My Review – The Captured Bride

My Review - The Captured Bride

about-the-book-2

A war-torn countryside is no place for a lady—but Mercy Lytton is a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause . . . to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not her life that is threatened. It is her heart.

Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he’s offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort—but he’s the one they stole it from in the first place. It turns out that the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought.

Can love survive divided loyalties in a backcountry wilderness?

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Why This Book:

After enjoying Michelle Griep’s The Innkeeper’s Daughter, I have decided to read as much of her writing as I can squeeze into my schedule.

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

Fort Wilderness,
upper New York, 1759
Five years into the French and Indian War

“It ain’t right. You ain’t right.”

First Impressions:

From the very first scene the dialogue pulled me into the lives of Griep’s characters. Mercy is a very different sort of heroine for the era, to say the least. Her relationships with the people around her are therefore necessarily unique as well. I was immediately intrigued by her life and her story.

Main Characters:

Mercy Lytton – One might expect a woman with her background to be bitter or downtrodden in some way, but instead, Mercy is a bold and determined young woman. Sure, she has issues she needs to work out, but she doesn’t let them consume her the way a weaker person might have. Still, she learns things along the way that significantly change how she views her life, the people around her, and even God.

Captain Matthew Prinn – An uncle-like figure in Mercy’s life, Matthew Prinn is a trail-toughened spy and partner to Mercy.

Elias Dubois – A man caught between warring countries and accused of treason, there are too many people that want him dead to list. I can’t say too much about his character without giving something away because the biggest questions pushing this story along have to do with who he truly is and where his loyalties lie.

Book Quote - The Captured Bride - River of Thought

 

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

This story had my attention from page one and never lost it. There were just enough “pauses” or slower moments in the scenes to let the reader catch their breath in time to lose it with the next twist. At no point did I want to put the book down or felt that the story dragged at all.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I particularly liked that Mercy, while notably different from the typical female of the time, still felt completely plausible.

I also appreciated the complexity with which each culture’s perspective was portrayed, from the French to the English to the Native American tribes. The various tribes were rightly portrayed as such – not all washed together as one culture the way some books have done, but represented as separate peoples. No one group was completely in the right and no one was completely in the wrong. To me, this seemed more true-to-life because life is messy and people are sinful regardless of what culture they belong to.

As with The Innkeeper’s Daughter, the descriptions in this novel were so rich I felt I could see, feel, hear and taste everything that happened in the story.

Themes:

You can’t truly understand another person’s choices unless you’ve walked in their shoes.

Be careful judging others because not everyone is as they seem.

Ending:

The ending was thorough and satisfying. It made me smile.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

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Let’s chat!

Which of Michelle’s books is your favorite? Or if you haven’t read any yet, which aspect of The Captured Bride, most appeals to you?

TWEETABLES:

A historical romance with a unique heroine, descriptions that bring you into the action, and a plot to keep you turning pages. (CLICK to TWEET)

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


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About the Author

MichelleGriep

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, Undercurrent and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at www.michellegriep.com or stalk her on FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Guest Post from Michelle

A Visit to Fort Niagara

The Captured bride guest post pictureWhether you’re a history buff or don’t have a clue what the French and Indian War was about, there’s a destination in upstate New York that’s fun to visit for the whole family . . .

My husband and I made the trek to this living history site last summer. I had no idea what to expect, other than what was advertised as a “reenactment camp.” For those who don’t know, this is when volunteers who adore history come together to present a particular event, such as a battle. These people usually choose a real person from the era upon whom they fashion their modern day persona. They dress, speak, eat and live as that person might have. Here I am with some of my new friends:

Generally around the 4th of July, the 1759 Battle of Fort Niagara is recreated in a 3-day extravaganza of soldiers, muskets, canons and an entire market place to peruse selling period-related items.

Some of the things that surprised me about stepping back into the mid-eighteenth century were:

  • How much smoke muskets kick out
  • Once the battle begins, it’s hard to see who is your enemy or ally
  • Canons are really loud
  • Everything wasn’t as black and white as it seems in pictures—gowns and uniforms were very colorful

What makes this event so spectacular is that they take the entire 20 day siege and condense it into 3 days. If you visit every day, you’ll see and experience exactly what happened. You’ll be there to see the British, Colonial regulars and Iroquois allies sneak out of the tree line to shoot at some French soldiers who were pigeon hunting just outside the fort. You’ll hear the war whoops and barrage of angry French epithets roaring on the air. You’ll even get a chance to taste some of their food as you wander around inside the French Encampment set up inside the fort walls.

To experience a bit of the danger, sights and sounds of what Mercy and Elias lived through in The Captured Bride, Fort Niagara really is a fantastic place to visit.

Blog Stops

Vicky Sluiter, June 9

Fiction Aficionado, June 9

Blossoms and Blessings, June 9

A Baker’s Perspective, June 9

History, Mystery & Faith, June 10

Inklings and notions, June 10

Just the Write Escape, June 10

Faithfully Bookish, June 11

The Power of Words, June 11

Genesis 5020, June 11

Bakerkella, June 11

My Writer’s Life, June 12

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, June 12

Luv’N Lambert Life, June 12

Among the Reads, June 13

Book by Book, June 13

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, June 13

Moments Dipped in Ink, June 14

Splashes of Joy, June 14

Artistic Nobody, June 14 (Spotlight)

Bibliophile Reviews, June 14

Pause for Tales, June 15

All-of-a-kind Mom, June 15

Mary Hake, June 15

Bigreadersite, June 15

Connie’s History Classroom, June 16

Simple Harvest Reads, June 16 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Two Points of Interest, June 16

The Christian Fiction Girl, June 17

Daysong Reflections, June 17

Novels corner, June 17

Kathleen Denly, June 18

A Reader’s Brain, June 18

Remembrancy, June 18

proud to be an autism mom, June 19

Texas Book-aholic, June 19

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, June 19

Reading Is My SuperPower, June 20

Red Headed Book Lady, June 20

Margaret Kazmierczak, June 20

Mommynificent, June 20

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 21

Janices book reviews, June 21

Jeanette’s Thoughts, June 21

With a Joyful Noise, June 22

Pink Granny’s Journey, June 22

Carpe Diem, June 22

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of a signed copy of The Captured Bride and a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card!!

Click below to enter.

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Don’t forget to let me know:

Which of Michelle’s books is your favorite? Or if you haven’t read any yet, which aspect of The Captured Bride, most appeals to you?

My Review – This Wilderness Journey

My Review - This Wilderness Journey

about-the-book-2

Joseph Malcom has spent his life protecting those in need, but now that his sister is safely settled with her new family in the Canadian Rockies, his help is no longer required. That is, until he’s asked to safely retrieve the priest’s cousin to help minister to the local Indian tribe. But his passenger is not at all who he expects.

