Thursday, September 26, 2013

Beloved by Robin Lee Hatcher

Where the Heart Lives

When Diana Brennan’s husband returns eight years after abandoning her, can she find it in her heart to forgive him?

Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her. At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took off for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Receiving no word of him for eight years, Diana’s infatuation with her dashing husband died an ugly death, and she is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.

But when her husband returns, supposedly a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate. While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom. He agrees with one condition––she must give him a chance to change her mind about him.

My Review:
One of the first impressions I had with this historical fiction was how difficult life was for women in the late 1800s. Diana's husband, Tyson, just up and leaves her--with no warning--simply to avoid his controlling father! Not a word or a sign came from him for years, until one day, he's listed in the newspaper as someone who died in action while fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Diana therefore, "gets on with her life." When Diana plans to announce her engagement to another, Tyson shows up and "stakes" his claim! Indeed, life was hard.

Not having much of a choice, Diana agrees to participate in a sham of a marriage for six months while Tyson runs for public office. I found it interesting to watch this novel of second chances unfold. Hatcher correctly took time for the characters to vacillate between love and hatre, intolerance and forgiveness.

This is the third in a series and can easily be read and understood without having read the first two titles.

NOTE: At the end of every chapter a flashback helps fill in the backstory. (I loved this unique touch.)

Thank you to Booksneeze for my copy.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Made to Last by Melissa Tagg

Miranda Woodruff has it all. At least, that's how it looks when she's starring in her homebuilding television show, From the Ground Up. So when her network begins to talk about making cuts, she'll do anything to boost ratings and save her show--even if it means pretending to be married to a man who's definitely not the fiance who ran out on her three years ago.

When a handsome reporter starts shadowing Miranda's every move, all his digging into her personal life brings him a little too close to the truth--and to her. Can the girl whose entire identity is wrapped up in her on-screen persona finally find the nerve to set the record straight? And if she does, will the life she's built come crashing down just as she's found a love to last?

My Review:
Oh what a tangled web we weave/When first we practise to deceive. Sir Walter Scott
Remember that cliche? The protagonist in this Christian contemporary romance, Miranda Woodruff, should have heeded it. She's the star of a reality TV show with a problem. The ratings are slipping, so to keep the interest of her fans, she's pretending to be happily married. To further complicate things, Miranda, "Randi," allows a reporter to shadow her for an entire week! Her dilemma is keeping him from finding out that the handsome guy "playing" her husband is really just pretend.

I appreciate a lighthearted read--a "sugar candy for the brain" book. Here is an interesting one with a happy ending.

Discussion questions are included.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Bethany House Publishers for my copy.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Raw Edges by Sandra D. Bricker

Quilts of Love Series (Book 10)

Grayson McDonough has no use for teal ribbons, 5k runs, or ovarian cancer support groups now that his beautiful wife Jenna is gone. But their nine-year-old daughter Sadie seems to need the connection.

When Annabelle Curtis, the beautiful cancer survivor organizing the memory quilt project for the Ovacome support group, begins to bring out the silly and fun side of his precious daughter again, Gray must set aside his own grief to support the healing of Sadie’s young heart.

But is there hope for Gray’s heart too along the way?

My Review:
As an ovarian cancer survivor, I was intrigued with this novel. In addition, I love that the setting is Tampa, Florida--my home. The characters drive down familiar streets and eat in places that I'm acquainted with; they even attend a Rays Baseball game wearing jerseys with team members names on the back! They participate in an organization called, Ovacome, a group of volunteer survivors and members of lost loved ones, located in the Tampa area. I never knew it existed. Clearly, the author knows Tampa.

Grayson, AKA Gray, is a model father. (He's unbelievably perfect. How I wish parents really were like him.) Nine-year-old Sadie is a sweetie pie. She's the apple of her Daddy's eye and wise beyond her years. Gray sees her mother in Sadie's speech and mannerisms. The novel begins a year after Gray's wife and Sadie's mommy died from ovarian cancer. They meet Annabelle at Ovacome and seem to hit it off immediately. It's all too perfect, too expected; however, I enjoyed it.

At the end of each chapter is a short letter from Jenna to Sadie, along with a Bible verse. These notes contain wisdom that any person would cherish. Warning: they will produce tears.

