Thursday, 15 February 2018

Hearts Entwined - Historical Romance Novellas : Witemeyer, Connealy, Jennings, Jagears

The Love Knot: Karen Witemeyer

Since moving from the slums of New York on a fool hardy whim, Claire Nevin has worried about her family she left behind, especially as her father was prone to drink away the hard-earned money that she sent back. So, when a letter arrives from her younger sister, Polly, admitting she’s in trouble, the last thing Claire expects to see walking off the train is Pieter Duran. A man she dated once, but who still holds her heart.

The package he bought is even more surprising and one that turns Claire’s world upside down. However, family is important and she is determined to help Polly. There is a high possibility that Pieter will be able to explain what happened all those years ago between them and that, Claire fears, will mean that there is no reason to not continue to love him.
A sweet novella centering around vibrant characters. 
The Tangled Ties that Bind: Mary Connealy
Returning home after five years determined to win the heart of his best friend, Maggie, Connor Kincaid knows he’s older and possibly wiser, and therefore ready to settle down to be a rancher.

But when he arrives, besides having to steer clear of a buffalo, he finds Maggie, beautiful as ever, only she’s training to be a doctor. Connor expected her to be waiting for him - should he have been na├»ve to think that?

Maggie will not compromise. She waited for a long time for Connor but no more. Set on a new path to being medically trained, she’s not going to let anyone, even the handsome Connor sway her. When Connor decides to join her in Denver, their lives take an unexpected turn.

A story fuelled by family loyalty, responsibilities and underlying sexism.

Bound and Determined: Regina Jennings
Private Bradley Willis has been reckless – again. This time the punishment is to help retired officer, Captain Herald move a herd across Indian Territory. Expecting cattle, he’s surprised to find camels. They’re not the most attractive of creatures and they spook the horses. Even more of a surprise is the Captain’s vivacious daughter, Ambrosia. For reasons yet unknown, she doesn’t want the camels to head back to her home – she’s managed to scare off a bunch of cowboys. But, Bradley doesn’t scare off easily.

Picking up from the new series by Jennings, Private Willis escapades are taken down a notch or two when he meets a beautiful woman. 

Tied and True: Melissa Jagears

Marianne Lister is helplessly in love with business assistant Calvin Hochstetler. The only thing getting in their way is Calvin’s obstinacy over the difference in status. Marianne is heiress to the Lister fortune and Calvin has just enough money to live on.

Calvin knows what it’s like to live hand to mouth and he doesn’t want Marianne to ever experience that want. He lets her down gently and hopes, no matter how it hurts, that she meets someone who will give her the life she deserves. Determined to prove that love can cross the class barrier, Marianne starts work at a cotton factory. Will Calvin see that the woman he’s in love with cannot be compared to the mother who abandoned him when they became too poor?

An unexpected premise of class being an obstruction to being happy.

These four stand alone novellas all have likeable characters and good plots. They cram a lot in to a short story and whilst I found that it gave a slightly hurried feel to the stories, nothing was really lost. There is a link to previous novels, but the stories still work and if anything, encouraged me to read the authors other novels. Overall, they are all well written and I think a good introduction for anyone wanting to read historical romances and not sure where to start.

I received a complimentary copy of this book to review from Bethany House Publishers as part of their blogger program. The opinions express are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique. 

