My Rapid Review – Holding the Fort

My RAPID Review - Holding the Fort

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Louisa Bell never wanted to be a dance-hall singer, but dire circumstances force her hand. With a little help from her brother in the cavalry, she’s able to make ends meet, but lately he’s run afoul of his commanding officer, so she undertakes a visit to straighten him out.

Major Daniel Adams has his hands full at Fort Reno. He can barely control his rowdy troops, much less his two adolescent daughters. If Daniel doesn’t find someone respectable to guide his children, his mother-in-law insists she’ll take them.

When Louisa arrives with some reading materials, she’s mistaken for the governess who never appeared. Major Adams is skeptical. She bears little resemblance to his idea of a governess–they’re not supposed to be so blamed pretty–but he’s left without recourse. His mother-in-law must be satisfied, which leaves him turning a blind eye to his unconventional governess’s methods. Louisa’s never faced so important a performance. Can she keep her act together long enough?

My Thoughts

Louisa Bell is tough, determined, creative, and resourceful. She is also loyal, loving, and incredibly vulnerable as a young woman with no family beyond her younger brother, Bradley Willis. Yet, she doesn’t hesitate to put her own future on the line to come to his aid. She didn’t intend to deceive anyone, but in the end, decides going along with the mistaken identity is in everyone’s best interests. As the reader, it is easy to understand how she winds up in the mess she finds herself in, and your heart is torn with hers regarding how to extricate herself with the least amount of damage.

Major Adams is an equally likable character as a widower concerned with the proper upbringing of his daughters yet not wanting to be separated from them. He is continuously harassed and second-guessed by his mother-in-law. And to top it all off, he doesn’t know what to make of the unusual governess who is far too attractive for his own good.

There are several moments of hilarity brought about by the bungled acts of deception, the antics of children, and the foolishness of pride. There are heartwarming scenes of chess games between the two main characters, bonding moments with the daughters, and loyalty between the heroine and her brother. Then there are the heartbreaking, heartstopping moments brought about by the dangers–both expected and unexpected– which originate from a variety of sources.

With well-developed characters, a plot line that grabs your heart and keeps you turning pages, humor that perfectly balances the heavier events, and descriptions that make you feel you’ve been there, Holding the Fort is yet another fantastic example of why I am such a huge a fan of Regina Jennings’s books.

Available: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Christianbooks

BONUS! It’s recently been released on Audible!!!

Additional Reading:  If you’ve already enjoyed Holding the Fort, you’ll also enjoy seeing Louisa’s brother, Private Bradley Willis, meet his match in Bound and Determined – available both individually and as part of the Hearts Entwined novella collection. (Pssst: the collection is great!!!) Also, the second full book in the Fort Reno series, The Lieutenant’s Bargain, is currently availabe for pre-order and scheduled to release December 4th.

Let’s Chat! Which of Regina’s books have you most enjoyed? 

TWEETABLE:

Yet another example of why I am such a huge fan of Regina Jennings’s books! #BookReview @ReginaJennings @KathleenDenly https://bit.ly/2wGJprA

Rapid Review Roundup

Rapid Review Roundup - Blog Header Image

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

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

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 cover image

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

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

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.

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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.

psst

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!

Christmas 2017 KRC Giveaway
Open ONLY to members of Kathleen’s Readers’ Club, so join today!

So what do you think of my rapid reviews? Would you like to see more of these or do you prefer my longer, more in-depth reviews? Which of these books most appeals to you?

First Line Friday – 6.16.17

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Can you believe we are already halfway through June? I don’t know about you, but I feel like yesterday was April. At least it’s the weekend, right? Well technically it’s Friday, but Friday is a fun day around here so I’m counting it as the start of the weekend.

This Friday I’m sharing the first line from a book I’m currently reading:  For The Record by Regina Jennings.

 

For The Record cover image

For The Record is the third book in the Ozark Mountain Romance series. Here’s the first line (okay, lines):

October 1885
Pine Gap, Missouri

Only a limited patch of Earth could claim the privelege of belonging to Texas. Not that he despised the rest of the world for its misfortune, but there was a difference.

This line could almost make the hero sound like a stuck up jerk. I haven’t read too far yet, but my impression isn’t that he’s a jerk. Just that he has a definite opinion about things. I haven’t made my mind up yet as to how much I like him. Guess I’ll just have to keep reading. 😉

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

Then head on over and share your first line with these friends:

Andi @ Radiant Light

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Trisha @ The Joy of Reading

Jeanette @ C Jane Read

Molly @ Molly’s Cafinated-Reads

CJ @ Moments Dipped In Ink

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes

First Line Friday – 3.10.17

first-line-friday-3Welcome to First Line Friday! Whether this is your first week joining us or you’ve been following all along, I hope you enjoy this week’s first lines and I’d be delighted if you would share a first line of your own! So be sure to leave me a comment before clicking over to visit my First Line Friday friends (links below).

Today I’m featuring, A Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jennings. This book made my list of the Top Ten Historical Romance Novels I read in 2016.

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Here’s the first line:

February 1865
Gratiot Street Prison
St. Louis, Missouri

“First, you’re going to write a good-bye letter to my sweetheart, and then you’re going to marry me.”

Talk about an attention grabber! This book made my list for a reason. If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend it.

Now it’s your turn! Grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first line!

Then head on over and share your First Line with these friends:

Carrie @ Reading Is My Super Power

Rachel @ Bookworm Mama

Sydney @ Singing Librarian Books

Andi @ Radiant Light

Heather @ Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Sarah @ All the Book Blog Names are Taken

Robin @ Robin’s Nest

Katie @ Fiction Aficionado

Bree @ Bibliophile Reviews

Beth @ Faithfully Bookish

Amanda @ With A Joyful Noise

Lauraine @ Lauraine’s Notes

Jessica @ A Baker’s Perspective

Top Ten MUST READ Historical Romance Novels for 2017

Top 10 Historical Romance Novels KathleenDenly.com

At the beginning of this month, I shared with you the Top Ten Best Historical Romance Novels I read during the year 2016. Today, I share with you my Top Ten MUST READ Historical Romance Novels for 2017.

1. Currency of the Heart by Loree LoughCurrency of the Heart by Loree Lough

Well, really it’s Healing of the Heart that I feel I MUST READ, but once I realized it was book #3 in the Secrets of Sterling Stree series, I knew I needed to start with book one. I’m kind of persnickety that way. So really, this entry represents three books, but if I listed out each book in the series I’d only have 7 spaces left and, well, how could I possibly fit my list into that?

Also, with Reading Is My SuperPower giving this kind of review for book #2, Guardians of the Heart, how can I resist reading them all?

“A sweet heartfelt romance that reminds us of the importance of forgiveness – of other people and especially of ourselves. With true, likable characters and a plot brimming with all the great elements of a story, Guardians of the Heart will gently refresh your soul.”

2. Stealing Jake by Pam HillmanStealing Jake by Pam Hillman

Speaking of Reading Is My SuperPower:  Carrie listed Stealing Jake by Pam Hillman as one of the Best Historical Books of 2015. I have yet to read anything by Pam Hillman and I am always looking for new authors to add to my shelf. Add to that a setting of late 1800s Illinois and this comment by Carrie:

“If you like books by Melissa Jagears or Mary Connealy, then you need to read Stealing Jake.  Trust me, it will steal your heart.”

I mean, hello. Have you seen my Top Ten Historical Romance Novels of 2016 list? This clearly needed to be on my MUST READ list.

3. The Bride Bargain by Kelly Eileen HakeThe Bride Bargain by Kelly Eileen Hake

This is Kelly Eileen Hake’s debut novel which always intrigues me. Plus I just love the premise of this book and want to see where the author takes it. Not to mention this rave review by Laura Hilton in Christian Bookworm Reviews:

“A huge family feud that includes many of the townspeople, an ornery ox, a sweet young lady, and multiple storylines combine to make this a book that I couldn’t put down. The historical details are accurate, down to names of hoax “medicines” available at the time, harvest activities, and social gatherings. The story was hilariously funny and serious by turns, and is a hit by Kelly Eileen Hake. I’m recommending this book to everyone who loves historical fiction.”

