The Governess Of Highland Hall

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Title: The Governess Of Highland Hall
Author: Carrie Turansky
Publisher: Waterbrook Multnomah
Published: October 15, 2013
Pages: 320

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Julia Foster, a missionary, loves working with her parents to help and care for the young girls in India. But when the family must return to England due to illness, she readily accepts the burden of her family’s financial support. Because of that, she accepts a job as a governess at Highland Hall and soon finds that being a governess to her four ill-mannered, privileged charges is a lot harder than expected.

Sir William Ramsey, a widower left to care for his two young children and his cousin Randolph’s two teenaged daughters, he’s consumed with saving Highland Hall from financial ruin and saving it from the astronomical death charges placed upon him to pay. To him, the last thing he needs is a kind-hearted yet determined governess to distract him, but the subtle transformation she does to his household seems too much to let go of.

The harder Julia works at trying to fix his unruly household, the more William starts to notice her and the closer they get, but both know that any relationship between them is forbidden and improper. Too bad that neither can figure each other out let alone stop their feelings from developing. Both are tending to past wounds and guarding fragile secrets, but they’re both determined to save their families and that seems to be the breaking point of their resolve.

Can Julia be the governess that William is looking for or will she be fired before as has a true chance? Will Julia and William be able to conquer society and all its woes or will class break them apart? Can William potentially give up Highland Hall for Julia or will he lose her to save his home? Will Julia go back to India or will she find that she has a bigger purpose in England?
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I had high hopes for this book because I’ve really enjoyed governess and estate master love stories before, but unfortunately this one didn’t resonate with me like the others that I’ve read. This book was enjoyable, but it read more like a novella, which for a novel of 320 pages it seems a bit too un-descriptive to really hit the mark. Though this book was a nice read, it left me disappointed with the romance.

The romance in this book reads like a movie on fast forward. I got the general sense of a connection but none of the true emotional moments that brings a couple together. It was like they were skipped altogether. I didn’t get kisses or more than two or three moments where the couple were even alone together let alone connecting emotionally. This romance frustrated me so much. I felt like a third party that just got glimpses of a promising love story.

The characters in this story varied drastically but I never really found a character with a happy medium. The characters either had to be completely good or completely bad. I guess the only character that kind of falls into the category of happy medium is Penelope, the sister that just follows along with what her sister does but even she makes a choice as to which side she chooses. For me Julia felt too perfect and William seemed too confused himself which left me having no clue what I truly thought of him. Some of the characters felt too nice while others felt too mean for no reason, but my favorite characters are Sarah, Clark, Andrew, and Millie. I think the author needs to work on her character development and on the character’s personality traits just a little more.

The storyline was nice, though I think it focused more in the household and the running of it than to the actual romance, but I did like the story and even though the author needs to learn how to transition from novellas to novels a little bit more, she did a fairly good job and she created an enjoyable, albeit a little bit slow, novel. Though this wasn’t my cup of tea, I’m sure someone will love this book, but be forewarned if you love a lot of romance because you will be disappointed.

This author didn’t really impress me with this one but I feel like she has some great potential and greatly look forward to seeing what else she can put out and how much she can improve. She hasn’t totally lost me yet, but next time I probably won’t have as high of hopes as I did this time. Though this book isn’t for me, it’s perfect for people who love romances that are simple and not mushy.

Overall, not my cup of tea. This book is good for people who are either just starting out on romances or like their romances simple and to the point. This book shouldn’t be left for little kids but maybe teens and definitely adults will enjoy this one. I give this book a two and a half out of five.

*I received a complementary copy of this novel in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

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The Power Of An Ordinary Prayer and He Knows Your Name

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Title: The Power Of An Ordinary Prayer
Author: Michael W. Smith with Tom Williams
Publisher: Worthy Press
Published: July 2, 2013
Pages: 128

Title: He Knows Your Name
Author: Travis Cottrell
Publisher: Worthy Press
Published: July 2, 2013
Pages: 160

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In these two books, discover the power of prayer, how the joy of God’s transformation can truly change the world, and how to trust and worship God in the even the darkest of moments in your life. Each book delves into a different topic each just as important and helpful to any Christian’s life and walk. They help you follow and surrender.