Monday, 8 January 2018

Holding the Fort (BK 1 The Fort Reno Series) – Regina Jennings

When Louisa Bell loses her job at the Cat-Eye saloon, as a dance hall singer, her options available as to what to do next, are few. Cimarron Ted then tells her he hears news that her brother, Bradley Willis a Calvary soldier in Indian Territory, is in trouble - again. 
Having lost her job, Louisa thought she'd visit Bradley, but this will be a problem if he’s in trouble. But Louisa is determined to set him on the straight and narrow – and hopefully ask for a job.
On her way to Fort Reno, she makes her acquaintance with Mrs. Townsend. A missionary on her way to the Fort to be a governess. Unfortunately, the dust is playing havoc with the older lady's allergies and she asks Louisa to take the books she bought with her to the girls.
Whilst waiting for the next stagecoach, and able to sing in a wide-open field, the young woman happens upon a man standing on top of a horse only for him to fall. As she rushes to help him, she not only wonders who he is, but notices his handsome features.
The last thing Major Daniel Adams expects to see is a beautiful woman in the middle of a field, singing. But the trick he’s doing, in grudging deference to Private Willis, has been on his mind. If a Private can do this, whilst drunk, surely, he can? It’s a break from everything else. Running a Fort with half an army, ensuring tensions don’t escalate between the army, cowboys and the Indian’s. And then there are his two young girls. If this new governess doesn’t work out, he knows his mother -in-law will insist on raising them away from the ravages of the fort in Galveston.  
With the exception of Lieutenant Jack Hennessey’s knowledge of the incident, when Louisa and Daniel finally meet, their recognition of who they are is a secret they have to maintain. Hoping the incident will become a distant memory for him, the Commander is somewhat surprised to discover that Louisa is to be the new governess. Not only is she a lot younger than he expected a governess to be, but she’s also quite beautiful.
Expecting to meet children, Louisa is surprised to find Caroline and Daisy a lot older and it causes concern for the young woman. Once thing Louisa prides herself on is being able to put on a show. But will these, vibrant, willful and intelligent girls see through her act?
Whilst the saloon singer’s intention is to set her brother on the right path, Louisa finds herself getting more involved with the Commanders family – something she wasn’t planning on.
Soon enough Louisa betrays her roots and slips up here and there, however, Daniel is fine to look the other way. There is something about his new governess that he likes, admires. Maybe she will work out as the new governess. Can Louisa convince her new employer that she has the makings of a governess? Or will her past come back to haunt her and ruin her life for good?
A heartwarming story of love, family and the wild west. Jennings' characters have a realistic quality to them, have depth and are well thought out. The secondary plot line of tensions between the Indians and Cowboys is a good break but works together with the main story in a climax that I didn't fully expect. Easy to read, engaging and well written. A recommended read.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House as part of their blogging program. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Death at Thorburn Hall - Julianna Deering

What was meant to be a pleasant holiday in the Scotland, enjoying the British Open of 1935, suddenly turns into something quite murderous.

Drew Fathering accepts the invitation to stay at his cousins house - Lord and Lady Rainsby and takes with him his wife Madeline and friend Nick Dennison, and their friend Carrie Holland joins them. Also arriving are dear friends of Lady Louisa - Mr. and Mrs. Pike, and in tow with them is one Count Kuznetsov.

When Lord Gerald takes Drew into his confidence one evening, the last thing the reluctant investigator expects is for his host to be killed in a riding accident soon after. It's only considered suspicious when the Rainsby's daughter, Joan, returns home and insists that her father was an excellent rider and would have checked the saddle before embarking on a ride.

With the help of his beloved wife, the duo embark on an investigation without support of the local police force. But Drew, ever affable, finds friends amongst the force who are willing to assist him and discuss the case.

As they delve deeper in to what may have happened, so the horrid truth that someone amongst them may be sharing secrets with Hitler's Germany. Is this case one of collaboration with the enemy or something more 'mundane' and that of money, status and possibly forbidden love?

Deering's novel and her main character, Drew (as well as era), are reminiscent of Campion or Marple. The amateur sleuth who understands the human psyche and therefore can solve the case a lot quicker than the police. The author's characters are well developed, interesting and likeable. The subplot of whether Nick and Carrie will cement their relationship with marriage, is a good distraction. Filled with red herrings, this mystery is a puzzler and whilst the perpetrator may become obvious towards the end, the why is the main selling point for this story. A highly recommended read for all fans of mysteries, British based stories and good writing.

I received a complimentary copy of this book to review from Bethany House as part of their blogging program. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique. 

May the Faith Be with You - NIrV

An obvious play on Star Wars, of course, but this version of the Bible, aimed at young children (ages 6-10) works.

Dispersed throughout are 'stand alone' pages entitled 'Use the Force', 'Ways of Wisdom' and 'Master Moment'. These pages highlight the areas of the Bible that the reader may find useful. For example, on one of these pages, it asks "what does the bible say about": and lists a number of feelings and issues that someone may be experiencing such as anger, happiness, death, love, revenge and where to find the guiding passage, be it from Psalm's, Matthew or Deuteronomy.

This a well thought out Bible. It guides the reader to not only look at the main text of the Word, but aides a young person in finding spiritual guidance. I really liked that it asked questions such as 'Who is God' and offered passages to read and consider if you're feeling lonely, jealous or struggling to be honest. Whilst its geared at young readers, it would work for anyone of any age (especially Star Wars fans!). A recommended read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Handlebar Publishing in exchange for a review. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique. 

Friday, 17 November 2017

King Harald's Snow Job

The boss is planning a weekend away to catch up with friends, go to a concert, have good food and maybe even a new woman to date at the end of it. And, I get to go, so thinks the affable, King Harold. 'The Boss' is Andy (Anders) Skyberg, almost reluctant Mayor of a New Bergen, is packing to leave as soon as he makes a stop to help his Aunt Bev with a Holiday Faire. What could go wrong?

Plenty. Firstly, the weekend has been coupled with 'The Girls Weekend Out' - a two night stay with lots of different activities planned. Secondly, Rosemary, the woman in charge of the faire, is recuperating after falling off her bike. This means, Aunt Bev is now responsible for managing the whole event. And with Tim, the smarmy hotel manager, keen to see her fail, Anders insists on making sure it all goes well for his beloved aunt. 

