Sunday, 17 January 2021

Something Worth Doing

 


Back Cover

In 1853, Abigail Scott was a nineteen-year-old school teacher in Oregon Territory when she married Ben Duniway.  Marriage meant giving up on teaching, but Abigail always believed she was meant to be more than a good wife and mother.  When Abigail becomes the primary breadwinner for her growing family, what she sees as a working woman appalls her - and prompts her to devote her life to fighting for the rights of women, including the right to vote.

Based on a true story, Something Worth Doing will resonate with modern women who still grapple with the pull between career and family, finding their place in the public sphere, and dealing with frustrations and prejudices when competing in male-dominated spaces.

Review

Something Worth Doing is an eye-opening read into a woman's place in society during the 1800s - a time when a woman was not allowed to own property, have jobs outside of the home if they are married (and were only granted certain types of employment if they were  unmarried), or even vote in elections.  The home was deemed to be the only proper place for a woman, thereby pushing parents to secure successful marriages for their daughters.  A woman's value as a human being with equal rights, was downright scorned in society where only men could make important decisions.  

Abigail Scott Duniway had enough of the prejudices towards herself and other women in society and decided to do something about it.  So began a life-long pursuit of equal rights and opportunities for women, particularly, the right to vote in elections.  Over the course of her life, she encountered many trials and sorrows, but equally many successes, both in her business ventures, and also in her quest for the right to vote.  This novel doesn't pull any punches in detailing those ups and downs in her life, including strained interactions with her family.  

Abigail was a force to be reckoned with.  She was a wife, farmer, rancher, business owner, newspaperwoman, land speculator, mother of six, author, etc., among other titles.  It is mind-blowing the amount of accomplishments she was able to achieve in her lifetime!  All that she put her hand too received 100% of her grit and determination.  I admire Abigail for her tenacity and ability to have a razor sharp focus on her pursuits.  

However, an individual's strength can also become their greatest weakness, and that is seen no clearer than in Abigail's life.  Abigail, in her fight for equal rights, often pushed the priorities of her family and husband to the background.  What was most important to her was her journey and her dream for the right to vote - even to the detriment of her own family and husband's dreams.  Constantly her children and her husband were pushed aside to the benefit of her own pursuits; from leaving home for 10 months at a time to embark on speaking tours around the States to abandoning her dying child for another speaking event.  It is sad that in her fight for equal rights in the home (which her husband was generally rather accepting and supportive of), it made no difference to her if that meant walking over her own husband's dreams or desires or the needs of her children to have their mother present while growing up.  

I can't say I felt an immediate kinship to Abigail; particularly due to the treatment of her husband and children. She was willing to pursue her dream at all costs - no matter the sacrifice, bringing up the age-old question: Does the end justify the means?  It was something I found difficult to reconcile, particularly given the lack of faith element in her story.

In the end, no one can deny the impact she had on society and the suffragist movement.  She was instrumental in establishing the right for women to vote in America and pursued "Something Worth Doing" with every fiber of her being.  

Brimming with historical facts, Something Worth Doing is a interesting look into the life of Abigail Scott Duniway and the difficult journey for women's right to vote.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  


Monday, 4 January 2021

Acceptable Risk

 


Back Cover

For one journalist, the story of a lifetime is hitting too close to home.

Sarah Denning is a military journalist with the Army in the Middle East when she is taken hostage.  When former Army Ranger Gavin Black is asked by his old unit commander - Sarah's imposing father - to plan an extremely risky rescue, he reluctantly agrees and successfully executes it.

Back in the US, Sarah is livid when she's discharged on a false psychiatric evaluation and vows to return to the Army.  Until she learns of her brother's suicide.  Unable to believe her brother would do such a thing, she puts her plans on hold and enlists Gavin to help her discover the truth.  What they uncover may be the biggest story of Sarah's career - if she can survive long enough to write it.

