Burning Sky

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Title: Burning Sky
Author: Lori Benton
Publisher: WaterBrook Multnomah
Published: August 6, 2013
Pages: 416

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Willa Obenchain’s life changed when she was abducted by Mohawk Indians when she was fourteen. After twelve years and the loss of her husband and two daughters, she decides to go back home to her family’s New York territory homestead. She intends to keep to herself and live alone, but her plans are dashed when she finds an injured Scotsman lying in her path and her feeling of obligation to nurse him back to health kicks in.

When Willa rounds the road dragging her wounded Scotsman, Neil MacGregor, behind her, she’s shocked and dismayed to see that a lot has changed in he twelve year absence. Her childhood home is in disrepair, her parents are missing and rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once adored has now become a man twisted by the horrors of war. With Richard, Neil, and her Mohawk brother, Joseph Tames-His-Horse, pulling her in separate directions, Willa begins to realize that her life of solitude might not be so solitary anymore.

As Neil and Willa become closer, the homestead is plagued by tragedy after tragedy that are a lot more than coincidence and with the strong feelings against “savages” and anyone associated with them, Willa’s safety is unsure. With the possibility of losing the homestead to auction and Richard, Willa is willing to do almost anything to save it, but it seems someone else has other plans for her.

Can Willa save her homestead or will she lose it to the ruthless Richard Waring? Will Willa choose to go back with Joseph Tames-His-Horse to the People as Burning Sky or will she find her place in the world she once lived in? Will Willa let Neil into her heart or will she drive him away with her thickly constructed walls? Can Willa prove her parent’s innocence before auction or not? Can Willa find a place in the world of her childhood or will she decide she needs the Mohawks to be happy?
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Ever since I saw this book was up for review, I was excited about it. So excited, I jumped on it with lightning speed and have been patiently awaiting a time for me to read this one. It was completely worth the wait. I loved this one! Though it’s a debut novel for Lori Benton, I couldn’t really tell. This book flowed so well and worked so well that this book is fantastic for any author let alone a debut author. This is definitely going on my “favorites” list.

This book is set in post-Revolutionary War New York and it worked really well. The scenery is gorgeous and the terrain is rugged, which makes for the perfect historical novel. The author is very good at drawing you a mental picture of the lush, green terrain without being wordy and keeping you interested without being overt. The historical facts were sprinkled in without being too much or feeling like a history lesson and she showed a side of history few of us think about – what it was like after the war. It definitely worked well with the storyline and expanded on a very popular war.

The romance in this book was kind of a love-triangle but was also one of the more sweetly subtle ones that I’ve read, but trust me it works and it works well. Never once did I feel like the romance was rushed or was disappointed with the romance being laid out for me. There was enough passion to make it feel real but enough emotional bonding to make a solid believable romance. Lori Benton just crafted one of the best romances I’ve ever read.

There’s also some drama and suspense in this book. It’s enough to keep the book interested but not too much to make you feel jolted around. It definitely worked with the storyline and though I could’ve called the ending from the first quarter of the book, and I did, I enjoyed the road to get to the end and didn’t mind at all that I guessed the ending a long time ago. Flow is definitely a strong suit of Lori Benton’s and I look eagerly look forward to anything else she has for me.

Lori Benton’s first novel has made a fan out of me and I’d be lying if I said that she didn’t capture my heart with Willa Obenchain formerly Burning Sky. I can’t believe I enjoyed a debut novel as much as I enjoyed this one. I will jump at any opportunity to read more from this author and I can’t wait to see her grow. This author has created a fan and has me highly recommending this book to anyone looking for a 18th century Native American love story.

Overall, I loved this book. This book is perfect for those that love historicals or books about the Native American culture. This book is great for adults and maybe mature teenagers. Children should stay away as there is some very emotional and possibly frightening scenes. I give this book a five out of five. The highest score I’ve ever given a debut before.

