After All

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Title: After All
Author: Deborah Raney
Publisher: Howard Books
Series: Hanover Falls
Published: May 1, 2012
Pages: 368

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Eighteen months after the tragic Grove Street Fire took the life of her husband, David, and four other heroic firefighters, Susan Marlowe thinks she’s finally beginning to heal. She has a homeless shelter that keeps her busy. She also has caught the attention of the local fire chief. She finally believes that she can move on from her husband’s death and live again.

But, she soon finds out that David took a secret to his grave, a secret that could’ve tore his family apart. It wrecks havoc on her and her family and makes her question her marriage and all it was. She’s trying to forgive for her sons but she just can’t seem to do it.

Peter Brennan is the local fire chief and was there when he lost five firefighters in the fire. He feels responsible for the loss and thinks there might’ve been something to save those lives. As he tries to rebuild the team at Clemens County’s Station 2, he finds comfort in the arms of the woman he least expected.

Will they be able to conquer the tragedies that confront them? Will they be able to stay together or will David get between them?
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I didn’t quite know what to expect with this book. The cover was incredible and I’m a little ashamed to say that I picked solely because of the cover. I guess I haven’t broke that habit yet. Anyway, the author did a fantastic job at creating family drama and making believable situations come from that drama. The author made me feel the characters went through throughout this book.

However, the romance was the typical Christian kind and I prefer a little more. Despite that, the romance was a funky one. Pete was the fire chief when Susan’s husband was alive and Pete doesn’t like her homeless shelter at all. That plus the fact of her husband’s infidelity, made the romance a roller coaster that makes you dizzy.

There is a sense of suspense in this book, but it’s not a large part of the book. However, this time I didn’t anything that was going to happen with the suspense because it was something that supposed to be resolved and figured out. It was a nice surprise and twist to not guess it. It was nice to see how the author formulated the suspense and played it out. But, it doesn’t make my top ten list in best suspenses and I wouldn’t expect it to, it was never supposed to be one.

Though I did enjoy this book, it wasn’t really my cup of tea. The whole book wasn’t something I normally pick and it’s just not something I really want to read on a regular basis. However, this book was nice for a change, but I don’t think I intend to read another for a while.

Overall, not my cup of tea, however, it is an well written book. I recommend this more for older readers or for someone looking for a drama slash romance. I give this book a three out of five.

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

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The Ride Of Her Life

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Title: The Ride of Her Life
Author: Lorna Seilstad
Series: Lake Manawa Summers
Publisher: Revell
Published: May 1, 2012
Pages: 384

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The only man pragmatic Lilly Hart needs in her life is under four feet and six years old. After three years the widow decides to leave the home of her abrasive in-laws and stand on her own two feet. However, the in-laws are appalled at her new job as a cook at Lake Manawa and want their grandson have a better life, even if it means taking him away from his mother.

When an argument breaks out in the middle of the diner, a handsome stranger-who designs roller coasters, of all things- steps in to help. Too bad Lilly isn’t about to get involved with any man, especially this cocky man. Little does she know she’s about to start the ride of her life.

Nick Perrin had immediate attraction without Lilly and her son an is determined to try and have a relationship with despite her reservations and her issues. He really wants her to give him a chance but he doesn’t know how to take it. He has to learn how to trust God with everything even if it means he has to let her go.

Will he be able to trust God and possibly let her go? Will Lilly be able to finally trust someone or will her independence push him away?
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After Julie Lessman’s shining review of this book, I expected a fantastic book and I got it. I agree with almost everything my favorite romance author said about this book. It really is a sparkle of humor and a writing style that is fresh, fun, and addictive. It was a wonderful book that truly took me on a journey.

The author managed to draw me into the story and make me feel the emotions the characters emitted. This author has a talent for making each character unique and memorable. I just loved to see how each character was molded and formed and how each character grew throughout the book. It made it a hugely enjoyable experience to pick up and read this book, in fact the only bad part of this book is the fact that you have to put it down to eat and sleep.

