Taken by Dee Henderson: On a slow ride to love

Dee Henderson

Dee HendersonYou won’t find Liam Neeson anywhere on the pages of Henderson’s latest offering Taken. You also won’t find the blood-drumming nail-biting ride that Liam or any of the O’Malley’s took you on in Henderson’s earlier series. And while it takes some getting used to, Henderson’s new slow pace gives many long time fans what they want. So far the O’Malley’s have made cameo appearances in all of Henderson’s new books. Just don’t expect the same energy in Henderson’s latest works.

Taken, like Dee Henderson’s last few books, takes the reader on a slow ride. This one following the unfolding love between hero and heroine and the only action seems to happen off screen. Don’t be fooled by the cover: Dubbing Taken a ‘romantic suspense’ is a stretch. The suspense is artificial as the heroine doles out vital facts in molasses-slow fashion and the romance is at best friends-without-benefits and a tad paternalistic at worst. If you haven’t already guessed, I prefer the adventure and romance that marked her early books, but even so, it says Dee Henderson on the cover and you’ll still find her distinctive voice on the pages between.

An investigator who knows tragic loss firsthand, 
and his new client, missing far too long…

Abducted at the age of sixteen and coerced into assisting the Jacoby crime family, Shannon Bliss has finally found a way out. She desperately wants to resume some semblance of normal life, but she also knows she has some unfinished business to attend to. She might have enough evidence to put her captors behind bars for a very long time. 

When Shannon contacts private investigator Matthew Dane, a former cop, to help her navigate her reentry into society, he quickly discovers that gaining her freedom doesn’t mean her troubles are over. If the Jacoby family learns she is still alive, they’ll stop at nothing to silence her.

If justice is to be done, and if Shannon’s life is ever to get on track again, Matthew will need to discover exactly what happened to her–even if it means stirring up a hornet’s nest of secrets.

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

A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer: An adventure you don’t want to miss!

A Worthy Pursuit

Take one schoolmarm spinster with her three charges that she’ll defend to the death and throw in a tough-as-nails former Texas Ranger that would be equally at home in the pages of a Louis L’Amour. Spin them off on a journey that starts with the two of them at cross-purposes and then throw in a common enemy. The adventure that ensues is as heart warming and pulse thumping as any book that has landed in your lap in a while. Karen Witemeyer’s historical western A Worthy Pursuit takes you by the heart on page one and tugs you through to the very last word. Take my word for it: This is an adventure you don’t want to miss!

A teacher on the run. A bounty hunter in pursuit. Can two enemies learn to trust each other before they both lose what they hold most dear?

Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.

Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan’s Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the orphaned girl entrusted to her care. Charlotte promised Lily’s mother she’d keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.

When Miss Atherton produces documentation that shows her to be Lily’s legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he’s been led to believe. Is she villain or victim?

Then a new danger forces Charlotte to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone vows to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he’s ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte’s heart.

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

Keeping “A Bride For Keeps” On My Bookshelf

A bride for keepsMail-order brides and ruggedly handsome cowboys just seem to go hand in hand when it comes to romantic tales of the Wild West, but Melissa Jagears in her debut novel, A Bride for Keeps, puts a fresh spin on an old story. Everett Cline, jilted by one to many brides, has lost faith in the good Lord’s provision. Julia Lockwood has never known a loving earthly father, let alone a Heavenly one. Finagled for him by well-meaning neighbours, Everett is so not interested in this latest mail-order bride. And as for Julia, she steps off the afternoon train like a woman meeting a firing squad.  Though this is not exactly the match everyone hoped for, if the unlikely pair give each other a chance they just might be surprised by love.

Jagears has a fresh compelling voice and Salt Flatts, Kansas sounds like a place I want to settle in and get to know. I can hardly wait for her next installment!

About

Everett Cline will never humiliate himself by seeking a mail-order bride. Not again. He’s already been jilted by three mail-order brides and figures a wife just isn’t in his future. However, a well-meaning neighbor hasn’t given up on seeing him settled, so she goes behind his back to bring yet another woman to town for him.

Julia Lockwood has never been anything more than a pretty pawn for her father or a business acquisition for her former fiance. A mail-order marriage in faraway Kansas is a last resort, but she’ll do anything to leave her life in Massachusetts and the heartbreak she’s experienced there.