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

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A Reluctant Courtship

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Title: A Reluctant Courtship
Series: The Daughters Of Bainbridge House
Author: Laurie Alice Eakes
Publisher: Revell
Publisher: October 15, 2013
Pages: 368

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Honore Bainbridge has been courted by two men, one of whom turned out to be a traitor and the other a murderer. Because of that and the reputation she has, she’s been banished to her family’s country estate, where her family hopes that she will stay out of trouble. Honore and trouble seem to be far apart until she meets a man with another checkered past and suspicions hanging over his head. Honore’s sure this man is the one for her, if she can figure out whether she’s fallen for another miscreant or the man he shows her.

Americus “Meric” Poole Lord of Ashmoor has just come into his lordship but already he’s realizing just how different England is from his American upbringing and how out of place he really is. Because of his upbringing, his loyalties are under suspicion as well as his involvement with escaped prisoners from Dartmoor Prison. With all the suspicions and accusations swirling around him he needs a wife beyond reproach, something the beautiful Honore is not. So he distances himself from her, or so he tries.

Drawn together even with social and family obligations trying to pull them apart, they work together to try and prove Meric innocent of the crimes he’s being accused of. Meanwhile, Honore wrestles with her decision to help him and getting involved with someone that could be another criminal and Meric’s attempt to not fall for Honore begin to slip leaving him confused and disappointed. The two must work together and somehow not fall victim to the same crimes that took Meric’s father to America and not ruin their reputations beyond repair.

Can the two of them stay together despite attempts to keep them apart or will social and family obligations get in the way of love? Can Honore prove Lord Ashmoor’s innocence or will she be fooled yet again by a criminal? Can Meric find a way to win Honore’s heart and keep his reputation intact or will he decide that she’s not good enough for him?
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Laurie Alice Eakes captivated me with her Midwives’ series and then gave me a glimpse at England in the early 1800’s. Originally, I didn’t care much for the transition and got a little bit bored over England’s high society. However, with this novel, I finally fell in love with her Regency novels and, though I felt the emphasis on reputations and whatnot was a bit tedious, I truly enjoyed her newest Regency novel.

The setting of this book is my main problem with it. Regency has never been my favorite time period because of the emphasis that’s put on reputations and what others think of you and this book isn’t any different in that respect. It gets tiresome and tedious. However, I do think that this is one of the best Regency’s that I’ve read and will most likely read more of them from Laurie Eakes but they still won’t be my first choice for a genre.

The romance in this book is sweet and romantic. Honore is determined to win him over and Lord Ashmoor is determined to stay away from her and her bad reputation. I won’t give too much away but after a series of dramatic and fast-paced events, Lord Ashmoor realizes that Honore is the one for him and isn’t beneath him and the last two chapters of their romance was just plain romantic, heart-warming, and suspenseful. I think this romance will stick in my head for a while.

There’s a bit of suspense in this book as well and though it’s not very prevalent or will truly satisfy the appetite of true suspense fans, it played a pretty big role in the outcome of the book, particularly towards the end, and really livened up what would’ve been an otherwise boring book. It was also pretty hard to guess the culprit in this one as there was really no indication as to who was responsible for a lot of things, so that added mystery left me feeling completely occupied and satisfied with the outcome. I think the suspense and the choices that made up it, we’re a huge plus for this book.

Laurie Alice Eakes has been a favorite ever since I read the Kindle version of her first Midwives’ series book. Ever since then I have tried to get my hands on anything else she writes and this is the best one I’ve read outside her Midwives’ series. I plan on reading more from this author and hopefully being as happy, if not more so, as I was with this book. It wasn’t perfect but it was enjoyable. I recommend this book for Regency lovers.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it much more than the previous in this series, but I still can’t get past the Regency setting. This book is perfect for Regency lovers and lovers of historical romances. I’d keep this book away from the kids but adults and maybe mature teenagers will love this one. I g e this book a four out of five.

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

Under A Blackberry Moon

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Title: Under A Blackberry Moon
Author: Serena B. Miller
Publisher: Revell
Published: October 15, 2013
Pages: 352

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Moon Song, a recently widowed young Chippewa woman, stumbled into nearby lumber camp looking for shelter from the harsh winters just days after giving birth alone in the northwoods. Once summer hits, Moon Song realizes that she can’t stay amongst the rough and tumble world of white lumbermen and so she leaves along with the camp owner’s best friend who is going to accompany her on the long and treacherous journey back to her people.