This is a quick read--a sweet book.

Discussion questions are included.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and Abingdon Press for my copy.

If you would like to read the first chapter, click here.

If you would like to buy a copy, click here.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Stranded (Alaskan Courage #3) by Dani Pettrey

Alaskan Courage Series #3

When Her Friend Goes Missing, Every Minute Counts!

Darcy St. James returns to Alaska to join a journalist friend undercover on the trail of a big story. But when Darcy arrives, she finds her friend has disappeared. Troubled by the cruise ship's vague explanation, Darcy uses her cover as a travel reporter to investigate further.

The last person Gage McKenna expects to see during his summer aboard a cruise ship leading adventure excursions is Darcy. And in typical Darcy fashion, she's digging up more trouble.

He'd love to just forget her--but something won't let him. And he can't help but worry about her as they are heading into more remote regions of Alaska and eventually into foreign waters. Something sinister is going on, and the deeper they push, the more Gage fears they've only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

My Review:
I did not read the first two titles in this series, and I think I'd have liked this Christian fiction better if I had. The author worked hard to fill in gaps for readers like me, but still there were times I had to shrug my shoulders and press on with the reading. I suppose it's difficult with a large cast of characters to fill in the background of everyone involved.

The main character, Darcy, is hard to admire because she falls for so many obvious ploys in this novel about cruise ship crime. I could not understand how she and her romantic interest, Gage, could be so blind to the dangers around them.

Obviously, this is not one of my favorites. Perhaps you'll feel differently.

Thank you to Noelle Buss at Bethany House Publishers for my copy.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Trapped (Private Justice Series #2) by Irene Hannon

Private Justice Series #2

A runaway teen, a desperate sister, and an intrepid PI determined to discover the truth.

When Laura Griffith's sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen. That includes recruiting ATF agent turned private investigator James Devlin to help. Dev knows time is of the essence with runaways--just forty-eight hours can mean the difference between recovery and ruin.

But the deeper he and Laura dig, the more Dev begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl's disappearance. And in the icy winter weather, the trail is going cold...

In her latest thrilling read, queen of romantic suspense Irene Hannon outdoes herself with a fast-paced tale of fear, deception, and just the right dose of romance.

My Review:
Do you have a sibling who rubs you the wrong way? There are two sisters in this Christian fiction novel that experience a tug-of-war. What a compelling story! It contains a TON of suspense and a bit of romance.The pace is perfect--not a dip in the tension. Situations are true to life. The ending surprised me. I loved this book!

Characters are written so that the reader quickly connects. It's as if I really know them and can feel their struggles. I enjoyed reconnecting with Phoenix, Inc. private investigator Cal Burke and his bride, Moira. I admire the way this firm conducts business. This is one advantage the reader has by reading each book in a series. I look forward to reading the third in this series.

Although this novel is the second in a series, it can easily be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.

Thank you to Lanette Haskins at Baker Publishing Group for my copy.

The Promise (The Restoration Series) by Dan Walsh & Gary Smalley

One home, two hearts, and the power of a promise kept . . .

For the last five months, Tom Anderson has been without a job, a fact he's been hiding from his wife Jean--and everyone else. He leaves each morning, pretending nothing has changed, and spends his disheartening day rotating through coffee shops and the library, using their wifi to search job listings online. The stress of keeping this secret is beginning to put serious strain on his marriage.

But Tom's not the only one hiding something. Jean Anderson has a secret of her own--one that will seriously complicate their situation. Will the promises they made on their wedding day hold firm?

My Review:
I enjoyed being updated about Marilyn and Jim Anderson, the parents of Tom. They were the main characters from the first book in this series, and I am happy that the authors included them in this story. So often in a series, characters are contained in only one title. Here, the reader gets to know the Anderson family a bit better with each new book. However, if you did not read the first in The Restoration Series, The Dance, no problem. This is a stand-alone novel.

The major theme is one of supporting those you love. Children need to be encouraged so that they will grow up to become loving parents. For five months Tom has been self-centered. He can barely smile at his young son. The tangled web he's woven catches him and . . . . Well, you'll have to read the book to see what happens.

Thank you to Lanette Haskins at Baker Publishing Group and Revell for my copy.