Shakespeare-turns-Amish more annoying than adoring.

Adoring Addie by Leslie GouldAdoring Addie, Gould’s second installment in her Shakespeare-turns-Amish tale of star-crossed lovers, takes us back to Lancaster County where these would be Romeo and Juliet find themselves on opposite sides of a family feud. Our Romeo, Jonathon Mosier, meets up with Addie Cramer, his Juliet, and falls instantly in love. The Cramers and the Mosiers are having none of it. Addie’s parents have already chosen a suitable mate for their daughter, and so the sparks begin to fly.

Like her first book, Courting Cate, this one has all the markings of a great story. I love fresh takes on classic tales, but like Cate, Addie just doesn’t cut it with me. Written in first person, Addie comes off as a wimpy child unable to make healthy choices for herself. Because of the first person voice, too often Addie veers off into monologues, telling rather than showing the audience the unfolding story. Her voice cuts the story off at its knees and left me more irritated than intrigued. Again, Gould seems to force modern phrases and ideologies onto a culture that is celebrated for its simplicity. You’ll need to suspend your disbelief on more than one occasion to get through to untangle the drama to the end, but no worries, everyone lives to tell the tale. The best I can say is I finished it.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.

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Ruth Axtell’s Moonlight Masquerade: A Review

Moonlight MasqueradeIn Moonlight Masquerade widowed Lady Celine Wexham, French by birth, appears to be a model British subject, but the British government suspect she may be a spy for the Napoleon. Rees Phillips, lowly clerk in the British Foreign office, poses as a butler in the Wexham household in order to find out the truth. Moonlight Masquerade is the first novel I’ve read by Ruth Axtell and while I appreciated the expert historical details, I found the story a little slow at times. I also couldn’t quite manage to suspend my disbelief at the idea of a lowly clerk and a countess pairing up. For the rest, I found Axtell wrote many exciting scenes and I enjoyed getting to know her characters. Occasionally, I found myself skimming over a few pages to stay interested.  Overall, a solid read. I think if this is your favorite genre then you will really love it, but I can’t say I’m waiting with bated breath for her next book.

Lady Celine Wexham seems the model British subject. French by birth but enjoying life in 1813 as a widowed English countess, she is in the unique position of being able to help those in need–or to spy for the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte. When Rees Phillips of the British Foreign Office is sent to pose as the countess’s butler and discover where her true loyalties lie, he is confident he will uncover the truth. But the longer he is in her fashionable townhouse in London’s West End, the more his staunch loyalty to the Crown begins to waver as he falls under Lady Wexham’s spell. Will he find the proof he needs? And if she is a spy after all, will he do the right thing?

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.

Swept Away by Mary Connealy: A Review

Swept Away by Mary ConnealyThis isn’t the first novel I’ve read by Mary Connealy, but I’m pretty sure it will be my  last. Not that Swept Away is full of terrible smut or crooked theology, on the contrary, it’s a sweet amicable read. The story pulled me in almost immediately—Connealy is a fair writer with an excellent grip on weaving a wild western tale. Her sense of humour is first-rate and at times she’ll make you laugh out loud!

From the first I was rooting for Ruthy, our heroine orphaned since childhood and about to be forced into marrying a no-account scum bag, and for hero Luke, on a mission to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family.

Yet here’s the problem, though it’s published by Bethany House and supposed to be a faith-based novel, there isn’t actually all that much about God in it.  Yes, it avoids the pitfalls of books written for the public market. It’s a clean cute fun read, only with little more than a passing mention of God.  And if that’s all you’re looking for in a Christian book then pick this up, you’ll love it.  I’m looking for something more. I want my hero and heroine’s faith (or lack thereof) to be a vital and ringing portion of the story and for Connealy, it just ain’t gonna happen.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.

About the story: When a cowboy focused on revenge encounters a woman determined to distract him, there’s going to be trouble in Texas! Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing, Ruthy MacNeil isn’t terribly upset at being separated from the family who raised her. All they’ve ever done is work her to the bone. Alive but disoriented, she’s rescued by Luke Stone…so unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future. Luke is on a mission to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family. But the men currently on the property won’t let it go without a fight. Luke plans to meet up with friends who will help him take back the land, and since he can’t just leave Ruthy in the middle of nowhere, she’s going to have to go with him. But the more time Luke spends around the hardworking young woman, the more he finds himself thinking of things besides revenge. Will Ruthy convince him to give up his destructive path and be swept away by love?

The Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish: A Review

The Air We Breathe by Christa ParrishThe Air We Breathe, by Christa Parrish is one of those amazing stories that stay with you. Christa Parrish explores the broken worlds of Molly Fisk, eighteen and afraid to walk out her door into the world and Claire Rodriguez whose own ghosts keep her tightly locked down. The lives of these two people each paralyzed by their own personal tragedies intersect and what comes from a chance meeting can only be a ‘God-thing.’ I have to admit that I usually stick to inspirational romance—preferably with a big dollop of mystery, but this book intrigued me from the first and I have no regrets. Parrish steps carefully through questions of why the Lord allows terrible tragedy into the lives of his children and does so without being preachy. This is my first Christa Parrish novel and her authentic and carefully woven plot has me looking for more of her books—an inspiring first-rate read!

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.

