Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Secrets of My Heart

 

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Portland, Oregon 1879

Nancy Pritchard finds herself widowed and with a world of problems when her deceased husband's shady business schemes start to come to light.  As she sifts through the shadowed memories of their loveless union, Nancy realizes ther eis a lot she didn't know about the man she married.

 Seth Carpenter, a chidlhood friend of Nancy's, has recently returend to Portland and is delighted to see her again.  As a lawyer, he offers to help her sort through the legal ramifications of her husband's death.  But there is more to Seth than meets the eye, and his job will take him into the dark side of Nancy's husband's life - a side she didn't even know existed.  

 As the two search for the truth behind her husband's death, a mutual attraction creates complications.  When Nancy's own life is threatened, can Seth be honest with her about who he really is and why he's come back to Portland?  And can Nancy bear another betrayal?

Review

I really liked this story!  In Secrets of My Heart, Tracie Peterson proves why she has been a best-selling author with over 100 novels to her credit.  This isn't the "same old" western historical romance story.  The characters were well-developed, the dialogue was engaging, the romance was sweet, and the storyline intriguing.   I enjoyed the inclusion of a mystery as the main character delves into her husband's covert business deals, details of which come to light in an alarming - and dangerous - way.  

I also appreciated Nancy Pritchard's independent spirit, as her determination to make a life for herself after her husband's untimely death really shone through the story in an inspiring way.  

Overall, this was a really pleasant, refreshing read, and easily one of my favourite historical romances to date.  I'll be looking forward to the next instalment!

 

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

 

Veiled in Smoke




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The flames took so much.  
She can't lose her father as well.

Meg Townsend and her sister, Sylvie, seek a quiet existence managing the family bookshop.  Meg feels responsible for caring for their father, Stephen, whose spirit and health are both damaged from his time as a prisoner during the Civil War.  Her one escape is the paintings she creates and sells in the bookshop.

Then the Great Fire sweeps through Chicago's business district.  The fiery explosions and chaos stir up memories of war for Stephen as he runs from the blaze and becomes separated from his daughters.  Days later, when the smoke has cleared, Meg and Sylvie manage to reunite with him.  Their home and shop are lost, and what's left among the ashes may be even more threatening than the flames, for they learn that a close friend was murdered the night of the fire - and Stephen has been charged with the crime.  After he is committed to the Cook County Insane Asylum, where they cannot visit him, Stephen feels as lost to them as the shop that now lies in rubble.

Though homeless and suddenly unemployed, Meg must not only gather the pieces of her shattered life, but prove the truth of what happened that night, before the asylum truly drives her father mad.

Review

Wow.  What an incredible read!  With her vivid imagery and fantastic character portrayal, Jocelyn Green has penned yet another engaging historical story.  As the Great Fire roars through Chicago, I envisioned the flames licking my my own heels as Meg, Sylvie, and their father raced to safety from the impending destruction.  I felt their fear, desperation, and dashed hopes as their home and livelihood went up in flames.  
 
But even with the raw emotion that was written across the pages of Veiled in Smoke, I don't think could ever fully grasp the depths of despair that many people in Chicago felt as the fire ripped through their homes.  I grew up in an area prone to wildfires, and during the summer, there was always the awareness that one small spark or forgotten campfire could start a terrible fire that had the potential to decimate my small hometown.  But for the citizens of Chicago in 1871, they didn't have to imagine such a thing - they lived through it.
 
And that's why stories about people such as Meg and her family are inspiring to read.  While this is a fictional retelling, it is a glimpse into how the citizens of Chicago took what was burned to ash and began to rebuild.  And while they mustered courage for rebuilding a life that was as good or even better than before, for the Townsends, another forceful tragedy will rip through their home as Mr. Townsend is arrested for murder and thrown into an insane asylum.  I couldn't imagine such a thing happening to my own family!  It is from these emotional roller-coaster of struggles that Jocelyn Green has written a moving historical drama centralized around a family that refuses to give up, that leans on God when seemingly all hope is lost, and learns that there is light at the end of even the darkest of tunnels. 


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

Monday, 22 June 2020

More Than We Remember



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One night changes everything...

When Addison Kilbourn's husband is involved in a car accident that leaves a woman dead, her perfectly constructed life crumbles apart.  With her husband's memory of that night gone and the revelation of a potentially life-altering secret, Addison has to reevaluate all she thought she knew.

Emilia Cruz is a deputy bearing a heavy burden far beyond the weight of her job.  After a traumatic brain injury, her husband is no longer the man she married, and Emilia's determined to prevent others from facing the same hardship.  When she's called to the scene of an accident pointing to everything she's fighting against, she's determined to see justice for those wronged.

