My Review – Ever Faithful

My Review - Ever Faithful

about-the-book-2

Vibrant historic Yellowstone National Park comes to life in this romantic mystery about a man hiding the truth, braving the west to become something more–and the woman who must confront his deception.

A man who can’t read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain “requirements.” Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well.

Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger’s daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park’s hotels, she still hasn’t saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate’s secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?

Amazon

Why This Book:

After reading Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett, I knew I would be reading more of her books. All of her “Vintage National Parks Novels” are entirely stand-alone novels, but they are tied together by the fact that they are all set in national parks. Each features its own cast of characters, its own romance, and its own mystery.

Opening Lines:

April, 1933
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Elsie closed her eyes for a moment and breathed in the steamy air, imagining she stood beside Grand Prismatic Spring instead of the massive laundry boiler in the back of the Mammoth Hot Springs Lodge.

First Impressions:

I hate to say it, but the beginning of this book did not grab me. In hindsight, I can see how it was setting the reader up for the rest of the novel, but it just didn’t snag my attention the way the author’s first two vintage novels did.

Main Characters:

Elsie Brookes–  A young woman haunted by a childhood tragedy struggles to forgive and open up to new relationships.

Nate Webber – A hard-working man of integrity whose efforts to do the right thing lands him in trouble through no fault of this own. The secret hinted at in the book’s description is also no fault of his own. He is a hero you can root for.

Ranger Vaughn – The newest ranger in the park who forms an immediate and intense emotional attachment to Elsie.

Mary – A friend of Elsie whose penchant for chasing boys stirs up more trouble than she bargains for.

Rose – A soft-hearted young woman, feeling lost after the loss of her long-time boyfriend.

Graham – The cousin Elsie would be happy never to see again.

Note about the characters:  Don’t let my sparse descriptions fool you. These characters are written in a well-rounded manner, but who each of them truly is, deep inside, is revealed so subtly and gradually throughout the story that to write more about them here would spoil part of the enjoyment of the story.

Book Quote - Ever Faithful - Blue Geyser

Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:

This is not a forest-fire read. It is a slow and steady burn (pun fully intended). This is not a book to have you sitting on the edge of your seat (except toward the end). But that isn’t to say it’s boring. It’s just a different kind of read. It’s the kind of book you cuddle up with in a blanket next to a warm fire with a cup of cocoa and your fuzzy socks on. It’s the warm sun on your face as you lean out the car window and feel the wind rush by. Is there suspense? Yes. As with the first two novels, there is a definite element of suspense. But for most of the story, the suspense doesn’t feel like the focus in this novel as much as it did in the first two.

As for emotional engagement, it’s definitely there. The first kiss between Nate and Elsie had me grinning like a silly fool and wanting to hug Elsie the way I would any friend who’d found such joy. By the time we reached the climax I was whipping through pages eager to see how it all worked out. And let me tell you about the ending…

Elements I especially liked/disliked:

What I especially liked was the opportunity to learn new things about Yellowstone and visit vicariously through Barnett’s characters. I haven’t been to Yellowstone since I was eleven and now I’m chomping at the bit to take my kids and experience more of our national treasure.

My absolute favorite part of the novel, though, was the incorporation of the California Conservation Corps. My first real job (not counting babysitting) was working for the Youth Conservation Corps at Joshua Tree National Park. It was an experience I’ll never forget and always be proud of. While mine was a vastly different situation than the original CCC members, I was blessed to have the opportunity to help improve one of our national treasures and it left me with a special fondness for the programs. Getting to read more about its history through the eyes of these fictional characters was a unique treat.

Theme:

Forgiveness is not earned, it’s bestowed.

Book Quote - Ever Faithful - Anger Rotting Tree

Ending:

Oh! I wish I could tell you about it! I did NOT see it coming until almost the last second. I was SO sure I knew what was going to happen–that I had it all figured out–and then the author surprised me with a completely different reveal that made perfect sense. LOVE IT!!!

Overall Rating:

3.75 out of 5 stars

Amazon

Let’s chat!

Have you read any of Karen’s Vintage National Parks novels? What are your thoughts on forgiveness?