Though, I wouldn’t call this romance heart pumping, I would call it a change of pace. It’s different than the average Christian romance, there was a large quantity of kissing, but it stayed perfectly within the confines of its genre. All of the kisses weren’t too passionate and they weren’t enough to leave you blushing. It was a pleasant change as well as a pleasant surprise for me when I started reading this book.

There is some intense conflict in this book as well. The grandparents of Levi want to take him away at any cost and they don’t care how they get him, even if it’s illegal. Though, I wouldn’t technically call it a suspense, I was on the edge of my seat for parts of it and some scenes made my stomach lurch from pure anxiety. It was again a nice new take on something like this.

When I think of this book and try to find ways to describe it, I know I can really do any book the justice it deserves, particularly this one. My advice, get a copy for yourself and buckle up because your in for an adventure that you can’t stop until the very end.

Overall, my opinions of this book is high and I highly encourage it to readers who love romances and ones who like a giggle or two. Probably not suited for younger readers but late teens and above a definite must. I give this book a four and a half out of five.

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

A Love Forbidden

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Title: A Love Forbidden
Author: Kathleen Morgan
Publisher: Revell
Series: Heart of the Rockies
Pages: 320
Released: May 1, 2012

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Shiloh Wainwright has a compassionate heart and a desire for adventure, because of that she accepts a job teaching at the White River Indian Agency. The twenty year old is eager to use her skills to improve the lives of the Ute Indian children. She’s also excited to start a fulfilling and independent life on the Colorado frontier.

What she gets isn’t at all what she expected, however, with unyielding Indians and a demanding US government and she soon finds herself stuck in the crossfire. She soon realizes that this more of a challenge than she expected. Her unexpected encounter with a half-Ute childhood friend doesn’t ease matters as they try and battle their feelings for each other amongst and unforgiving world.

Jesse Blackwater had hoped that Shiloh was a part of his past and never to be thought of again, until he sees her again at an Indian celebration. Now he can’t get her from his mind nor fight the attraction he feels, but doesn’t want. He gave up the White Man’s ways and doesn’t want to return or get mocked for who he decided to marry.

Will they be able to forge the massive gap between their cultures or will they be ripped apart? Will Shiloh give up everything for him or him for her? Will Shiloh be able to show Jesse that God is real and does love him?
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When I started to read this book all I could think of was that I really wanted this book to be good. The cover, both front and back, drew me in made me really want this book to be one of the best I’ve ever read. Thankfully I’d read one of the author’s books before do I knew her writing style, but nothing really prepared me for this book.

This book is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. It really is in it’s own category. It captured my attention and heart from the first page and I couldn’t put it even if I wanted to. The author went above and beyond my expectations and wowed me with this unique book.

This book has a ton of history and facts in it and it made it so much more enjoyable. Mostly everything was historically accurate and if you’re the type of person that loves to learn about Indians (like me), you’ll love this book. The time this author spent trying to make this book perfect is evident through every turn of the page.

The romance wasn’t typical Christian romance either. The kisses were more throughout and much more passionate, not to mention the characters had more realistic feelings and thoughts during the course of the book. It’s still a Christian romance, I would just have to say it’s more realistic in what a person would feel, even a Christian, when you’re in love. Again something I didn’t expect from this book.

Also, this wasn’t a predictable romance. It was a romance that could’ve gone three ways, she lived like a Ute, he live like a white man, or they didn’t live together at all. Though you always want the couple to make it, this is one of those books where I wouldn’t have been surprised for the romance to not work out at all. It was a nice and suspenseful change from the predictable.

All of the characters were well portrayed in this book as well. The author seemed to take great pains to make each character unique and memorable in their own way. This book just shows what an experienced author can do and it shows just how much experience this author has. This is definitely one of my favorite books ever and I highly look forward to reading more from this author particularly in this series.

Overall, a fantastic book, no complaints. This book is perfect for romance lovers though probably not best for the younger readers but still a great book. I give this book a five out of five.

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

The Pursuit of Lucy Banning

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Title: The Pursuit of Lucy Banning
Author: Olivia Newport
Publisher: Revell
Series: Avenue of Dreams
Pages: 204
Released: May 1, 2012

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Lucy Banning may live in the exclusive Prairie Avenue but her heart lies with the orphans at the orphanage that she volunteers at. Lucy fears she will be forced to give up her charity work, because her family expects her to marry an up and coming banker from a respected family. She just doesn’t want to squeeze herself into the mold of a well dressed wife who spends most of her time and money redecorating.