Review

Acceptable Risk is another fast-paced suspense novel by veteran author, Lynette Eason.  Nearly every chapter had an explosive scene that built the tension to a final, nail-biting climax.  The complexity of Sarah Denning's character and back story enhanced the suspense as she not only was dealing with threats on her own life and coming to terms with her brother's suicide, but also working through her broken relationship with her father, a man, who through the majority of her life, seemingly wanted nothing to do with her.  The fractured pieces of her story were a lot to unpack in a single novel, but the author rose up to this task quite admirably.  While the story motored along with the speed of a racing Corvette, the character growth and development moved at a believable tempo.  

It is important to note that it is a suspense novel and it does deal with the difficult subject matter of suicide.  It can make for a dark story which can make it difficult to read at times.  I wouldn't say Acceptable Risk is one of my most enjoyable, relaxing reads, but it is still a well-written novel with an complex mystery.  I'm interested to see what is next in the Danger Never Sleeps series as book three is set to come out soon!

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  

A Haven for Her Heart


Back Cover

Upon her release from a woman's reformatory in 1941 Toronto, Olivia Rosetti wants nothing more than to forget the horrors of her time there and return to normal.  But with her family unwilling to forgive and employers wary of hiring her, she quickly ends up desperate and homeless - until a chance encounter with well-to-do widow Ruth Bennington.  The two discover they share a painful history and together decide to open a maternity home for troubled women.

Greek widower Darius Reed is determined protect his daughter from the prejudice that killed her mother and hopes to marry into a prominent Toronto family.  But when his employer orders him to persuade Ruth Bennington to sell them her property, Darius soon becomes conflicted over his feelings about the home and his attraction to Olivia. 

Despite finding fulfilment in her work, Olivia must fight not only bitter memories and the community's reaction to their mission, but also feelings for the man who is trying to close her home.  Can love prove stronger than prejudice and societal pressures, or will past mistakes destroy her chance at true happiness?

Review 

Wow.  What a beautiful story of redemption, love, and grace.  A Haven for Her Heart is an incredible story around Olivia Rosetti, a woman who is beaten down by society and thrown into jail by her own family for having a child out of wedlock.  While Olivia acknowledges her mistakes, her family and community are not so quick to extend forgiveness, leaving her an outcast. Homeless and downtrodden, Olivia seeks refuge at a church, which leads her to meeting Ruth Bennington, who doesn't hesitate to extend a helping hand and a home for Olivia.  A Haven for Her Heart is more than just about Olivia's journey, it's also about the friendship that forms between Olivia and Ruth and their vision of helping young mothers in need.

Darius Reed gets more than he bargained for when he is tasked with helping his boss purchase the Bennington property.  While he initially thought he would just have to employ mathematics and reason to persuade Ruth Bennington to sell, his negotiations turn far more complex by seeing firsthand how the home is helping women in trouble.  He is also captured by the beautiful Olivia, who is altogether strong and vulnerable, with eyes that show a deep heartbreak.  The question is whether he will sacrifice his job and future of marrying into a prominent family for a venture that has drawn the scorn of local businessmen and neighbours and a beautiful Italian girl with a sorrowful past.

Olivia's story, while fictionalized, was equally heartbreaking and inspiring.  Heartbreaking as I'm sure there have been (and will continue to be) many women in similar circumstances as Olivia, someone who, despite a repentant heart, is ostracized from family, friends, and even church for having a child out of wedlock. It is unfathomable to even think that at one time, Canada had a law to force the incarceration of unmarried, pregnant women, and further still, that while these women were in the "Reformatory", they were subjected to cruel and terrible medical experiments. So many lives were broken because of this law, circumstances of which can affect more than one generation.

I also said that Olivia's story was inspiring.  Olivia used a terrible experience to open her heart to others who were just like her.  She was given the opportunity to open up a home, a safe haven, for women in trouble. She was not only able to provide for their physical needs, but emotional and spiritual as well by being a witness of God's transforming love and grace.  