Join two award winning recording artists as they teach all that they’ve learned in their travels and walks not only as musicians, but most importantly, as Christians. In their books they explain what The Lord has taught them and what He can teach you. Their wisdom is inspired and is guaranteed to teach you some things about God and your relationship with Him.
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Because I got these two books as a group and because they’re both small gift books, I decided to clump together both reviews into one.

I got these two books because they are different than what I normally read and I’m glad that I got the chance and that I accepted them. The reason I really got them was because of the authors, however I didn’t expect to get the large dose of wisdom and advice from each one. Michael W. Smith’s book had a lot of good stories and wisdom about prayer and encouraging those around you and Travis Cottrell’s book was chock full of what to do when times seem like they’ll never get better. Both had content that I really needed to hear and incorporate in my spiritual walk.

The stories in each book tugged on heart strings and showed the kind of faith that we all want. Mostly those stories made me want to do exactly what they were suggesting and I was amazed at how much faith some of them had. Also, the stories also made me view some points at different angles and opened my eyes to a different way of thinking about something. It was amazing.

The best part of both, though was the teachings. Each said things that hit home in many ways. Even if I’ve already heard something similar before, the way they put it made me get it in a whole new way. Both definitely followed the Lord’s calling and their books are definitely something He put on their hearts to do. Despite their size neither of these books feel rushed or empty and I really learned something from each. I would like to maybe see them be expanded, though.

These books really make you dig deep inside and evaluate your relationship with Christ and help you possibly have a stronger relationship with your Creator. I’m in love with these books and I highly recommend them. I look forward to seeing what else each recording artist has for the future, book wise. I fully intend to read more from each of them.

Overall, I loved both of these and fully intend to read more from each. These are great for anyone looking to improve their relationship with Christ. This book is best for adults but discerning teens can benefit from these books. I give both of these books five out of five.

Even though this is a joint book review, they’re pretty small and I ran out of things to say so I’m going to cut this one short.

*I received a complimentary copy of these books in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*

It Happened At The Fair

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Title: It Happened At The Fair
Author: Deeanne Gist
Publisher: Howard Books
Published: April 30, 2013
Pages: 432

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Cullen McNamara, farmer’s son with bad allergies to plants, risks everything, including the family farm, to travel to the Chicago World’s Fair with his most recent invention. Unfortunately he has a a problem that the Machinery Hall makes more prevalent, he has trouble hearing with a lot of background noise. So in an act if desperation he hires a tutor but he might’ve gotten more than he bargained for with his beautiful new teacher.

Della Wentworth is teacher of the deaf and has spent her entire career teaching children how to lip-read. When Cullen asks for her help she is reluctant to agree, but his desperate plea and interesting situation win Della over and she begins to teach him. However, Della begins to find herself feeling things that don’t belong in a student-teacher relationship and Cullen finds himself having a hard time concentrating when he has to stare at her lips all day.

The more the two are together the more their attraction grows and the more they find themselves looking forward to seeing each other daily. But, Cullen has a secret that could cause him to lose her forever and Della isn’t such a fan of secrets. Their relationship might be over before the World’s Fair if they can’t hold on to each other and let go of all their hesitations.

How will Della react to Cullen’s secret? Will she leave him or will she decide that he’s too important to lose? Will Cullen be able to hold onto what he has back home or will he lose everything because of one very expensive trip to the Chicago’s World Fair? Can Della and Cullen’s relationship stand the test of time or will it fizzle out before the fair comes to a close?
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For years I have been a fan of Deeanne Gist’s. I’ve only four books by her but ever since I read A Bride Most Begrudging, I was hooked. Because I love A Bride Most Begrudging so much, I had really high hopes for this book and, thankfully, this book didn’t disappoint me. I loved this book and I’m so thankful I got the opportunity to read it.

The romance in this book is just what I’ve come to expect from this author, steamy for a Christian novel but with a lot of emotional growth as well. I became fully immersed in their romance and how the author would work it out in the end. I loved seeing Della realize that not all men were what her father warned her about and seeing Cullen realize that lukewarm just isn’t enough. I absolutely loved this romance and can’t wait to see what else I can get from this author (maybe a sequel :D).

