Heart’s Safe Passage

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Title: Heart’s Safe Passage
Author: Laurie Alice Eakes
Publisher: Revell
Series: The Midwives
Pages: 384
Released: February 1, 2012

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It’s 1813 and all Phoebe Lee wants to do with her life is practice midwifery in London County, Virginia. When she refuses to go along with her pregnant sister-in-law’s plot to save her husband from prison, she suddenly finds herself aboard a brig against her will. She’s now determined to get back home to Virginia so she can follow her dreams. If only the intriguing captain would allow it.

Captain Rafe Docherty has promised to get Phoebe’s brother-in-law from prison in exchange for information that could bring an end to a nine year chase. Revenge is all he cares about and he doesn’t care how he gets it or who he has to go through to get it. When he starts to see his attraction for Phoebe, she tries to escape and someone tries to kill him.

Will their attraction turn into more? Will Rafe finally forgive the man who destroyed his family? Will Phoebe be able to be with a man who feels that God abandoned him?
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Having read the first book in this series, I was ecstatic about getting to read this one. This book lived up to my expectations and more. It was reminiscent of the work of MaryLu Tyndall, one of my favorites, and took me back in time to when wooden ships were the way to travel and voyages took months to end. Though not as descriptive in ship terms as MaryLu Tyndall, I found that this book was still very descriptive and told enough about ships ,and the things that that entails, to paint a vivid picture in readers’ heads and let them learn a little too. Leaving the reader satisfied about and partially knowledgeable in ships of the 19th century.

The thing that I love about this author is her ability to make a forbidden love work out and making it have twists and turns throughout the course of the novel. The twists and turns of this novel made me never quite know what was going to happen next. I was constantly wondering when some new news or story was going to come to light and throw a monkey wrench into the whole story. This author put a lot of effort and detail into this novel. The painstaking detail is evident and makes this book a real delight to read.

Also, the romance was great. It was similar to the first in various ways both fell in love with foreigners, both couldn’t marry them for some reason, and both were midwives. However, the part that made the books most similar was the romance. This author has the ability to make an innocent romance with a lot of attraction sizzling between the main characters, making a romance that is perfect for a Christian novel and one that would make any romantic buff satisfied with the results.

Believe it or not, amidst the constant twists and romance, the author found a way to squish a little suspense into the book as well. It’s not a lot and not at all hard to figure out, but it adds a little intrigue to the book and makes the reader’s nerves frayed wondering if and when this potential killer will strike. It adds a whole new turn in a twisty book and it’s something that this author loves to do.

About 98% of this book is set on the sea, which I think is a hard thing for authors because it limits their ideas on how to keep readers interested, but like great authors before this one, this author effortlessly keeps her reader’s entertained by so many plot twists; I was actually surprised at how many this author could come with with her limited window of things that could go wrong on a brig.

This author slingshotted up to the top list of favorite authors with the first in this series. This book solidified her position on that list, making it apparent to me that this author isn’t going anywhere, in fact, if anything else she’s only going to start moving up the list.

Overall, fantastic book, perfect for a romance reader or for fans of MaryLu Tyndall. I give this book a four and a half out of five.

I received this complimentary copy of this book for review purposes only. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Texan’s Promise

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Title: A Texan’s Promise
Author: Shelley Gray
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Series: Heart of a Hero
Number: One
Pages: 352
Released: October 1, 2011

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When, Clayton Proffitt finds Vanessa Grant crying outside at midnight, he thinks that she’s just into another scrape. When he finds out about Vanessa’s stepfather’s advances, he’s angry and determined to get her out the house and away to Colorado for good. He’s also determined to protect her with his life, even if it means doing things he doesn’t want to do.

Vanessa Grant was always sweet on Clayton silently waiting for him to notice that she’s grown up; hoping for more. This wasn’t the way she wanting to notice, though. She ashamed of what her stepfather has done to her and guilty for uprooting Clayton’s life off her family’s ranch. She doesn’t know how her life is going to turn out and right now her life is in Clayton’s hands and she’s scared that that might change their relationship forever.

When they get married for her safety, will they be able to become husband and wife in every way or will life tear them apart?
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When I started this book I literally was expecting a watered down romance surrounded by excuses about why they couldn’t be together. Thankfully, I didn’t get that. The book is filled with beautiful descriptions and details along with characters with deep pain and the healing that takes place only when you surrender to God. It’s wrapped together to make a magical historical romance that keeps you tuning pages and missing sleep.