TWEETABLES:

The kind of book you cuddle up with in a blanket next to a warm fire with a cup of cocoa and your fuzzy socks on.

Check out this review of @KarenMBarnett’s Ever Faithful!

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


Note: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but was NOT required to write a positive review. You may read my full disclosure of materials HERE.

First Line Friday – 6.21.19

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Welcome to First Line Fridays! The day we grab the book closest to us and share the first line. Join the fun and discover your next read!

Today I’m featuring, the first line of Karen Barnett’s latest release, Ever Faithful. I’ll be sharing my review of this novel on Monday, so if you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe to my blog HERE.

Ever Faithful

Here’s the first line:

April, 1933
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Elsie closed her eyes for a moment and breathed in the steamy air, imagining she stood beside Grand Prismatic Spring instead of the massive laundry boiler in the back of the Mammoth Hot Springs Lodge.

about-the-book-2

Vibrant historic Yellowstone National Park comes to life in this romantic mystery about a man hiding the truth, braving the west to become something more–and the woman who must confront his deception.

A man who can’t read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain “requirements.” Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well.

Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger’s daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park’s hotels, she still hasn’t saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate’s secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?

Amazon

Don’t forget to join!

Click HERE to follow my blog and make sure you don’t miss out on any of my upcoming reviews and other fun posts!

Are you a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club member? It’s free (of course) and KRC members receive exclusive content, are eligible for exclusive seasonal book giveaways, and more! Join Today!

Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

First Line Friday – 03.29.19

first-line-friday-3Hey Everyone! It’s First Line Friday. So grab a book near you and share the first line in the comments below!

Today I’m sharing the first line from The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett. This book is very near the top of my TBR list and I cannot wait to finally get to read it!

The Road to Paradise

Here are the first lines:

June 1, 1927
Mount Rainier National Park
Ashford, Washington

The promised view of the mountain peak waited, cloaked in mist like a tissue-wrapped gift not ready to be unveiled. 

about-the-book-2

An ideal sanctuary and a dream come true–that’s what Margaret Lane feels as she takes in God’s gorgeous handiwork in Mount Rainier National Park. It’s 1927 and the National Park Service is in its youth when Margie, an avid naturalist, lands a coveted position alongside the park rangers living and working in the unrivaled splendor of Mount Rainier’s long shadow.

But Chief Ranger Ford Brayden is still haunted by his father’s death on the mountain, and the ranger takes his work managing the park and its crowd of visitors seriously. The job of watching over an idealistic senator’s daughter with few practical survival skills seems a waste of resources.

When Margie’s former fiancé sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, the plans might put more than the park’s pristine beauty in danger. What will Margie and Ford sacrifice to preserve the splendor and simplicity of the wilderness they both love?

Karen Barnett’s vintage national parks novels bring to vivid life President Theodore Roosevelt’s vision for protected lands, when he wrote in Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter: “There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.”

AMAZON

Click HERE to follow my blog and make sure you don’t miss out on any of my upcoming reviews and other fun posts!

Are you a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club member? It’s free (of course) and KRC members receive exclusive content, are eligible for exclusive seasonal book giveaways, and more! Join Today!

Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

Top Ten MUST READ Christian Romances for 2019

Top 10 Christian Romance Books Blog Post Image

While I am admittedly woefully behind on the books I wanted to read in 2018 (see my 2018 TBR here), the publishing world is not waiting for me to catch up. Instead, it marches heartlessly onward with plans to release still more books which I must somehow squeeze into my schedule or else die trying. (Sleep is optional, right?)

Thus, below you will find the top ten historical romances I am most anticipating in 2019 (in order of release date and then by author last name):

 

Ladies of Intrigue by Michelle Griep

Ladies of Intrigue
Releases January 15, 2019.

3 Page-Turners Under One Cover from Reader Favorite Michelle Griep!
Can truth and love prevail when no one is as they appear?

The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady
Cornish Coast, 1815
When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler. Will Helen Fletcher keep Isaac Seaton’s unusual secret?

