Thursday, March 27, 2014

First Kisses: An INSPY Kisses Collection - A Review

Published - February 2014, INSPY Kisses LLC

Authors - Linda Goodnight, Janet Tronstad, Debra Clopton, Margaret Daley, Camy Tang, Lacy Williams

Format - ebook

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A collection of 6 inspirational novellas from popular authors: Linda Goodnight, Janet Tronstad, Debra Clopton, Margaret Daley, Camy Tang, and Lacy Williams.

  • The Rambler's Bride - Linda Goodnight - On the Kansas Prairie in the 1870's, widow Esther North is determined to save her farm from her powerful cousin. Jericho North wants revenge on his brother's widow. Yet he soon finds his heart stolen by a baby girl and her mama. Together this unlikely pair join forces to stop Esther's ruthless cousin and find love in the process.
  • Lovebirds at the Heartbreak Cafe - Janet Tronstad - A truck driver with a dream of a family meets waitress Penny who is the guardian of six children. In danger of losing their crop, Penny is determined to provide for the six children in her care. She didn't plan on falling in love or for a trucking community to come to her aid.
  • Her Mule Hollow Cowboy - Debra Clopton - Maddie Rose is determined to prove herself to her partners and herself. She didn't expect to be rescued by handsome bull rider Cliff Masterson. Cliff came to Mule Hollow to be closer to his twin brother, one of Maddie's partners. He dreams of putting down roots. The spunky cowgirl sparks feelings in him that he thought were buried. Can these two overcome the obstacles to a happily ever after?
  • Deadly Hunt - Margaret Daley - Bodyguard Tess Miller is looking forward to her vacation at her uncle's mountain cabin. Her vacation is cut short suddenly when a wounded stranger arrives on her doorstep with a gunshot wound. Shane Burkhart opens his eyes to see a beautiful guardian angel standing over him. Yet inviting Tess into his world puts her life in danger as well. Will the pair survive long enough to figure out how they feel?
  • Necessary Proof - Camy Tang - When Alex Villa became a Christian in prison, he was determined to change his life when he was released. Once released, he becomes an informant for the Sonoma PD regarding drugs and gangs. When he discovers he is being set up in such a way that will ruin his reputation with the police and land him back in jail, he seeks the assistance of computer expert Jane Lawtown. Can she find what is needed on the laptop to prove his innocence before they both are silenced forever?
  • Kissed by a Cowboy - Lacy Williams - Years ago, Maddox Michaels took Haley Carston to her senior prom. When she returns to Redbud Trails to care for her dying aunt, Haley soon finds her path crossing with her high school crush Maddox Michaels as she becomes acquainted with his enterprising niece Olivia. Trying to keep the walls around her heart up, Haley finds herself falling once again for Maddox. For his part, he also tries to keep the walls up. But the more time that he spends in Haley's company, the more that he hopes that they can have something lasting. Will these two get past their walls and see what their future holds?
I really enjoyed each of these novellas. A mix of historical and contemporary (one was set in the 1950's), I found myself wishing for more story in most of the books. I'd love to see a full length novel that revisits the characters in these books. My overall rating will be determined by averaging each of my ratings for the novellas.

Rambler's Bride - I found this one to be a little hard to get into. I thought that overall the characters were well developed. I really liked Jericho. This one just didn't stand out to me. My rating for this novella is 3 stars.

Lovebirds at the Heartbreak Cafe - This was one I struggled to get through. I loved the way the trucking community came to Penny's aid. Yet I found that the characters could have been fleshed out more. Still it was a sweet story. My rating for this novella is 3 stars.

Her Mule Hollow Cowboy - I've come to expect a giggle when I read a Debra Clopton book. This was no exception. I just wanted more story! My rating for this novella is 4 stars.

Deadly Hunt - I really enjoyed the suspense in this novella. I was kept engrossed through the entire story. I did feel that Shane's character could have been a little more developed. But overall, this was one of my favorites in this collection. My rating for this one is 4.5 stars

Necessary Proof - I've never read anything by Camy Tang before and was excited to finally read something of hers. I'm pretty certain I've got others of hers somewhere on my Kindle. Anyway, this one was completely unexpected in the way that it grabbed me in and kept me engrossed. I loved both Jane and Alex. My rating for this one is 5 stars.

Kissed by a Cowboy - This was by far my favorite of the collection! I loved all of the characters and sighed happily at the end. I really loved the enterprising Olivia and the way that she had a dream and ran with it. Her uncle Maddox was sweet. I wanted more of this story as well. My rating for this novella is 5 stars.