Although Everett doesn’t see how a beautiful, cultured woman like Julia could be happy sharing his simple life, he could really use a helpmate on his homestead. Determined to prove she’s more than just a pretty face, Julia agrees to a marriage in name only. Faced with the harsh realities of life on the prairie and hesitant to explore the tentative feelings growing between them, can Everett and Julia ever let each other in long enough to fall in love?

“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”.

An Untamed Heart by Lauraine Snelling: A Review

An untamed HeartTouted as the “Long awaited prequel to the Red River of The North Series,” An Untamed Heart may tweak the interest of Snelling fans, but doesn’t really work as a stand-alone story.  You can’t fill three quarters of the book with one love story, kill off one of those main characters, and then expect your readers to even care about what happens between Roald and Ingeborg. In retrospect the jacket cover blurb should have clued me in: Most of what happens in the book is summarized in the first sentence. 

I remember loving Snelling’s Red River of the North series, while this book is full of details that in the end, just don’t amount to a cohesive story. It’s not so much terrible, as just sort of boring. Snelling is obviously still a skilled writer, but it’s difficult for any author to go back and rewrite history.  I had to work to get through this novel and the back story did little to add to my memory of Snelling’s amazing Red River of the North series. I’d recommend you stick to her classics.

About

The Long-Awaited Prequel to the Red River of the North Series

Twenty-year-old Ingeborg Strand is certain she is destined to be an old maid. It’s not that she’s lacked suitors, but now she no longer can have the one she loved.

With the future looking bleak, her mother suggests that she leave Norway and start afresh in America, as so many others have done before her. But how will she accomplish that with little money and no one to accompany her?

Roald Bjorklund is a widower who has been planning to go to America, lured by the promise of free land. He’s a good man, a hard-working man–with a young son who desperately needs a mother. Ingeborg can tell Roald is interested in her, but what about love? This isn’t how she’s always imagined it.

Ingeborg Strand has a heartrending decision to make…

“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”.

The Long Awakening by Lindsey O’Connor: A Review

The Long Awakening by Lindsey O'Connor

I’m a fiction junky through and through so it takes quite a bit to knock me out of that habit, but Lindsey O’Connor’s The Long Awakening is just such a book. In this personal memoir O’Connor recounts her descent into the darkness of coma after the birth of her daughter. Uterine rupture and subsequent complications suspended her in darkness for 47 days. Then she begins her long ascent out of darkness. Dispelling Hollywood myths of awakening to perfect health, O’Connor offers us the poignant and often brutal truth of regaining muscle and brain function after lying dormant for so long. Yet this is more than a story of personal healing. Love story, drama, and resounding hope will have you weeping and cheering right alongside of the author. An excellent compelling read. Honest, lovely, and inspiring. Buy it. Read it.

Watch the trailer on You Tube:

About

The riveting true story of a life-threatening coma, a miraculous awakening, and the long quest to regain what was lost.

The day our baby came into the world was the day I left. A day that began all smiles and excitement and anticipation and joy ended with running and panic and blood and tears. And then coma.

I lay suspended in the deep, my newborn unknown. Nothingness. Layers where dark pulled from below, light called from above, and me, trapped in between, longing to break the surface.

To live.

Forty-seven days later when I first saw my husband’s face leaning close to me, I knew where, and who, I was. But other things took much longer to know. Learning to restitch life–and love–when everything’s changed, and finding who we are afterward, can be the longest journey of all.

I’m Lindsey O’Connor, and this is the story of my long awakening.

“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”.

Trapped by Irene Hannon: A Review

Trapped by Irene HannonHiring PI James Devlin to find her runaway sister, Laura Griffith knows it’s a race against time to find the young girl. As a blizzard shrouds the Midwest, the teen’s trail disappears into the swirling snow. Someone else is determined to cover her tracks. In Hannon’s second installment of her Private Justice Series she ratchets up the tension from the get-go leaving readers biting nails to the quick as the pages turn.
No one disputes Hannon’s ability to write an excellent romantic thriller. However, as Hannon also writes for the inspirational market, too often she is light on the gospel message. Not so in Trapped. Faith and mystery walk hand in hand as Laura’s anchor in God, despite the desperate search for her sister, lights the way for Dev, who’s faith has faltered in the midst of personal loss. Bravo for an excellent read!

Watch the trailer on YouTube:

When librarian Laura Griffth’s sixteen-year-old sister disappears on a frigid February day, leaving only a brief note behind, Laura resolves to do whatever it takes to track down the runaway teen. That includes recruiting ATF agent turned PI James “Dev” Devlin to help—but the deeper he digs, the more he begins to suspect that something sinister is at work in the girl’s disappearance. And the closer he gets to uncovering the truth, the clearer it becomes that the situation isn’t just dangerous—it’s deadly.

