Monday, October 29, 2018

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "Enchanting Nicholette" by Dawn Crandall

Book Summary (Goodreads): In this captivating novella by Dawn Crandall, Nicholette Everstone is already a widow at the age of twenty-two: her husband was murdered on their wedding day. She has just returned to Boston after two years of mourning in Europe. Although her husband was loving, the marriage was an arranged one, and Nicholette would like to wed again--this time for love...and to someone safe

As she acclimates to life in Back Bay again, Nicholette meets someone she can't help but fall for. But when she learns of the danger and sacrifices Cal Hawthorne takes on for the safety of others, will her heart be strong enough to keep her fears of "what if" at bay?

My thoughts...This little excerpt really shows all the reasons I enjoyed this book...and Dawn Crandall's writing in general: 
“I can tell what you want, Mr. Hawthorne.” My gaze willingly scanned his face as he continued to draw nearer, and I had to admit, if he meant to kiss me, I wasn’t nearly as disagreeable to the notion as I should have been. In fact, I was shocked by how much merit the idea had. Suddenly, I was unable to keep my mind off the clear image of all of him pressed to all of me against that wall, hidden away in the leaf-and-stone alcove, right there in the middle of Riverway Park.
When he reached me, he stood about a foot away and placed his hand against the wall above my shoulder. “It would seem you have quite the knack for reading my intentions, Mrs. Everstone. But I can assure you, they are much more complicated than what you’re thinking at the moment.”
I need the fire emoji right now ; ). We've got a "go!" on romantic tension! Dawn Crandall really knows how to write these romantic scenes while still keeping things clean. These books are considered Christian historical fiction, as there is a spiritual aspect. I do appreciate the balance of both of these aspects in her novels. This book in particular is a pretty lengthy novella, which I appreciated. I'm not a huge novella fan, but I really liked this one as well as the other that were included in the Timeless Love set that I reviewed earlier this year. 
Dawn Crandall writes each of her books from a different female character's first person perspective. You do miss some of the details from the other characters and what is happening with them, since you're only seeing through the eyes of one telling the story, but one is really able to get into the main character's head. I love that. In this story we are able to go deeper with Nicholette, who appeared in one of Crandall's earlier books, and see what happened to her right after her marriage and husband's murder shortly afterwards. Through faith and trust, she's able to move forward in her life and explore the possibility of experiencing true love. I would definitely recommend it as well as Crandall's other novels!
Personal Takeaway...Don't be afraid to step out in faith. God can bless you beyond what you could imagine!

**Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this novella in order to share my honest opinions, which I did**

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "The Cumberland Bride" by Shannon McNear

Book Summary (Goodreads): In 1794, when Kate Gruener’s father is ready to move the family farther west into the wilderness to farm untouched land, Kate is eager to live out her own story of adventure like he did during the War for Independence and to see untamed lands. And she sets her sights on learning more about their scout, Thomas Bledsoe. Thomas’s job is to get settlers safely across the Kentucky Wilderness Road to their destination while keeping an ear open for news of Shawnee unrest. But na├»ve Kate’s inquisitive nature could put them both in the middle of a rising tide of conflict. Is there more to Thomas’s story than he is willing to tell? Is there an untapped courage in Kate that can thwart a coming disaster?

My thoughts... I just finished this book last night and....LOVED it!! I wanted to take a chance with an author who is new to me, Shannon McNear, because I thought the book description sounded interesting. I'm so glad I did! 

This story had a Last of the Mohicans feel to it, because of the same general time period and setting. Not to mention that Thomas Bledsoe had a definite Daniel Day-Lewis/Hawkeye vibe going on. Totally the masculine hero who had a background with the Shawnee, was an excellent shot, and could track and lead people through the wilderness. He even has the physical traits of a 1700's era scout, with buckskin leggings, long hair, and other markings he gained from living with the Shawnee. I can't help but love the broody male heroes. Swoon! Kate was the heroine in this story. I loved her innocence and strength of character. She had to face many hardships yet wasn't the whiny, complaining female you sometimes see in novels like this. The romantic tension was built up so well. There were some great moments throughout the various stages of the journey between the Thomas and Kate, but also with other characters in the story. This book is part of the Daughters of the Mayflower series, but each book can easily be read alone. I would definitely recommend this one! Below is the list of all the books in the series:

The Mayflower Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1620 Atlantic Ocean (February 2018)
The Pirate Bride by Kathleen Y’Barbo – set 1725 New Orleans (April 2018)
The Captured Bride by Michelle Griep – set 1760 during the French and Indian War (June 2018)
The Patriot Bride by Kimberley Woodhouse – set 1774 Philadelphia (August 2018)​
The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear – set 1794 on the Wilderness Road (October 2018)
The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndall – set 1814 Baltimore (December 2018)

Personal Takeaway: With God's help, we can persevere through the trials of life and face the hardest moments with peace.

