I totally fangirled out! And if that wasn’t bad enough, you should have seen my silly grin the first time Sondra contacted me directly! Not only is Sondra a wonderful writer, she is a wonderful person whom I am honored to be getting to know.

I am so super excited to announce that my interview with Sondra will be next Monday’s post! If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe to my blog so you won’t miss it!

All of that said, the following review is my sincere and honest opinion. Also, for the record, I purchased my own copy of this book.

Opening Line:

Seattle, Washington Territory
September 1871

Anna Warren breathed the crisp air that hinted of salt.

First Impressions:

Such A Hope began with a sensory-filled description of Anna’s return to Seattle that pulled me back in time to the swiftly growing bayside city of 1871. Like a warm fire on a cold winter’s day, Sondra welcomed me into Anna’s world, letting me know exactly who this young woman was and what she hoped to achieve with her return. Things seemed to be moving along smoothly until Anna discovered a surprise waiting in her old cabin.

Such A Hope Quote 1

Characters:

Anna – Despite the official blurb for this book, I don’t think it is exactly true to say that Anna “desires” to pray for healing. In fact, she spends much of the book almost dreading the next urge to do so. Not because she wishes people to remain ill, but because she dreads the reactions others will have to the miracle God may perform. Anna is clearly called to pray and she has an earnest heart to obey God and bless others, but she struggles with the worldly consequences of following God on a path few understand. Her sincere desire is for God’s glory, but obeying His call is far from easy for her and even interferes with some of her own goals for her life.

Tristan – Tristan’s traumatic past has clearly shaped much of who he is and what he does. It’s difficult to comment on his character without giving away too much. He is definitely an interesting hero with a unique character arc. Watching his choices and seeing how he grows was one of my favorite parts of the novel.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

Such a Hope is not a wild ride. There are definitely no gun fights, no fisticuffs, and no wild chases through the countryside. This just isn’t that kind of book and it doesn’t pretend to be. Yet there is danger. There are riled up crowds, abuses of power, and severe illness and injury. At its core, though, this book is all about the characters. As such, its true power is in the emotional depths to which it takes you. It is raw and it is real in ways few other books dare to be. Such a Hope made me cry, laugh out loud, and sigh in contentment.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I admire a novel which dares to include any sensitive topic which other books rarely include. Sondra Kraak does exactly this in Such a Hope by boldly creating a heroine who feels the calling to pray for healing. That said, I admit that even as a HUGE Sondra Kraak fan, I was rather nervous to read this book for exactly the reason that I admire it.

The topics of intercessory prayer and miraculous healing are not black and white issues, and are topics which can be quite divisive within the Christian community. I wasn’t sure how Sondra would handle these issues. Still, I was determined to give her a chance and I’m glad I did. Sondra doesn’t back away from this divisiveness but tackles it head on in her story in a way which I found refreshing.

These topics are not handled in a way which feels at all preachy. They are handled in a way that feels very personal and real to Anna and Tristan. Nor are they topics added in for the sake of themselves, but instead they are intrinsic to the story itself and to the internal journeys of both the main characters.

Themes:

Such a Hope asks the reader to define true community. What does it mean to be part of a community and how should Christians behave in relation to one another, particularly with regard to theological differences or things we don’t completely understand? Such a Hope also addresses faith in the face of tragedy and suffering, as well as the struggles of discerning God’s purpose for our lives.

Ending:

I thoroughly enjoyed the conclusion to Such a Hope. Unlike many other novels, the trouble doesn’t all come to a swift and tidy end, with every problem resolving at once. (Not that, when done well, those types of conclusions aren’t also enjoyable.) In Such a Hope, Sondra trickles in solutions here and there over the course of time, steadily moving everything along to the end of the story. That which can plausibly be wrapped up, is, but that which would realistically take more time to work out, is left to do so without the reader feeling at all unsatisfied. I especially loved the realistic denouement of the romance between Tristan and Anna.

Additional Thoughts:

Sondra has clearly done a ton of research in preparation for this novel and it shows in the details she sprinkles throughout the story.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Have you read any of Sondra Kraak’s books? What do you think of authors handling such sensitive topics?

(none of the links in this review are affiliate links)

TWEETABLES:

Can this outsider find her place in the community? #bookreview @KathleenDenly @SondraKraak – Click to Tweet!

Her most aggravating challenger is also her staunchest defender. #bookreview @KathleenDenly @SondraKraak – Click to Tweet!

Like a warm fire on a cold winter’s day, @SondraKraak welcomed me into Anna’s world… #bookreview @KathleenDenly – Click to Tweet!

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the photos in this post for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !