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.

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!

 

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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Check out this list of Top 10 Best Christian Romance Books of 2018! #BookReview #ChristFic #TopTen @KathleenDenly https://bit.ly/2SY2SgF

First Line Friday – 11.16.18 – SPECIAL EDITION

first-line-friday-3

Hi Everyone! If you’re new here, First Line Friday is a post where we get to share the first line from whatever book is nearest us or on our minds lately. It’s a great way to discover fantastic new reads. However, today is an extra special edition of First Line Friday because today I not only get to share the first line from one of my favorite books with you, but I also get to tell you that you can own the entire book for FREE!!! Yes, really! (ebook only)

So what is this fabulous book? It’s One Plus One Equals Trouble by Sondra Kraak, one of my favorite authors.

one plus one equals trouble

Here is the first line:

Pine Creek, Washington, 1891

Killing Edward Stevens was beyond her proper ways.

about-the-book-2

The one room schoolhouse isn’t big enough to hold thirty-four students, let alone the egos of two teachers. He can’t afford to lose the position, and she refuses to lose her heart.

Washington, 1891

Humiliated after her broken engagement, Claire Montgomery flees her comfortable life in San Francisco for a teaching position in Pine Creek, Washington, a dot of a town nestled in the rugged Cascade Mountains. She’s determined to succeed—for once in her life—only to discover, upon her arrival, that success will have to be won. Thanks to a school board error, two teachers have been hired.

When scandal forces professor Barrett Clarke from his position, he returns to Pine Creek where his uncle, chairman of the school board, sets forth an irresistible offer: teach one year in return for ranchland. For this would-be rancher, nothing is more tempting than resurrecting his childhood dream, and nothing can deter him from earning that land.

Except perhaps Claire Montgomery. Losing the battle for the classroom means losing the ranchland, but winning may mean losing Claire’s heart.

With large doses of humor and romantic tension, this Christian historical love story offers a picture of grace, forgiveness, and finding true worth.

46453306_10217300319999939_3826314577923014656_n

 

So what are you waiting for? This fabulous book is only free for three days: November 16, 17 & 18!

Click on the link below or the picture above to grab your FREE copy!

AMAZON

New here? Like what you see?

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

Become 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 – 6.29.18

first-line-friday-3

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 some very exciting news from one of my favorite authors, Sondra Kraak!

Two Ways Home, the second book in her Love That Counts series will be FREE July 4th-6th!!!!

CLICK HERE to grab your copy! 🙂

In celebration of this special offer, I am featuring not one first line, but three first lines – one from each book in the Love That Counts series.

one-plus-one-equals-trouble-cover-image
Made me want more!

Here’s the first line:

Pine Creek, Washington 1891

Killing Edward Stevens was beyond her proper ways.

about-the-book-2
The one-room schoolhouse isn’t big enough to hold thirty-four students, let alone the egos of two teachers. He can’t afford to lose the position, and she refuses to lose her heart.

Washington, 1891

Humiliated after her broken engagement, Claire Montgomery flees her comfortable life in San Francisco for a teaching position in Pine Creek, Washington, a dot of a town nestled in the rugged Cascade Mountains. She’s determined to succeed—for once in her life—only to discover, upon her arrival, that success will have to be won. Thanks to a school board error, two teachers have been hired.

When scandal forces professor Barrett Clarke from his position, he returns to Pine Creek where his uncle, chairman of the school board, sets forth an irresistible offer: teach one year in return for ranchland. For this would-be rancher, nothing is more tempting than resurrecting his childhood dream, and nothing can deter him from earning that land.

Except perhaps Claire Montgomery. Losing the battle for the classroom means losing the ranchland, but winning may mean losing Claire’s heart.

With large doses of humor and romantic tension, this Christian historical love story offers a picture of grace, forgiveness, and finding true worth.

Read the reviews HERE. Grab your copy HERE.


two-ways-home-cover-image
Made me a fan!

Here’s the first line:

Pine Creek, Washington 1884

“He loves me. He loves me not.”

about-the-book-2

She’s about to lose her home. He never wanted to see his again. And a stalker is staking a claim . . .

Washington, 1892

Mary Smith was never one to back down from a challenge. Her father’s health may be failing, but their dairy farm was her mother’s dream, and Mary will do whatever it takes to keep her father from selling it—even if it means sneaking off to the next town to earn money by playing the piano in a questionable establishment. No one seems to understand why home is so important to her, least of all her childhood nemesis who’s just wandered back into town.

When injured Texas Ranger Luke Thomas is forced to return to Pine Creek, Washington, he’s hailed as a hero and thrust into the town’s first race for sheriff. But no one knows the secret he carried to Texas, nor the secret he’s brought home. Setting his perfect aim on returning south, he refuses to get tied down by the town’s admiration, his brother’s disapproval, or the spirited, hardworking dairy girl who’s less annoying than he remembers.

But strange things are happening at the Smith dairy and in Pine Creek, and Luke’s instincts tell him Mary is in far more trouble than she realizes. One thing is certain: “home” is about to get more complicated for them both.

Full of wit and romantic tension, this Christian historical love story sets forth the true meaning of coming home.

Read the reviews HERE. Grab your copy HERE.


Three Words and a Kiss

Here is the first line:

Seattle, Washington July, 1892
The first stars pricked through the skies fading canvas as Samantha Klein approached the intersection of Washington and First Avenue, looked both ways, and crossed a line.

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.

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.

Read my review HERE. Grab your copy HERE!

Easily three of my favorite reads, you cannot go wrong with this marvelous series!

Do not miss out on this opportunity to grab one of my favorite books for FREE!!!


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? 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:

Cover Challenge

Cover Challenge

They say covers sell books and designing them takes a special skill. So I’m curious:  How much attention do we actually pay to those slaved-over images?

Below are pieces of book covers from Christian romance books which have been released within the last 12 months (May 2017-May 2018). Can you name each book from just a tiny peek at the cover? To make things easier, there is a list to choose from below the images.

AAn Unexpected Redemption - Puzzle Piece

BThe Captured Bride - Puzzle Piece

CThree Words and a Kiss - Puzzle Piece

DNo Other Will Do - Puzzle Piece

EThe Backcountry Brides Collection - Puzzle Piece

FThe Lady and the Lionheart - Puzzle Piece

GThis Wilderness Journey - Puzzle Piece

HLove Held Captive - Puzzle Piece

ICharming the Troublemaker - Puzzle Piece

JA Heart's Revolution - Puzzle Piece

Your possible answers in no particular order:

  1. Charming the Troublemaker by Pepper D. Basham
  2. Three Words and a Kiss by Sondra Kraak
  3. The Backcountry Brides Collection by Angela K. Couch, Debra E. Marvin, Shannon McNear, Gabrielle Meyer, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Jennifer Hudson Taylor, Pegg Thomas, Denise Weimer
  4. No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer
  5. An Unexpected Redemption by Davalynn Spencer
  6. The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep
  7. This Wilderness Journey by Misty M. Beller
  8. A Heart’s Revolution by Roseanna M. White
  9. The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof
  10. Love Held Captive by Shelley Shepard Gray

See the full covers HERE!

Let’s chat!

How did you do? Did you guess them all? Did any of them stump you?

First Line Friday – 3.2.18

first-line-friday-3

Welcome to First Line Friday! Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. In return, I hope you’ll share with me a first line from whatever book you have at hand!

If you’re a bibliophile, you probably have a list of authors whose books you’ll buy simply because they wrote them and you know that means you’re in for a great read. You don’t even need to read the blurb, really. You just know it’s going to be good. Well, for me, Sondra Kraak is one of those authors. So you can imagine how over the moon I was when I finally got my hands on a copy of her upcoming release, Three Words and a Kiss! I already shared my full review of this book on February 12th, but the book wasn’t officially released then, and it is now, so I’m talking about it again because I don’t want anyone to miss out on this fantastic read!

Three Words and a Kiss

Here is the first line:

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.

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.

Be sure to sign up to follow my blog so you don’t miss out on my full review of this exciting upcoming release!

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

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

 

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)

Three Words and A Kiss Book Review Promo Image

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 !

Summer Reading Roundup 2017 +GIVEAWAY!

Summer Reading Roundup 2017 +Giveaway

Hey everybody! Guess what today is? My birthday! So I thought I’d celebrate by sharing the list of books I’ll be reading this summer and giving away a book to one of you awesome readers! (Read through to the bottom for giveaway details.)

Since I will be traveling to China for an adoption next month, I won’t have as much free time to read this summer as I normally would. Therefore, this year’s list is somewhat limited, but here are the books I am hoping to get to:

Love Held Captive

Love Held Captive by Shelley Shepard Gray

Why:  I requested a free copy of this book from NetGalley to review because the premise intrigued me. Then I opened it to read the first line for an FLF post and couldn’t put it down! I made myself stop after 3 chapters because I have other books to finish first, but I can’t wait to get back to this one.

About the Book: 

After the War Between the States, a Confederate officer longs to heal the heart of a beautiful woman—but first he’ll have to right the wrongs that were done to her.

Major Ethan Kelly has never been able to absolve himself of the guilt he feels for raiding a woman’s home shortly before he was taken prisoner during the Civil War. He is struggling to get through each day until he once again crosses paths with Lizbeth Barclay—the very woman he is trying to forget.

Life after the war is not much different for former Captain Devin Monroe until he meets Julianne VanFleet. He knows she is the woman he’s been waiting for, but he struggles to come to terms with the sacrifices she made to survive the war.

When Ethan and Devin discover that their former colonel, Adam Bushnell, is responsible for both Lizbeth’s and Julianne’s pain, they call on their former fellow soldiers to hunt him down. As the men band together to earn the trust of the women they love, Lizbeth and Julianne seek the justice they deserve in a country longing to heal.

The Lady and the Lionheart

The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

Why:  This one has made several rounds to rave reviews on the book blogger circuit, which got it on my TBR pile. Then I discovered the author is a fellow member of the San Diego Christian Writer’s Guild and met some of her friends at the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference last month. That made me curious enough to open it and read the first few pages. What I read moved it toward the top of my TBR pile. 🙂 I’m really looking forward to this one!

About the Book: 

Virginia, 1890

Raised amid the fame and mystique of the Big Top, Charlie Lionheart holds the audience in the palm of his hand. But while his act captivates thousands, it’s away from the spotlight where his true heart lies. Here he humbly cares for his pride of lions as if they were his brothers, a skill of bravery and strength that has prepared him for his most challenging feat yet—freeing an orphaned infant from the dark bondage of a sideshow. A trade so costly, it requires his life in exchange for hers, leaving him tarnished by the price of that choice.

As the circus tents are raised on the outskirts of Roanoke, nurse Ella Beckley arrives to tend to this Gypsy girl. All under the watchful eye of a guardian who not only bears a striking resemblance to the child, but who protects the baby with a love that wraps around Ella’s own tragic past, awakening a hope that goodness may yet reign. When their forbidden friendship deepens, Charlie dares to ask for her heart, bringing her behind the curtain of his secret world to reveal the sacrifice that gave hope to one little girl—boldly showing Ella that while her tattered faith is deeply scarred, the only marks that need be permanent are his own.

Finders Keepers and All of You by Sarah Monzon

Why:  I loved her debut novel, The Isaac Project, so when I was offered the opportunity to be part of an upcoming tour for All of You, I jumped on it! Of course, I much prefer reading series books in order (even if they can be read as stand alones), so I am going to try to read Finders Keepers first. The fact that Finders Keepers won the 2017 SELAH award for contemporary romance, is just added assurance that this will be time well spent.

About the Books: 

Finders Keepers

Three lives. Three hundred years. One ship that ties them together.

Florida, Present Day
Summer Arnet will go anywhere to capture the perfect shot that will get her marine photography noticed by the prestigious nature magazine, Our World–even diving in waters haunted by great white sharks. When a treasure hunter with a ladies’-man reputation approaches her about a sunken ship at one of her dive locations, it may be the chance she’s been looking for to launch her career…if his charming smile doesn’t derail her first.

A past tragedy has left a hole in Trent Carrington’s life–a hole he’s tried to fill with women, money, and adventure. Could the feisty marine photographer be the missing piece, or will Trent finally accept that the treasure he seeks can’t be found where rust and moths destroy?