Will Edwards is an unconventional young architect who’s working on plans for the 1893 World’s Fair. When he meets Lucy, he knows something is different about her. He finds himself liking her more and more and is confident she feels the same, something quite unusual for an engaged woman. Which makes him feel that she isn’t going to go through with the wedding. Making him hopeful that he might win her over.

But will he win her over or will she just shrug off his advances? Will Lucy be able to break away from her family’s expectations or will she go through with it to make her family happy?
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I picked this book because the cover drew me in. I expected the book to live up to the cover quality and I have to say that it didn’t. The history and details were absolutely fascinating and accurate, but, as we all know, a book can’t live on just the setting. I found the most important part of the story lacking greatly, the plot. It’s not that the story wasn’t interesting, it was, just probably not in the way I would have preferred.

The story chugged along at a semi boring pace for about half the book, then things kinda started spiraling into areas you never would’ve guessed would’ve been touched on. I mean we’re talking stalkers and mystery that really make almost no sense. Plus the secrets aren’t really big secrets because no one really freaks out too badly over them.

Also, the supposed romance isn’t really there. They have a few meetings and now they’re in love? It confused me and left me feeling gypped. Not to mention left me sorely disappointed in my hopes that I was going to get a really good romance.

The mystery made no real sense nor did it enhance the story at all. In fact it actually took away from other aspects that could’ve used that time and attention. I figured out who it was long before I was supposed to and it made that experience a little on the boring side. Making it another portion that I had to try and read through.

Despite all this, I will admit that this author has potential and the time she takes in the history of her books is evident and adds a bit to the books. I think this choice was a safe choice for her and she tried to break out from the crowd but I wasn’t sure she did it quite right. Do I intend to finish the series? Yes. Do I look forward to more by her? Yes. I look forward to seeing how she improves and prospers. I just don’t think this book was it.

Overall, I didn’t like it but maybe you will. I recommend it for beginning romancers and people who want something different from a new author. I give this book a two and a half out of five.

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

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall

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Title: The Maid of Fairbourne Hall
Author: Julie Klassen
Publisher: Bethany House Publisher
Released: January 1, 2012
Pages: 416

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When her stepfather tries to get the pampered Margaret Macy to marry his unsuitable nephew, and with her virtue on the line, Margaret does the only thing she can think of, run. With the help from a maid, she dresses up as a maid and makes a break for it. With only a few coins in her purse she gets as far as she can, Maidstone ad applies as a maid to wait until her twenty-fifth birthday to inherit a fortune from her aunt. Without the fortune her stepfather has no need for her.

Once there she finds that she has to what she has to to survive including work as a maid. Little does she know, when she takes the job she’ll be working for two of her former suitors. One she scorned a long time ago and one who lost interest. Along with the first real work of her life, Margaret must try her hardest to keep her identity a secret unless she wants her stepfather to drag her back home.

Nathaniel Upchurch has spent years trying to forget the pain Margaret Macy caused him before he left for Barbados. Now he’s back and he thought he had wiped her from his memory, until he sees her again at a masquerade ball. Now he can’t seem to get her out of his head and he doesn’t know why. When he figures out who she is, he doesn’t know what to do. Does he reveal that he knows who she is or does he let the ruse continue?

Will Margaret be able to wait for her birthday or will her stepfather find her first? Will Nathaniel be able to win back the girl who scorned him or will she scorn him again? Or will Lewis steal her out from under him again?
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Julie Klassen is heavy hitter in the world of Christian historical fiction and, unfortunately, I’ve never read a single one of her books. A decision I deeply regret after reading this book. Julie Klassen writes historical fiction so well that the truth and fiction blend, leaving you wondering what really happened and what the author made up. Her historical accounts are spot on, though the class system may have been blurred a bit, whether on purpose or on accident I don’t know.