Overall rating - 4 stars

Recommended to fans of romance, Love Inspired books

I received this book from Netgalley for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Heart's Rebellion - A Review

Published - March, 2014, Revell Books

Series - London Encounters Book 2

Author - Ruth Axtell

Title - A Heart's Rebellion

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Jessamine Barry is still reeling from the hurt she feels from the betrayal of the man she thought she'd marry. She loved him and he didn't feel that way towards her. To help ease her hurt, she goes to London for a Season. Attractive Lancelot Marfleet, the second son of an aristocrat, takes an interest in her, but she doesn't see him as a potential suitor. She wants instead to take the fashionable society by storm, and a young rake is more than willing to help her. Yet, when things go too far, Jessamine must learn some hard lessons. When a tragedy strikes Lancelot's family and he becomes the heir, can she convince him that she doesn't just want him for his title?

So to be perfectly honest, I was not enthralled with this book. I easily put it down and didn't want to come back to it.

 I found Jessamine to be a shallow, spoiled, brat. I couldn't get over how she felt that she was betrayed simply because the man she loved married someone else, when she KNEW that he didn't love her.  Still, watching what she goes through in the book, did tug sympathy from my heart to her. She is redeemable. I just didn't like her much.

I adored Lancelot from the moment that he stepped into the pages. I loved how he kept riding to her rescue. I also loved how he loved her even though she was ruined. I thought that he was a very strong male lead in and I felt that he drove the story.

I still loved some of the secondary characters - Meg in particular. I'd love to see a book about Meg.

I received this book for free from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to like the book or to give a positive review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Regency fiction, Downtown Abbey

Rating - 3 stars - Only because I adored Lancelot and Jessamine became redeemable

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tide and Tempest - A Review

Published - March, 2014, Bethany House Publishers

Series - Edge of Freedom Book 3

Author - Elizabeth Ludwig

Title - Tide and Tempest

Format - ebook, paper

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Two years ago, Captain Keondric Morgan delivered the grieving Tillie McGrath to the steps of a boardinghouse in New York. Yet, he's not been able to get her out of his mind. When a deathbed confession from a member of his crew reveals that the death of Tillie's fiance may not have been the illness she was led to believe but murder, Morgan decides to check up on Tillie. Tillie McGrath came to America from Ireland wanting a new life with the man she loved. Yet both his death and the death of her baby have shaken her to the core. The faith that she once claimed is now a bitter shell. When Captain Morgan appears on her doorstep with the startling news that her fiance was murdered, Tillie is of course shocked. Together the pair sets out to discover the truth behind the claims of murder. When they unknowingly stir up a hornet's nest, Tillie's safety becomes paramount for Morgan. Enlisting the help of his brother, Morgan vows to not only protect Tillie but to end the threat once and for all. Will he be successful? With two men vying for Tillie's affection, which will win her heart? And will she ever see her own dreams of opening an orphanage come to light?

This is by far my favorite one of this series! I'm so glad that I didn't let the lack of connection I had with the characters from the first book dampen my enjoyment of either books two or three!

I found that this book was very suspense filled. It was good to get answers to questions that arose from the first two books. I'm not sure if this is the conclusion of the series or not. I kinda hope it's not as I'd love to see Cass's story. I loved the way that Morgan went above and beyond to ensure the safety of his brother and Tillie. I also loved how he was willing to sacrifice his own happiness to ensure that the woman he loved was happy.

I loved Tillie's struggle to find herself worthy of others. She had to come to the point where she realized that the mistakes she made in her life were not a stopper on her future. Yet once she realized that the decisions she made in the past did not have to stop her future, she was free. She recognized the truth of needing to surrender.

Overall, while I'm glad I'd read the others first, I found this one to be truly enjoyable. It was by far my favorite of the series. That could be that the characters were more fleshed out.

I received this book from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of historical fiction, romantic suspense, Elizabeth Ludwig, Jody Hedlund, Karen Witemeyer, Carol Cox, Julianna Deering

Rating - 5 stars

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dark Road Home - A Review

Published - August 2013, Bethany House

Series - Edge of Freedom Book 2

Author - Elizabeth Ludwig

Title - Dark Road Home

Format - paper, audio, large print, ebook

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Ana Kavannagh still has nightmares from the fire that claimed the lives of her mother and sister and left her scarred. She also feels abandoned by God. Living in a boardinghouse, Ana has built a new life for herself. She doesn't know that people from her past in Ireland want her dead. Eoghan Hamilton feels betrayed by his twin sister Cara for marrying his enemy. Working as a handyman at a church, he meets Ana. The lovely young woman stirs up his protective instincts. Even when she asks him to do the unbelievable - forgive his sister, he wants to  please her. Yet when information comes to him that puts both himself and Ana in danger, he's willing to do anything he can to see her safe, including meeting with the brother-in-law he doesn't trust. Can these two troubled hearts find freedom and love together?