Spain, 1689
The same evil that stole her mother’s life stalks Isabella Castellano. Afraid for her safety, Isabella disguises herself as a cabin boy and hires on to one of His Majesty’s treasure fleet vessels. But has her flight from a known threat only led her to be ensnared in a sea of dangers?

All of You

Maryland, Present Day

Jacquelyn Rogers can rebuild anything…except the shambles of her past. A restorer of vintage planes, she’s worked hard to earn the reputation of being one of the guys. The last thing she needs is a former Navy pilot fighting his own inner demons stepping in to defend her from dangers she thought she’d outrun long ago. Some battles must be fought alone.

After a freak accident severs Lieutenant Michael “Finch” Carrington’s dreams, as well as two limbs, he’s left with nothing but a fragile faith and a duty-bound promise to watch out for his friend’s baby sister. A promise she insists is as unnecessary as it is unappreciated. But when she turns the tables and begins to weld together the broken parts of his life, it may be his heart that is in need of protection.

England, 1944

With the world at war yet again, Alice Galloway rejects her father’s traditional expectations and offers her piloting expertise to the Air Transport Auxiliary. She may be a woman in a man’s world, but when she overhears key intelligence, she must find the strength to transcend boundaries and her own fears. Or countless people may die.

Sometimes the past reaches forward to bring hope to the future.

Carolina Dream

Carolina Dream by Regina Rudd Merrick

Why:  I recently won a free copy of this book from the God Is Love blog. It’s a debut novel (I love reading new authors), the premise sounds interesting, the reviews so far have been positive, and the first few pages read well.

About the Book: 

Sarah Crawford wants more from life than to attend the wedding of her ex-fiancée. An unexpected inheritance in South Carolina comes at the perfect time, just as Sarah is willing to use any excuse to get out of town.

When she meets potential business partner Jared Benton and discovers that a house is part of the inheritance, she is sure that God has been preparing her for this time through a recurring dream. But will a dream about an antebellum mansion, many rooms to be explored, and a man with dark brown eyes give her the confidence to take a leap of faith, leaving friends, family, and her job behind?

The Captive Brides Collection

The Captive Brides Collection by Jennifer AlLee, Angela Breidenbach, Susan Page Davis, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hicky, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Lucy Thompson, and Gina Welborn

Why:  I was perusing NetGalley for books to request for review and found the premise for this novella collection to be intriguing. I am also fairly sure I haven’t read anything by any of these authors before, so it will be a good way to know whether I should be looking for more of their work in the future. Plus, a novella collection might be just the thing to fit between appointments near the end of summer.

About the Book: 

Love Brings Freedom in 9 Historical Romances

Journey along as nine historical women are about to make their escape from some of life’s greatest challenges. Can their captive hearts be freed to dream, to dare, to love?

Love’s Labour’s Found by Jennifer AlLee – Montserrat, West Indies, 1655
Temperance Simms only wanted a better life. Instead, she finds herself labeled a criminal and sold as an indentured servant. After a kind man saves her life, can Temperance trust that God will turn her sorrow into something beautiful?

His Indentured Bride by Angela Breidenbach – Pennsylvania, 1770-1775
Leaving Scotland for a short indenture with her betrothed, Maire Gree’s contract is sold when disaster strikes her kindly owner, and then extended through cruel circumstances. Can Kirk Lachlan’s service in the American Revolution save her or will she lose love and freedom forever?

The Suspect Bride by Susan Page Davis – Oregon, 1890s
Verity Ames cooks at the restaurant where shy lawyer Jack Whitwell eats lunch daily. As Jack works up courage to ask her for a date, the sheriff walks into the restaurant and arrests her for murder.

His Golden Treasure by Darlene Franklin – Barbary Coast, San Francisco, CA, 1873
Goldie Hatfield grows up on in the Barbary Coast until her guardian demands she pay the cost of her upbringing—or work at her brothel. How far will Pastor Joshua Kerr go to set Goldie free?

Through Stormy Waters by Patty Smith Hall – Atlantic Ocean, 1755
Deported to the British colonies for her father’s crimes, Charlotte Singleton helps Captain Andrew Randell when an epidemic breaks out on the ship. Can two battered hearts find love in the midst of a storm?

