Mistaken

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Title: Mistaken
Author: Karen Barnett
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Published: July 2, 2013
Pages: 384

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Laurie Burke’s family has been criminals because of alcohol and the Prohibition and because of that she resolves to find at least one honorable man to fill her life. Even though she tries to find an honest man, she is a criminal magnet. Her bad run with men seems to be over when she meets federal agent Samuel Brown, because a man of the law can’t be a criminal, right?

Daniel Shepherd moved from Seattle to his hometown to help run his grandfather’s drugstore and to run away from his past. He’s interested in Laurie, but unbeknownst to him, she believes he’s rum-running with her brother and isn’t interested in getting involved with another criminal. He’s trying to win her over but with missteps and misunderstandings running abound it’s hard to get her to like him.

With Laurie showing an interest in Samuel Brown, Daniel must try and show her that he might not be who she thinks he is and show her that he might be worth her attention. As they grow closer Laurie tries to hide her brother’s illegal smuggling and her father’s drunken ways, and Daniel’s past begins to close in on him. Neither feel worthy of love but maybe God has other plans.

Can Laurie finally find one honorable man or will she spend her life surrounded by criminals? Can Daniel show her that he’s not a rum-runner or will she always think the worst? How will Laurie react when she finds out about Daniel’s past? Is Samuel Brown who he says he is or is there a lot more about him then he appears? Can Laurie and Daniel’s budding relationship survive the prohibition or will it be crushed under the weight of the secrets they carry?
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Karen Barnett is a new author for me, but I must say that I’m glad I found her. I was first drawn to this book because of the cover and the era in which it was set. Once I found out what it was about I was all in and ready to read this book. My expectations when starting this book were pretty high and I so excited to see how this book turned out. This book not only met but exceeded my expectations and blew them out of the water.

This author’s true talent lies in her impeccable characters. All of her characters are fallible and misguided in some area and all, well most, are lovable and easy to relate to. I couldn’t believe how well each character was formed or how deep each characters feelings went. I found myself feeling along with the character and that is a rare thing for me. I loved absolutely every second of watching these characters try and get out of the mess they had gotten themselves into.

Her storyline is also incredible. It has just the right amount of suspense, romance, and secrets. I never expected to be ripped into the storyline so quickly or fully and I enjoyed it so much I actually finished this book in one night. I actually stayed up late trying to finish this one and see how it would end. It was a real joy to see the story progress with a wonderful pace, incredible characters, and a beautiful love story. I think this story is my favorite of the year so far.

Even the romance in this book is awesome. I got the perfect mixture of emotional connection as well as physical. Daniel is willing to do almost anything for Laurie and she can’t seem to stay out of trouble. I loved the whole set up an result and I loved to see their love in action throughout the book. Needless to say that I was impressed with the way this romance evolved and I don’t think I’ll forget it any time soon.

The topic is set in history, during the Prohibition era, but I think there’s a lesson in there for all of us. Not only does this book show that God is better than anyone or anything and is always willing to forgive, but I also think it shows that alcohol can be a dangerous thing to tangle with. I also think the author did an amazing job depicting so accurately what alcoholism is, how it starts, and how to cure it. Her colorful and accurate depiction of an alcoholic made this story come alive and held me until the end.

If I were this author, I would be so excited and proud of this book. This book not only is an amazing story and romance but it’s also and incredibly accurate depiction of alcoholism and I can’t imagine how many lives this might save or change. This book was so fantastic that this author and book just skyrocketed up to the top of my “favorites” list and aren’t coming down. This book comes very highly recommended.

Overall, absolutely amazing book. I loved it so much I have not complaints. This book perfect for those who want a romance set in the Prohibition era and want a but of suspense as well. I think this book is good for adults and possibly teens. 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.*

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That Certain Summer

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Title: That Certain Summer
Author: Irene Hannon
Publisher: Revell
Published: June 1, 2013
Pages: 304

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Karen and Val are family, but they’re anything but close. Karen has carried the burden of responsibility for her aging mother ever since her sister left to pursue a career in theater. Karen overextends herself by having a career, recovering from her divorce, taking care of her newly rebellious daughter and her ailing mother. So she does the unthinkable. She calls her sister for help.

Val had her reasons for leaving town. Besides to pursue a a career, she left to get away from her controlling mother and to run away from a secret no one else knows but her. Coming home has never been an option, until her mother suffers from a stroke and she hears the weariness in her sister’s voice. Val now feels the need to breach the secrets of the past and move on from the guilt she carries.