After the death of her mother, Monti Bergeron has nothing to keep her in Montreal. While the prospect of ministering to the Indians out West is daunting, she looks forward to assisting her beloved cousin in his mission work. The life of a nun may be just what she needs to heal her grief, serving her Heavenly Father and fellow mankind, especially if no more pesky suitors are around to ask for her hand in marriage. But the man who’s been sent to guide her through the mountains might make her second-guess her plans before she even begins.

As Monti settles into her ministry, Joseph finds his wandering feet drawn back to the Indian camp. Monti’s focus on God is more unsettling than he’d like to admit. Add to that her beauty which tests his willpower at every turn, and she’s made it crystal clear she doesn’t want a husband. But when his determination to keep distance between them puts Monti in danger, protecting her might require something Joseph might not be able to give.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Why This Book:

If you haven’t already, see my review of Book 1 in the Heart of the Mountains series, This Treacherous Journey.

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

November, 1852
Canadian Rocky Mountains

I am the luckiest man alive.

First Impressions:

Even though I loved Joseph in the first book, I had some difficulty connecting to him at the start of this book. I think it is because it took me too long to understand what was bothering him. It had been so long since I had read the first book that I couldn’t remember for sure if the injury mentioned was connected to that first book or was the result of something that had happened in the time which elapsed between books. That lack of clarity kept me at an emotional distance for the first portion of this book.

Characters:

Joseph Malcom – Since the last book, he has lost his purpose and become a nomadic mountain man struggling to accept a tragic turn of events and find what God has planned for his life. Emma’s twin brother.

Monticello “Monti” Bergeron – A courageous young woman, orphaned and determined to serve God.

Book Quote - This Wilderness Journey - brought parts of her to life

Father Bergeron – A missionary ministering to the local tribes and cousin to Monticello “Monti” Bergeron. He genuinely cares for the tribes he ministers to and for his young cousin.

Simeon Grant –  Joseph’s brother-in-law only plays a tiny role in this story.

Emma Grant  – Joseph’s twin sister plays only a slightly larger role than Simeon in this story.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

It took me a while to warm up to this story. The interactions between Joseph and Monti are what cemented my emotional connection to the story. Joseph is a genuinely good man struggling with relatable issues. Monti is a spunky young woman working through scars from her past. The way they communicated with each other and Monti’s intuitive understanding of Joseph drew me in. I wanted to see how their relationship developed and I am happy with where it went for the most part.

I was happily reading along in this novel without feeling that it dragged at all until a particular situation arose which, in my opinion, was too similar to something which occurred in the first book. To be honest, this event soured my opinion of the book not because it was done poorly or was too farfetched, but simply because I felt I had already been there, done that. Although certain details were different, the essential event itself was the same and I found that disappointing. It was difficult for me to get back into the story afterward.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

Please see the second paragraph of the previous section for that which I did not care for.

As for the things I especially liked… I especially liked the musical interactions between the hero and the heroine which revealed compassion and connection between them in a unique way I haven’t read before. I also liked the author’s unique integration of a medical condition involving one of the secondary characters. It added an interesting depth to the story and was, again, something I’ve not seen before in this context.

Themes:

Finding purpose in one’s life.

Accepting that God is good and always with us – even in tragedy.

Viewing one’s self-worth through God’s eyes.

Ending:

The ending is sweet. It felt fresh and satisfying. It made me smile.

Overall Rating:

3 out of 5 stars

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Let’s chat!

Which of Misty’s books is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

TWEETABLES:

Check out this #BookReview of Misty M. Beller’s latest release, This Wilderness Journey. @KathleenDenly @MistyMBeller (Click to Tweet)

A historical romance novel with a sweet, fresh and satisfying ending. #BookReview @KathleenDenly @MistyMBeller (Click to Tweet)

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


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About the Author

Misty

Misty M. Beller writes romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.

She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

Guest Post from Misty Beller

The Frontier Cook

I love to write frontier romance, where the challenges were tough and the people had to be even tougher. And one of the things I love to imagine is how my characters cooked during those days.

Can you imagine how hard it would be to cook over an open fire? Every. Single. Meal. Of course, it’s not like they had a lot of variety to work with. Once you learned how to make a decent stew or corn mush, you didn’t have much to worry about, right?

Yet, many of the frontier women became quite adept at cooking over their cabin’s hearth, or even over an open campfire. In my new book, This Wilderness Journey, Monti (the heroine) came from a middle-class home with a paid chef and never had to learn to cook at all, much less without the use of a wood stove (which is still so much harder than heating a hot-pocket in the microwave). After she burned the corn mush their first night on the trail through the Canadian wilderness, Joseph (the hero) taught her a few basic meals.

As I was researching some creative ways frontier women cooked in an open hearth, I discovered the wide use of puddings, mostly because of how easy they were to make. By wrapping the ingredients in a cloth or pudding bag, they could be dropped in a pot of boiling water and left until the ingredients had softened and expanded. An entire meal could be made with a few ingredients, a pudding cloth, and a pot of boiling water.

One of my favorite cooking scenes in This Wilderness Journey is the making of the Oatmeal Pudding. What do you think? Sound like something you’d like to try?

Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, June 7

Among the Reads, June 7

Two Points of Interest, June 8

The Power of Words, June 8

Blossoms and Blessings, June 9

The Christian Fiction Girl, June 9

Mary Hake, June 10

Splashes of Joy, June 10

Kathleen Denly, June 11

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, June 11

Maureen’s Musings, June 12

Kat’s Corner Books, June 12

Mommynificent, June 13

Reading Is My SuperPower, June 13

Moments Dipped in Ink, June 13

Bibliophile Reviews, June 14

Luv’N Lambert Life, June 14

Pause for Tales, June 15

proud to be an autism mom, June 15

Texas Book-aholic, June 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 16

Janices book reviews, June 17

Jeanette’s Thoughts, June 17

Carpe Diem, June 18

Red Headed Book Lady, June 18

Connie’s History Classroom, June 19

Bigreadersite, June 20

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, June 20

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Misty is giving away a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

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My Review – Together Forever

My Review - Together Forever

about-the-book-2

Title: Together Forever, Orphan Train Book 2
Author: Jody Hedlund
Genre: Inspirational historical romance
Release Date: May, 2018

Determined to find her lost younger sister, Marianne Neumann takes a job as a placing agent with the Children’s Aid Society in 1858 New York. She not only hopes to offer children a better life, but prays she’ll be able to discover whether Sophie ended up leaving the city on an orphan train so they can finally be reunited.

Andrew Brady, her fellow agent on her first placing-out trip, is a former schoolteacher who has an easy way with the children, firm but tender and friendly. Underneath his charm and handsome looks, though, seems to linger a grief that won’t go away–and a secret from his past that he keeps hidden.

As the two team up, placing orphans in the small railroad towns of Illinois, they find themselves growing ever closer . . . until a shocking tragedy threatens to upend all their work and change one of their lives forever.