“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”.

Rules of Murder

Rules of Murder by Julianna Deering

I was excited to read Julianna Deering’s, “Rules of Murder,” because the 1920’s setting seemed like a fresh and fun setting for a mystery. And sure enough, the story paints a vivid picture of the Roaring Twenties in all its glory. Though the period slang feels a tad overdone at times, it seemed to fit amateur detective Drew Farthering’s character. The snappy romantic dialogue between Drew and his love also added some fun to the mix. I also appreciated the pace of Drew’s faith development—it had a genuine ring to it and closed the story with some finesse. Yet, it was difficult to get past those first few chapters.

A number of times I had to go back and reread a portion of the story to figure out who the people actually were. Then, when the first dead body is discovered it seems to take would-be-detective, Drew, eons to discover it’s a case of mistaken identity. Of course, all is not what it seems, but by the time the mystery unravels it’s all just so frustrating. When the murderer is finally revealed I had no satisfying “aha”, only a sigh of relief that all the subterfuge was finally over. It is one thing to try and circumvent, “the rules of murder,” but the reader should never feel cheated. Deering broke her contract with me very early on.

“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”.

A Warm Welcome in Last Chance

Welcome to Last Chance by Cathleen ArmstrongCathleen Armstrong pens a strong feisty heroine that jumps to life in the opening pages.  When Lainie Davis’s beat up Mustang dies on the edge of Last Chance, New Mexico she doesn’t know it yet, but her luck has changed. Though Ray Braden, handsome proprietor of the local watering hole, won’t give her the time of day, before the week is up Lainie’s got a place to stay and a job at the local diner.  And by Sunday she is out-manoeuvered by her elderly landlady and sitting in church. Amazed the steeple doesn’t collapse on her head, Lainie hasn’t realized that God is on her trail. She doesn’t know that he’s in the business of turning people’s lives around.

Armstrong’s cast of characters in Last Chance aren’t all pious and pretty, but they’re still familiar. They’re people that look a lot like our neighbour down the street, or the folks who sing in our church choir. And sometimes they look just like us. Either way the people of Last Chance have one thing in common:  They’re all in need of the grace of God.

Armstrong weaves a story with both charm and spunk; a story that sneaks in and steals your heart. So pull up a chair and take a detour into Last Chance, New Mexico. You’ll be glad you did.

The red warning light on her car dashboard may have driven Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico, but as she meets the people who make this one-horse town their home, it’s her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life–especially since she’s on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed.

Yet in spite of herself, Lainie is increasingly drawn into the small-town dramas and to a handsome local guy with a secret of his own. Could Lainie actually make a life in this little town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?

“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”.

The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good

Peter Greer Quote“The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good,” by Peter Greer is a readable cautionary tale for those involved in biblical ministry. Greer, armed with many examples of leaders who fell from grace, Greer opens with his own near miss. Greer says, “Ministry took precedence over everything,” right up until the day his wife sat him down and gave it to him straight, “You are choosing your ministry over me—and I feel nothing for you.” With those words ringing in his ears Greer was forced to take a personal inventory and he didn’t like what he saw. He realized that, “It’s possible to sacrificially serve God and be completely self-centred in the process.” Greer also observed that, “unless we rediscover the foundation of service, our good works can be all about us: promoting our image, heightening our own vanity and pride. Service becomes a means to achieve our dreams, our purposes, our goals. Phony activism and selfish service will eventually be exposed.” Greer cites the disturbing statistic that only one in three biblical leaders finish well. The lure of power and pride led two-thirds to fall, hurting themselves and often others in the process. All in all Greer’s book challenges us to take a good hard look at ourselves. If success begins in our family, where are our priorities? What motivates us? Do we secretly want people to notice us or is Christ front and centre?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Greer narrowly avoided self-destruction and humbly offers his story to keep others from making the same often fatal mistakes. Between the pages of “The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good,” Greer alternately warns and challenges us to exemplify Christ. Occasionally his biblical examples seem a bit forced and I found the last few chapters a bit repetitious. Yet, if you are in church ministry, this book is a must read. With a built-in study guide it lends itself as an excellent choice for training material for ministry and leadership groups. Amazing inspiring 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”.