Monday, January 27, 2014

Scraps of Evidence by Barbara Cameron

Quilts of Love Series #14

Tess has taken some ribbing from her fellow officer, Logan, for her quilting hobby. He finds it hard to align the brisk professional officer he patrols with during the day with the one who quilts in her off-time. Besides, he's been trying to get to know her better and he'd like to be seeing her during those couple nights a week she spends with her quilting guild.

Then one afternoon Tess and Logan visit her aunt in the nursing home. Aunt Susan becomes agitated when Tess covers her with her story quilt. Aunt Susan seems to be communicating a message to them about the quilt. There's a story behind this quilt, they realize, one that may lead them to a serial killer. Trusting God to lead them on the right path, they know that if there's a chance to have a future together, they'll have to stop the killer before Tess becomes his next victim.

My Review:
I like the character of Tess; she's the kind of woman we all admire. Tess has lived in the small Florida town of St. Augustine all of her life, and so she knows most everyone. And like most small towns, everyone knows Tess. Tess just made detective on the local police, and Logan has just moved from Chicago and hired as her new partner. They click quickly. Could romance be far behind?

It was fun reading about St. Augustine. I've visited the city before, and it brought back some sweet memories.  I enjoy learning about places, and the author did a good job of showing the reader this famous city.

This is not a simplistic romance. The storyline is about a serial killer, and when another body is discovered, Tess and Logan are assigned the case.

The back cover of the novel contains some storyline errors, but I think if the reader ignores the cover and simply opens the book, she will enjoy this story. I sure did.

Discussion Questions 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, January 22, 2014

For the Love of Pete (A Bloomfield Novel) by Debby Mayne

Widow Bethany Hanahan is trying in vain to fill an empty heart and an empty nest. The result is a home filled to the brim, but something is still missing.

That’s when her new gardening club friends come to the rescue, encouraging her to let go of the past as well as the present clutter –emotional, spiritual, and physical. It’s not long before Bethany is finding friends, not bargains, to fill her days. But has her life become too full for someone like Pete Sprockett, a childhood friend, for whom her romantic feelings are beginning to bloom?

Join the quirky, loving community of Bloomfield as they do what they do best – poke their well-meaning noses in and intervene in times of need –in author Debby Mayne’s second novel in what has become a five book series about a community where life is simple and love is real.

My Review:
Bethany's husband has died, her only child is off to college, and she's moved back to Bloomfield, close to her controlling mother. Pete, the plumber, has known and secretly loved Bethany since childhood. He hopes to have a chance to catch her eye, but Bethany is too easily pulled this way and that by other influences to consider him as more than a friend. Characters are undeveloped and flat.

Murray, the parrot, is another unbelievable character. If left alone, he opens his cage door, escapes, and creates chaos. I don't know why a lock cannot be found for the cage. To keep the peace, he is brought everywhere. He interrupts every conversation with his talking and squawking. He actually thinks, reasons, and communicates with people. Believe me, you've never met a parrot like this one!

The plot is simplistic, and there are no unexpected surprises. This is not one of my favorites. Perhaps you'll like it more than I did.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and B&H Books for my copy.

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

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

Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Promise Kept by Robin Lee Hatcher

God was going to save her marriage, Allison was sure of it. But neither her husband nor her marriage had been saved.

What had become of His promise?

Tony Kavanagh had been Allison’s dream-come-true. They were in love within days, engaged within weeks, married and pregnant within a year. Her cup bubbled over with joy . . . but years later, that joy had been extinguished by unexpected trials.

The day Allison issued her husband an ultimatum, she thought it might save him. She never expected he would actually leave. She was certain God had promised to heal; it was clear that she'd misunderstood.

Now, living in the quiet mountain cabin she inherited from her single, self-reliant Great Aunt Emma, Allison must come to terms with her grief and figure out how to adapt to small town life. But when she finds a wedding dress and a collection of journals in Emma’s attic, a portrait of her aunt emerges that takes Allison completely by surprise: a portrait of a heartbroken woman surprisingly like herself.

As Allison reads the incredible story of Emma’s life in the 1920s and 1930s, she is forced to ask a difficult question: Does she really surrender every piece of her life to the Lord?

Drawing from her own heart-wrenching story of redemption, A Promise Kept is Robin Lee Hatcher’s emotionally charged thanksgiving to a God who answers prayers—in His own time and His own ways.

My Review:
As a child of an alcoholic, I felt an immediate connection to Allison, who is recovering from her divorce from Tony, an alcoholic. I understand how a person can love an alcoholic but hate alcoholism. One of the lovely statements in the novel came from Allison's mother who said, "God hates divorce. He doesn't hate the divorced" (171). Robin Lee Hatcher did not delve into the ugliness of the situation, but elevated the story into one of hope and promise. Anyone who has dealt with problems of addiction or divorce would benefit by reading this novel.