4. Bittersweet by Cathy Marie HakeBittersweet by Cathy Marie Hake

I thoroughly enjoyed Letter Perfect, the first in Cathy Marie Hake’s California Historical Series and am eager to find time to move the second book from my “To Read” shelf to my “Read” shelf.

5. Stuck Together by Mary ConnealyStuck Together by Mary Connealy

Another entry which is really representative of a series I want to read. Having already read and enjoyed the first book in Connealy’s Trouble in Texas series, I happily look forward to reading the last two books in the coming months.

6. The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection: 9 Historical Romances Begin After Saying “I Do”The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection

I love a well-written collection of historical romance novellas. They fit just perfectly on those days when I *know* better than to start something that’s going to keep me up long enough to see the dawn. You know the books I’m talking about. The wonderful thing about novellas is no matter how compelling the read, their inherent brevity ensures that I get at least a little sleep the night before an important event.

7. The Thorn Healer by Pepper D. BashamThe Thorn Healer by Pepper D Basham

The first two books in this trilogy made my list of Top Ten Historical Romance from 2016. (Just realized I actually read them in the fall of 2015 for the first time, but I loved them so much I read them again in 2016 so they still count!) I have been eagerly awaiting the release of The Thorn Healer from the moment I closed The Thorn Keeper. You can be sure I’ll be posting a review of this one once I’ve read it.

UPDATE: You can now read my full review of The Thorn Healer HERE.

8. The Captive Heart by Michelle GriepThe Captive Heart by Michelle Griep

This is another author new to me, but the premise intrigues me and the reviews I’ve read have convinced me I need to give this book a try. I especially appreciated the review by Leah at GoodBooksForTheJourney.com in which she included this intriguing detail:

” It also included a story line that illustrated how the division between England and the settlers affected the American Indian tribes.”

That’s an angle I haven’t read before.

9. Love’s Story by Dianne Christner and Strong as the Redwood by Kristin BillerbeckLove's Story by Dianne Christner with Bonus Story of Strong as the Redwood by Kristin Billerbeck

This is a two for one deal! Both books come together and both are set in the historical northern California redwoods! Hopefully, you’ve noticed by now that I’m a sucker for California history.

10. At Love’s Bidding by Regina JenningsAt Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings

Okay, you’ve caught me. This is yet another entry representing an entire series. The first book, A Most Inconvenient Marriage, made my list of Top Ten Historical Romance from 2016. So it only makes sense that I plan to read the rest of the series.

Top 10 Historical Romance Novels of 2016

Top 10 Historical Romance Novels KathleenDenly.com

Picking a Top Ten from a year’s worth of reading is almost like trying to choose a favorite among your children (the one not currently screaming or dropping food on the floor). The task is nearly impossible because they are each special in their own way, but if I had a friend who absolutely could not possibly find any way to read more than 10 books in the next year… well, first we’d have to sit down and have a serious conversation about priorities, but then I’d hand her the list of books below (in no particular order):

  1. The Thorn Bearer by Pepper D. Basham **See My Review HERE Cover Image of
  2. The Thorn Keeper by Pepper D. Basham  **See My Review HERECover image of
  3. A Most Inconvenient Marriage by Regina Jenningsa-most-inconvenient-marriage-cover
  4. The Trouble With Patience by Maggie Brendanthe-trouble-with-patience-cover
  5. From A Distance by Tamera Alexander **My Review Coming Soon!from-a-distance-cover
  6. No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyerno-other-will-do-cover
  7. Tried and True by Mary Connealytried-true-cover
  8. For Love or Loyalty by Jennifer Hudson Taylorfor-love-or-loyalty-cover
  9. A Bride For Keeps by Melissa Jagearsa-bride-for-keeps-cover
  10. A Claim of Her Own by Stephanie Grace Whitsona-claim-of-her-own-cover

And no, none of the above are affiliate links. I just love sharing fantastic books! If there are any titles listed above that haven’t made it to your “Read” shelf yet, I hope you pick one up today. Each of these books is well worth your time and money.

To see how I ranked other books I read this year, you can visit my Goodreads profile.

Soon I’ll be picking my Top Ten MUST READ books for the coming year and I’d love some input!

What books are on your MUST READ list for the coming year? Which books should I add to my list? Let me know in the comments below!