Monday, September 15, 2014

"Love's Fortune" by Laura Frantz

Love's Fortune


Laura Frantz

Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

Laura Frantz has done it again. Her historical romances never fail me. She delves into times and places that I don't normally venture into and immerses me into settings that feel real, story lines that I don't want to walk away from and characters that I wish were real. Isn't that the point of reading historical fiction?

In Love's Fortune we are entering Book #3 of a brilliant trilogy and I do recommend reading these 3 in order just so you can understand the generations involved in this family and the background leading to Rowena's story. Each book is focused around a young lady from a different generation. So in book #1, Love's Reckoning it was Rowena's grandma, in book #2, Love's Awakening it was Rowena's aunt and in book #3 it is Rowena herself but we get the privilege of having all of the generations appearing in and being an important part of her story. 

Do not think that Laura's historical romance are full of sappy love stories and nothing of much interest - you would be sooooo wrong! She has a way of building suspense and keeping me on the edge of my seat even when you wouldn't think it was possible and her twists and turns keep me from being able to guess at the intricacies of her story lines... I can usually predict who the heroine will end up with but how they are going to get there is beyond me. In this one I loved meeting Rowena (Wren) and getting to revisit the characters already developed in previous books. James Sackett, steamship pilot and hero, is fantastic and a hero to fall in love with. There are many subplots riding along with the main story that kept me turning pages as fast as I could and there was one downside to this book... I knew it was book #3 and there would be no more following. I almost cried at the end saying good-bye to these characters. The only good thing about this series ending is that I can't wait to see where Laura Frantz takes me next!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Heart of Mercy"
Sharlene MacLaren

My Review:
    I fell in love with Sharlene MacLaren's writing back when she wrote the Little Hickman Creek series. It was a wonderful trilogy and while I have enjoyed her other books, I think she may have found the mystery that made the Little Hickman Creek series so whimsical and fun. In book #1 of this series we meet Mercy as she goes through a horrible tragedy - losing her best friend and her friend's husband in a house fire and leaving behind two young boys. She is determined to step in and raise her friend's sons but the judge doesn't believe that a single woman is the right person to raise two young boys. So she has a month to get married so they can have two parents, or she will lose the right to raise them. Hilarity ensues as she tries to find the right man in the small town without many choices. But in her desperation to save the boys will she make the wrong decision?

   And what about the guardian angel that saved the boys from the fire in the first place? It's a Hatfield/McCoys scenario between Mercy's family and Samuel Conners' family. That would never work and they both know it, so Mercy keeps looking for love in all the wrong places.

     I am loving the start of the Tennessee Dreams series and can't wait to see where Sharlene MacLaren will take them from here!

"Dare To Love Again" by Julie Lessman Book Review

"Dare To Love Again"
Julie Lessman

Dare to Love Again, Heart of San Francisco Series #2

Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman, resorting to a mammoth hat pin for protection on her way to and from the school where she teaches. But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast she quickly discovers she is no match for rum-soaked brute strength.
Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this petite socialite jiu-jitsu, but it seems he has little choice in the matter. Sparks fly every time the two meet until a grudging friendship develops into something deeper. But when Nick suddenly leaves town, Allison realizes he's a fraud just like all the rest of the men she's cared for. Does she dare love again?

My Review:
    I have read some series by authors and thought, "Wow, this is really good!" and then when their next series comes out, it just can't live up to the first series. I loved Julie Lessman's first series so much that I was just sure that she would never be able to create new characters that could be as strong and compelling as the O'Connor family. I was wrong. Plain and simple. Julie has outdone herself with this new series. I was encouraged by the first book but book #2 shows that it is not a fluke. Julie Lessman has struck gold again!

    In Book #1 we meet Cassidy McClare and her rich cousins in San Francisco and get to know them as Cassidy starts falling in love with Jamie McKenna and resists it every step of the way. Now in Book #2 we pick up with them but through the eyes of Cassidy's cousin Allison McClare. She is an independent young woman, or at least she wants to be...  much to the chagrin of the adults in her life. So Detective Nick is brought in to protect Allison from herself and her independent spirit. He is under threat of death is her hurts her romantically, so of course, they start having feelings for each other that neither one wants to admit. And then no great book would be complete without a host of issues... and poor Allison and Nick have more than their fair share! The mob, deaths, pregnant girlfriends, over protective family members and more...