Moira’s Quest by Cynthia Hickey – New York, 1869
A quest for revenge ends in a marriage of convenience and a feisty Irish lass discovers that not everything is as it seems as family secrets are revealed. An Irish cop, bent on saving the fallen women of Five Points, New York, finds himself thrust into the role of husband with a woman determined to break down a notorious crime boss. Can these two pull together and find a love bigger than they are?

Love’s Escape by Carrie Fancett Pagels – Virginia, 1850
With her life in peril, Lettie seeks escape from slavery. When Nathan offers to “conduct” her North via an unusual segment on the Underground Railroad, will his efforts help or do them both harm?

Waltzing Matilda by Lucy Thompson – Sydney, Australia, 1821
Henry didn’t plan on a runaway convict masquerading as a shepherd. Or on the woman’s baby. Keeping them safe will cost him his freedom—or will it?

A Score to Settle by Gina Welborn – On the Missouri River, 1870
For JoJo the kiss was a means to an end—she wanted his wallet. For Cyrus her kiss changed everything. He vows to help her escape the snake oil salesman she works for, but exposing the man’s lies may mean settling a score at a cost neither JoJo nor Cyrus can pay.

Finding Love At the Oregon Coast

Finding Love at the Oregon Coast – a novella collection by Angela Ruth Strong, Christina Coryell, Heather Whoodhaven,  and Lisa Phillips

Why:  When I was researching the small publishing company, Mountain Brook Ink, in preparation for attending the SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference where the owner would be available for appointments, I discovered this collection with a novella by Christina Coryell. I recognized Coryell’s name as the author of one of my favorite stories (Mowed Over) from the Love at First Laugh novella collection.  So I bought this one because I liked one of the authors (I don’t recognize the others).

About the Book: 

When a wedding is cancelled, three bridesmaids and a runaway bride contemplate the true meaning of love in four related romance novellas.

By Heather Woodhaven–Finding Love in Lincoln City: Liz feels stuck at her little beach magazine until a handsome rival sparks more than just friendly competition.

By Lisa Phillips–Finding Love in Oceanside: Anabeth is looking to get out of her rut when a fender bender and a bizarre date with a former marine leads her to a life of love she could never have imagined.

By Christina Coryell–Finding Love in Cannon Beach: Kadence feels the pressure to write a perfect love song, but an unexpected meeting with a musician will have her living one instead.

By Angela Ruth Strong–Finding Love in Seaside: Christina plans to spend her honeymoon alone, but when the bed and breakfast owner offers her a position as cook, she starts to feel at home in his kitchen…and in his arms.

 

One Thousand White Women

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus

Why:  I stumbled across this one purely by chance on Amazon and found the premise positively fascinating.

About the Book:

One Thousand White Women is the story of May Dodd and a colorful assembly of pioneer women who, under the auspices of the U.S. government, travel to the western prairies in 1875 to intermarry among the Cheyenne Indians. The covert and controversial “Brides for Indians” program, launched by the administration of Ulysses S. Grant, is intended to help assimilate the Indians into the white man’s world. Toward that end May and her friends embark upon the adventure of their lifetime. Jim Fergus has so vividly depicted the American West that it is as if these diaries are a capsule in time.

Important UPDATE Note:  While I was aware that One Thousand White Women was written for the general market, as opposed to a Christian audience, at the time this post was originally written,  I was unaware of its occasional use of profanity and reference to subjects which some Christians may find distasteful or offensive. Consider yourself warned. This book made my DNF (Did Not Finish) list.

Turtles in the Road

Turtles in the Road by Rhonda Rhea & Kaley Rhea

Why:  This one was highly recommended on a fellow FLF blog and sounds like a fun read with a sense of humor.

About the Book: 

Sometimes a detour takes you exactly where you need to be.