The storyline of this book is pretty impeccable. It moves along at a nice pace, the only wrinkle, for me, was how quickly and easily Della decided to forgive Cullen and take him back. I felt that it was a bit rushed and took away a bit front he overall story. Other than that small wrinkle, though, this story is utterly satisfying and completely worthy of not only being read, but being read a second time.

The characters of the story were really realistic. In a lot of cases I felt Della’s caution, particularly with what her father told her about men, was granted and I genuinely felt that Cullen’s struggle with his attraction to Della was believable. Every supporting character enhanced the story and made it even better. I also felt each character was well developed and their feelings at each interval were completely understandable. I think the author did an amazing job with the character and has a gift of storytelling.

The setting of this novel is one that I don’t usually see written about in this amount of detail and I loved it. I felt the author’s love for it and I wanted to be able to travel back in time to see the Chicago’s World Fair in all it’s glory. Even though the author wasn’t able to include all the details about the fair that she wanted, what she did include was spectacular and I drank it up. I’m actually a little upset that I didn’t get to see that magnificent fair, but at least we have people like Deeanne Gist who are willing to resurrect interest in it and write pages and pages about it.

Deanne Gist captured my heart with A Bride Most Begrudging and for a while now I haven’t been able to get my hands on any of her books, but I’m extremely happy that this was the one I was able to get. This book captured me just like my first, by her, and I can’t wait to see what I else I can read by her. I’ve found that even if it take years to get a book by her, it’s completely worth the wait. I completely recommend this author and any of her work.

Overall, I loved this book. The romance, the storyline, the setting. All of it captured me and held me hostage until the last page. I think this is perfect for those who like their story a little bit more steamy and who like historical fiction placed in a historical event. This book is definitely best left to the adults. I give this book a four and a half out of five.

*I received a complentary copy of this book in exchange for this review all opinions expressed are my own.*

Lock, Stock, And Over A Barrel

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Title: Lock, Stock, and Over a Barrel
Series: Dear Daphne
Author: Melody Carlson
Publisher: B&H Books
Published: June 1, 2013
Pages: 316

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Daphne Ballinger, armed with high hopes, lands her dream job at The New York Times. However, it’s not long before writing about weddings becomes a painful reminder of her failed relationship. It also doesn’t take long before her perception if the big city begins to lose its luster and her opinion of it begins to sour. Because of that she slowly starts to realize that her life needs a change of pace from her usual predictable life. She just doesn’t know how to change anything.

Her life is changed when her beloved Aunt Dee passes away and leaves a sizable estate to Daphne. She now has a change of pace, but it might not last long wit the strings attached to the estate. Coming home was easy, fulfilling the conditions of the estate, getting married within a year of signing the paperwork, isn’t quite as easy, especially since she has to really fall in love within a year.

With the year deadline looming over her, Daphne only hopes for a year in the house before she has to leave, but with so many bachelors in town it seems only a matter of time before she falls in love with one of them. But Daphne is focusing on her transition and her change of lifestyle then falling in love, along with all the secrets her aunt was hiding and whether she should tell them. But maybe God and her deceased Aunt Dee might have different plans for her life and her time in her small town.

Can Daphne fall in love before the allotted time or will she only get a year in her favorite childhood home? What will daphne do if she fails to me the deadline? What secrets will Daphne discover about her aunt and are there any more to be found? Who will Daphne fall in love with if anyone? Will Daphne find that she enjoys life in her small hometown better than life in the big city or will she miss the lights and luster of New York?
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I’m a huge fan of Melody Carlson’s and because of her popularity it’s a struggle to get any of her books, so I was thrilled to get the chance to review this one. I’m used to reading her young adult novels, so I believe this is my first adult novel by her and I must say that it was a new experience and one that I wouldn’t mind experiencing again.

This novel wasn’t quite what I expected. I didn’t expect it to be a series and I definitely didn’t expect it to end at the point or on the note that it did. I did enjoy this novel, but because my expectations were a bit more exciting and romantic I think I’m a bit disappointed with what I got. However, knowing this is a series eases my disappointment just a bit because I know she has to fall in love at some point.