Skypilot came to the lumber camp to escape his Southern background and to find a new career after her completely failed at preaching. Skypilot has always liked Moon Song so it’s no trouble to escort her back home, or so he thinks. What was a simple back and forth journey, turns into a long revealing journey for both of them and he begins to view Moon Song in a different light then he did before. If only that didn’t come with it’s own set of problems.

When disaster strikes off the shore of Lake Superior, Moon Song and Skypilot must rely on each other to survive the danger of the wilderness. The deeper they go into the forbidding woods, the closer they become and attraction begins to spark. But their cultures are so far apart and with bad memories, distrust is rampant, but maybe love is enough. One of them must decide if love is enough for them to leave everything they’ve ever known.

Will love conquer all or will their love crumble under the pressures of society? Will Moon Song leave her world to enter his or will she refuse to leave where she is welcome? Will Skypilot leave his world to live with the Chippewa or will she decide that she isn’t worth the massive change? Will the differences be too much for them and will they walk away or will they fight the pull or them to separate and love each other for life?
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Serena Miller is a fairly new author for me and I’ve noticed a pattern in her books that is a bit more unique than her counterparts. She likes to focus on strong females that don’t need a man to do everything for them instead of the usual damsel in distress type heroines. Though I don’t know if I could read these kinds of books all the time, I do think that it is very refreshing every once and a while to have a woman as the strong character in a book.

The romance in this book is a bit unique and yet still romantic in a weird way. I found Isaac Ross, aka Skypilot, to be a unique kind of guy. He struggled with feelings of inadequacy but mostly he just loved seeing Moon Song in her element instead of resenting her for doing what he couldn’t. That along with more situations on both parts set up a sweet yet romantic romance that made my heart sing. There wasn’t much in physical affection but watching feelings grow and seeing the lengths each went to made up for that.

The back cover of this book does nothing to really prepare for the story that this book is. I mean you know that disaster strikes and they have to rely on each other but just how much they do doesn’t hit you until they actually have to. Also, there’s a good quarter of the book that you aren’t set up for before hand and it makes it unexpected but endearing further cementing this book in my mind. I loved this story line and the journey that I got to go in with these characters. It really came alive for me.

The characters in this book are complex and interesting. Moon Song is very unemotional and though at time that can come across as hard, it fits her and overall her character seems realistic and lovable. Skypilot isn’t what I imagined and is definitely not your typical fictional guy, which makes him stick out and be completely unique. The other characters both good or bad seem to have a niche that makes them lovable and understood and adds some depth to this book.

Serena Miller didn’t really impress me with her last book but despite that, I had high hopes for this book because of the topic and Serena not only met my expectations she surpassed them and I am completely satisfied with her newest novel. This book put her on my “favorite” list and I look forward to seeing what else she has in store for me. I highly recommend this book.

Overall, great book with a unique romance and group of characters. Great for readers who like books about American Indians. This book is best left to the adults and not given to kids but maybe mature teens can handle this one. I give this book a four and a half out of five.

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

When The Clouds Roll By

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Title: When The Clouds Roll By
Series: Till We Meet Again
Author: Myra Johnson
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Published: September 17, 2013
Pages: 352

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Annemarie Kendall, a potter, is ecstatic when the armistice is signed ending World War I. Her fiancée Lt. Gilbert Ballard can finally come home to Hot Springs, Arkansas and marry her. If only his letters made it seem like he wanted to. So, Annemarie isn’t surprised, but still hurt, when Gilbert ends their engagement. Now Annemarie has to try and become who God wants her to be and try and save Gilbert while managing to save her heart from his friend.

Army Chaplain Samuel Vickary has befriended Gilbert to try and uplift his spirits. When, Gilbert breaks it off with Annemarie, Sam tries to convince him he’s making a mistake but he can’t deny that he feels an attraction for her too. But tormented by his decisions and his mistakes and the memories of war, he doesn’t feel worthy for love by Annemarie or God, let alone grace and he needs Annemarie to show him that he does deserve it.