Available at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Book

Why This Book:

I have read a few of Jody Hedlund’s other books and sincerely enjoyed them, so With You Always, the first book in the Orphan Train series, has been on my TBR list since it first started making rounds in the book blogger world. When I saw the opportunity to review this second book in the series I knew it was the impetus I needed to bump that beautiful cover to the top of my pile.

With You Always
Orphan Train Book 1

As someone who dislikes reading a series out of order, I read both the novella, An Awakened Heart, and the first book in the series, With You Always prior to reading Together Forever. While there is more nuance to the successive books if you have read the ones that come before, a reader could certainly read any of these as a stand-alone or out of order and feel they’ve enjoyed a complete story – with the caveat that there is one unanswered question left at the end of the book.

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

New York City
June, 1858

Marianne Neumann’s fingers were shaking so hard she could barely pry open the first record book. 

First Impressions:

The opening scene of this book is rich with suspense, including the immediate tension between the hero and heroine. By the end of the first chapter, you know what’s at stake, are given several questions which will make you keeping reading for answers, and have a reason to care about the characters. As a reader, I couldn’t ask for more from an opening. I certainly didn’t want to put the book down.

Characters:

Marianne Neumann– This poor young woman is fraught with guilt over choices made in book one and desperate to set things right. The question of whether she will succeed and how her efforts may affect her relationship with the hero is a big part of this book. She comes across as intelligent, tender-hearted, and very relatable.

Andrew “Drew” Brady – The son of a wealthy and powerful lawyer who has rejected his family’s plans for his life. A young man haunted by the guilt of his own past, he can certainly relate to Marianne’s situation. His genuine heart for the orphans endears him to both the heroine and the reader. His self-blame for things beyond his control breaks our hearts and the predicament he ultimately finds himself in has us holding our breath.

Elise (Neumann) Quincy – Eldest of the Neumann sisters, Elise is now married and plays a minor role in this story, but if you’ve read the first book, you’ll enjoy seeing how her life has changed and the interaction between the sisters after everything that has happened.

As you can imagine, there are several orphans and townspeople who play important roles in the story. However, to single them out by name here would give away too much. Suffice to say, they are each well-written and well-chosen to strengthen the story, keeping the reader engaged and turning pages.

Book Quote - Together Forever

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

This book pulled me in from its first suspenseful scene and kept me turning pages to the very end. The characters stole my heart and the plot provided continual twists and turns leaving me with question after question, not letting me grow complacent for a moment. I needed to know what happened next!

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

As an adoptive mom and former foster parent, orphans naturally tug at my heart. The added struggle between wanting to keep a child versus relinquishing them to a better situation is a unique one foster parents’ know too well. I absolutely loved this line:

It took more courage to love in the face of loss than to close oneself off out of fear of getting hurt.

Themes:

Loving in the face of loss.

Accepting responsibility for wrong choices, recognizing what is beyond our control, and accepting God’s forgiveness.

Learning to cast our cares upon God instead of trying to bear their wait on our own.

Ending:

While not all questions are answered, the romance is tied up nicely so the ending felt complete and certainly very satisfying. I came away with a warm glow in my heart and smile on my face.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Available at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Book

About the Author

Jody hedlund
Jody Hedlund is the author of over a dozen novels, including Love Unexpected, Captured by Love, Unending Devotion, The Preacher’s Bride, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for historical romance. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog at www.jodyhedlund.com.

Let’s chat!

Have you read any of the other books in this series? Do you know someone with a connection to foster children or orphans?

TWEETABLES:

This book pulled me in from its first suspenseful scene and kept me turning pages to the very end. #BookReview

The characters stole my heart and the plot’s twists and turns kept me reading. I needed to know what happened next! #BookReview

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the book quote images above for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly!

The image below means I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Click here for more details.

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Guest Post from Jody Hedlund

30,000 Abandoned Children

By Jody Hedlund

Imagine a city where 30,000 abandoned and homeless children live on the streets.

Sounds like something from a futuristic dystopian novel, doesn’t it? Or something that might happen after a war or apocalypse or major disaster, right?

This exact thing actually happened in the 1850’s. And the city was New York City.

It’s hard to believe, but an estimated 30,000 homeless children roamed the dirty city streets and alleys of New York City.

30,000. Children. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s the size of a town.

Historians look back on that time and try to make sense what led to such horrific conditions for children. Of course, the influx of immigrants was at an all time high. Jobs and housing were scarce. Diseases were rampant. Hunger and poverty became a norm. (Orphan Train Depot)

 

As more and more people became aware of the enormous problem within the crowded slums, courageous heroes rose up and attempted to do their part to make a difference.

While we may not always agree with the methods that were used to save the thousands of homeless children, we can admire the men and women who could no longer sit idly by.

The Children’s Aid Society was started by Charles Loring Brace as one such attempt to help the hordes of homeless children. His “Emigration Plan” is better known today by the term “Orphan Trains.”

My latest series tackles various elements of the orphan train movement. Together Forever, releasing in May, highlights the placing agents, those devoted people who rode the trains with the orphans. The agents spent weeks and months on the road caring for the children, all the while trying to place them in loving homes.

(If you’d like to try out the series, start with my FREE novella, An Awakened Heart.)

Like the brave men and women who came before us, may we always strive to do our part to make a difference!

Blog Stops

By The Book, May 22

Pink Granny’s Journey, May 22

Blogging With Carol, May 22

ansel book blog, May 22

Reflections From My Bookshelves, May 23

Moments Dipped in Ink, May 23

Genesis 5020, May 23

Blossoms and Blessings, May 23

Reading Is My SuperPower, May 24

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, May 24

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, May 24

Christian Bookaholic, May 24

Just the Write Escape, May 25

Among the Reads, May 25

The Power of Words, May 25

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 25

Radiant Light, May 26

The Christian Fiction Girl, May 26

The Avid Reader, May 26

Janices book reviews, May 26

Daysong Reflections, May 27

Mary Hake, May 27

Carpe Diem, May 27

Jeanette’s Thoughts, May 27

Kathleen Denly, May 28

History, Mystery & Faith, May 28

A Baker’s Perspective, May 28

Simple Harvest Reads, May 28 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)

Faithfully Bookish, May 29

God’s Little Bookworm, May 29

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, May 29

Cover to Cover and Everything in Between, May 30

Neverending Stories, May 30

Maureen’s Musing, May 30

Bigreadersite, May 30

Inklings and notions, May 31

To Everything A Season, May 31

Two Points of Interest, May 31

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, May 31

Have A Wonderful Day, June 1

Lighthouse Academy, June 1

Godly Book Reviews, June 1

Red Headed Book Lady, June 2

For the Love of Books, June 2

Vicky Sluiter, June 2

proud to be an autism mom, June 3

Bibliophile Reviews, June 3

Texas Book-aholic, June 3

Connie’s History Classroom, June 4

Pause for Tales, June 4

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, June 4

Reader’s cozy corner, June 4

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Jody is giving away a grand prize of a $25 Amazon gift card!!