Brianne Demanno is hiding from reality.  She once thrived as a counselor, but when tragedy struck a beloved client, she lost faith in herself and her purpose.  When her neighbors, the Kilbourns, are thrown into crisis, Brianne's solitary life is disrupted and she finds herself needed in a way she hasn't been for too long.  

As the lives of these women intersect, they can no longer dwell in the memory of who they've been.  Can they rise from the wreck of the worst moments of their lives to become who they were meant to be?

Review

Wow.  What an incredible book!  Christina Suzann Nelson has penned an emotionally charged inspirational story supported by a complex and engaging set of characters.  I don't say this very often, but the characters in this story were written in such a way that they seemed very real  as they navigate a myriad of difficult real-life situations, including family trauma, relationship struggles, and spiritual doubts.  Each character deals with her "Job" moments in different ways, ranging from "running away", standing up and fighting, or protecting others facing similar situations.  More Than We Remember peels back the layers and depths of human emotion in crisis, leaving the cast of characters raw, humble, and relatable to the reader's eyes.  I felt the characters' pain and inwardly cheered them on in their struggles.  

The storyline itself was incredibly engaging with the constant unveiling of secrets and plot line twists.  It was SO difficult to put this story down - so much so that my husband teased me on more than one occasion about my nose being buried in the book again?!  

More Than We Remember is a story I will not soon forget. 

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



Friday, 19 June 2020

The Highest of Hopes



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For years she searched for somewhere to belong.  But is she looking in the right place?

After her beloved grandfather's death, Emmaline Moore is shocked to discover that her deceased father is actually alive in Canada.  Having no other family, Emma decides she must find him, and so embarks on a journey across the ocean, accompanied by her best friend Jonathan.  Unfortunately, Randall Moore and his family aren't thrilled by her arrival, fearing her sudden appearance will hinder his chance at becoming mayor of Toronto in 1919.  Despite everything, Emma remains determined to gain their affection.

Jonathan Rowe has secretly loved Emma for years and hopes that during their trip he can win her heart.  Concerned that Randall might reject her, Jonathan is ready to console Emma and bring her home.  But when she informs him that she has no intention of returning to England, Jonathan fears he'll lose her forever.  Is there any way to convince her that the love she seeks could be right in front of her?

Review

Susan Anne Mason has penned another wonderful historic read, The Highest of Hopes, being Book #2 in her "Canadian Crossings" series. 

Emmaline is a bright, vivacious, and determined character, who always seeks the positive in people.  She is unable to take "no" for an answer, so despite the less than warm welcome she receives from her father and his family, she isn't willing to give up on finally being part of a family.  This causes friction between herself and her best friend, Jonathan, as he doesn't want to see Emmaline's heart to be broken by her father. 

I really liked Emmaline's character for her ever-present positive outlook on life and desire to believe the best about everyone.  With so much negativity in the world today, Emmaline's personality was a breath of fresh air and made me want to cheer for her and her ambitions.  Her character really carried the storyline well and made for a pleasant read despite the tense and complicated interactions between Emmaline and her family.  The romance that blossomed between Emmaline and Jonathan was sweet and sigh-worthy. 

This was a really enjoyable story full of history, romance, and interesting family relationships.  I can't wait to read the next book in this series!

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

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Collateral Damage


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They thought they left the fight behind on the battlefield.  
But their greatest struggles are just beginning.

Honorably discharged from the Army after an explosion nearly killed her, former military psychiatrist Brooke Adams has set up shop to help others, but her days of helping military personnel are over.  She's got her own battles to fight from her time overseas, and she's not equipped to take on more.

Former Army Special Ops Sergeant First Class Asher James could handle anything that war sent his way.  The only thing that scares him now is sleep.  As the shadows close in, the nightmares begin.

Finally convinced that he needs help, Asher makes an appointment with a counselor.  When he arrives at her office, she isn't there, but a dead body is.  When it becomes clear that Brooke was the real target of the attack - and that her secrets go even deeper than his own - Asher vows to protect her no matter what.

Review

Collateral Damage is an explosive start to Lynette Eason's newest series, "Danger Never Sleeps".  From the first chapter, readers are taken on a wild ride from war-torn Afghanistan where anyone could be your enemy, to sunny South Carolina, where the terrors of war should only become a distant memory.  However, the danger didn't stay overseas, but followed Brooke and Asher as they enter civilian life.  Not only are they unsure of who attacked Brooke, they don't even know what it is her assailant is after.  All these factors result in a page-turning story with endless twists and turns!  I loved every word, every chapter, and was sorry for the story to end.  Suspense novels are my favourite read, and Lynette Eason hit the ball out of the park with this one.  Can't wait for Book #2!