May A Haven for Her Heart inspire us all to take hold of God's grace and goodness and pour out His love into the lives of each and every one around us.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  

The Thief of Blackfriars Lane


Description

Radical. Bold. Fearless.

Sometimes there’s a fine line between a criminal and a saint…
but on which side of the line is the Thief of Blackfriar’s Lane?

Constable Jackson Forge is determined to make the world a better place. But the streets of Victorian London are Kit Turner’s domain, a self-proclaimed Robin Hood who runs a crew that acquires money the old-fashioned way—conning those with wealth to give to those who don’t.

When a local cab driver goes missing, it’s Jackson’s task to find the man…and the only way is by enlisting Kit Turner’s help. With Jackson’s job precariously close to termination, he convinces a reluctant Kit to help, reminding her that refusal means turning her in for thievery.

Neither of them realize the worst of their problems still await…

Review

What a fun, rollicking adventure tale! Michelle Griep takes readers on a wild ride throughout the cobblestone streets of London in 1885 where pickpockets were aplenty and corruption rampant.

Constable Jackson Forge wants to right all the wrongs and haul to jail the thieves and criminals roaming the streets. He meets his match with Kit Turner, a crusader of the poor and downtrodden, who uses her wits and street smarts (along with a little bending of the rules) to buy food and medical supplies for those in need. Jackson and Kit join forces in an effort to solve a case of a missing jarvey. Jackson needs to find the man in order to save his career and Kit, with her reputation and savviness is able to get them wherever they need to go. Their investigation takes them all over the streets of London, even into the belly of the sewers as they leave no stone unturned in their quest to find the man and bring him back home to his anxious wife.

Full of fast-paced action (and more than one wrong turn), The Thief of Blackfriars Lane was easily one of my favourite, entertaining reads of 2020. Looking forward to more novels from this author!


Many thanks to Netgalley and Barbour Publishing Inc. for an advance copy of this book to read and provide my true and honest opinion thereof.

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Point of Danger


Back Cover

Hate mail was one thing.  This was quite another.

Radio talk show host Eve Reilly is used to backlash from her pot-stirring on-air commentary and interviews.  But now it seems a disgruntled listener is resorting to more than angry words to express their displeasure.  When a suspicious package arrives on her doorstep, Eve turns to law enforcement for help.

Police detective Brent Lange can't find any evidence to link the string of unsettling incidents that follows, but he's convinced they're connected.  As the harassment grows more menacing, it becomes clear someone wants Eve's voice silenced - permanently.

But unless he can track down her elusive foe, the gutsy woman who is willing to take risks for what she believes - and who is swiftly winning his heart - may not survive.

Review

As far as books go, nothing can make me happier than a new novel by one of my favourite authors, Irene Hannon.  To me, Irene Hannon is the queen of Christian romantic suspense stories, and I have yet to be disappointed in any of her works! It was with great anticipation and excitement that I cracked open Point of Danger, the first in a new series, "Triple Threat".  

The first page was, quite literally, explosive, and set off a suspenseful plot full of twists and turns, and more than one possible suspect. It was a "keep-you-guessing" storyline that kept my attention to the final page.  Eve was an extremely likeable character, having a calm personality, yet full of convictions for her beliefs.  She showcases a tender heart for her neighbours, sisters, and coworkers, and is active in her fitness pursuits and home reno projects.  

Brent Lange quickly proves to be steady and reliable counterpart with keen intuition. He goes above and beyond on his job and Even is compelled to trust him...while at the same time, feeling the strong pulls of attraction.  You can't help but root for the budding relationship between Brent and Eve, as you just want them both to have a happily ever after! 

A smashing start to a new series, Point of Danger will keep you flipping the pages long into the night. 

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  

An Appalachian Summer

 


Back Cover

In 1933 Louisville, Kentucky, even the ongoing economic depression cannot keep Pier Danson's parents from insisting on a debut party.  After all, their fortune came through the market crash intact, and they've picked out the perfect suitor for their daughter.  Braxton Crandall can give her the kind of life she's used to.  The only problem?  This is not the man - or the life - she really wants.