There really isn’t much romance in this book it’s more of flirting and establishing who Daphne’s options are and there are quite a few. There are at least six different guys that are bachelors and are a possibility. I know I’m rooting for Mick, but maybe that’s just because I’m a sucker for an Australian accent. But I have a feeling that I know who the author will pick for Daphne and he’s my second choice. I’m really interested to see how the author navigates half of a dozen men and how she will pick one without disappointing too many people.

The story line of this book isn’t fast paced and isn’t one that’ll keep you up at night but it is one that’s worth reading and I think it holds a lesson all of us single people ought to learn, that we need to look for God for fulfillment instead of the perfect guy or girl. That was my favorite part of the novel because it was an epiphany for Daphne and allowed her to get her priorities straight. It progressed the story nicely and allowed a great finish.

I love this author and though this book was a bit of a disappointment for me and the title sounds better suited to a western, I don’t plan on stopping being this author’s fan and I do plan on reading the next books in this series because I want to know who Daphne ends up with. Though I don’t fully recommend this book I recommend the author’s other books.

Overall, a bit of a disappointment but still a good novel and the start to a good series. I think this book is perfect for those who want more of a serial romance series and not a quick romance read. This book is best left to the adults and possibly older teens. I give this a three out of five.

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

King

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Title: King
Series: Books Of The Infinite
Author: R. J. Larson
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: July 1, 2013
Pages: 352

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Akabe Garric has been chosen, against his will, to be king of Siphra. He’s a warrior at heart and never dreamed if or wanted such a swift unexpected rise to power. Despite his misgivings about his new role, he’s determined to prove his worth to the people of Munra and honor his Creator by undertaking a monumental task: rebuilding the Infinite’s Holy House in Siphra. If only the task only was all he had to worry about.

When Akabe soon discovers that the land he needs is held by the ThaenFalls, known Atea-worshipers who will only give him the land if he marries into their line. He has no idea what to do, all he knows is that his choice, Caitria, is pretty and seems like she’s had a rough life like him. Though Akabe seeks the Infinite’s direction, he gets nothing but silence. Frustrated, Akabe makes an impulsive decision which sweeps his nation into a lethal storm that threatens his plans for the temple.

With Akabe’s impulsive marriage to a controversial bride, Ela and Kien are forced to face what they feel for each other and when her father gives her to Kien, she must face her fears of her lifespan and those she’ll now leave behind. They also must face assassination attempts and another vision that will forever alter their lives as well as make them question how much time they have left. They must team up for righteousness and to survive but their enemies are persistent and they might finally succeed in killing the world famous prophet.

Can Ela give up her fears for her death and her fears of who she will leave behind or will she forever refuse to love because of the unknown? Can Akabe turn his new wife to the Infinite or will he have a wife who hates his Creator forever? Can Kien, Akabe, Caitria, and Ela survive the assassins or will the assassins succeed in their task? Will Akabe and Caitria fall in love despite their differences or will they forever be unhappy in their situation? Can Akabe finish the Infinite’s Holy House or will he lose his life because of it and before it’s finished?
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I love this author and her first fantasy series. This series is absolutely incredible and this latest installment skyrockets it up to my “top five best series ever” list and it’s not coming off any time soon. I’m a bit sad it has to come to an end yet excited to find out what other fantastic fantasy novels she will throw my way. R. J. Larson has become one my all time favorite authors and I fully intend to attempt to he my hands on anything else she writes.

Each book in this series was slightly different. The first focused on Ela and mostly revolved on prophesy, while the second revolved around battles and stubbornness. This one, revolved around love, survival, and trusting God and I must say that I think this one just might be my favorite of the three. This book hit close to home because I find myself doing things similar to King Akabe and so I loved this one and seeing every lovable character’s ending.

There’s actually quite a bit of romance in this novel. Akabe marries an Atean yet despite their differences they fall in love, even though Akabe doesn’t stop praying for her. Kien and Ela’s relationship opens to a new chapter and forces Ela to face some deep-seated fears she has about loving anyone. Even Matron Prill falls in love with someone as well as Pet/Scythe and that brought joy to my heart. The thing I loved most about all the romance in this book was the fact that Caitria was one of the most lovable characters, despite her rebellious ways,
and I couldn’t help but love her despite some poor choice and wrinkles in the road.