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

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Far Side of the Sea



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In 1918 England, Lieutenant Colin Mabry spends his days decoding messages for MI8 after suffering inures at the front.  When he receives an urgent summons by carrier pigeon from Jewel Reyer - a woman who saved his life and whom he believed to be dead - he can only hope he'll regain the courage he lost on the front lines as he's driven back into war-torn France.

But Jewel isn't the one waiting for him in Paris.  Instead, it is a stranger who claims to be her half sister, Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence.  She found Jewel's diary and believes her sister is alive and in the custody of a German agent.  With spies everywhere, Colin is at first skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust grows.

That trust is quickly put to the test, however, when their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot and their search for answers quickly turns into a battle for their lives.

Review

When I pick up a Kate Breslin novel, I know I can easily anticipate an intriguing story, fascinating war history, and complex characters.  Far Side of the Sea does not disappoint!  I had no idea how involved carrier pigeons were during World War I in the passing of messages within the military.  These courageous birds were able to fly undetected to deliver life-saving messages to their recipients.  It's always amazing to hear how even the smallest of creatures such as a bird can aid during wartime!

I really enjoyed the story and unfolding relationship that developed between Johanna and Colin.  They were brought together through a mutual concern over Jewel, and were equally surprised by the love that blossomed between them.  They are quickly pulled into a web of intrigue that threatens their very lives.  As enemy agents everywhere, it is impossible to know who they can trust and who to run from.  With many twists and turns, this story will keep you guessing until the end!

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

  


The Spice King


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Gray Delacroix has dedicated his life to building an acclaimed global spice empire, but it has come at a cost.  Resolved to salvage his family before they spiral out of control, he returns to his ancestral home for good after years of traveling the world.

As a junior botanist for the Smithsonian, Annabelle Larkin has been charged with the impossible task of gaining access to the notoriously private Delacroix plant collection.  If she fails, she will be out of a job and the family farm in Kansas will go under.  She has no idea that in gaining entrance to the Delacroix world, she will unwittingly step into a web of dangerous political intrigue far beyond her experience. 

Unable to deny her attraction to the reclusive business tycoon, Annabelle will be forced to choose between her heart and loyalty to her country. Can Gray and Annabelle find a way through the storm of scandal without destroying the family Gray is fighting to save?

Review

I'm always eager for Elizabeth Camden's novels.  Her passion for history just glows through each of her stories with rich descriptions and intriguing plots and her characters often face a moral dilemma that elicits the turning point and climatic event in the story.  

The first book in Elizabeth's Camden's new series, "Hope and Glory", The Spice King, takes readers on a journey into the world of the spice trade, modified foods, and the international tensions between America and Cuba in the early 1900s.  Annabelle Larkin, while simply on a pursuit of finding more specimens for the Smithsonian plant collection, finds herself caught between a rock and a hard place when she has asked to become a spy for the U.S. military to determine whether Gray Delacroix is part of an insurgents' group party to the rebellion against the Americans in Cuba.  Annabelle is at loathe to spy on anyone, but agrees to assist - partly out of patriotic duty and partly to clear Gray's name.  While she fully expects Gray to be innocent, she does not anticipate falling in love with the colourful businessman, a revelation that would completely tip her world off its axis.  As her feelings for Gray develop, it becomes harder to spy on him, as Annabelle is keenly aware her actions would be viewed as a betrayal of the trust Gray has given her.  With the undercurrent of relationship tensions threatening to surface and added political intrigue, Elizabeth Camden has penned a fascinating story that I will re-read again and again.  I will be hard-pressed to wait for the next instalment, due out later this year!

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

 




Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Stretched Too Thin



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As a working mom you can often feel like you're living stretched too thin.  You want to thrive personally and professionally, but the day-to-day responsibilities and mental load can make that feel impossible.  While periods of busyness are normal, if life feels overwhelming, it's time for a reset.  With compassion and encouragement, Jessica N. Turner shows you how to:


  • work and parent guilt-free
  • set achievable goals
  • discover more flexibility
  • establish clear work boundaries
  • develop home management solutions
  • become more efficient and less stressed
  • prioritize self-care
  • invest in your marriage
  • cultivate deeper friendships
Want to embrace your many roles and learn solutions that really work?  Let Stretched Too Thin empower you to make changes and live with contentment.

Review

Stretched Too Thin addresses a common struggle in today's culture: how to balance the many hats a woman, particularly, working mothers, wear.  It can seem impossible to give 100% equally and fully to being a wife, a mom, career woman, homemaker, friend, sister, etc. all at the same time.  Many women think of the descriptions of the Proverbs 31 woman in the Bible as the all-time example to emulate.  And for many (myself included), while it can be encouraging, it can also be equally discouraging seeing how high the bar is raised.