Click below to enter:

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Let’s chat!

Have you read any of the other books in this series? Do you know someone with a connection to foster children or orphans?

My Review – The Innkeeper’s Daughter

My Review - The Innkeeper's Daughter

about-the-book-2

A London officer goes undercover to expose a plot against the Crown

Dover, England, 1808: Officer Alexander Moore goes undercover as a gambling gentleman to expose a high-stakes plot against the king—and he’s a master of disguise, for Johanna Langley believes him to be quite the rogue . . . until she can no longer fight against his unrelenting charm.

All Johanna wants is to keep the family inn afloat, but when the rent and the hearth payment are due at the same time, where will she find the extra funds? If she doesn’t come up with the money, there will be nowhere to go other than the workhouse—where she’ll be separated from her ailing mother and ten-year-old brother.

Alex desperately wants to help Johanna, especially when she confides in him, but his mission—finding and bringing to justice a traitor to the crown—must come first, or they could all end up dead.

Why This Book:

I have heard a lot of great things about Michelle Griep’s books, but I hadn’t yet had the chance to read one (despite putting her novel, The Captive Heart, on my list of Top Ten Must Read Historical Romance Novels for 2017). When I saw the opportunity to join her Celebrate Lit tour, I hopped over to Amazon to check out the first few lines in the book’s preview and decided this was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss.

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

Dover, England, 1808

Numbers would be the death of Johanna Langley.

First Impressions:

The first line, even the first paragraph, intrigued me, but I have to admit the rest of the first scene, though well-written and filled with interesting characters, just didn’t engage me. Perhaps I was just tired or distracted, but for whatever reason, I didn’t really feel engaged until the second scene where the hero was introduced, and I wouldn’t say I was truly “hooked” until the first scene of the second chapter. I can’t honestly put my finger on why this was. It may be that I needed time to adjust to Griep’s writing style or to the slightly different genre/setting of the book from my typical reads (I tend to read more American history than English), or it could just be that I was having an off day. Whatever the case, even in looking back at the first few scenes, I can’t find any fault within the writing or storytelling, so this less than enthusiastic first impression is probably on me and not the author.

Book Quote Image - The Innkeeper's Daughter - Fire Gaze

Characters:

Johanna Langley – To say Johanna is a hard worker, sacrificing all to keep her family from losing their home and livelihood – the Blue Hedge Inn – would be an understatement. The weight of this responsibility combined with the bitterness left behind by her deceased father’s betrayal of trust has shaped her into a woman who freely admits she has no desire for fun and mistrusts each man she meets. Yet, she strives to be a godly woman and readily recognizes the truth of her errors when revealed to her.

Alexander Moore aka Alexander Morton – A Bow Street runner (sort of like an early policeman) who has been assigned a mysterious undercover assignment – the details of which he is less than pleased about. He is essentially a good-hearted man trying to walk the line of serving justice and remaining as truthful as possible with those he cares about.

Lucious Nutbrown – Eccentric moocher who’s lack of social sophistication gets him into no end of trouble.

Mr. Ford – Magistrate and Alexander’s superior with an air of mystery to his personal life. He is also Alexander’s guardian, having taken Alexander in when he was orphaned as a young boy.

Thomas Langley – Mischief-making little brother to Johanna Langley with responsibilities typical of a child his age in that era.

Mrs. Eliza Langley – Widowed mother of Johanna and Thomas Langley, she’s had a difficult life, but she’s a tough, clever woman and a loving “mam.”

Mr. Quail – The leader of an itinerate band of musicians.

Mr. Spurge – The lien holder on the Blue Hedge Inn.

Tanny Needler – A man no one wants to work for.

Viscount Coburn – Alexander’s initial suspect and Father of Louisa.

Louisa Coburn – Rebellious daughter of the the viscount.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

It may have taken me a few scenes to become truly engaged in this story but not too long after that I had to force myself to very reluctantly put it down when life responsibilities demanded my attention. I lost no small amount of sleep to this delightful novel. Consider yourself warned.

This book made me chuckle several times and I even caught myself truly choking up a couple times, so I think it’s safe to say I was emotionally engaged with these characters.
Book Quote Image - The Innkeeper's Daughter - Broken Things

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I liked the way the author handled the unique dialects in the dialogue of the different characters. I could clearly hear distinct voices in my mind as I read. (No comments from the peanut gallery, thank you.) From their physical appearance to the way they spoke, to the actions they took,  each character was distinct enough from any other that at no time was I ever confused as to whom I was reading about. Furthermore, there were no throw-away characters, as each had an important and unique part in the story. With a somewhat large cast of players, this is an accomplishment to be applauded.

I loved the climax because it tricked me – in a good way. I cannot say exactly how without giving it away but suffice to say what I thought was the situation for about three or so scenes, wound up not being the case and when I realized the truth, I was delighted with the twist – and I’m not even referring to the “whodunit” portion of the mystery (but yes, I was happily somewhat fooled there as well – I only guessed part of it).

I also want to add that the descriptions in this novel were so rich and well done that not only did I feel I was there, but the descriptions themselves enhanced the story.

Book Quote Image - The Innkeeper's Daughter - Dirty Corners

Themes:

When is it okay to lie?

Is gambling itself a sin?

Who is the source of our hope and strength?

Ending:

I loved the ending because just when I thought things were winding down, there was one more twist to be had. Yet in the end, all the strings that needed tying were done so with a satisfying finesse that had me grinning like a fool and even giggling a little with delight.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Available at:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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

About the Author

MichelleGriep
Michelle Griep has been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager. She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones while rambling around a castle. Michelle is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and MCWG (Minnesota Christian Writers Guild). Keep up with her adventures at her blog “Writer off the Leash” or visit www.michellegriep.com.

Let’s chat!

Have you read a book by Michelle Griep? What most intrigues you about this novel?

TWEETABLES:

I loved the ending because just when I thought things were winding down, there was one more twist to be had. #BookReview @KathleenDenly @MichelleGriep

You won’t want to miss out on this 5 star English Regency Intrigue Romance! #BookReview @KathleenDenly @MichelleGriep 

Psst! Feel free to borrow any of the book quote images above for sharing on social media and remember to tag me @KathleenDenly !

The image below means I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Click here for more details.

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The Innkeeper's Daughter Celebrate Lit Tour Banner

Guest Post from Michelle Griep

Celebrating Oak Apple Day

Spring is just around the corner, or maybe it’s in full bloom in your neck of the woods. Regardless, by this time of year, everyone is ready to celebrate. . .and nothing new is under the sun. For centuries people have been eager to welcome budding greenery and warmth.

In my recent release, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, I incorporated a spring holiday that’s been around for over 500 years in England, one you may never heard of.

Oak Apple Day.