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in order to give an honest review, which I did.**

Monday, October 15, 2018

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "The Heirloom: Four Holiday Novellas of Love Through the Generations" by various authors

Novella Summaries....In Kristi Ann Hunter's "Legacy of Love," Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman's grandson, a man far above her station.

In Karen Witemeyer's "Gift of the Heart," widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

In Sarah Loudin Thomas's "A Shot at Love," Fleeta Brady's rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family's brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

In Becky Wade's "Because of You," Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?

My thoughts...I typically don't read a lot of novellas, but they're starting to grow on me! Especially when it's a collection that includes some of my favorite authors: Karen Witemeyer and Becky Wade. I haven't read many of Kristi Ann Hunter or Sara Loudin Thomas' books, but I really enjoyed their work in this novella collection. 
The connection between each of these novellas was a brooch that was passed down from generation to generation. It not only was a beautiful, valuable piece of jewelry, but there was a deep love that passed from the giver to the receiver. There was also a "legend" that accompanied the brooch that foretold of a love match. I enjoyed both of these aspects of each story. Each heroine was a little different and full of personality. The heroes stories were also told, but were a supporting role to the female leads. I love that you get a taste of each author's style in a novella collection like this. As the holidays are approaching, this is the perfect book to cozy up on the couch with and get a taste of Christmas. I would definitely recommend it!

**I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in order to give an honest review, which I did. **

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Reviewer's Bookshelf: "The Reluctant Warrior" by Mary Connealy

Book summary (Goodreads): Union army officer Cameron Scott is used to being obeyed, but nothing about this journey to Lake Tahoe has gone as expected. He's come to fetch his daughter and nephew, and seek revenge on the people who killed his brother. Instead he finds himself trapped by a blizzard with two children who are terrified of him and stubborn but beautiful Gwen Harkness, who he worries may be trying to keep the children.

When danger descends on the cabin where they're huddled, Cam is hurt trying to protect everyone and now finds Gwen caring for him too. He soon realizes why the kids love her so much and wonders if it might be best for him to move on without them. When she sees his broken heart, Gwen decides to help him win back their affection--and in the process he might just win her heart as well.

My thoughts...I'm really enjoying this newest series (High Sierra Sweethearts) by Mary Connealy. This is the second book in the series, which could be read as a stand alone, but it picks up right after book one has ended. I would suggest starting with book one just because it's a great story and gives some background.
     Why is Mary Connealy one of my favorite Christian fiction authors? Several reasons, which also apply to this book. I love the humor she inserts in the dialogue and story line of her characters. A mix of sarcasm and wit makes for some fun and even laugh-out-loud moments. Strong male and female characters also draw me in. The men are manly, brave, strong, skilled at using guns and tracking (think wild west), but also have a desire to show sensitivity to their ladies and their children. Some of them are even skilled at sewing, like Cam was in this book. The strength that Connealy infuses into all of her female characters is fun to read. Some of them know how to track, handle a gun, build a house, and aren't afraid of much of anything. But there's an equal amount of strength shown by the women who protect their children, stand up to injustice, take care of the home, and are sensitive and feminine. Both the men and women have to work together to survive the wild land, especially when there's an evil, bloodthirsty villain trying to track them down. Connealy knows how to write some nasty baddies, and doesn't hold back in showing just how evil they can be. And let's not forget a little romance mixed in. Gotta love that ; ). All of these elements have come together in The Reluctant Warrior to make a great read. I would definitely recommend it...and I can't wait to read the next book in the series!

Personal takeaway...God can give you the strength to have courage, even in the most difficult of circumstances. 

**I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley in order to give an honest review, which I did. **