The Doctor’s Woman (A Carol Award Winner!)
Dakota Territory, 1862
Emmy Nelson, daughter of a missionary doctor, and Dr. James Clark, city doctor aspiring to teach, find themselves working side by side at Fort Snelling during the Dakota Uprising. That is when the real clash of ideals begins.

A House of Secrets
St. Paul, Minnesota, 1890
Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam.

Find Ladies of Intrigue on Amazon.

 

A Return of Devotion by Kristi Ann Hunter

A Return of Devotion
Releases February 5, 2019!

Daphne Blakemoor was perfectly happy living in her own secluded world for twelve years. She had everything she needed–loved ones, a true home, and time to indulge her imagination. But when ownership of the estate where she works as a housekeeper passes on, and the new marquis has an undeniable connection to her past, everything she’s come to rely upon is threatened.

William, Marquis of Chemsford’s main goal in life is to be the exact opposite of his father. Starting a new life in the peace and quiet of the country sounds perfect until his housekeeper turns his life upside down.

They’ve spent their lives hiding from the past. Can they find the courage to face their deepest wounds and, perhaps, find a new path for the future together?

Find A Return of Devotion on Amazon.

 

Between Stairs and Stardust by Pepper Basham

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Releases February 14, 2019!

Stella Faye Emory has known a life of loss. Orphaned at the age of eleven, she is sent from her home at the Biltmore Estate to become a companion for a wealthy family in Boston. As she grows into a kind and talented young lady, a benefactress recognizes Stella’s artistic skills and funds her education but Stella’s fame as an illustrator inspires jealousy and an unwanted rumor that sends Stella fleeing back to the Biltmore.

James Craven is the second-born son of an automobile tycoon. Following his family to their new estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains, James finds his place among the forests and mountains of the countryside. When his little sister is saved from drowning by the mysterious, “Faye”, James’ interests take a new turn in the direction of this fairy-like artist who seems to appear and disappear at the most unexpected times.

As James and Stella’s friendship deepens, Stella’s past finds her and threatens her newfound romance. Can a charm bracelet and an unanticipated visitor restore hopes for a happily-ever-after?

Find more about Between Stairs and Stardust on Pepper’s website.

 

The Unexpected Champion by Mary Connealy

The Unexpected Champion
Releases March 5, 2019

City dweller John McCall never expected to be out in the High Sierras of 1868 on a wild-goose chase to find the Chiltons’ supposedly lost grandson. But now that he’s out here, things have gotten even more complicated, mostly due to wildcat Penny Scott. She’s not like any woman he’s ever met–comfortable in the woods, with a horse, and with a gun.

When Penny and John are taken against their will by a shadowy figure looking for evidence they don’t have, both realize they’ve stumbled into something dangerous and complicated. With their friends and family desperately searching for them, Penny and John must make a daring escape.

When they emerge back into the real world, they are confronted with a kidnapper who just won’t stop. They must bring a powerful, ruthless man to justice, even as this city man and country woman fight a very inconvenient attraction to each other.

Pre-order The Unexpected Champion on Amazon.

 

The Story Raider by Lindsay A Franklin

(Not technically in the romance genre, but it is written by a Christian, has a strong romance subplot, and I am practically turning blue waiting for this release, so I had to include it!)

The Story Raider
Releases April 30, 2019

Tanwen and the Corsyth weavers race to collect the strands of an ancient cure that might save Gryfelle. But Tanwen has a secret–Gryfelle isn’t the only one afflicted by the weaver’s curse. As Queen Braith struggles to assert her rule, a new arrival throws her tenuous claim to the Tirian throne into question. Braith’s heart is turned upside down, and she’s not sure she can trust anyone–least of all herself.

The puppet master behind Gareth’s rise to power has designs on Tanwen and the story weavers, and will stop at nothing to reclaim the throne. A plot to incite the angry peasants of Tir takes shape, and those dearest to Tanwen will be caught in the crossfire. As the fight for Tir consumes the realm, no one can remain innocent.

Pre-order The Story Raider on Amazon.

 

A Reluctant Bride by Jody Hedlund

A Reluctant Bride
Releases June 4, 2019

Living in London’s poorest slum, Mercy Wilkins has little hope of a better life. When she’s offered an opportunity to join a bride ship sailing to British Columbia, she agrees. After witnessing so much painful heartache and loss in the slums, the bride ship is her only prospect to escape a bleak future, not only for herself but, she hopes, someday for her sister.

Wealthy and titled Joseph Colville leaves home and takes to the sea in order to escape the pain of losing his family. As ship’s surgeon, he’s in charge of the passengers’ welfare aboard the Tynemouth, including sixty brides-to-be. He has no immediate intention of settling down, but when Mercy becomes his assistant, the two must fight against a forbidden love.

With hundreds of single men congregating on the shore eager to claim a bride from the Tynemouth, will Mercy and Joseph lose their chance at true love, or will they be able to overcome the obstacles that threaten to keep them apart?

Pre-order A Reluctant Bride on Amazon.

More Than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer

More Than Words Can Say
Releases June 4, 2019

After fulfilling a pledge to a dying friend, Zacharias Hamilton is finally free to live life on his own terms. No family entanglements. No opportunities to disappoint those he cares about. Just the quiet bachelor existence he’s always craved. Until fate snatches his freedom away once again when the baker of his favorite breakfast treat is railroaded by the city council. As hard as he tries to avoid getting involved, he can’t turn a blind eye to her predicament . . . or her adorable dimples.

Abigail Kemp needs a man’s name on her bakery’s deed. A marriage of convenience seems the best solution . . . if it involves a man she can control. Not the stoic lumberman who oozes confidence without saying a word whenever he enters her shop. Control Zacharias Hamilton? She can’t even control her pulse when around him.

When vows are spoken, Abigail’s troubles should be over. Yet threats to the bakery worsen, and darker dangers hound her sister. As trust grows between Zach and Abby, she finds she wants more than his rescue. She wants his heart.

Pre-order More Than Words Can Say on Amazon.

 

Ever Faithful by Karen Barnett

Ever Faithful
Releases June 18, 2019

Vibrant historic Yellowstone National Park comes to life in this romantic mystery about a man hiding the truth, braving the west to become something more–and the woman who must confront his deception.

A man who can’t read will never amount to anything–or so Nate Webber believes. But he takes a chance to help his family by signing up for the new Civilian Conservation Corps, skirting the truth about certain “requirements.” Nate exchanges the harsh Brooklyn streets for the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, curious if the Eden-like wonderland can transform him as well.
Elsie Brookes was proud to grow up as a ranger’s daughter, but she longs for a future of her own. After four years serving as a maid in the park’s hotels, she still hasn’t saved enough money for her college tuition. A second job, teaching a crowd of rowdy men in the CCC camp, might be the answer, but when Elsie discovers Nate’s secret, it puts his job as camp foreman in jeopardy. Tutoring leads to friendship and romance, until a string of suspicious fires casts a dark shadow over their relationship. Can they find answers before all of their dreams go up in smoke?

Pre-order Ever Faithful on Amazon.

 

Where Dandelions Bloom by Tara Johnson

Where Dandelions Bloom
Releases July 1, 2019

Cassie Kendrick is on the run. Her abusive father arranged her marriage to a despicable man, but she’s discovered an escape. Disguised as a man, Cassie enlists in the Union army, taking the name Thomas Turner. On the battlefields of the Civil War, keeping her identity a secret is only the beginning of her problems, especially after she meets Gabriel Avery, a handsome young photographer.

Anxious to make his mark on the world and to erase the darkness and guilt lurking from his past, Gabriel works with renowned photographer Matthew Brady to capture images from the front lines of the war. As Gabriel forges friendships with many of the men he encounters, he wonders what the courageous, unpredictable Thomas Turner is hiding.

Battling betrayal, their own personal demons, and a country torn apart by war, can Cassie and Gabriel learn to forgive themselves and trust their futures to the God who births hope and healing in the darkest places?

Pre-order Where Dandelions Bloom on Amazon.