When Piper gets the opportunity to volunteer as a horseback Frontier Nursing courier in the Appalachian Mountains for the summer, she jumps at the chance to be something other than a dutiful daughter or a kept wife in a loveless marriage.  The work is taxing, the scenery is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and the people she meets along the way open a whole new world to her.  The longer she stays, the more an advantageous marriage slips from her grasp.  But something much more precious - true love - is drawing ever closer.

Review

Through the eyes of Piper Danson, a young debutante from a wealthy family determined to do something adventurous the year of her debut (and hopefully escape the matchmaking schemes of her parents) the reader is taking on a journey nothing short of extraordinary.  As Piper descends from the train in the Appalachian Mountains, it reminded me of scenes of Christy Huddleson arriving at Cutter Gap, where rugged hills were seen as friends and neighbours sometimes as enemies.  A place where men fiercely loved their wives and family, and for some, their moonshine as well. It is in this setting, where medical help was scarce, that the idea of Frontier Nursing is born to help the hurting citizens of the community, and in particular, the birthing mothers.  

I loved every word of An Appalachian Summer, each page brimming with a moving storyline, likeable characters, and a beautiful setting.   I think the character of Piper Danson can appeal to everyone as a young adult striving to find your own path in the world, not based on what society wants or the family expects, but on your own desires, undergirded by God's loving direction. Piper's summer in the Mountains inspires her to seek life's adventures, never settling for the ordinary or expected, and to embrace each new challenge with excitement for the journey ahead.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  




Vying for the Viscount


 

Back Cover

For Hudson, the newly titled Viscount Stildon, moving to England from India where he was born and raised was already an arduous enough endeavor.  When he learns the fate of the racing empire he inherited along with his title depends upon him getting in the good graces of another stable owner, he's even more at a loss.

The stable at the neighboring estate has been Miss Bianca Snowley's refuge for years, and when a strange man appears to be stealing the horses, she jumps to their protection without a second thought.  Upon learning Hudson is actually the new owner, she can't help but be intrigued by the area's newest eligible bachelor.

Any thought of romance is quickly set aside, however, when Hudson proposes they work together to secure suitable spouses for each other.  As their friendship grows, Hudson and Bianca begin to reconsider what they truly want in life.  But will societal expectations and the weight of their responsibilities keep them from pursuing their true desires?

Review

What a fun, delightful read!  With witty dialogue, likeable characters, and stables full of beautiful horses, Vying for the Viscount is another wonderful historical read from Kristi Ann Hunter.  I loved the fact that the main characters were avid horseback riders who found their "escapes" galloping across the fields on horseback. Not to mention, it is much easier to hash out problems while riding!  I kept stealing "moments" to read another page in this story, more than once burying my nose in the book for hours at a time as it was just so enjoyable.  I especially enjoyed the inclusion of some very endearing characters from the Hawthorne House series in Vying for the Viscount (and I hope it will be a recurrent theme for the rest of the novels in the Hearts on the Heath series!). 

Hudson and Bianca are likeable characters.  You can't help but feel sympathy towards them while they muddle through their unique circumstances.  For Hudson, he feels adrift without having any proper knowledge of the estate and family affairs in England, and completely lost when it comes to knowing the ways of people in high society and the proper norms.  Bianca is able to help him navigate the society life, while in return requires some help of her own.

Bianca has a loving, if not a bit distant, father, and a scheming step-mother who would rather forget that Bianca existed, if not for the fact that her own blood daughter is of age to step out into society and find a suitable husband (something that is not done until the elder sister is married). As her step-mother continually pushes unsuitable (not to mention, mean) eligible men towards her, Bianca determines to take the reins of her life into her hands to avoid a disastrous match.  Hudson offers to help her find an affable husband (with a stable full of fine horses of course), and Bianca agrees...even while her heart grows fond of Hudson himself. What follows is a entertaining tale of looking for love in all the wrong places.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.