With popular novelist, Logan Kennedy arriving to add to the festivities, it should make for a fun weekend for all. And then a blizzard blows in to town and it's now open season for mayhem. All manner of secrets are discovered on the snowy weekend - suggested affairs, odd tattoos and missing jewelry. And with King Harald sniffing out (and hiding) a key piece of evidence, what should have been a straightforward helping hand, turns into a complicated mystery for man and his best friend. 

I love King Harald. He's amiable, inquisitive and a genius in his own right. What I particularly like about this great series is that Audry doesn't humanize King Harald. What he thinks is what I would imagine a dog saying to himself. And that's why this works. Anders may well solve the mystery, but he has a lot of help from his faithful friend. A great story and highly recommended for fans of cozy mysteries. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author to review. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The Sky Beneath - Jason Warne

The memory of his Grandpa hauling a minivan away from a cliff-side, as if picking up a piece of paper, is revitalized in Adam’s memory when he visits him hospital.

A man who was his hero, is seemingly struggling to hold on to life.  But something isn’t right. And it’s highlighted when his grandfather asks him to pass him some pills when they’re alone.

Struggling with low blood sugar, Adam wonders whether he can talk to Dr. Bowie, but something holds him back. His Aunt Jessica and Uncle Deacon have always been there, ever since his parents died in that minivan, will they be there for him now?

All his life, Adam has wondered what was wrong. He knew something was going on, but he couldn’t define it. Flashes of his father asking him to run until he was lost, haunt him. What did all of that mean?

Events begin to unfold where Adam, finds a new strength that he was unaware of, a strength he was told to repress. When the love his life, Jaime, whom he has never actually told her how he felt, turns out to be the friend who always looked out for him. Together, with her boyfriend, Tim, the three escape the men chasing them.

Who are these men? What do they want? So many questions whirl around Adam’s young mind. The leader of the group, Jacob, is determined to find all Adam’s kind and destroy them, but to what end. Can Adam survive the fragility of this life?

It took me a while to get into this book. More than likely, because I am not a fan of science fiction, I didn’t take to this story straightaway. However, I felt the plot was good. It felt a little disjointed but Warne’s characters are all developed and the story has real depth and meaning. The overall theme of the story was love and friendship and family although it’s not immediately obvious. A recommended read for sci-fi fans.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Two of Us - Victoria Bylin

Sitting in a Las Vegas diner, watching a man in a cowboy hat, win one stuffed toy after another from a vending machine, Mia Robinson is fascinated at his skills. The last thing she expected was to talk to him.

After two failed engagements, the young, soon to be thirty, woman has sworn off relationships. Her focus is on God and forging a new career. So why is she in 'Sin City'? Because her 18-years-old sister is about to get married. To a man Mia hasn't met. And, to make things more problematic, she's pregnant.

Mia - steadfast, reliable, reluctant to show emotions - is worried about Lucy. Raising her, she knows Lucy is the sister who wears her heart on her sleeve, is driven by impulsive behavior. Should she be surprised that she's both with child and getting married so young?

Jake Tanner, solid, reliable and due to tragic circumstances resulting in a work injury, left the police force. He also left with a purpose. Although physically recovered, he has yet to placate his soul. Finding comfort in looking out for his partners son, Sam, he is more than happy to be there in Vegas to watch Sam marry Lucy. Although the wedding is on his mind, his determination to open a camp for boys who lost their parent in a police incident, is never far from his thoughts. But the small community of Echo Falls, is not so keen.

With differing opinions on the forthcoming marriage, Mia and Jake form an awkward friendship. Awkward because they soon realize that they have feelings for each other. But with Mia's reluctance and past hurts, plus her ambition to join a medical organization that would involve international travel, she knows it would be wrong to commit to anything or anyone. As for Jake, not only does he have concerns over the camp he wishes to start, but he is also worried about the decline of his mother due to Alzheimer's.

When her interview with Mission Medical causes her to reevaluate her life, she moves to Echo Falls. There, Jake and her lives entwine even further. Will they overcome the obstacles they have set up for themselves? Or will they allow God to show them the path they should follow, a path that will lead to love, harmony, peace and happiness?

As odd as it sounds, it's been a long time since I've read a Christian fiction novel with God and faith having a prominent position in the plot. Not overbearing in the slightest, but rather added lovely warmth and real depth that Mia, Jake and their families hold their faith in deep regard.

Bylin has created a compassionate, touching, and heartfelt story, whose narrative is honest and unapologetic. An excellent mix of characters and real-life situations, filled with funny and loving moments. A highly recommended read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House publishers as part of their blogger program. The opinions expressed are my own and I am not required to give a positive critique.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”