I've got to say that I enjoyed this book WAY more than the first one, No Safe Harbor. In the first one, I found myself rather bored with it. Not so with this one. This one captured my attention from the beginning and held it til the last page.

I really loved Eoghan in this book. I thought that he was a sweetheart and loved how even though he didn't intend to remain at the church, he found he couldn't resist the nuns. I also loved the way that he struggled with accepting his brother-in-law and forgiving his sister for marrying a man he considered an enemy.

The suspense in this book seemed more entwined throughout the story as opposed to the first book. While you don't have to read the first one first, it does help some.

I read this book for pure pleasure. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of historical suspense, Jody Hedlund, Carol Cox

Rating - 4 solid stars.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

In the Shadow of Jezebel - A Review

Published - March, 2014 Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group

Author - Mesu Andrews

Title - In the Shadow of Jezebel

Format - ebook, paper

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Princess Jehosheba is the daughter of a king, trained to be a priestess of Baal, and forced to marry Yahweh's high priest. As she learns the traditions of her new husband's God, a yearning awakens in her heart. Despite palace intrigue, Jehosheba finds herself not only caught in the middle, but also treading carefully. When her brother, the new king, dies, she secrets out his infant son so that the royal house of David will remain. Will she ever truly find love?

Wow. That's all I can really say about this book. I've never read anything by this author before, though I have several of her titles on my Kindle. Biblical fiction is not a favorite genre of mine either. Yet this book captured my attention from the first page.

I loved how Jehosheba came to love both her husband and his God. I loved how she was strong enough to escape her stepmother's Baal influence. True, the queen kept referring to Jehosheba as a queen of destiny, and I don't think that she meant it the way that God used Jehosheba. One of my favorite lines was repeated frequently "be wise without lies." She had to walk a fine line of giving the truth without lying in order to play the palace intrigue game.

I'll admit that the names were very confusing. They were all similar. I love how the events of the story are molded around Jehosheba's story told in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.

As a person who doesn't normally read Biblical fiction, I highly recommend reading this.

I received this book for free from Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing house, for the purpose of reviewing.

Recommended to fans of Biblical fiction

Rating - 5 stars

Inspy Kisses Blog Blitz

For a limited time only - Six unforgettable love stories 

99 cents! 

Buy now at Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Kobo - iBooks - Google Play

A brand new anthology from six of your favorite inspirational romance authors - no reprints here!

About the novellas:

From New York Times bestselling author Linda Goodnight, historical romance The Rambler's Bride: The kissing cowboy Jericho is bent on revenge, but discovers the truth and falls in love with widow Esther.

From USA Today bestselling author Janet Tronstad, retro romance Lovebirds at the Heartbreak Cafe: Truck driver Buddy wasn't looking for love, but waitress Penny and her quirky family take over the cafe and his heart.

From bestselling author Debra Clopton, contemporary cowboy romance Her Mule Hollow Cowboy: Independent cowgirl Maddie swears she doesn't need help from bull rider Cliff. But the Mule Hollow Matchmakers seem to have other plans...

From bestselling author Margaret Daley, romantic suspense Deadly Hunt: Bodyguard Tess rescues wounded businessman Shane from dying in the wilderness, but can she protect her heart when Shane gets too close?

From fan favorite Camy Tang, romantic suspense Necessary Proof: Reformed ex-con Alex is on the run from those who have set him up to take the blame for a cop-killing. Will tech-expert Jane be able to prove him innocent?

From fan favorite Lacy Williams, contemporary cowboy romance Kissed by a Cowboy: Maddox has given up all his big dreams to care for his niece. When Haley returns to her hometown, will Maddox find a new dream with her?

Special promo - March 17-19 - #SENDAKISS

If you purchase First Kisses during our promo dates and send a special tweet, we'll gift a copy to a friend, absolutely free! Find out more at .