What if there was a way to do it all?  To be the successful career woman, doting wife, loving mother, and loyal friend?  Jessica N. Turner seeks to answer that question in Stretched Too Thin.

Just reading the title speaks to me.  It is a phrase that has almost become my mantra, so I was eager to dive into book to hopefully glean some wisdom and practical advice.  My final impression of the read was overall positive.

One of the prevalent themes I found throughout the book was self-care.  It is true that unless we take care of ourselves, we will be unable to help others (something that I've been repeatedly reminded by my other half...).  If our well is running dry, we can't even being to hope to draw water from within for someone else.  Self-care includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, etc.  As my understanding was the book was being written from a Christian perspective, I would have liked to have seen more emphasis on spiritual self-care, as it was very, very briefly touched upon.

The majority of the book is filled with helpful suggestions, checklists, and brainstorming opportunities for better organizing daily routines and tasks.  Efficiency can often be the key to success as well as keeping track of time.  More often than I care to admit, I've been the victim of going on a social media website to check "just one thing", and before I know it, that one thing turned into many rabbit trails, and soon an hour has passed!  Oops...

In all, I found that Stretched Too Thin, while light on the faith component, provided some helpful tools for better organizational success to help maintain sanity whilst juggling all the different priorities in life!

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




The Killing Tide


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When one Coast Guard officer is found dead and another goes missing, Coast Guard Investigative Service special agent Finn Walker faces his most dangerous crime yet.  His only clues are what little evidence remains aboard the dead officer's boat, and the direction the clues point to will test Finn and the Guard to their limits.

The already volatile situation is complicated even further by the arrival of Gabby Rowley - Finn's boss's sister and an investigative reporter with unrelenting questions about the crime.  Now that she's returned, the tug on Finn's heart is strong, but with the risks she's taking for her next big story, he fears she might not live through it.

Thrown together by the heinous crime, Finn and Gabby can't ignore the sparks or judgments flying between them.  But will they be able to see past their preconceptions long enough to track down an elusive killer, or will they become his next mark?

Review

Dani Pettrey has crafted a fast-paced, keep-you-guessing story with The Killing Tide, Book One in her new series, "Coastal Guardians".  Suspense is the theme in the book, starting from the very first page as the reader jumps right into the middle of a coast guard rescue mission.  The tension doesn't let up as a winding mystery unfolds in the following chapters and more than one character meets their unfortunate end. Dani doesn't pull back any punches as she guides the reader into a web of intrigue, murder, and mayhem.  Of course, there is the (much needed!) smattering of romance to provide a little balance to the thrill ride.  With such an explosive start to her new series, I am eagerly looking forward to the next installment! 

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


A Return of Devotion



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Daphne Blakemoor was content living in her own secluded world for the last twelve years.  She had everything she needed - loved ones, a true home, and time to indulge her imagination.  But when ownership of the estate where she works as a housekeeper passes to a new marquis with an undeniable connection to her past, everything she's come to rely upon is threatened.

William, Marquis of Chemsford's main goal in life is to be the exact opposite of his father.  Starting a new life in the peace and quiet of the country sounds perfect...until his housekeeper turns his life upside down.

Both Daphne and William have spent their lives hiding from the past.  Can they find the courage to face their deepest wounds and, perhaps, forge a new path for the future together?

Review

Book two in the Haven Manor series, A Return of Devotion, picks up quickly after the first novel ended.  The happy couple from A Defense of Honor are on their honeymoon, leaving Daphne and Jess to set Haven Manor back to rights as if it never had been an orphanage in the first place.  For a woman like Daphne, where order and structure are as essential to her as breathing, the stress and uncertainty of what is to come leaves her uneasy.  And when the new owner of the estate arrives, bearing a remarkable resemblance to someone from her past, her world is further rocked off its axis and panic sets in.  For over ten years she has sought to keep her past life hidden away, but William, Marquis of Chemsford, threatens her secrets.

Having been introduced to Daphne in A Defense of Honor, I enjoyed diving into her character more deeply in A Return of Devotion.  Daphne has an often whimsical outlook and thought coupled with a very nurturing heart.  Gifted with a vivid imagination, Daphne is often given to flights of fancy as escapes from reality.  William's steady nature is a perfect complement to Daphne's lighthearted ways and made for a delightful romance.  

The author's talent for writing engaging historical novels has made me love her every book.  I enjoyed the return to Haven Manor and cannot wait to read Jess' story, which I can only imagine will be the most intriguing yet!


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