Piper Cope was so sure the Lord called her to be a pastor’s wife. So when her pastor/fiancé breaks it off, she’s every kind of puzzled. Does God even have a purpose for her anymore? On the road halfway between the bridges she’s burned and some kind of new start, she encounters the most unexpected detour. She swerves on a rainy road to miss a turtle and ends up in a ditch with an airbag to the face. Now stuck in this little town, she wonders how in the world she could’ve gotten her God-signals so very crossed. And how in the world is she supposed to know what He wants her to do now? In the meantime, at least the community center guy, Jay Marler, has her working a temporary job there. Problem is, somehow she’s coaching a children’s basketball team. She does not…basketball. And she certainly does not children.

Beneath the golden veil

Beneath a Golden Veil by Melanie Dobson

Why:  The connection to an lesser known part of California’s nineteenth century history will get me every time.

About the Book: 

As elegant as the Sacramento residence she operates, Isabelle Labrie keeps her past concealed, like the treasure she hides under the Golden Hotel. It’s 1853, the heyday of the California Gold Rush. Isabelle is full of hope, staking her claim on the city’s refined clientele and her future on a sweetheart’s promise to marry her when he returns from the gold fields. Then, unexpected guests—fugitive slaves seeking safe passage to the North—force her to confront her past and reconsider her path.

While Isabelle learns to trust God’s provisions, a law student in Virginia must confront his father’s cruelty and rescue a young slave from his family’s tobacco plantation. As the two escape to freedom, and Isabelle risks everything to harbor runaway slaves, the past and present are set on an inevitable collision course—one that reveals hidden treasures of the heart.

from this moment

From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden

Why:  I recently finished reading Against the Tide and want to read more of Elizabeth Camden’s work, plus I was able to snag this one on Audible which means I can listen to it while I do laundry or whatever brainless chore is taking me away from my precious books.

About the Book: 

Romulus White has tried for years to hire illustrator Stella West for his renowned scientific magazine. She is the missing piece he needs to propel his magazine to the forefront of the industry.

But Stella abruptly quit the art world and moved to Boston with a single purpose: to solve the mysterious death of her beloved sister. Romulus, a man with connections to high society and every important power circle in the city, could be her most valuable ally.

Sparks fly the instant Stella and Romulus join forces, and Romulus soon realizes the strong-willed and charismatic Stella could disrupt his hard-won independence. Can they continue to help each other when their efforts draw the wrong kind of attention from the powers-that-be and put all they’ve worked for at risk?

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Three Words and a Kiss by Sondra Kraak

Why: I loved the first two books in Sondra’s Love That Counts series!

About the Book:  Although a little birdy told me to expect this release near the end of summer, it isn’t even out for pre-order yet so I don’t know much about this one. I only know what Sondra shared in her interview with me:

In Three Words and a Kiss (this year’s release), my hero Cam experiences an identity crisis. His safe, routine life is turned upside down when the owner of his blacksmith shop, Samantha Klein, comes to town. Samantha’s nickname is Sam. I wanted their names to rhyme so that Cam feels like even something as fundamental as his name is being stripped from him (she doesn’t like how their names sound alike and asks him to change his. What?! He’s not going for that).

Looking for more reading suggestions? Check out these post by fellow Christian Fiction lovers:

My Top 10 Anticipated Summer Reads & Why They Made the Cut by Chautona Havig

2017 Summer Reading List by Radiant Light

Summer Reading Roundup by Moments Dipped In Ink

Summer Reading List 2017 by A Baker’s Perspective

 

giveaway-5

How it works:

STEP 1 – Tweet or post (publicly) on Facebook the answer to this question & TAG ME @KathleenDenly :

  1. Which book would you like to win a copy of? (You may pick any book from this post OR any book which I have previously reviewed on this blog!)

(Your tweet/FB post could read:  I’m hoping to win BOOK TITLE HERE from @KathleenDenly!)

STEP 2 –  Leave a comment on this post with the answer to this question –

  1. Which of the books in my Summer Reading Roundup 2017 post sound the most appealing to you? (I will add the most popular book to my list of books to review here on the blog!)

RULES:

MUST complete both steps to enter. Shares and comments must be complete by midnight July 17th! Winner will be announced in a special post on this blog July 19th. Winner must contact me at writeKathleenDenly@gmail.com within 24 hours of the announcement and provide an email address for prize delivery.

WINNER WILL RECEIVE:  1 digital copy of their chosen book delivered to their email via Amazon.