 

Yours Truly, Thomas by Rachel Fordham

Yours Truly Thomas
Releases July 2, 2019

For three years, Penny Ercanbeck has been opening other people’s mail. Dead ends are a reality for clerks at the Dead Letter Office. Still she dreams of something more–a bit of intrigue, a taste of romance, or at least a touch less loneliness. When a letter from a brokenhearted man to his one true love falls into her hands, Penny seizes this chance to do something heroic. It becomes her mission to place this lost letter into the hands of its intended recipient.

Thomas left his former life with no intention of ending up in Azure Springs, Iowa. He certainly didn’t expect a happy ending after what he had done. All he wanted to do was run and never look back. In a moment of desperation, he began to write, never really expecting a reply.

When Penny’s undertaking leads her to the intriguing man who touched her soul with his words, everything grows more complicated. She wants to find the rightful owner of the letter and yet she finds herself caring–perhaps too much–for the one who wrote it.

Pre-order Yours Truly, Thomas on Amazon.

 

Please Note:  There are several more authors whose books are releasing in the next year that I am most eagerly looking forward to, but at this time their release dates are still uncertain. So I’ve limited this list to those books whose release dates are known.

Let’s Chat! 

What do you think? Have I missed any of your favorite upcoming releases? See anything here you’ll be adding to your TBR? Let me know in the comments below!

Click HERE to follow my blog and make sure you don’t miss out on any of my upcoming reviews and other fun posts!

Are you a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club member? It’s free (of course) and KRC members receive exclusive content, are eligible for exclusive seasonal book giveaways, and more! Join Today!

TWEETABLE:

Check out this list of Top 10 MUST READ Christian Romance Books for 2019! 

Top 10 Best Christian Romance Books of 2018

Top 10 Christian Romance Books Blog Post Image - 2018

As the year comes to a close, I thought I’d share with you the ten best books I read this year. . . That was the plan. If you pay close attention, however, you’ll notice that I squeezed in a bonus book which I just couldn’t bring myself to cut out. So you’re getting eleven, okay? I know the graphic up there says, “Top 10” but I’m going to go out on a limb and trust that you won’t be mad at me for giving you one additional awesome book to add to your TBR. And let me tell you, just narrowing my favorites down to such a small number was no easy feat. The process got downright painful. Every book on this list fought for its position here. If there are any titles on this list that missed your To Be Read List this year, I earnestly suggest you remedy that oversight!

(In order by author’s last name)

 

Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett

Book Quote - Where the Fire Falls - Waterfall Surrender

Stunning Yosemite National Park sets the stage for this late 1920s historical romance with mystery, adventure, heart, and a sense of the place John Muir described as “pervaded with divine light.”

Watercolorist Olivia Rutherford has shed her humble beginnings to fashion her image as an avant-garde artist to appeal to the region’s wealthy art-collectors. When she lands a lucrative contract painting illustrations of Yosemite National Park for a travel magazine, including its nightly one-of-a-kind Firefall event, she hopes the money will lift Olivia and her sisters out of poverty.

After false accusations cost him everything, former minister Clark Johnson has found purpose as a backcountry guide in this natural cathedral of granite and trees. Now he’s faced with the opportunity to become a National Parks Ranger, but is it his true calling?

As Clark opens Olivia’s eyes to the wonders of Yosemite, she discovers the people are as vital to the park’s story as its vistas–a revelation that may bring her charade to an end.

My ReviewAmazon

 

When You Look at Me by Pepper Basham

 

Book Quote - When You Look at Me - Pregnant

An unexpected mother-to-be
A romance-leery composer
And a forgotten melody from the past that holds the keys to their futures

When Julia Jenkins’ great aunt dies and leaves her a Victorian mansion with decades of secrets, Julia never expects to unearth a World War 2 espionage mystery. Struggling with her own past since an assault left her pregnant, her future as a solo parent leaves her dreams uncertain. The inheritance from her great aunt gives Julia the ability to take a step back into her future, but also sends her into the discovery of a love story she’d never anticipated. As she goes through her aunt’s treasured possessions, Julia uncovers some oddly written piano music with a musical code she can’t decipher on her own. Not to worry, introverted Englishman and composer, Henry Wright, is thrust on the scene by a pair of homespun matchmakers who know the ‘right’ man for Julia’s wounded heart.