Caught in the middle and confused, Annemarie must make a choice which man she will give her heart to. She also tries to save two men from themselves and it seems like she’s drowning. With Sam and Gilbert’s relationship destroyed over her and her heart broken by Gilbert, all three of them must try and put the war behind them and cling to the only One who can make things okay, God.

Who will Annemarie choose? Will Gilbert change his mind about Annemarie or will he never regret his decision to give her up? Will Sam fall in love with Annemarie despite his attempt to not or will his attempt be successful? Will Sam be able to leave his demons behind and trust in God or will he be tormented do the rest of his life? Will Gilbert be able to be a peace with his circumstances or will he become bitter and spiral downhill?
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Before this one, I had never read a book by Myra Johnson before and, after reason this book, I’m not sure why. I do know, though, that I loved this book and was surprised at the amount of drama and how emotionally charged it was. I’ve never read a love triangle this dramatic before, shockingly. Myra Johnson definitely captured how I imagine a love triangle would play out.

The romance in this book is kind of fast. Though I enjoyed it, there seemed to be something missing, maybe it’s the doubt both of them feel about their feelings or maybe it’s because of the slight lack of deep emotional connections. However, I do think that despite that it was a nice romance and had some very romantic moments that made me go, “aahh”. This romance wasn’t awful or even bad it just wasn’t the best I’ve ever read.

This story is very emotionally driven. It’s full of tears, anger, love, pain, and forgiveness. It really got your emotions involved whether it be pity, empathy, love, joy. I really had strong feelings towards a few characters in this story and because of that I would love to see Mary and Gilbert again in the next book and hopefully see a resolution to their issues and maybe a romance between them? This story was definitely a heart tugged and engaged me front he beginning.

The characters in this story had son real issues to work through during the course of this book. Particularly Sam and Gilbert. Some characters seemed a bit stuff and cardboard-like and had to figure out but the usually weren’t very important to the story and didn’t hurt the story too much. Annemarie’s struggles seemed realistic to me. I mean if I started falling for a guys weeks after I got dumped I question my feelings too. I think the struggles the characters went through were realistic and heart-rending.

Myra Johnson definitely made me a fan. Though this book wasn’t perfect, it was enjoyable and I did enjoy this read. In fact I devoured it and didn’t want to put it down. I don’t know how many books this author has but I intend to see if I can get my hands on any of them. I think this author has a great flair for drama and great storytelling abilities. This book comes highly recommended by me.

Overall, I loved this book though it did have some hitches. I enjoyed how realistic and gritty it was and watching each character coming to the realization that God loves them just as they are. This book is perfect for fans of love triangles, dramas, or WWI novels. This is best left to the adults. I give this book a four out of five.

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

Love’s Awakening

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Title: Love’s Reckoning
Series: The Ballantyne Legacy
Author: Laura Frantz
Publisher: Revell
Published: September 17, 2013
Pages: 416

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Ellie Ballantyne leaves finishing school in the spring of 1822 and returns to her family home in Pittsburgh. When she arrives home, she finds that her parents are away and her siblings don’t seem like they want her around. Determined to stay as find her place in the world, Ellie opens a day school for young ladies. She has no idea what her school will lead to or how it will effect her future.

Jack Turlock isn’t glad about the sea of his sister going to a day school, in fact he’s out right opposed to it, especially with the school being run by none other than Ellie Ballantyne. With slaveholder a and whiskey magnates as a calling card, Jack knows that Ellie could never be involved with someone like him. His father is a sworn enemy of Silas Ballantyne and is envious of his power and suspicious of his abolitionist leanings. If only Jack could stop thinking about something that will never be.

When Ellie gets the opportunity to teach Jack’s little sister she takes it, not knowing how involved with the Turlocks she will become or how attached to Jack she will get. When life seems to try and rip them apart Ellie must make a critical decision to either pick her family or cross enemy lines and side with the enemy, Jack. Jack must also realize that the way that works is God’s way and must find a way to break the chains of his father’s past.