The language is a bit off. There are some more modern references like ‘open up’ and several others that wouldn’t have been uttered by anyone during that time. Also, I find it hard to believe that a woman horsewhipped is going to recover from long, deep cuts is going to recover in around three months. However, I think most will simply get lost in the story and fail to realize these mistakes.

The scripture references and faith in God are meshed perfectly with the storyline. There was enough of it to constantly remind you that this is a Christian novel, unlike other books I’ve read, but it wasn’t too much. It was so perfectly meshed that I wonder if the author even has to try to incorporate the Bible in her novels or if it comes naturally. If I had to guess I would say the latter.

The romance in this book, though not passionate, wasn’t the same cookie-cutter, watered down romance I’m used to reading in historical fictions. It also wasn’t a romance that just happens and leaves the reader confused. It’s a romance that seems so natural the reader wonders how that couldn’t have happened. The romance was innocent enough to stay within the confines of what’s acceptable in the Christian genre, but passionate enough to seem realistic and to satisfy readers like myself.

The conflict is also spot on in this book. It adds enough stress to keep you reading and you also want to know how Vanessa will be able to live in freedom with her stepfather chasing her like man crazed. That fact stays in the back of your mind until the end of the book when every end is connected and put to rights. Though I must say some of the choices Clayton makes make no sense to me. I won’t tell specifically what choices because it’s an important part of the story, but I think that anyone reading the book will know exactly what I’m talking about.

This was a good enjoyable read. Perfect for a book to devour on the weekend, however, it’s no masterpiece. It has flaws, but mainly, it seems like more of a book to fill a deadline than one that she spent a lot of time on, however, if this is this is what she writes quickly, I looks forward to reading ones that she has spent a great of time on.

Overall, a good weekend read. Probably not ideal for younger readers, but seasoned readers will probably love this book. I give this book a four out of five.

I received this complimentary copy of this book from Abingdon Press and Net Galley. All opinions expressed in this book are mine.

Words Spoken True

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Title: Words Spoken True
Author: Ann H. Gabhart
Publisher: Revell
Pages: 368
Released: February 1, 2012

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Practically raised in her father’s newspaper office, Adriane Darcy has ink flowing in her veins. With their paper the leading paper in 1855, she can’t imagine life without the clatter of the printing press and the race to publish the important news first. Life somehow takes a turn for the worse and now Adriane is finding it harder to believe that her future will be anything like she envisioned, but she is willing to sacrifice to help her father get out of debt. If only it didn’t require so much.

The Darcy newspaper is threatened even more when the brash young editor, Blake Garrett, takes over a competing newspaper, his controversial new style threatens to steal all of the Tribune’s readership. When Adriane and Blake meet at a benefit, the sparks that fly between them are hard to ignore. However, Blake is the enemy, and Adriane is already engaged to the son of a powerful business and a man she doesn’t love.

When Blake stops at nothing to get the story and the girl, will Adriane be able to go through with a marriage she feels is wrong? Will Blake be able to convince her that he is the one she loves before she says ‘I do’ to the wrong man?
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When I picked up this book to read it I was hoping for a good book, but I wasn’t expecting a lot, as is the way with most historical romances I pick to read. However, Ann H. Gabhart surprised me with a lovely romance story with plenty of conflict and a dash of suspense. It’s all mixed together perfectly and makes a truly enjoyable read.

This author made a book that makes you remember it long after you put the book down. The detail and historical accuracies are spot on and make this book so realistic that it’s actually easy to forget that this is a work of fiction and not real. The historical setting with the conflict all combines to make a gripping and realistic story.

The suspense in the novel was just a side story and a source of major conflict later in the novel, but for most of the book it’s just a background conflict that you have a feeling will cause trouble later on. Naturally, with enough clues, I guessed the murderer, however, the clues started adding up only after the three-quarter mark. So for most of the book the murderer is a complete and utter mystery.

The romance in this book is something hard to explain. The romance starts with a mutual attraction that Adriane is trying hard to deny. For some reason Blake is determined to win her heart and stop her from marrying Stanley. I think it personifies love at first sight. This author made an innocent romance until about halfway through the book. Things start to change at that point with Stanley and Blake. Stanley is showing more and more lust for her and Blake is determined to win her over. This author is very good about passion. She keeps the passion innocent between the main couple until after the wedding. Making the book an example for romance I think that all people should follow.

The conflict throughout this book is constant. It never really let’s up and is a constant stress to all characters involved. The conflict, though it is awful, it brings the Adriane and Blake closer together and stronger. The conflict is so bad that it takes up most of the book, not the romance, not that I minded. Ghosts of the past make up nasty conflicts and trouble throughout the book for all characters and it really makes this book an exciting read.