Henry arrives in Pleasant Gap with the task of composing the soundtrack for his best mate’s newest film. The Jenkins’ family’s southern welcome and gregarious personalities set his reticent nature on edge, but he’s inexplicably drawn to his gentle and music-loving hostess, Julia. Uncertain how to build a friendship with the wounded woman, and rather hopeless in communicating well through words, the bond of music becomes a bridge between her uncertainty and his awkwardness.

But her broken past and his families’ expectations build a wall much greater than the cultures that separate them. As they work together to solve a musical mystery from the grave, will an unlikely romance from the past inspire their hearts to trust in a God who’s written the perfect melody for their lives?

My Review | Amazon

 

The Tory’s Daughter by Angela K Couch

The Tory's Daughter

Burying his wife is the hardest thing Joseph Garnet has ever done—until he’s called to leave his young son and baby daughter to fight Iroquois raiders. When one of the marauders tries to steal his horse, the last thing he expects is to end up tussling with a female. The girl is wounded, leaving Joseph little choice but to haul her home to heal—an act that seems all too familiar.

Though Joseph doesn’t appear to remember her, Hannah Cunningham could never forget him. He rode with the mob that forced her two brothers into the Continental Army and drove her family from their home—all because of her father’s loyalties to The Crown. After five years with her mother’s tribe, the rebels and starvation have left her nothing but the driving need to find her brothers.

Compelled by a secret he’s held for far too long, Joseph agrees to help Hannah find what remains of her family. Though she begins to steal into his aching heart, he knows the truth will forever stand between them. Some things cannot be forgiven.

My Review | Amazon

 

The Hope of Azure Springs by Rachel Fordham

The Hope of Azure Springs

Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.

Debut author Rachel Fordham invites historical romance readers to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where the people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love.

My Review Amazon

 

A Defense of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter

A Defense of Honor

When Katherine “Kit” FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she’s forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes much more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend’s missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she’s telling.

After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different for the first time in her life, but what she wants can’t matter. Long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. And as much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth isn’t worth putting him and everyone she loves in danger.

My Review | Amazon

 

A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears

A Chance at Forever

In early 1900s Kansas, Mercy McClain, determined to protect Teaville’s children from the bullying she experienced as a child, finds fulfillment working at the local orphanage and serving on the school board. When Aaron Firebrook, the classmate who bothered her more than any other, petitions the board for a teaching position, she’s dead set against him getting the job.

Aaron knows he deserves every bit of Mercy’s mistrust, but he’s returned to his hometown a changed man and is seeking to earn forgiveness of those he wronged. He doesn’t expect Mercy to like him, but surely he can prove he now has the best interests of the children at heart.

Will resentment and old wounds hold them back, or can Mercy and Aaron put the past behind them in time to face the unexpected threats to everything they’re working for?

My Review | Amazon

 

Engraved on the Heart by Tara Johnson

engraved on the heart cover photo

Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to keep her epilepsy secret for fear of a scandal. As the tensions of the Civil War arrive on their doorstep in Savannah, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines—until her old schoolmate Micah shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path . . . as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, until the enchanting Keziah walks back into his life and turns his well-ordered plans upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s plan amid such turbulent times.

Battling an angry fiancé, a war-tattered brother, bounty hunters, and their own personal demons, Keziah and Micah must decide if true love is worth the price . . . and if they are strong enough to survive the unyielding pain of war.

My Interview with Tara Johnson | Amazon

 

The Reluctant Groom by Kimberly Rose Johnson

The Reluctant Groom

When everything goes wrong, can two friends discover true love?

When Ray O’Brien’s world is turned upside down, Katie Fairchild wants to help, but the personal cost is high. Neither desires a marriage of convenience, but when Katie blurts the first thing that comes to her mind Ray can’t dismiss her offer of marriage. It would solve all his problems except for one thing—they aren’t in love.

Can these two friends team up for the greater good and perhaps find love along the way, or are their expectations impossible?