The one thing I wish was a bit different was the lack of an intense “death-scene” for our prophet, Ela. In the other two books, Ela has nearly died and the intensity of those scenes and the feelings they evoke was greatly missed and gave the book a less urgent feeling that I feel would’ve worked nicely. Also, a small pet peeve, I really wanted to know how long Ela lived for but I guess that that is something the author didn’t want us to know.

This author truly captivated me and made me a huge fan. I’m eagerly anticipating the next book she authors and hope that I’m fortunate enough to get my hands on it. I don’t think I’ve this fully engrossed in a book in a long time, nor have I wanted something to be real as much as I’ve wanted my own destroyer. This author mastered this series and has a definite gift of storytelling. This author and series come highly recommended.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book despite the lack of intensity and finality with Ela. I think this this book is perfect for people who like a fantasy that feels real. I think this series is great for adults, teens, and tweens and will help develop their love of Christ. I give this book a four and a half out of five.

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

Judge

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Title: Judge
Series: Books Of The Infinite
Author: R. J. Larson
Publisher: Bethany House
Published: November 1, 2012
Pages: 368

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Kien Lantec is on the first day of his military leave when the unexpected happens, he gets marching orders from his Creator, the Infinite. Orders that include going to ToronSea and warn them of their worship of a new goddess. This is the last thing he wants to do. What he really wants to do is race his destroyer and court the love of his life, Ela. What’s worse is that his mission doesn’t even utilize his skills as a military judge-in-training and he’s not happy about it.

Ela Roeh of Parne, the newest prophet of the Infinite, has just been given some shocking and devastating news. Her beloved hometown has turned their backs on the Infinite and have started idol worship. She now has a mission from her Creator to go and warn Parne of their imminent doom and urge them to turn their hearts back to their Creator. Not only does she not get to spend the next two months with Kien but she’s now going to have to watch her birthplace be turned to ash and maybe with her still in it.

With them both pulled in separate directions, they both must seek the Infinite’s leading and hope he will reunite them soon. But for Ela, part of her vision includes an ominous ending that she must keep to herself or scare everyone who loves her. Kien’s mission means he must listen to his Creator and do what the Infinite wants, even if it isn’t what he wants or if it means giving up what he desires most.

Can Ela turn the hearts of her fellow Parnians or will she be forced to watch her city burn? Can Kien follow the Infinite’s leading or will he have to learn the hard way that the Infinite’s way is best? Will Ela survive the destruction of her city or will this be how she dies? Will Kien be able to fulfill his Infinite given duty or will he fail and see another city’s end? Will Ela and Kien get the chance to be together or will they be torn apart before they he the chance to love each other?
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I loved the first book in this series and was so ecstatic when this one became available and I must say that this one is even better than the first. The storyline has gotten even more intricate and the characters have gotten even more lovable. This book was so good, i devoured it in one day flat and loved every single moment of it. R. J. Larson definitely nailed this one and I can’t wait to read her next one.

The thing I love most about this book, besides the destroyers, is the fact that though it’s a fantasy, it’s easy to see this world existing and the Infinite and the miracles of Ela all are similar to miracles in the Bible. So the transition from reality and fantasy isn’t that big of a leap and makes this world so realistic. It’s so realistic, that when I came up for air I felt that it was a real shame that this world didn’t exist and I wouldn’t be able to have a destroyer of my own. I’m still amazed that this author was able to create such a realistic world and captivate me so easily. I think this author has found her niche and I would be happy to read her fantasy novels until the day I die.

Every character in this book has a different personality, even Scythe/Pet and the array of destroyers. It’s easy for me to imagine Kien, Ela, and every side character as a part of history and not imagined characters. In fact, every time I pick up a book in this series I wish I had a destroyer and I could ride into battle alongside the hero and heroine. Actually, I still want a destroyer and am actually a bit upset that they don’t exist. I love the entire cast and how each one’s story went through the book.