Reunited, the sisters now have to care for their controlling mother and grapple with their past mistakes. Hopefully they can repair their torn relationship and become not only friends but sisters again. As they battle that their summer takes an interesting new spin as two handsome men come into their lives and offer them a hope for something better. Each one has issues and trouble but when their lives intersect they might just be able to learn to forgive and love again.

Can Val forgive herself for the mistake she made when she was just a teenager or will she give up everything and hold onto the guilt she carries? Will Karen learn to stand up for herself and forgive her ex-husband for cheating on her or will she stay the quiet church mouse that is still angry with her husband? Will Karen and Val find love this summer or will they get their hearts broken once again?
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I love Irene Hannon’s work and I have been a fan since reading a couple of her Love Inspired novellas. For a few years she has stuck to just suspense so I was a bit surprised when she decided to write a contemporary novel. However, I’m so happy she did. This book is, in my opinion, her best yet. This book was well developed and heart-tugging. It got my emotions involved and I loved it.

The characters of Karen, Val, Scott, and David were realistic and I loved seeing them grow and finally learn to forgive whether it was themselves or someone else. Their journeys got my heart involved and made me feel like the characters were real making this book a breeze to read and finish. This author definitely has a gift of creating great characters that attach to your heart and don’t really release themselves out of your life.

The romances were also some of the best I’ve seen out of this author. The emotional development was amazing and I could really see the relationship grow into a love strong enough to conquer some tough choices and realizations. There isn’t much heat in this romance but the lack of it didn’t bother me at all and in fact in this particular novel I probably wouldn’t want it. The slow emotional attachment that grows into love fits this novels so well that I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

This storyline follows a few really real and tough situations a lot of people are facing today. There was coping with the aftermath of divorce, partial paralysis, being the lone survivor of a car accident, falling in love with a woman who will leave, and most importantly, abortion. Every struggle during the course of this novel made the story even more real and made each character more realistic and lovable to me. I loved this novel and want more like it.

I’ve been a fan of this author for years and have loved her suspense work but I feel like this is her best work yet. I loved this and want more contemporary fiction from her. I look forward to seeing what else Irene Hannon will throw my way. This book and author come highly recommended and I definitely want more like this novel from her.

Overall, a great novel. I have absolutely no complaints. This book is perfect for people who like a well constructed romance that broaches hard topics. I don’t recommend this book for younger readers but adults and possibly teens will enjoy this one. I give this book a five out of five.

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

To Win Her Heart

After being jilted by her fianc├ę who took her father’s money and left, Eden Spencer has sworn off men and resolved herself to the life of the spinster librarian.
Levi Grant wants to start over after he’s released from a two year prison sentence for an unintentional murder. So he makes his way to Spencer, Texas to become the town’s blacksmith.
When Levi starts coming to the library, Eden thinks he’s just acting like he can read to impress her, but what she doesn’t know is that he has a lisp. When love starts to bloom will Levi’s past find him and will Eden forgive him for it?
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This book starts painstakingly slow. It took me a while to fully get drawn into the story, but looking back on the story I can’t see anything that could have been taken out.
I can’t deny Karen Witemeyer’s gift of weaving a fantastic story. Her characters are deep and don’t have shallow backgrounds or inconceivable histories. There are even the characters that get on your nerves because they feel like their better than anyone else.
The main character Eden was a little judgmental particularly when she found out about Levi’s past, which part of me wanted to wring her neck for being stupid while the other part of me wondered if I’d have done the same thing.
Levi’s character is basically what every woman dreams of in a guy. Tall, handsome, considerate, a real Christian guy. Even with the lisp, Levi is an incredible guy and his past only adds to it. Ms. Witemeyer definitely gets a thumbs up for that.
Chloe, the daughter of a prostitute that Levi and Eden take in, and Duncan, an Irish quarry worker who dreams of becoming a stone cutter and to woo his “bonny lass”, have a cute and quick romance and I actually hope that the author makes a book for that one.
The romance isn’t very passionate with very little hugs and kisses, but the romance has a nice speed, not too fast but not too slow, and you don’t really miss the absence of the gestures.
Overall, it starts out slow but it gets better and turns into a sweet romance novel that is perfect for new and old romance fans alike. I’d recommend this book to older teens and adults. I give it a four out of five.

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.