This ancient celebration dates back to the year 1651. At the time, Charles II escaped the Roundhead army by taking cover in an oak tree. Everyone loved ol’ Charlie and was glad he lived, so in his honor, a new national holiday was born—one that in some parts of England is still celebrated today.

Another name for this annual event is Royal Oak Day and the festivities occur every May 29th. Celebration traditions vary from parades to the ringing of bells, but one thing that is standard is that it’s a day to pin an oak leaf on your lapel. If you fail to wear one, you could end up getting pinched.

The hero in my latest release is kind enough to remind the heroine that she forgot to pin on her leaf, thus saving her from untoward pinches. Interested in hearing more about this gallant fellow and the forgetful miss? Here’s a blurb about The Innkeeper’s Daughter

Tension is high with the threat of a Napoleonic attack in Regency England, but risk from abroad means nothing when there’s danger at home.

Officer Alexander Moore goes undercover as a gambling gentleman to expose a high-stakes plot against the crown—and he’s a master of disguise, for Johanna Langley believes him to be quite the rogue . . . until she can no longer fight against his unrelenting charm.

All Johanna wants is to keep the family inn afloat, but when the rent and the hearth payment are due at the same time, where will she find the extra funds? If she doesn’t come up with the money, there will be nowhere to go other than the workhouse—where she’ll be separated from her ailing mother and ten-year-old brother.

Alex desperately wants to help Johanna, especially when she confides in him, but his mission—finding and bringing to justice a traitor to the crown—must come first, or they could all end up dead.

It’s a race against time for them both.

Blog Stops

Just the Write Escape, March 15

Fiction Aficionado, March 15

All-of-a-kind Mom, March 15

The Morning Chapter, March 15

Reflections From My Bookshelves, March 16

Reading Is My SuperPower, March 16

Mommynificent, March 16

Blogging With Carol, March 16

Among the Reads, March 17

Connie’s History Classroom, March 17

Mary Hake, March 17

Blossoms and Blessings, March 17

Karen Sue HadleyMarch 18

The Power of WordsMarch 18

Christian Chick’s ThoughtsMarch 18

D’S QUILTS & BOOKSMarch 18

Kathleen DenlyMarch 19

Faithfully BookishMarch 19

Captive Dreams WindowMarch 19

Red Headed Book LadyMarch 19

The Fizzy Pop CollectionMarch 20

RemembrancyMarch 20

Inklings and notionsMarch 20

Book by BookMarch 20

Moments Dipped in InkMarch 21

Black ‘n’ Gold Girl’s Book SpotMarch 21

Singing Librarian BooksMarch 21

To Everything a SeasonMarch 21

Bookworm MamaMarch 22

Two Points of InterestMarch 22

Vicky SluiterMarch 22

Carpe DiemMarch 22

Pause for TalesMarch 23

Have A Wonderful DayMarch 23

A Baker’s PerspectiveMarch 23

margaret kazmierczakMarch 23 (Interview)

proud to be an autism momMarch 24

Bibliophile ReviewsMarch 24

A Greater YesMarch 24

Texas Book-aholicMarch 25

Debbie’s Dusty DeliberationsMarch 25

Janices book reviewsMarch 25

A Reader’s BrainMarch 26

Jeanette’s ThoughtsMarch 26

Simple Harvest ReadsMarch 26 (Mindy Houng Guest Post)

Kaylee’s Kind Of WritesMarch 27

My Writer’s LifeMarch 27

Pursuing StacieMarch 27

BigreadersiteMarch 27

Tell Tale Book ReviewsMarch 28

Jodie Wolfe – Stories Where Hope and Quirky MeetMarch 28

Pink Granny’s JourneyMarch 28

The PhD MammaMarch 28

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Michelle is giving away a grand prize of a signed copy of The Innkeeper’s Daughter and a $25 gift card from Barnes & Noble!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! Enter Here Button

Let’s chat!

Have you read a book by Michelle Griep? What most intrigues you about this novel?

 

 

My Review – A Sweetwater River Romance

My Review - A Sweetwater River Romance

about-the-book-2

Taking flight from their quiet Pennsylvania town seems like the only way for Tori Boyd to protect her dearest cousin’s virtue. And the success of their escape may now depend on the man she’s been writing letters to for over a year now in the vast wilds of the Wyoming Territory.

Ezra Reid has finally stepped out from under the shadow of his older brother and sister, now having full responsibility to man the Rocky Ridge Stage Stop through the winter. The success or failure of the stage and telegraph contracts falls squarely on his shoulders, and he’s entirely focused on the work – at least until his mysterious correspondence partner shows up on his doorstep.

As Ezra takes on the search for a proper situation for Tori and her cousin, there seem to be no good options for the ladies. Especially since Tori won’t even discuss the one option that might succeed – marriage. When the danger chasing the women takes on a form none of them anticipated, how far will Ezra have to go to keep Tori and her cousin safe? It’ll take a lot more than luck to ensure his heart is the sole casualty.

Why This Book:

After thoroughly enjoying Misty M. Beller’s “This Treacherous Journey” (which I reviewed earlier this month), when I saw another opportunity to review one of her books, I jumped at it.

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

Dear T. B., 

In response to your advertisement seeking a partner in correspondence, I find the idea more than a little intriguing.

First Impressions:

This book opened with the text of the advertisement placed by “T. B.” of “Boiling Springs Township, Pennsylvania” seeking “a literate person in the western territories willing and eager to correspond with an easterner on a variety of topics.” After this, we read the initial response letter written by “E. Reid” of “Rocky Ridge Stage Stop, Wyoming Territory.” I’ve chosen to share the first line of this letter above.

Both of these, while important and intriguing, read like a prologue even though they are not labeled as such. The real action begins after this and starts as follows:

OCTOBER, 1866
WYOMING TERRITORY

“Looks like it might snow.”

Tori Boyd pressed the creases flat in the writing paper as she studied the concise handwriting, a challenging exercise with the sometimes-violent rocking of the stage coach.

As you can see, we immediately feel some tension in the situation with the threat of snow and the mystery of the clearly important letter. As the first scene unfolds, the stakes increase and the reader is immediately engaged in the story. I wondered what would await them at their destination and already wanted to know what would become of the two women after that. (Tori and her cousin, Opal, are both on the stage)

Characters:

Victoria “Tori” Boyd – Eighteen-year-old Tori has endured a very harsh life, which has forced her to mature beyond her years, but she hasn’t let it beat her down or diminish her determination to protect and care for her slightly older cousin, Opal. She is determined to find freedom for them both – and never to trust or depend on a man. Unfortunately, she has been left little choice but to seek assistance from her distant correspondence partner, Ezra Reid.

Book Quote Image - A Sweetwater Romance

Ezra Reid – To say Ezra is surprised by Tori and Opal’s appearance on his doorstep is an understatement. Yet, this responsible, compassionate, and honest man overcomes his shock and appoints himself as their advocate and protector. His actions throughout the story are an incredible picture of what it means to truly love – first as a brother in Christ, and later, as a man in love with a woman he desires as his wife.

Opal Boyd – Opal is quite different from her cousin. Where Tori is stubborn, quick to speak her mind, and occasionally reckless, Opal has a quiet strength and gentle wisdom that helps her to find the good in the bad. Don’t mistake her quiet or gentle for meek, however. Every bit as loyal and courageous as Tori, Opal doesn’t back down when the going gets tough.

Mara English – Her story having already been told in A Pony Express Romance, Mara is Ezra’s loving, if a bit overprotective, big sister. I can’t say a whole lot more about her role in this story without giving away some of the plot, but it was fun to see her story continue as Ezra’s developed.

Josiah English – Mara’s husband spends most of his time working their horse ranch, but he still manages to be the doting husband and helpful brother-in-law we want him to be.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

With solid tension all along the way, this one is a page-turner, for sure. While there are a couple points that let you catch your breath, it’s only just enough to do so before things start cracking again and you have to resist the urge to skim ahead. And you don’t want to skim ahead, trust me. There are no wasted words here, just good, compelling storytelling that gets you aching or rooting for the characters (depending on the scene) and eager to see what happens next.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

The only nitpicky thing I wasn’t sure about was one particular paragraph of the thought process Ezra goes through in the aftermath of the crisis scene. It just seemed a tad over-the-top ideal, to me, but I can’t argue that it didn’t fit Ezra’s character or that it isn’t possible someone would think like that. So this is just my opinion, but it pushed the edges of believable for me.

On the other hand, I absolutely loved, loved, loved how Ezra reacted to Tori’s past and how he thoughtfully chose his actions and words in light of it. The man is seriously swoon-worthy! (and it’s not about his looks) Talk about sacrificial, selfless (not spineless!) love! He knows it’s an action not a word, ladies.

Book Quote Image - A Sweetwater Romance - Did God Hear

Themes:

Why God allows “bad things” to happen to “good people.” – Yep. The author went there. And without getting preachy.

Learning to trust.

Ending:

I have to say that I could not have loved this ending more. The author resisted the pressure to give readers the ending they expect and might even (mistakenly) think they wanted. Instead, she gives us an ending that epitomizes true love in action and left me sighing with joyful contentment.

Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

Available at:  Amazon

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

About the Author

Misty

Misty M. Beller writes romantic mountain stories, set on the 1800s frontier and woven with the truth of God’s love.

She was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Growing up, her family was close, and they continue to keep that priority today. Her husband and daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.

God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.

Writing is a dream come true for Misty. Her family–both immediate and extended–is the foundation that holds her secure in that dream. Learn more at www.MistyMBeller.com.

Let’s chat!

Have you read any of the books in the Wyoming Mountain Tales series?

TWEETABLES:

Looking for a hero who is swoon-worthy for far more than his looks? Check out this romance! #BookReview @KathleenDenly @MistyMBeller (CLICK TO TWEET!)

She’s desperate to escape an awful past…A man is the last person she expects to protect her. A SWEETWATER RIVER ROMANCE by @MistyMBeller (CLICK TO TWEET!)

Riveting mountain romance by @MistyMBeller, A SWEETWATER RIVER ROMANCE #BookReview (CLICK TO TWEET!)

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

The image below means I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Click here for more details.

 

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View Disclosure of Materials HERE.

 

 

My Review – Three Words and a Kiss

My Review - Three Words and a Kiss

about-the-book-2

When a big-hearted debutante collides with a small-town blacksmith set in his ways, it can mean only one thing—a war of hearts has come to Pine Creek.

Cameron Wallace thrives as both the blacksmith and the minister in his community of Pine Creek. Out of the fires of a chaotic childhood, he’s forged a peaceful life filled with safe relationships and predictable routines. But when the smithy he’s been renting is sold out from under him, the impulsive woman who buys it stokes the embers of emotions he’d rather keep unlit—and even has the audacity to lend a helping hand to his smithy work.

Samantha Klein has never been afraid to push boundaries when it comes to helping those whom society—and God—have overlooked, be they orphans, immigrants, or injured animals. When her latest attempt to aid a group of Chinese women lands her in a newspaper scandal, her high-society family sends her packing from Seattle. Setting out on her own, she purchases the Pine Creek smithy and hatches another plan for helping her immigrant friends. But only weeks after arriving in Pine Creek, her plan turns to ashes, and she’s overwhelmed by needs she can never hope to meet, including her own need to be seen and cared for. And the one who seems to understand her is the man who won’t let her anywhere near his heart, no matter the attraction that burns between them.

As Cameron struggles to find a new normal, and Samantha yearns for someone to share her burdens, old hurts and dangerous secrets make them both terrified to admit that what they need—and what God has planned for them—just might be each other.

Why This Book:

Well, if you have been following my blog at all, you know I am a serious fan of Sondra’s writing. If she wrote it, I’m there. Plus, this is the third installment in her Love That Counts series and I have basically been holding my breath since reading the second book, Two Ways Home. I cannot tell you how excited I am to get to read this book!

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

Seattle, Washington, July 9, 1892

The first stars pricked through the sky’s fading canvas as Samantha Klein approached the intersection of Washington and First Avenue, looked both ways, and crossed a line.

First Impressions:

The book opens with a high-stakes scene where Samantha is placing herself at risk to visit a group of women (and a young boy) in Seattle’s Chinatown. I so want to tell you what happens next, but of course, I won’t spoil it. Let’s just say, you won’t want to stop reading.

Book Quote Image - Three Words and a Kiss - Some Investments

Characters:

Samantha “Sam” Klein – She is undeniably a misfit in her world but in all the right ways. As intelligent as she is beautiful, her impulsiveness combines with her hugely compassionate heart to get her into many delightfully troubling situations. Her character is richly drawn, with a past that colors her present in ways she doesn’t even recognize at first. Watching her develop and grow as the story progresses is something I think readers will particularly enjoy.

Book Quote Image - Three Words and a Kiss - Unconventional Notion

Cameron “Cam” Wallace – Yes, their nicknames rhyme and that is mentioned in the story, but it is neither overdone nor the focus of the story by any means.   It is just one more stick in the fire of their relationship. Similar to Sam, Cameron doesn’t realize how much his past affects his behavior. He thinks he has things nicely handled and planned out. Until Samantha arrives. She is exactly what he needs to show him the cracks in his “perfect” life. I enjoyed watching his real struggle to come to grips with certain revelations and learn to move forward.

David Brown – He’s the nearly-grown son of the interfering, love-to-hate-him Mayor of Pine Creek, Johnston Brown, and he is struggling with the typical issues that go with his age and an overbearing father.

Book Quote Image - Three Words and a Kiss - made new

Fa Feiyan – Mother of seven-year-old Wang Yong and self-appointed guardian of sixteen-year-old Ya Wen, she struggles with not letting her legitimate fears for the safety of those she cares about rule her life.

Barrett “Bear” Clarke – The hero from book one in this series is back as Cameron’s best friend and local rancher. It’s great to see his and Claire’s story progress, as well as to see more of his relationship with Cameron.

Luke Thomas – The hero from book two in this series, he’s the local sheriff now, and happily married to Mary.  It is interesting to see how he’s adjusting to a more sedentary life and to see him placed in a position somewhat at odds with Samantha.

Okay, I just have to tell you there are so many more fantastic characters in this book – characters I would LOVE to see featured in their own books – but if I bring them up here it will spoil some surprises, so I am resisting. But only just.

Book Quote Image - Three Words and a Kiss - made it her own

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

I admit to a slight bias here as I had already fallen for Cameron in the first two books of this series and I have a particular interest in Chinese characters of this era. However, I think even without this, the first chapter alone would be enough to draw a reader into the story and the second would secure their emotional interest in seeing what becomes of Miss Samantha Klein, her big heart, and her vulnerable friends. By the third chapter if you aren’t dying to see how Samantha and Cameron get along . . . well, I just won’t understand it.

I could not put this book down. I fell in love with the characters, the town and the heart of God reflected in this story. (CLICK TO TWEET)

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I loved that Cameron and Samantha both made real mistakes with real consequences, and I loved that they were forced to make difficult decisions as a result of those mistakes.

As I mentioned before, I especially enjoy reading about Chinese characters from this era. I also enjoy …. grrr. I SOOOO want to tell you something right now but I can’t. Not without spoiling a big surprise. So I will have to keep it to this:  Somehow Sondra Kraak managed to include several of my personal favorite elements in this story, making it my number one favorite of all her books. In fact, this book is one of the best that I have read in the past twelve months. (CLICK TO TWEET)

One last note:  Due to the nature of these two characters, this book gets a little more sizzly (I’m making this a word) than her previous two books in the Love That Counts series (while staying within the bounds, of course) and I have to admit, I enjoyed that also.

Book Quote Image - Three Words and a Kiss - laughter fire

Themes:

Overcoming past hurts.

Overcoming fear.

The role God plays in our emotions (vs intellect).

How God uses people to show His love.

Ending:

*Sigh* I cannot tell you how much I love and adore this ending. No, really, I can’t. Because if I told you all the reasons I loved it, I’d give away those surprises I keep mentioning. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one. You won’t be disappointed.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Available for pre-order at:  Amazon

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

Disclosure of Materials:  I received an Advanced Readers Copy from the author for the purposes of this review. (Although I also preordered an official copy for myself!) You can read My Promise to Readers HERE.

About the Author

Sondra Kraak

A native of Washington State, Sondra Kraak grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. After attending Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, she moved to North Carolina to work for a small non-profit ministry. It was in the backroom of that office, amid the clamor of copy machines and printers, that love blossomed. She married her mountain man in 2004, and they spent the first season of their marriage in New England where Sondra attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and graduated with her Masters of Biblical Studies.

Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she works part-time at her church doing worship ministry and leading Bible studies. Life at home with her husband and children is full of Uno, backyard scrimmages, bedtime stories, and magically multiplying loads of laundry. She writes historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest through which her passion and delight is to provide readers with stories that not only entertain but nourish the soul.

Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was a Genesis semi-finalist (2015) and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women’s Fiction Award (2015). Sondra has since published three novels.

Don’t forget! You can pre-order Three Words and a Kiss on Amazon TODAY!

Let’s chat!

Have you read any of the books in the Love That Counts series?

TWEETABLES:

This book is one of the best that I have read in the past twelve months. #BookReview @KathleenDenly @SondraKraak (CLICK TO TWEET)

I could not put this book down. I fell in love with the characters, the town and the heart of God reflected in this story. #BookReview @KathleenDenly @SondraKraak (CLICK TO TWEET)

Check out this #BookReview for @SondraKraak’s newest book, Three Words and a Kiss! #ChristFic @KathleenDenly (CLICK TO TWEET)

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

My Review – No Small Storm

My Review - No Small Storm

about-the-book-2

September 1815, Providence, Rhode Island

Thirty-year-old Remembrance “Mem” Wilkins loves her solitary life running the farm and orchard she inherited from her father and has no plans to give up her independence. Especially not for the likes of Mr. Graham Lott. But when Mem is unable to harvest the apples on her own, she accepts the help of the man she despises.

Fresh off a boat from Ireland with his four-year-old son in tow, Simon Brennan secures a building in which to ply his trade as a cobbler. Still healing from the grief of his wife’s death a year earlier, he determines to focus only on providing a good life for his son. But when he intervenes in an argument on behalf of the intriguing Miss Wilkins, sister-in-law of the tavern owner who befriends him, he suddenly finds himself crossways with his landlord, Mr. Lott, and relieved of his lease and most of his money.

With no means of support, Simon takes a job helping Mem with her harvest, relieving her of the need of Lott’s help. But their growing attraction to each other makes them both uneasy. Mem gladly escapes to town when her sister begins labor, and Simon, believing it best to distance himself from Mem, takes his son and leaves.

But neither anticipates the worst gale New England has ever seen—or that the storm will threaten all they hold dear.

Why This Book:

See the blurb above? That’s why. I was intrigued enough to check out the author. What I found encouraged me that the author was likely to deliver well on the promise of her premise, so I requested a review copy and a spot on her tour through Celebrate Lit.

Opening Line (from Chapter 1):

Remembrance Wilkins – Mem to her friends and family – shivered, feeling to her bones the coolness of stone walls which never warmed. 

First Impressions:

While I wasn’t a fan of the interruption in the first sentence explaining her name, that was my only nit-picky dislike of the first scene of this novella. It was clear from the first page that this author had honed her craft as I was drawn in by descriptions that enticed my senses and a character whose struggles were clear and relatable. Like the first scene of a great movie, I felt I was there, in the story.

Characters:

Remembrance “Mem” Wilkins – The blurb for the novella explains her well. She is independent, capable, and intelligent. Without being arrogant or aggressive in any way, she understands the expectations of her neighbors, but refuses to conform to them. She is stubborn and her motives for being independent are certainly questionable – that’s the point of her character arc – but she is, for the most part, a calm, reasonable, responsible woman who works hard and is loyal to her family.

Simon Brennan – Another character who is well described in the novella’s blurb, Simon is a loving father and widower with a chip on his shoulder from past wrongs done him by those who are financially superior. This leaves him wary of becoming attached to Mem who is a landowner in her own right, making her financially superior to him. His driving desire is to prove himself in the economic realm – to gain financial equality with those currently above him. This desire is motivated not by greed, but pride and is connected to his character arc.

No Small Storm - Book Quote - Hot Face

Timothy Brennan – The four year old son of Simon, Timothy is bright, kind, and obedient. I found his behaviors and emotions completely believable for a child of his age in this time period.

Charity Hyer – Mem’s younger, married sister lives in town with her husband, Isaac, and their young daughters. At the start of the novella she is far along in her pregnancy and her history of quick deliveries adds to Mem’s worries. The two sisters have a healthy, loving, close relationship.

Isaac Hyer – Isaac Hyer owns the Gray Goose. He is a loving husband to Charity and caring father. However, he is also the younger brother of the man who betrayed Mem’s heart years prior and thus his resemblance serves as a reminder to Mem not to let her guard down.

Graham Lott – Having been a friend of Mem’s father, he uses that former relationship (Mem’s father has passed on) to declare himself her protector. Their twenty year age difference and Mem’s repeated refusals of his proposals don’t seem to have had any discouraging affect on his determination to gain ownership of her orchard. His character is made clear from the start and he is someone readers will love to loathe.

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

As I mentioned in my First Impressions section, this novella drew me in from the very beginning. While the first third of the book had a comfortable, yet compelling, sense of tension, the last two thirds held me in such a grip I must confess to not getting to sleep until nearly four in the morning – when I’d turned the last page.

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

I loved that this story was sparked by actual historical events (as confirmed in the Author’s Notes at the end of the novella). Every historical detail felt rich, real, and true. While the climax may have stretched the bounds of believability (I’m making that a word), it didn’t completely break them, and honestly, I couldn’t have cared less. I was literally gnawing my lip as I read that scene, holding my breath as if I were … well, experiencing what the characters were experiencing. Needless to say, I loved it. Then I read the author’s notes at the end and realized that what I found barely plausible was actually based on a true historical event! I absolutely love when truth is stranger than fiction!

No Small Storm - Book Quote - Stave off Men

Themes:

While independence in and of itself is not wrong, independence sought for the wrong reasons and taken to the extreme of ignoring/denying one’s dependence on God is wrong.

Holding on to the wrongs done to you in the past can cost you not only your future happiness, but even those things which you currently hold dear.

Ending:

I loved the ending scenes of this novella. I felt they beautifully wrapped up everything the reader hoped for as we made our way through the story. My only complaint is that I wanted just a little bit more. While I realize this is a novella, I needed just a page or two more to luxuriate in the joy of where the characters’ journey had taken them. Nevertheless, I closed the book with a huge grin on my face and an eagerness to read more by this author.

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Available at:  Amazon

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

Let’s chat!

Do you prefer short endings, or would you rather have a little bit more time to enjoy the glow? Let me know in the comments below!

TWEETABLES:

Like the first scene of a great movie, I felt I was there, in the story. #BookReview @KathleenDenly

I was literally gnawing my lip as I read that scene, holding my breath as if I were … well, experiencing what the characters were experiencing. #BookReview @KathleenDenly

Check out @KathleenDenly’s #BookReview of No Small Storm by @AnneMateer!

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

No Small Storm FB Banner copy (1)

About the Author

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Anne Mateer has loved reading and writing stories since childhood. She is the author of 4 historical novels, 1 historical novella, and a few contemporary short stories. Anne and her husband of 30 years, Jeff, love to visit their grown children and tour historical sites. They are currently living an empty nest adventure in Austin, TX.

Guest Post from Anne Mateer

I’m always up for a good historical story. It’s what I enjoy reading. It’s what I enjoy writing. But I find that my pleasure in any historical fiction increases exponentially when the story at hand is based on at least a kernel of historical fact. All four of my full-length novels share this trait. So it stood to reason that when turning my mind to a historical novella I would seek the same grounding in truth I’ve sought before.

So what historical fact inspired No Small Storm? It was a combination of them, actually. Which I think always makes for the best tales!

I like an overarching historical event to help frame a story. Things like war or economic crisis or natural disaster. Situations in the historical record which required courage or resilience or sacrifice from the people who lived through them. When I stumbled upon the Great Gale of 1815, which hit Providence, Rhode Island particularly hard, I knew it could provide obstacles for my characters to overcome.

As I began to read about this event—a hurricane before such storms were commonly called hurricanes—I happened upon some first hand accounts of that day. Fascinating remembrances about a storm arriving without much preamble, then departing and leaving bright sunny skies with which to view the destruction.

And destruction there was! Not only from wind and water, but also the fact that both of those things unleashed the ships moored in the harbor and sent them sailing down the main street of town! Can you imagine looking out of the second or third story window of a building which was likely flooded on the ground floor and seeing a ship coming at you?

That, in itself, was dramatic enough. Especially when coupled with the fact that those ships often broke apart, whether from wind and waves or from contact with the buildings and bridges they encountered on land. Then I considered the people in those ships. What happened to them? Many were flung into the water, searching for purchase.

It was just such a circumstance that brought one man to the window of a young woman. She helped him inside. They were later married. And if finding such a story isn’t a romance writer’s delight, I don’t know what is!

Finally, as I continued to read about the destruction in the area, I discovered a few lines about area orchards. The hanging fruit was found covered with a dusting of white. When tasted, it was discovered to be salt. Salt from storm surge and sea spray. Salt that saturated, even miles inland. Water and wind—and the salt they carried—ruining fruit crops ready for harvest. What could be more devastating to a farmer than that?

And so No Small Storm was born, with Remembrance and Simon each trying to make a good life for themselves, each trying to trust God as they work hard. Each keeping careful watch over their heart. But sometimes circumstances take things we don’t want to give. And give things we never imagined possible.

Historical fact and spiritual truth. Characters who are a product of their times as well as universal in their struggles and desires. It’s the kind of story I love to read. And the kind of story I’m proud to write.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, February 6

Carpe Diem, February 6

Reflections From My Bookshelves, February 7

Reading Is My SuperPower, February 7

The Power of Words, February 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 8

Inklings and notions, February 9

Blossoms and Blessings, February 9

Kathleen Denly, February 10 YAY, YOU’RE HERE! 😀

History, Mystery & Faith, February 10

Bukwurmzzz, February 11

Views From the Window Friend, February 11

By The Book, February 12

Maureen’s Musings, February 12

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, February 13

Mary Hake, February 13

proud to be an autism mom, February 14

Connie’s History Classroom, February 14

A Greater Yes, February 15

Janices book reviews, February 15

Jeanette’s Thoughts, February 16

A Baker’s Perspective, February 16

Bibliophile Reviews, February 17

Margaret Kazmierczak, February 17 (Interview)

Simple Harvest Reads, February 18 (Guest post from Mindy)

Bigreadersite, February 18

Pink Granny’s Journey, February 19

Pursuing Stacie, February 19

 

Giveaway

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To celebrate her tour, Anne is giving away a grand prize of a reader bag of goodies—including a Pride and Prejudice fleece throw, a “reading” charm necklace from Storied Jewelry, a Secret Garden litograph tote bag, and a $25 Amazon gift card!!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!Enter Here Button

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View Disclosure of Materials HERE.