Overall, this book is incredibly written and thought out with a great romance and conflict. It’s perfect for historical fiction lovers and those that love a good romance. I know I look forward to more books by this author. I give this book a four out of five.

I received this complimentary copy of this book specifically for this review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

When The Smoke Clears

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Title: When the Smoke Clears
Author: Lynette Eason
Publisher: Revell
Series: Deadly Encounters
Pages: 352
Released: February 1, 2012

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Alexia Allen, a smokejumper, almost died due to equipment failure and is ordered to take some time off while the situation is under investigation. With a little begging from her friend, Alexia decides to recuperate at her mother’s house and attend her high school reunion. Unfortunately, someone isn’t going to make that easy for her. Within hours of arriving home she finds herself embroiled in a murder mystery unlike any other.

The conflicts ahead stir up old ghosts and she struggles with forgiveness, but with the help of friends, family, and a handsome detective, she might just be able to unearth the secret she’s been keeping for ten years.
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I didn’t expect anything of what this book dished out. I expected a mystery that was mainly involved in firefighters. I didn’t get it. However, that didn’t disappoint me. Lynette Eason weaved a surprisingly suspenseful story. This book kept me on my toes, which isn’t easy to do. Even more shocking, this author wrote this suspense so well and with so much mystery and conflict, that she actually prevented me from guessing who the killer really was. That is almost impossible to do, and because she did the near impossible, this author surprised me by creeping up to my top suspense author’s list and didn’t budge throughout the entire book.

One thing you can’t say about this book is that it’s boring or slow-paced. This book started going during the prologue and didn’t slow down for one second throughout the entire book. It’s literally one murder or attempted murder after another. The main character doesn’t get to relax for a minute before her life is put on the brink of death again. Now, that many encounters in the small course of a week is a lot to keep track of and most authors get as jumbled as the reader when trying to differentiate between each attempt, however, this author made each attempt different and organized. Never once did I have to backtrack to figure out what the characters were referring to nor did an encounter slip through the crack of my memory.

Not only is the suspense great but, the way the suspense is written is fantastic. This author practically strikes fear into the reader, she made the attacks and attempts so real I practically could see and feel the flames licking at houses and the bullets whizzing past heads as the duck for cover. This author has a gift that she uses well and glorifies her Savior in the process. It’s a great combination that makes an incredible suspense with the perfect amount of faith and scripture integrated throughout.

The romance in this book was an afterthought, the way it should be in a suspense, and it was basically starting where they refused to go in high school. The really neat part about Hunter, Alexia’s love interest, was that he never doubted her innocence, not once, despite evidence to the contrary. Lynette Eason made the romance an interesting part of the book. I looked forward to every encounter and every kiss, it was another plus to a book that was incredible on it’s own.

Like I said in the first paragraph, I didn’t guess the killer, which is an incredible feat due to my love for suspense novels. However, not only was I wrong as to who the killer was but, I was way off. This author forever kept a character as a suspect there were at least three suspects and because of the forever changing suspects and motives, it keeps you on your toes. All I could do in this book is guess who it wasn’t.

The ending of this book was a shocker, not just to find out who the killer was, but because of the massive loose ends and cliff hanger the author left behind. This is the only part of this book that I’m on the fence about. On the one hand I hate the cliff hanger because how much of a hole it left in the story and now I have to wait who knows how long before I get to find out (grrrr). On the other hand, however, I love the cliffhanger because it makes me want to read the next book, in fact, it practically forces you to read the next book in the series. I look forward to reading the next book in this series, in fact, I’m determined to read the next book. I have to.

Overall, absolutely fantastic suspense with a touch of romance and an almost impossible killer to figure out; however the cliffhanger might be a major downfall in this story. This book is perfect for the suspense obsessed that just want a glimpse of what it was like before they could guess who did it after the first few chapters or who someone who just wants to read a great romantic suspense that makes you lose a little sleep in the process. I give this book a five out of five.

I received this complimentary copy of this book for the sole purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Promise Me This

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Title: Promise Me This
Author: Cathy Gohlke
Publisher: Tyndale House
Pages: 416
Released: January 20, 2012

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When Annie Allen watches her brother, Owen, sail off on the Titanic, she never even imagined that it would be the las time she’d ever see or hear him again. The last person she had left who loved her was gone. Now, with Owen gone, Annie has to navigate English life all alone, all while holding back the resentment and anger she feels for Michael Dunnagan, the man who survived because of Owen’s sacrifice.

Michael Dunnagan can’t blame Annie for her anger, because he feels it too. Why would God save a street rat while a good man like Owen died? Bound by a promise to Owen, Michael is determined to make Owen’s aunt and uncle’s farm a success and bring Annie to America.