    This book has proven to me that lightning can strike twice... and does for Julie!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Shadowed By Grace" by Cara Putman Book Review

"Shadowed By Grace" by Cara Putman Shadowed by Grace Shadowed by Grace is a dramatic story inspired by the Monuments Men of World War II by acclaimed author Cara C. Putman. Desperate to save her dying mother, Rachel accepts her newspaper’s assignment to travel to Italy to capture images dangerously close to the front lines of WWII. Her real motive – to find the father she never knew -- an artist she hopes can offer the comfort and support both she and her mother need to survive. It’s an unlikely situation for love and faith to flourish, but soon Rachel not only finds herself, but also her long-lost earthly father, and ultimately, the man her Heavenly father created to cherish and provide for her.


MY REVIEW: I love stories set in WWII, but I love it most when authors put a twist on a familiar setting by finding something I really didn't know about and bringing it to life for me through amazing characters. That is exactly what Cara has done in "Shadowed by Grace". First we have a female photojournalist, Rachel, who gets herself sent to the frontlines in Italy in an effort to not only try to capture the Pulitzer moment but even more importantly to find the father she has never met. She is partnered with Scott who is part of the Monuments Men that are there to locate, protect and preserve the rich art in Europe that is getting pilfered, destroyed and pillaged. The questions become... can Scott do his job effectively when someone seems to be sabotaging his efforts? Can Rachel find her father with the one lead she has brought with her when her mother won't tell her anything? Can Rachel and Scott find the ultimate reason God has brought them together in the middle of such evil and destruction?

Toward the beginning there was quite a bit of referencing to the unsureness that both Rachel and Scott had as far as romantic notions go... but once the book got going it seemed like that worked itself out and Rachel and Scott became a wonderful couple that I loved learning more about. 

 My favorite parts of the story were in seeing what the Monuments Men were really about - amazing pieces of history wrapped up in wonderful storylines, scenic countrysides of Italy and moving characters. Very enjoyable and I would love to see a follow up with these characters and more Monuments Men facts and scenarios!

Friday, November 1, 2013

"Greetings From The Flipside" Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Greetings from the Flipside
B&H Books (October 15, 2013)
Rene Gutteridge


Rene is the author of seventeen novels. She also has extensive experience writing comedy sketches, and worked for five years as the director of drama for a church. She has a degree specializing in Screenwriting, for which she earned the Excellence in Mass Communication Award, and graduated magna cum laude.

She is married to Sean, a musician and worship leader, and has two children. They reside in Oklahoma, where Rene writes full time and enjoys instructing in college classrooms and writers conferences.


Hope Landon has been rewriting other people's greeting cards since she was six years old -- there's always a funnier caption. She's all set to chase those creative dreams with her musician fiance in New York City until he leaves Hope at the altar, deciding he must not really love this girl if he can't write a song for her. That may give her something to write about . . .

Hope disappears alone on what was supposed to be the couple's month long honeymoon. Upon returning she learns of her funeral -- everyone in her life concluded Hope must have killed herself after being jilted. Needing a fresh start more than ever, she heads for the Big Apple only to discover it's not that easy to rent a place when you've been declared dead.

Taking shelter at the YWCA, Hope soon lands a job at a Christian inspirational greeting card company as an assistant to Jake, a guy who shut down his organization's humor department. She has lost her faith in love; he needs to find something or someone that will make him laugh.

Is there anything in the cards for these two? Find out in the truly original Greetings from the Flipside by authors Rene Gutteridge (Boo) and Cheryl McKay (screenplay for The Ultimate Gift).

If you would like to read the first chapter of >Greetings from the Flipside, go HERE.