Can Ellie find her place in life or will she be lost and alone forever? Will Jack be able to realize that he isn’t his father or will he carry his guilt to his grave? Can Ellie fall in love with Jack and still keep her family or will she have to choose one or the other? Can Jack find God or will it be over before he has the chance? What will Ellie’s parent’s think when they find out about Ellie’s love for Jack?
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After reading Love’s Reckoning I knew that I would have to read the next in this series and that it would be even better than the first. I was right. This book tugged on heart strings and actually made me cry! I can’t believe the emotions that were packed into this book and the tender yet passionate romance that wrapped around it. I was captivated yet again by the craftsmanship of Laura Frantz and I absolutely can’t wait for Fall 2014 to read the next book in the series.

The romance in this novel was one of the best I’ve read. It combined an emotional connection and some passionate moments and just made the romance seem realistic, heart-tugging, and beautiful. The romance in this book was similar to the first in the sense of theme. They both were about forbidden love, which for some reason captivates and moves us all. I can’t believe how well this romance was put together.

The storyline was impeccable. I got caught up in the story and was disappointed when it was over. It was full of intrigue and suspense, not to mention the awesome romance. It also gave a glimpse into the lives of those that smuggle slaves out of danger. I learned a lot and felt emotions that I very rarely feel from a book and I loved it so much. I absolutely have to read more from Laura Frantz!

The thing I liked most about this book was Ellie. Her character is rich and has always been, has gone to finishing school, and has every extravagance known to man yet she’s a very down to earth character and I loved her. She never came across as spoiled and I never once felt like she felt better than anyone. Because of that her character was very much a lovable character to me and I felt that she had amazing character development and was a strong character despite her appearance.

Laura Frantz captured me again! I’m shocked at how well she put together tis book and got my emotions involved. Any book deserves a great rating if it can make me cry. That’s a fear not many have accomplished. Laura’s impeccable storytelling skills and understanding of human emotion made me never want to put tis book down. This book, series, and author come very highly recommended.

Overall, I loved this book! I don’t even have any complaints about it. I wouldn’t change a thing. Tis book is perfect for someone who wants a historical fiction romance about forbidden love. This book is best left to adults. My rating of this book is five out of five.

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

What Once Was Lost

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Title: What Once Was Lost
Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Published: September 17, 2013
Pages: 352

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Christina Willems life is about serving. She Lovingly shepherds a group of poor and displaced individuals on a small Kansas farm. Her charges count on her leadership and have come to see Brambleville Asylum for the Poor as their home. But when a fire breaks out and makes their home unlivable, Christina must scramble to find shelter for all her charges, scattering her “family”.

Levi Jonnson is a mill owner and a notorious recluse. So when he is approached about taking in Tommy Kilgore, a young blind boy, he doesn’t want to, but reluctantly agrees with the stipulation that she find somewhere else for him to stay. However, Levi is surprised at the bond that quickly grows between him and Tommy. He’s also surprised at his new reluctance to go back to being a hermit.

With with repairs stopped by obstacle after obstacle, Christina wonders if she can finish the mission that she dedicated her life to. And when an old adversary shows up, Christina needs help, so she turns to Levi, hoping that he will help her. Levi is trying to stay aloof but Christina and Tommy are making it very difficult to keep his lifestyle and maybe that’s just what he needs.

Can Christina repair the poor house before she loses all of her charges or will they lose hope and leave before it’s finished? Can Levi hold onto his reclusive lifestyle or will he give it up for a blind boy and a selfless woman? Will Levi help Christina when she needs it or will he leave her hanging in the wind? What will happen because of one tragedy and a blind boy with no home? Will love blossom?
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Kim Vogel Sawyer has been a favorite of mine for years. I actually started reading her books and haven’t had the opportunity to read a novel by her in quite some time. Because of that, I jumped at the chance to read this one and I must say that this novel reminded me why I love her writing so much. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to review this one and got to get reacquainted with one of my all time favorite authors.