My Review | Amazon

 

The Ruby Knot by Jane Josephs

The Ruby Knot

Graphic Designer Katie Ryan is about to have a baby, the consequence of a romantic encounter with Navy Special Forces “boat guy” CJ Jansen in Las Vegas. Back home in San Diego, Katie is determined to get her life back on track, and finds herself drawn to pastoral intern Noah Davidson. But CJ isn’t about to ignore his son, and soon Katie finds herself torn between her feelings for two very different men. With her son’s future at stake, Katie is faced with a choice: should she stay with the plan she’s made, or follow her heart?

My Review | Amazon

 

Three Words and a Kiss by Sondra Kraak

Book Quote Image - Three Words and a Kiss - Unconventional Notion - 1

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.

Washington, 1892

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.

My Review | Amazon

 

More Than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer

More Than Meets the Eye

Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes–one bright blue, the other dark brown–Eva has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. Yet the support of even one person can help overcome the world’s judgments, and Eva has two–Seth and Zach, two former orphans she now counts as brothers.

Seeking justice against the man who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father’s death. Only instead of finding a solitary ruthless gambler, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. When Zach’s sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time their paths cross, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline?

My Review | Amazon

 

I hope you enjoyed this look back at the books I most enjoyed reading in 2018. Be sure to subscribe to my blog so you won’t miss my upcoming post, “Top Ten Christian Romance Books of 2019,” when I’ll be sharing with you the book releases I’m most eagerly anticipating in 2019.

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Let’s Chat!

Which of these books will you be adding to your TBR today? Which book did I leave out that you think should be added to this list? Tell me in the comments below!

 

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My Read Along Review – Where the Fire Falls

My Review - Read Along Review - Where the Fire Falls

As you can see in the title, today I’m trying something different. I’m calling it “My Read Along Review” because instead of reviewing the book after I’ve finished it, I’m going to try to make myself stop reading periodically and write notes on my thoughts without revealing any spoilers. My hope is to take you along on the emotional journey in a way that will help you decide whether this is the type of book you are searching for.

Why This Book?

I’m going to be honest with you. If I had not met the author at a writer’s conference I probably never would have chosen to read this book. And that is all because of the cover. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the cover, it looks more like a travel guidebook than a romantic novel, to me. It also has the word “vintage” on it. I’m just not that into vintage things. My tastes, especially in books, typically run much farther into the past.

All that said, I now know that I would have seriously missed out had I never read this book. So I am very glad I met the author. And yes, I did receive a free copy of this book.

But with that being said, while she seems to be a very nice person so far as I know, having met the author will not sway my review. I’m the kind of person who tells you when there’s lettuce in your teeth whether your my best friend or the stranger in line behind me at Walmart. So as always, I will give you, my readers, my 100% honest thoughts. If I didn’t, I would just be wasting your time and mine.

First Impressions

The first scene was interesting. I was intrigued by the heroine, her duplicitous lifestyle, and the hints about her mysterious past, but I don’t know that I was hooked yet. For this book, it is definitely the hero who pulled me in completely and kept me reading. I think he won my heart with this quote (from pg 11):

On a day like this, Clark longed to disappear into the trees, follow the streams to their sources, and not speak to another human soul for days on end.

Unfortunately, another group of tourists probably waited for him. Boorish, overly talkative city folk who spoke of “getting back to nature” and calming their nerves. Didn’t they realize the secret to tranquility resided in quiet?

Okay, yeah. I have been dealing with more than the usual amount of less-than-pleasant-people lately. Taking a trip into the woods to get away from them all for a while sounds pretty amazing right now. So the hero and I bonded right then and there.

Reading On …

Pages 16-22 are where the romance started to take shape in my mind. It’s where the hero and heroine meet and have their first few conversations and reactions to each other. There is a definite chemistry between them which, combined with obvious friction, promises for a fun story moving forward. These are two strong-willed characters with clear motivations to avoid being vulnerable with each other, nevermind developing romantic feelings.

Book Quote - Where the Fire Falls - Artist Mask

By the end of Chapter 4, a twist has been thrown in that cranks up the suspense and suddenly I don’t want to put the book down. Meanwhile, the interactions between the hero and heroine just keep getting better.