Short chapters told in first person alternate between the stories of Allison and Emma, Allison's great aunt. Emma's log cabin is left to Allison. When Allison discovers Emma's journals, she also discovers how many things they have in common.

The question of why God would not keep His word is thoroughly answered in a most satisfying way. I definitely recommend this wonderful novel!

Thank you to BookSneeze® Thomas Nelson for my copy.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Songs of the Shenandoah (An Heirs of Ireland Novel) by Michael K. Reynolds

At the onset of the Civil War, Seamus heeds his wife’s wishes to return to her beloved family farm in the South, where he takes a post as chaplain for General Stonewall Jackson’s brigade. As Seamus ministers to the troops, his sister Clare ministers in a different way—by being a powerful voice in the Northern cause toward freeing the slaves.

All this while their youngest brother Davin, who became wealthy during the Gold Rush, struggles to find love and identity in a fallen world.

It’s a clash of loyalties and beliefs that threaten the entire family, each of them trying to hear God’s encouragement in the midst of the tragedy of war. The dramatic conclusion to the acclaimed Heirs of Ireland Series.

My Review:
It took awhile for this third book in the series to grab me; perhaps I had too many interruptions. (I read it during the Christmas holidays.) Nonetheless, I pressed on and read to the final page. I'm so glad that I did. The author has the ability to place the reader dead center in the middle of the action in the war against the states. We see the torn bodies, we hear the groans, and we smell the blood. In addition, he shows us the conflict that families on both sides face.

A great question is considered: "Is there a right side to this war? If soldiers on both sides are praying before going into battle, "who will God choose? (233) On what side does God stand?"

Love, loyalty, and forgiveness are themes. Despite depicting the horrors of war, the author brings the Hanley family to a satisfying conclusion. Although this novel could be read as a stand alone novel, the trilogy would be best enjoyed when read in order.

Thank you to Bonnie at Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and B&H Books 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, January 6, 2014

No One to Trust by Lynette Eason

Hidden Identity, Book One

She doesn't know who she's running from--and the man she loves may be someone else entirely.

Summer Abernathy wakes up one morning to find her husband missing, three men in her home intent on finding him, and the life she's been living based on a lie. Which Kyle Abernathy did she marry? The computer programmer she met in line at the bank? Or the one who was apparently using that image as a cover?

The search for her husband--and answers--takes Summer ever deeper into a world of organized crime where people are used one moment and discarded the next. And with her deepest relationship of trust already shattered, Summer doesn't know who to believe.

Always thrilling, bestselling author Lynette Eason outdoes herself in this taut, breakneck story of lies, loyalties, and love that will have you up all night to discover the truth hidden in the shadows.

My Review:
In this Christian fiction romantic suspense story, the good guys are not always to be trusted. On the other hand, the bad guys are truly awful. One even uses snakes to torture his victims!

The story surrounds Summer and Kyle, a young couple who find themselves living a nightmare, while being pursued by the Mafia. From the first page, the fast pace is set, and the reader will find the pages almost flipping by themselves.

I had a hard time believing this intricate plot. So many twists and turns made the chase become tiring.

Thank you to Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing for my copy.

Tempest's Course by Lynette Sowell

Quilts of Love Series #13

Kelly Frost, a textiles conservator, is invited to the Massachusetts coastal city of New Bedford to restore a 150-year-old Mariner's Compass quilt. But there is one stipulation: she must live and work in Gray House, a former whaling captain's home, where the quilt is stored. There she meets Army veteran Tom Pereira, the caretaker of Gray House, whose heart seems as hard as the rocky Massachusetts coastline. Over the long-lit months as Kelly works to restore the quilt, she and Tom grow closer.

And as she reads stories in a daily journal penned by Mary Gray, she learns the secrets of the quilt and Mary's own sad tale of regret. Then Tom learns secrets of his own family's past, and both Tom and Kelly learn they are tied to Gray House in ways they never imagined.

My Review:
New Bedford, Massachusetts, a historical whaling town is the setting of this romance novel. Gray House, a captain's home with its tiny observation room, which overlooks the city harbor is itself a character, with its creaks and groans and hidden secrets. It's has been empty for some time and Kelly Frost is hired to restore a Mariner's Compass quilt while living in the home.

I especially appreciated finding out how a person would go about restoring a fraying, old quilt. While Kelly works on the quilt, she pieces together the mystery behind how it came to be. She discovers a hidden journal written by Mary Gray, wife of the whaling captain. It reveals long-held secrets from the 1850's.

Kelly is a loner, having been raised in foster homes. However, her experiences were good with Lottie, her final foster mother, who remains someone Kelly can rely upon. Tom has had an opposite childhood experience: a warm, loving family, who live close by. However, he and his father's relationship is stiff as Tom has disappointed his father by never attending college.

A few surprises help to solve any questions. I enjoyed this whispering mystery/romance.

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.