This story was by far my favorite by this author. I got dragged in so completely that I devoured this book and was sad to put it down. The thing I loved most about the story was the gritty and realistic feeling throughout it. I never once felt that something was unrealistic or implausible. The author’s descriptions and amazing character development kept this story at a good pace and made my mind’s eye go crazy with color and feelings. I loved this storyline so much!

The characters were awesome. I felt that they were well developed and likable, a hard quality to find as of late. I also felt that their fears and feelings made a ton of sense and I could see myself being the same way in their situation. I also liked the wide range of characters that were there. There was the snooty one, the sullen one, the chipper ones, and the spiritual ones and it pieced together book and made it well rounded.

The only real complaint I have is about the romance. Their wasn’t much of it as there wasn’t much contact between Levi and Christina and what little contact they had wasn’t intimate in any sense. However, what little romance I saw was awesome and typical of this author. Surprisingly though, even with the lack of romance I still love this book and completely fell for the character. Enough to even ask for a sequel to this one. (Please?!)

This author captured my heart with Waiting For Summer’s Return and recaptured it with this one. I can’t wait to see what else she has for me and I can’t believe I’ve gone as long as I have without a dose of her books. It can’t happen again. I absolutely recommend this book and author and I definitely think this book belongs up on the “favorites” shelf and is definitely worth rereading.

Overall, I felt it could use more romance but despite that I loved this book and highly recommend it. This book is perfect who like historical fiction and like it a bit different. I think this book is good for teens and adults. 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.*

The Invention Of Sarah Cummings

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Title: The Invention Of Sarah Cummings
Series: Avenue Of Dreams
Author: Olivia Newport
Publisher: Revell
Published: September 15, 2013
Pages: 304

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Sarah Cummings has one goal in life – to break free from her job as a maid and be part of Chicago’s high society. She’s desperate to stop serving dinner to members of the wealthy Banning family and to start being served. In her free time, meager though it is, she alters cast-off gowns to create the perfect wardrobe for her future life. So when opportunity knocks Serena Cuthbert is born.

Simon Tewell is director of St. Andrea’s Orphanage and knows Sarah from her past as an orphan who loved there. Simon wants to get Sarah involved in working inside the walls of he former home, but Sarah’s reluctance to do so baffles him. He finds her interesting and and wants to possibly pursue something with her, but she doesn’t seem interested, making him think it might be best to just leave her alone. But for some reason, he can’t.

As Sarah juggles being a maid and Serena and her full social calendar, she can’t seem to get Simon out of her head, even though he’s everything she wants to avoid in her life. With two men pursuing her, Sarah must decide which life she wants and what is worth more to her. Her lies and duplicity can only be juggled for so long before everything crashes around her, but will she be standing on top or crushed underneath her lies when that happens.

Can Sarah have the life she always dreamed of or is the cost of it too much for her? Can Simon show Sarah that life doesn’t mean fancy things or will he lose to shiny and sparkly things? Will Sarah realize that her drive to be rich and famous might be the ruin of her or will she crumble in the wind? What will Sarah decide to do with her life? Who will she choose and what life will she have?
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The sorry of Sarah Cummings was one I was greatly looking forward to. After seeing her in Charlotte Farrow’s story and seeing her attitude towards service, I desired to see her change into a character I could love or at least understand her. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get the opportunity to see that. Sarah Cummings’ story was a great disappointment for me because the entire time I tried to read this book, all I felt for her was dislike. This definitely wasn’t the best I’ve seen from this author.

The romance in this book doesn’t fully exist nor does it make a lot of sense. Simon is interested in Sarah even though she snubs her nose up at everything he holds dear and ignores him. Sarah is chasing a dream that will never come true because it’s built on a lie and completely ignores the best man to come into her life. The whole thing is confusing and the whole time I was wondering what Simon saw in Sarah because I sure didn’t see anything. Not to mention that Sarah has a mild interest until the end and then all of a sudden she loves him? I’m so confused with this one.