The characters are believable and sometimes unlikable even. All of the circumstances make sense and are believable. I found myself disliking Margaret’s behavior, yet feeling sorry for her at the same time. Even the character transformations are exceptional. You get to see Margaret’s attitude and behavior change with each chapter and I started to like her once she was in her situation.

The romance in this book is a classic Christian romance. Which if done incorrectly, is just awful. In this case, however, it was done strangely. On the one hand it was a nice romance, but on the other a part of me doesn’t know how a romance evolved from the boss and the maid. I must admit though, I liked it all the same. It’s an odd romance but one that thoroughly enjoyed.

There’s a touch of suspense in the mix. It’s a small part of the book and not a huge part of the storyline and it was handled pretty well. All the components made sense and the timing was great. It’s not a hugely difficult suspense to solve, but I don’t think it ever was supposed to be. Even though I figured it out way too early I still enjoyed the twist and the thought that was put into the suspense.

One of my favorite parts of this book was all the historical accounts about how a house was run back in the 19th century. It was a taste of what it took to run a mansion and how people were never supposed to see you. The history was disguised and you hardly ever know that you’re learning anything. Making the experience an enjoyable learning one.

Overall, a fantastic book perfect for someone who wants someone a little different from the average historical romance. I highly recommend this book and author to anyone. I’m now a fan of Julie Klassen. I give this book a four and a half out of five.

I recipe circled this complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Rose’s Pledge

Title: Rose’s Pledge
Author: Dianna Crawford, Sally Laity
Publisher: Barbour Books
Series: Harwood House
Pages: 320
Published: January 1, 2012

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Rose Harwood’s father is in trouble. He’s in so much debt that debtor’s prison is something that he’s currently facing. When the police show up at their door step looking to take away her father, Rose does what any loyal daughter would do, she sells everything that’ll fit into her little pony cart. along with her pony and cart, she even sells herself as an indentured servant for the people in the Americas.

As she goes on an adventure that’ll alter her life forever, she meets several unsavory characters as well as some friendly, kind people, including Nate Kinyon a ruff and gruff frontiersman who shows her a little kindness on her trip to the unknown. As she traverses the American frontier, she has to worry about her sisters, also indentured servants, Indian attacks, as well as what awaits her in her new home.

Nate Kinyon, doesn’t know why he’s so smitten with the Englishwoman but there’s something drawing him in, but it certainly isn’t her incredible faith. with a promise to get her out of her contract, he heads off to find a fortune. When he returns, things change forever and he can see a future between him and Rose, if only her faith and his lack of it didn’t get in the way.

Will this couple be able to traverse the dangers ahead of them or will they crumble? Will Nate come to God or will he lose Rose instead?

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Having never read a book by either of these authors I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that I really wanted to read a bok set in the 18th century. What these authors gave me was a suspense action romance combo that kept me entertained until the very last page. In fact, I don’t think I ever really relaxed until the epilogue. It was the perfect combo in my opinion. I got my historical romance fix as well as some action that I didn’t even know that I wanted.

Also, from what I can tell, the authors’ account of pre-Revolutionary War America is accurate and is believable with details that make the story come alive. The vivid descriptions of scenery and characters make everything so much more real. I was captivated from the first page.

The romance in this book isn’t a very passionate one, however, it’s a unique one that isn’t easily forgotten. The romance was actually nice despite the lack of physical intimacy. And by that I mean hand holding/brushing, kissing, hugging, etc. There is some of it but mostly hugging and that’s mostly it. However, despite that, the romance was so well written and articulated that I didn’t notice the lack of romantic gestures.

The suspense in this book is another fantastic facet to this great book. For one, it was totally unexpected and a great surprise. It keeps the reader on their toes for the whole book. There’s always some sort of threat of danger and you can’t help but wonder how they will escape this danger. I can’t believe how well it was incorporated into this storyline.

These authors are fantastic together and I absolutely can’t wait to see what else they cook up together and alone. These authors just made it into my favorites list and will likely stay there due to the detail and time they put into each story. I’m super excited to read the next two books in this series.

Overall, an absolutely fantastic book. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves romance or suspense and it’s perfect for teens and adults. I give this book a five out of five.

I received this complimentary galley from NetGalley and Barbour Books. All opinions expressed are my own.