So this is a completely personal thing, but Coulterville has always been one of my favorite little towns that not everyone knows about and seeing it mentioned on page 56 totally made me grin.

The surprise near the end of Chapter 5 has me mentally rubbing my hands together in anticipation of more trouble. I think I can be forgiven my gleeful anticipation seeing as these are purely fictional characters.  Right?

Book Quote - Where the Fire Falls - Stiff Suit

I’m in Chapter 8 now and I don’t want to stop to make notes. The romance is developing nicely right along with the tension. I feel as though I’m right there in Yosemite Valley. To top it all off, another wrench has been thrown in to muck things up nicely. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

The twist at the end of Chapter 12 has left me heartbroken. I didn’t see it coming and I’m just so sad for the character primarily affected.

Chapters 13 – 18 Hmm… the detective in me is starting to put theories together. Also, things are definitely getting good in the romance department and the spiritual thread is stepping forward (but in a very natural way).

Book Quote - Where the Fire Falls - Waterfall Surrender

Chapter 20 – Oh yeah. I definitely smell a rat.

I’m near the beginning of Chapter 23 now. You know the typical movie scene that makes you want to shout at the heroine, “Don’t go in there”? Well, I’ve got a bit of that going on right now. Not in a “this-is-predictable” way, or a “she’s-so-stupid” way, but in an “Ooooh. She shouldn’t have done that. This isn’t going to go well for her. I MUST. KEEP. READING!” way.

Aaaaah! What a climax! Wow. Fantastic!

And the conclusion … *happy sigh* just perfect. Absolutely, beautifully, perfect!

Afterthoughts …

Wow, am I ever glad I had a good reason to look past that cover. This is one of my favorite reads this year! Obviously, with the time period it’s completely different from my usual fare, but even above that uniqueness is the author’s incredible skill with teasing a story forward. Just masterful! I am completely hooked and more eager than ever to read the other books by this author which are sitting on my TBR shelf! Also, I didn’t even realize this was the second book in her Vintage National Parks series until I was reading the acknowledgments at the end. Book 1, The Road to Paradise, has now been added to my TBR list and I cannot wait to get a chance to read it!

Overall Rating:

5 out of 5 stars

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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In celebration of the release of Karen Barnett’s Where the Fire Falls, her publisher is giving away inspired artwork, stationary and a copy of the new book!

FPO

CLICK HERE for more details & to enter!

Let’s Chat!

Have you ever read a book you wouldn’t normally have read just because someone asked you to or raved about it? Who recommended the book (i.e. a friend/neighbor/blogger) and how did it work out for you? 

TWEETABLES:

A masterful work of suspense and romance set against the unparalleled beauty of Yosemite National Park in the late 1920s. Don’t miss this enthralling story! (CLICK to TWEET)

Barnett paints images of God’s glory and true love without losing the shadows that bring depth to any great suspense story. (CLICK to TWEET)

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First Line Friday – 6.8.18

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Hi Everyone! It’s First Line Friday, so grab a book near you and share your first line in the comments below!

Today I’m sharing the first line from a book I recently added to my TBR, Beyond the Ashes by Karen Barnett.

Beyond the Ashes

Here is the first line:

Sacramento, California
July 6, 1906

“I refuse to attend another wedding. I’m through.”


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Where better to rebuild and face one’s fears than in 1906 San Francisco, a city rising from the ashes? Ruby Marshall, a young widow, is certain she’ll discover new purpose assisting her brother Robert with his cancer research, but she doesn’t anticipate finding new love. Dr. Gerald Larkspur dreams of filling his empty home with family, but he’d always hoped it would be a wife and children. In the aftermath of the great earthquake, the rooms are overflowing with extended family and friends left homeless by the disaster. When Robert’s widowed sister arrives, the close quarters seem close indeed. Ruby and Gerald’s fledgling romance is put at risk when Gerald develops symptoms of the very disease they’re striving to cure. Together they must ask—is it worth a second chance at love when time might be short?

AMAZON | Barnes & Noble

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Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating: