Ahh! Where has this year gone? How are we already past the middle of December? *Sigh* I don’t know about you, but I had so many grand plans that simply did not come to fruition this year. Don’t get me wrong. I had many amazing successes and blessings, but I tend to dream big and plan accordingly. Therefore, no matter how much I wish to accomplish some things, life happens and time moves on, and those things just don’t get done. So here I am with Christmas on the horizon and I’m so far behind on the reviews I’d planned to write for you all, that I’ve lost hope of actually completing them before the year’s end.
However, these were some truly amazing books and I so dearly want to share them with you that I have decided a compromise is in order. I just don’t have the time to write my full reviews for these books, but I can at least summarize my thoughts and share the highlights for each of them so that you can decide if they sound like something that might fit your particular reading tastes. So here goes my first ever Rapid Review Roundup:
The Lady and The Lionheart by Joanne Bischoff
This year’s (tie) winner of the Christy Award for Historical Romance, it’s no surprise that I absolutely fell in love with this book. From the moment I opened the first page I felt I had stepped into this heroine’s world. I could see, hear, feel, and taste what it was like to live the life of Bischoff’s heroine. I never would have thought the circus would be such a compelling setting, but getting to know this unique subculture of the past was incredibly delightful and I would love to visit it again. Definitely one of my top five favorite books of the year, I cannot say enough how highly I recommend The Lady and The Lionheart!
At Love’s Bidding by Regina Jennings
The opening of this novel just drew me in. There is a hint of story-telling quality to it that appeals to me, which is ironic since that usually isn’t a style I go for. If story-telling isn’t usually your style either, I encourage you to give this book a try anyway. At least find somewhere to read the first few pages. This novel is worth stretching your comfort zone. The characters are charmingly flawed and courageous in their own ways. The plot keeps a steady pace and I recall especially enjoying a twist near the end which I didn’t anticipate.
One of the things I liked most about this novel was its subplot involving of the heroine’s grandfather and his slip into dementia. Without bringing the story down from its light and laughter, the author gave us a peek into what it’s like for the family members of a person experiencing such a life change. I especially enjoyed noting the subtle differences of such a change for a man and family of this time period vs now.
For The Record by Regina Jennings
This novel was just plain fun. Don’t misunderstand me. That isn’t an implication that this novel lacked depth. The layers and the writing skills were absolutely there, but when I think back on this novel I can’t help but smile. The hero and heroine in this story were my kind of people, not afraid to go after what they want and not too proud to apologize when they were wrong. This story isn’t an all-out action story, or edge-of-your-seat-suspense, but you won’t want to put it down either. It’s a little small mountain town and a little wild west. There are real troubles and real adventures had by characters who feel real and engage your emotions. Although this is a sequel to At Love’s Bidding, this novel can definitely stand on its own.
Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden
This book stood out to me not only due to its excellent writing and compelling story, but it manages the unique feat of strongly involving the shipping industry without any of the characters stepping foot on a ship (outside of the prologue) – at least not “on scene” (so there are some memories of being on ships and discussions of travels, but no actual scenes happening on ships in “present time.). While I’m not sure that really matters when it comes to whether or not this is an enjoyable book, I found it an interesting quirk. Aside from that, I found the characters to be emotionally engaging and complex. The plot certainly held my attention (keeping me from sleep on more than one night) and the ending was most satisfying. I highly recommend Against the Tide.
(Incidentally, one of the other novel by Camden which I read this year, From This Moment, was a finalist for the Christy Award in Historical Romance. Needless to say, I highly recommend that one as well.)
Never Forget by Jody Hedlund
I enjoyed the emotions this novel provoked in me. As a reader I couldn’t help feeling compassionate toward the heroine and the mess she gets herself into. I wanted to keep reading and discover how it all turned out. Would it blow up in her face or would she find a smoother way out? In the end, the author surprised me and I loved it. The hero is no less of a mess and must make some significant decisions of his own. I enjoyed reading along to see what became of these two characters. I definitely recommend this novel.
The Improper Proposal by Davalynn Spencer
This is the first book I have read by this author. I can’t remember where I heard of this book, but I am so glad I picked it up. The premise drew me in and the story kept me reading. The author has a unique voice which I am looking forward to reading more of. This story brings you into the lives of two genuinely good, though flawed, people learning how to live in God’s strength through difficult and unexpected circumstances. Better yet, the love that grows between them is the warm and true kind you want to wrap up in. Not your typical marriage of convenience story, you’ll wish this book didn’t end.
Materials Note: I purchased my own copy of each of the above titles for my own reading pleasure.
If you enjoyed these rapid reviews, be sure to sign up for Kathleen’s Readers’ Club to receive quarterly emails in which I share more reviews like these as well as other bits of information and news you may find interesting, not to mention the giveaways only KRC members are eligible for. In fact, I’ll be writing my winter email and sending it out tonight with an extra special Celebration Giveaway you won’t want to miss, so sign up today if you aren’t already a member!