Julie Klassen’s The Tutor’s Daughter: A Review

The Tutor's Daughter by Julie KlassenI stayed up late into the night following the tightly woven mystery of Julie Klassen’s, The Tutor’s Daughter. If you love historical fiction with a clever twist of intrigue this is the book for you!  Bookish Emma Smallwood steps out of a hired coach and into the secrets of a nineteenth century cliff top manor on the windswept coast of Cornwall. Something is happening at Ebbington manor—from the creaking of floorboards in her darkened bedroom, the haunting music played only at night, to the distant cry of voices in the supposed empty north wing and Emma must uncover the mystery before harmless pranks turn deadly. Walking with a lone candle through the twisting halls of the ancient manor Emma encounters more than just the glaring eyes of Weston ancestors. With my comforter tucked securely under my chin I gingerly followed Emma into the mystery surrounding Ebbington Manor and enjoyed every minute of it. Klassen writes an excellent mystery and it satisfies to the very last page!

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.

Vanished, by Irene Hannon: A Review

Vanished, by Irene Hannon

When you’re the only witness to a terrible accident that no one believes really happened who do you turn to for justice? Irene Hannon introduces a great new romantic suspense series with this first book in her Private Justice series featuring the Private Investigators at Phoenix Inc.  In Vanished, Hannon delivers what I’ve come to expect—a tight mystery with intriguing, well-developed characters who when faced with adversity don’t shy away from it. I’m a bit disappointed that she keeps the faith aspect so light in her books. Hannon sidesteps a perfect opportunity in Vanished to explore a common question that Christians share; why our heavenly father allows bad things to happen to his children—a difficult aspect of faith to be sure, but one that other authors, like Dee Henderson, handle so well. Yet, if you’re looking for a clean modern mystery with a touch of romance you’ve landed in the perfect place. Once again Hannon pulls you in and keeps you reading ‘til the last word.

Reporter Moira Harrison is new on the job in St. Louis, but she’s no rookie to investigative reporting. She knows how to dig for answers and get results. But when she hits a pedestrian on a rainy night in a wooded area—only to have both the victim and the good Samaritan who stopped to assist disappear—she turns to P.I. Cal Burke, an ex-homicide detective, to help her sort out the puzzle. Cal is more than a little skeptical of her story, especially since the police have dismissed it. But as clues begin to surface, bringing them closer to answers, the danger mounts. Because someone doesn’t want this mystery solved—and will stop at nothing to protect a shocking secret that will destroy a life built on lies.


“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.

Get Ready to Hold Your Breath! Heitzmann Delivers in “Breath of Dawn”

The Breath Of DawnDon’t bother thinking you can put this book down once you start! Kristen Heitzmann delivers again! Both Widower Morgan Spencer and Quinn Reilly have their own story to tell and Heitzmann weaves them together in a tale of love and suspense that had me curled under my blankets with my breath caught in my throat at what might happen next. Heitzmann writes a fast-paced story—and though I was tempted to rush ahead at times it’s better to keep a good pace to avoid missing any of the intriguing details she leaves like breadcrumbs. I also appreciate the way the author intertwines the story of faith—never heavy-handed—and enough to lift my own face in thanksgiving and grace. Great read!

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.

Book Summary: Morgan Spencer has had just about all he can take of life. Following the tragic death of his wife, Jill, he retreats to his brother’s Rocky Mountain ranch to heal and focus on the care of his infant daughter, Olivia. Two years later, Morgan begins to make plans to return to his home in Santa Barbara to pick up the pieces of his life and career.

Quinn Riley has been avoiding her past for four years. Standing up for the truth has forced her into a life of fear and isolation. After a “chance” first meeting and a Thanksgiving snowstorm, Quinn is drawn into the Spencer family’s warm and loving world, and she begins to believe she might find freedom in their friendship.

The man Quinn helped put behind bars has recently been released, however, and she fears her past will endanger the entire Spencer family. As the danger heightens, she determines to leave town for the sake of the people who have come to mean so much to her.

Fixing problems is what Morgan Spencer does best, and he is not willing to let Quinn run away, possibly into the clutches of a man bent on revenge. But Morgan’s solution sends him and Quinn on an unexpected path, with repercussions neither could have anticipated.

Courting Cate by Leslie Gould, A Review

Courting Cate by Leslie GouldCourting Cate, an Amish fiction take on the Taming of the Shrew has all the markings of a fun story: a sharp tongued savvy woman coupled with an undaunted handsome guy whose snappy dialogue sparkles off the page from the get go. Feisty Cate, is the sharp-tongued elder sister whose sweet gorgeous younger sister is the epitome of an Amish young woman—everything Cate is not. With Cate’s father pronouncement that Betsy may not marry until Cate does, Betsy begins a desperate search for a male, any male that Cate has not already driven away!

I love inspirational romance, but I have to be honest that I tend to avoid the Amish fiction. I generally like my novels to at least have some basis in reality. While I am not immersed in Amish life, I found myself often skeptical that the thoughts, feelings and action in Courting Cate were true to life. I know, I know, its fiction…but this is the first book I’ve read by Leslie Gould and she just didn’t convince me. I also found that the story seemed to drag a bit in the middle.  But if you can manage to suspend your disbelief and keep reading until the end, I think you’ll be happy you did. Courting Cate is a cute, fun tale that helped me pass a few hours in leisurely relaxation.  Enjoy!

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.

 

Christmas Roses by Amanda Cabot: A Review

This Christmas novella by Amanda Cabot is a touching story of a woman’s search for true love.  Celia, a widow with one small child, struggles to provide for herself a small family.  Though she doesn’t lack suitors, Celia has no intention of settling for anything less than real love.

Ms. Cabot has written a heartwarming tale that, at just over 170 pages, is a perfect break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. I enjoyed getting to know Celia and Mark and if you’re a fan of inspirational historical romance then this is a treat you won’t want to miss. Even better, with its Currier and Ives snapshot set on a cheery red cover this hardcover book makes an excellent stocking stuffer for the reader’s on your Christmas list.  I enjoyed the story and I know you will too!

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group”.