This book is also set at an amazingly fast pace. This book literally doesn’t let up until the last page and it was so difficult to put this book down that I actually stayed up late trying to finish it. I didn’t succeed but I reluctantly put it down and woke up the next morning and started it up again. I couldn’t put it down and I loved the fact that the story pulled me along and didn’t let me go until I closed the book. This book definitely makes it onto my favorites list and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

This author caught my eye with Prophet and has now latched on in this one and I’m happy to be latched into when it means I get a fantastic book out of it. I’m so happy this author decided to go into fantasy because if she hasn’t we wouldn’t have this series and the world would be deprived of a fantastic fantasy author. I highly recommend this book and series as well as any fantasy novels this author writes. I’m now a huge fan and look forward to digging into King.

Overall, I loved this one and have absolutely no complaints about this glorious fantasy novel. I think this is perfect for anyone looking for a realistic fantasy novel with a biblical feeling. This book is great for adults, teens, or tweens and is a great book to build their faith ad imaginations. I give this book a five out of five.

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

The Lady’s Maid

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Title: The Lady’s Maid
Series: Prairie Dreams
Author: Susan Page Davis
Publisher: Barbour Books
Published: October 1, 2011
Pages: 320

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Elise Finster and her British mistress are on a mission to find her mistress’s uncle, the new heir to an estate in England after he came to America and just disappeared. Elise is determined to guard and help her mistress, Lady Anne, even if it means she has to travel in a covered wagon across the prairie to Oregon. Now all they need to do is spend six months out in the open and in the sun.

After losing his wife on the Oregon Trail, Edwin “Eb” Bentley believes the last thing he needs is a woman. So when he has two unprepared proper ladies trying to get to Oregon, he feels nothing but contempt. Until he gets to know the two ladies, especially Elise, and sees how hard they’re trying to learn. He finds himself attracted to Elise despite his best efforts to not be.

As their attraction grows, they find that someone is following them, for reasons the must find out. They need Eb’s protection from their unknown enemy that always seems to be right on their tail no matter what they do. Elise also has to figure out whether she wants to follow her heart or follow her mistress and finish the mission she started.

Will Elise pick her heart or her obligation to Lady Anne? Will Eb be able to keep them safe along the trail or will their enemy get to the ladies despite his best efforts? Will Lady Anne find her uncle or will she have to return to England in defeat? Who is following them? Why is he following them? Will the find out before something happens or after?
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Like most books, I picked this one solely because of the cover. From the cover I expected to get your average Christian romance, nothing fancy, nothing too passionate and that’s exactly what I got. In this book’s case though, I was more interested in the quest for David Stone than I was interested in the romance. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to see Elise and Eb end up together, but it wasn’t my main focus of the book an I feel like the author’s focus wasn’t on the romance either.

The premise of this book is great, two English high-bred ladies strike it out on their own on the Oregon Trail while searching for an elusive uncle. The execution wasn’t quite as good unfortunately. Having a story set on the Oregon Trail is basically any reader’s and writer’s historical dream. You kind of expect to get a wealth of information about the Oregon Trail and the hardships people faced crossing it, but unfortunately that information was sorely lacking dropping this book’s potential in my opinion.

I felt that the romance of this book was kind of an after-thought. It seemed like for most of the book they couldn’t stand each other and then all of a sudden, they’re attracted to each other. However, the parts that had romance in it, we’re cute. I loved the culture clash turned into romance. Where else but a romance novel can you have an English maid fall in love with an American scouter slash rancher? Though the execution of it was lacking the premise and parts of the romance were keys to an ideal romance.

The storyline of this book was okay. The story lagged in some areas but the parts that didn’t were enjoyable and kept me hooked, making me hesitant to put the book down. The book ends on a cliffhanger, but, thankfully, not a suspenseful one. It’s an ending that makes you want read more in the series but if you didn’t, you probably wouldn’t forever wonder what you missed. For the most part I enjoyed the storyline and its execution.

This book is great for a quick read but if you’re expecting more than a typical Christian romance with a little mystery you will be sorely disappointed in this book. I do intend to read more in this series and more by this author. Though this book wasn’t the best, I feel like this author is a good author and I’m curious as to what else she can do.

Overall, a nice typical Christian novel, but doesn’t stand out too much other than the open ending. This book is perfect for teens, adults, and possibly even younger readers. Fans of this author will probably love this book. I give this book a three out of five.

*I received a complimentary copy of the ebook from Barbour through the Net Galley program in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.*