Sarah wasn’t a lovable character to me. She risked everything and hurt a lot of people all so she could have a chance at being rich. I didn’t like how she felt she was too good to serve and deserved to be served instead. I didn’t see any dramatic improvement to these qualities as the story progressed. I was disappointed with the lack of conversion and humility that Sarah showed and overall just thought she was an uppity and unlikable character.

The storyline was a good idea but not the execution. I felt that the author should’ve focused more on the real romance and the alterations to her character than the parties and fake lifestyle Sarah crafted for herself. I was gravely disappointed in this book and didn’t feel like this was the best ending to this otherwise good series. This storyline definitely wasn’t a hit with me and I don’t think I’ll ever read it again.

Though I appreciate this author’s work and so far have enjoyed her work, this book didn’t really strike a chord with me not did it make me like Sarah any more with this novel. This author captured me with Charlotte Farrow’s story but Sarah Cummings’ fell short for me. I intend to read more from this author because I know she can do better. This author but not this book come recommended.

Overall, I didn’t like this book much. I didn’t feel a connection to Sarah at all and just plain didn’t like her character or her character development. This book is good for those looking to finish up the series. I don’t recommend this for anyone other than adults. I give this book a two and a half out of five.

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

The Promise

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Title: The Promise
Series: The Restoration
Author: Gary Smalley and Dan Walsh
Publisher: Revell
Published: September 1, 2013
Pages: 304

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Tom Anderson lost his job five months ago and hasn’t told anyone, not even his wife. He leaves each morning pretending nothing has changed and spends his days in coffee shops and bookstores job hunting. The stress of keeping his unemployment a secret is pushing him and his wife apart and putting his marriage in danger. Tom is going to tell her after he finds a job, if his marriage lasts that long.

Jean Anderson knows something is wrong with her husband. He’s been coming home angry and bitter for months now and he doesn’t want to talk to her about anything anymore and it’s scaring her. With the chasm growing between her and her husband, she begins to suspect that her deepest fears might be a reality and she has no idea what to do about it.

When Jean goes to the doctor, she realizes just what has her husband so frugal and it makes he think about what he has done with his day all these months. It’s up to Tom to prove to her that he hasn’t done anything but lie and that it’s her he loves. With his marriage on the line, Tom must really evaluate his life, marriage, and his goals in life. Also, he must realize why he kept his secret for so long and try and make it up to Jean.

Can Tom win back Jean after a five month long lie or will he lose her forever? Can Jean forgive Tom for his lie or will she leave him despite his pleas? Will Jean believe Tom when he says he hasn’t cheated or will she believe her fears instead? Will Tom’s reasons for keeping his secret be confronted and conquered or just buried for another time?
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The first book in this series wasn’t very relatable to me because of the wide age gap between myself and the main characters. This book is a tad different. Though there is still that wide age gap, it’s much smaller and Tom’s story was much more relatable to me. I was able to see bits and pieces of my childhood amidst the memories of the characters and that definitely made me be able to connect with this book more than the first.

First things first, I have to address Tom and his real reasoning for hiding his unemployment. I won’t give to much away but I will say this, though his method was extreme, the reasons he kept his unemployment a secret made quite a bit of sense and seemed like something someone would do if they didn’t want to disappoint someone who had put a lot of pressure on them. Though I wouldn’t be able to keep a secret that big for that long, I can understand his reasoning and understand the desire to not disappoint someone you love.

The storyline is interesting and, though it’s not very fast paced, engaging if the topic is relatable to you. There were times I had a hard time keeping my attention on the book, but that might be because I’m not married and am not very knowledgable about marriages, so I might not be a very good judge of this book as far as pacing goes. However, one thing I can’t deny and see despite my lack of marriage experience, is that the marriage advice and images on how to heal a breaking marriage were spot on and very helpful for me for the future.

My favorite part of this entire book was seeing the transformation of all The marriages in this book once they put the Lord first in their marriages and lives. The transformation was into something I rarely see anymore and it gives me great hope that marriages don’t have to be this awful institution that many make it seem. This book portrays marriages as work and sacrifice and love and trust and I felt that that was very accurate and gave me a realistic view as to what marriage entails.