Somehow that promise and brotherly love turns into real love as Michael and Annie exchange letters. When Annie’s letters suddenly stop in the throes of World War I, Michael is determined to Find and bring back the woman he loves, but will everything work out or will will war tear them apart forever?
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Due to the high praises of the authors on the cover, it’s safe to say that I had high hopes for this book. Most of what I thought throughout this book was simply: Wow. A good wow.

This author weaves an intricate story and makes this book something more than a novel about the Titanic with a romantic ending. This author made a massive book with three parts and very emotional contents. For the first half of the book I was fighting back tears and for the remaining half of the book I was trying not to destroy my nails from chewing on them.

This book tugged on my heartstrings by showing Annie’s brother and his kindness. It made the death of him so much harder, never mind the fact that he’s a fictional character. It also tugged when it showed the pain that Annie felt and the anguish that Michael went through. It touched on things that no movie would even begin to show.

The second half of the boom was completely different. For most of the second half life is slowly finding a normal, but this isn’t a boring section. The author made sure to include some conflict that made you feel for the characters. When WWI starts, however, you’re on the edge of your seat. So much conflict and do much pain, again forcing me to hold back tears. The author really sends a curve all the reader’s way about 75 pages from the end. I was about ready to just skip to the end to see how it all worked out, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, not wanting to miss a single word of this book.

The romance between Annie and Michael isn’t what you would call a passionate one, but one built off of a friendship and a common love. It’s sweet and gentle and absolutely perfect not only because of the fact that all they do is exchange letters, but also because Annie is only around sixteen and Michael seventeen around the time they start writing each other. I loved every second of walking their love grow.

Because of the detail of this book and and the intricacy in which this book was written skyrocketed this book into one of my favorites. This book not only makes me look forward to reading other Titanic based books, but also makes this book into one that’s going to stay on the keeper shelf and one that I’ll definitely read again.

Overall, this book is incredible. I have absolutely no complaints. It’s perfect for anyone looking for a romance an anyone who want to remember the Titanic on the hundred year anniversary of its sinking. I give this book a give out of five.

I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Jerk Magnet

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Title: The Jerk Magnet
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell
Series: Life at Kingston High
Pages: 224
Released: January 1, 2012

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The last thing Chelsea Martin would describe herself as was beautiful, however her soon-to-be stepmother disagrees and tries to give her a makeover. Chelsea reluctantly agrees to her future stepmother’s plan, not really expecting much. What she gets isn’t what she expects. Her future stepmother turns her into the hottest girl at school.

Now Chelsea has to deal with guys who have one thing in common: they’re jerks. Also, stealing all the attention of all the guys around doesn’t exactly put her on good terms with other girls. A great guys catches her eye but he won’t give her the time of day. All Chelsea wants is for him to notice her and not avoid her like the plague, but will she be able to do that?
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I’ve said this before and I will say it before, Melody Carlson is one of my favorite teen authors and I don’t think there will be a book that she writes that I won’t like. This book didn’t change my mind. Melody Carlson made a book about self-image, a subject all teens deal with, however she took it and showed that being both a wallflower and a peacock can be lonely because of how you look.

Melody Carlson touches on stereotyping and what it feels like for the person being stereotyped, and she does it all while perfectly describing the teenage mind. Melody Carlson has a perfect grasp on teens, I don’t know how she does it, but somehow she does.

Unlike a lot of books I’ve read by her, this book is written in second person, not first. This made the book easier to follow along with and get into. I enjoyed the change in viewpoint and found it refreshing. It allowed the reader to know the thoughts and feelings of the character without having it in first person.

Another factor that’s different from the other books I’ve read by this author, there really isn’t any romance, which is kind of shocking due to the subject matter. However, I liked the fact that this book was more about repelling guys than becoming a slut over them. It’s also nice that the author made Chelsea really only change her outer appearance and her introvert tendencies, not who she was on the inside.

This author definitely is blessed in her understanding of teenagers and she writes in such a way that makes even girls who have never been close to being in the situation of the book can relate to the characters in the story. She makes them realistic and brutally honest with each other, particularly in this book.

In this book, Chelsea’s friend is extremely honest with Chelsea, even to the point of being hurtful. Chelsea herself is even brutally honest with Nicholas. Both girls even tell a whole camp how they were received as someone else. The courage and honesty in this book was incredible. I loved it.

Overall, this was a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s perfect for any teen girl of any age. I give this book a four and a half out of five.

I received this complimentary book from Revell for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.