      One of my all time favorite books is a book by Rene Gutteridge and Cheryl McKay, "Never the Bride" - I love that book! So I looked forward to seeing what the two of them put together this time. It is one of the most original books I have ever read. I can't really say why without possibly spoiling something for future readers, but my 17 year old daughter is reading it right now and really enjoying it too. She came to me earlier today and said, "So the first part of each chapter is... and the second part of each chapter takes place...?" And I said, "Yep, pretty crazy huh?" And she said, "Yep, it's really cool!" I loved watching the two parts of each chapter cross over each other and bring everything all together. If you are looking for something original, with sweet and funny characters (and loony... don't forget Hope's loony mom!), definite conflict with a wild ride on the way to resolution then you really need to check this book out! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

"The Captive Maiden" by Melanie Dickerson Book Review

Happily Ever After ...Or Happily Nevermore? Gisela's childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father's death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela learns the duke's son, Valten---the boy she has daydreamed about for years---is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it's only for a taste of a life she'll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten's eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

     The newest book from Melanie Dickerson releases soon and boy is it worth the wait! Another reinvented fairytale, this time with Cinderella. We meet Gisela as her father sells a horse from his carefully bred stock to the Duke's eldest son. She isn't happy that one of her favorite horses is leaving but she is entranced with the young man. Not long after her father dies and she is left at the whims of her step mother who treats her horribly. But at least she is still around her father's horses. She dreams of the young man but one day realizes that nothing can ever happen there because she is an orphan with nothing. Years pass...
      Melanie has done it again, woven a tale that is incredibly moving and amazing and taking a story that we all "know" so well and breathing new life into it. In this story we enter the world of jousting and tournaments and discovering God's purpose for your life. Gisela and Valten find that you must rely on God for deliverance because in our own strength it just isn't enough. 
      My favorite part of these books is how she weaves them all together. You don't have to read them in a series but it sure is fun if you do!
      I highly recommend the entire set of books (as my 17 year old daughter does too!) and just keep hoping that Melanie doesn't run out of fairytales anytime soon!

Friday, October 11, 2013

"Dark Justice" by Brandilyn Collins Book Review

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Dark Justice
B&H Books (October 1, 2013)
Brandilyn Collins


Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e . . ."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn's awards for her novels include the ACFW Carol Award (three times), Inspirational Readers' Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice.

Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). The Writer magazine named Getting into Character one of the best books on writing published in 2002.

When she's not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers' conferences.


If I’d had any idea what those words would mean to me, to my mother and daughter, I’d have fled California without looking back.

While driving a rural road, Hannah Shire and her aging mother, who suffers from dementia, stop to help a man at the scene of a car accident. The man whispers mysterious words in Hannah’s ear. Soon people want to kill Hannah and her mother for what they “know.” Even law enforcement may be involved.

The two women must flee for their lives. But how does Hannah hide her confused mother? Carol just wants to listen to her pop music, wear her favorite purple hat, and go home. And if they turn to Hannah’s twentyseven- year-old daughter, Emily, for help, will she fall into danger as well?

Pressed on all sides, Hannah must keep all three generations of women in her family alive. Only then does she learn the threat is not just to her loved ones, but the entire country . . .

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Dark Justice, HERE.

       My favorite book of Brandilyn Collins is Deadly Exposure. Hands down. Until now... kind of. I think this book holds a tight 2nd place spot to Deadly Exposure in my book. It grabbed my attention IMMEDIATELY and I was finished in about 24 hours. It called for me to put my life on hold while I followed Hannah as she tries to determine who the "Bad People" and the "Good People" are all the while she is most importantly trying to keep her elderly mother and her daughter safe as she unravels the mysterious video she is given from a dying man. It becomes harder and harder to do all of those things at the same time that everyone in the country thinks you are a murderer as bodies pile up and the police are looking for you. To top it off, there is a deadline on solving the mystery or the whole country could go black. No power. Chaos. Turmoil. Destruction. Definitely a deadline.

      The great thing about this book is that we keep going back and forth from present time to the action that occurred on the two days that changes Hannah's life. And when it's over, it doesn't end like you think, but it ends right. Very excellent!