I’ve been reading Dan Walsh’s books for a while now and his storytelling ability never ceases to amaze me. That’s why I keep coming back for more from him. Dan’s coauthor is another story. I haven’t read much by him. My fourth book by him, all fiction, but all of those books have one thing in common, they either show what a marriage that revolves around Christ looks like or how to fix a marriage at its breaking point and I love seeing that. Both authors are amazing at what they do and both authors and this book come highly recommended.

Overall, a great book about fixing a marriage. The pace for me got a bit slow at times, but in general, I liked the pacing. This is great for people who want a great story about marriage or want to figure out how to fix a marriage in fiction form. Keep your kids away from this one but it’s great for adults. I give this book a four out of five.

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

Welcome To Last Chance

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Title: Welcome To Last Chance
Series: A Place To Call Home
Author: Cathleen Armstrong
Publisher: Revell
Published: August 1, 2013
Pages: 288

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When Lainie Davis sees that red warning light come on in her car, she thinks nothing of it, until her car breaks down in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico. Lainie is determined to find a way to leave this tiny one-horse town any way possible, until she starts to meet the people. These people who call this town their home are way too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life, and with her on the run that can become a problem.

Because she’s stuck in Last Chance for the time being, Lainie finds herself getting to know the colorful residents and integrating herself into the town. The more she does that the more she finds herself drawn to the town and the people, particularly to a handsome local guy with a secret of his own. Lainie can start to imagine herself staying here but it’s too dangerous and she knows it.

With Lainie growing closer to the people and Ray, she starts to fall in love, but she also starts to feeling an overwhelming sense of danger and she knows her time is limited before her past finds her. She’s not willing to risk being found, but she doesn’t want to leave either. For once her word seems to finally be good, but the arrival of who’s she running from can alter her world forever.

Can Lainie leave Last Chance or will she decide to stay? Will Lainie fall in love with Ray and stay or will they fall apart and make it easy for her to leave? Can Lainie outrun her past or will it catch up to her? What will happen if her past does find her? How will Lainie react to Ray’s secret? Who is chasing Lainie and who is she running from? Can Last Chance be all that Lainie needs or will El Paso be more for her?
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This book captured my eye as soon as I saw the cover and I figured a story about a girl on the run was even better. Add a romance in there and I’m practically jumping up and down ready to dig in. However, my expectations for this book weren’t quite fulfilled and I was a bit disappointed about that. This book was enjoyable but this wasn’t a book that really captured me nor is it one that I would read again.

The story started out pretty good. The urgency and frustration of Lainie’s situation flows through the pages, but as the story progressed the less I felt connected to the character. Also, the sense of urgency about who Lainie’s running from is almost abandoned for most of the book and picked up all of a sudden towards the end, giving it a choppy feel. Because of that, I didn’t love the execution of this story, though I did love the concept.

The romance isn’t my favorite either. I felt that the majority of it was physical and that there wasn’t much emotional growth between Lainie and Ray. Their conversations never really got really deep and it left me feeling like I got left out of a major part of the story. Though I liked the fact that there was kissing in this book, I really wish the author would’ve put more into the emotional side and less on the physical.

The thing I loved most about this story was the unique and overly kind characters that made up Last Chance, New Mexico. Books with characters like this are why I imagine an idyllic life in a small town. These characters are all unique and quirky and just plain lovable. I wish I lived around these loving folks just so I could experience the family-like atmosphere they create with their open and kind ways. This is something g the author did amazingly.

Cathleen Armstrong didn’t “wow” me with this book, but I believe this is a debut for her and as far as a debut goes this is pretty good. The author has a ways to go before her books will top the charts for me but she has amazing potential and I look forward to seeing what she can do. I think in a few books she will be amazing and I can’t wait to see it.

Overall, I didn’t love it. I felt the concept was better than the execution but the lively characters that love in the small town can capture your heart. I think this book is good for people who want a romance with a twist and don’t mind a debut novel to get that. I think this book is best left to the adults, though teens might enjoy this one too. I give this book a two 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.*