What readers are saying:

 Six amazing books from six different authors. They are all Christian fiction set from the 1800’s to present time. Each is a stand alone book with great settings, story lines and characters. All the books had family and faith. Some of the authors were known to me and some I was unfamiliar with. I really enjoyed each book. I can not wait to check out books from these new authors. - Amazon reader

 I didn't know what to expect - I am not a fan of anthologies. Usually I find that the stories are too brief and the plots move too fast and don't go into any detail and don't make a lot of sense. Well, let me tell you that this anthology is not like this, not at all. It is wonderful! I enjoyed each of the novellas immensely. Each one has well developed, thought out characters and detailed plots that move at exactly the right pace. You have suspense, romance - everything in each of the novels. I enjoyed reading each of the novellas and couldn't put the book down. Even though I have about 15 other books waiting to be read - I plan on reading this book all over again in the next week or so - it is just that good. - Amazon reader

A visual look at the collection:

Interact with the authors:

Buy now at Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Kobo - iBooks - Google Play

Look for my review of this great book on Tuesday March 18!!!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Where Courage Calls - A Review

Publisher - Bethany House, January 2014

Author - Janette Oke & Laurel Oke Logan

Title - Where Courage Calls

Format - ebook, hardcover, paper, audio

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Beth Thatcher follows in the footsteps of her aunt Elizabeth Thatcher Delaney and accepts a teaching position in Canada's far West. For a spoiled, pampered, daughter of a wealthy family, Beth finds Coal Valley to be a shock. A mining accident has caused the town to suffer a great loss. The children have had very little exposure to a formal education. Yet as she begins to teach the children of the town, she finds herself loving the townspeople's simple ways. She soon finds herself gathering the attention of two young Mounties - one a childhood friend and the other a new acquaintance. When her sister visits, Beth is reminded of the luxurious life she left behind. Will Beth return home where it's safe or will she find her wings to soar?

Written as a companion novel to bridge the gap between the Hallmark movie of When Calls the Heart and the TV series with the same name, this novel returns Janette Oke to the prairie fiction that she has been known for.

I have long loved Janette Oke's books. Some of my earliest memories of reading Christian Fiction around 4th, 5th, or 6th grade include reading both the Love Comes Softly Series and the Canadian West series. I remember thinking that these were like a Little House on the Prairie book that wasn't a children's book. At one point, I believe I even owned every one of her books. And I still classify among my all-time book favorites these books of hers: Roses for Mama, A Bride for Donnigan, A Woman Named Damaris, the Love Comes Softly Series, and the Canadian West Series. So I was thrilled when I discovered that she had a new book coming out.

After a very slow start, I found that once Beth arrived in Coal Valley things began to pick up. I thought that Beth tried too hard to find out what God wanted her to accomplish. Still I did enjoy how she grew from the spoiled debutante into a pioneer woman. She didn't even realize she was changing until her sister arrived and Beth saw her through fresh eyes. As far as romance goes, there was very little. There were the two potential suitors, but neither of them played a major part. This was a story about Beth growing up.

While it was a sweet book in classic Janette Oke fashion, to be perfectly honest, I found that I could have easily put it down and not returned to it. It wasn't that I found it boring, because it really wasn't. It was more that I found my attention wandering. And I can't blame that on watching the Hallmark series. Because I don't have cable/satellite and have not seen a single episode of it. I will admit to having watched the When Calls the Heart movie, but I've not seen the series.

Overall, this book didn't enthrall me. I really found it to be mediocre. Still for someone who is looking for a sweet story, this would be for them.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to like the book or to give a positive review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of Janette Oke, Little House on the Prairie, Lynn Austin, Tracie Peterson, Lauraine Snelling

Rating - 3 stars

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Don't these look yummy?

I made these for my friend's daughter's 3rd birthday. I have to say that they turned out really cute. Even though I used the same pattern for each one, some are different sizes. But aren't they cute?

I had a blast putting this together. Makes me want to try other non-blanket projects.

Find the free pattern here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A March Bride - A Review

Publisher - Zondervan, February 2014

Series - A Year of Weddings Novella #4

Author - Rachel Hauck

Title - A March Bride

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Three weeks shy of her wedding to King Nathaniel II, Susanna Truitt is feeling overwhelmed. She's having to adjust to a new country, a new culture, becoming a royal, and the press. When her mother calls her and delivers some devastating news to her, on the heels on an announcement from Nathaniel, Susanna doesn't think. She just runs home. Nathaniel has found his soul mate in Susanna. He is very much aware of what all she will have to give up to be his wife. But with Susanna returning home, he will do whatever it takes to show her exactly what she means to him. Will this be the end or will the king and his American princess figure out a way to have their happily ever after?

I LOVED this! I walked around with a silly grin on my face when I got to the end. *sighs* When Once Upon a Prince Came out last year, I really was ok with not having more of Susanna and Nathaniel's story. Then I found out that the author was doing a short novella continuation of their story as part of the Year of Weddings series. I knew I just had to have it. I pre-ordered it from Amazon back in November and then the Booksneeze/Book Look Blogging program offered it for review as well. So I requested it.

Obviously since this is a novella in a collection of a year of weddings, the happily ever after is a given. But it's how that happily ever after comes about is what is special. Susanna struggles with some very real fears that I'm sure most brides struggle with. Only in her case it's magnified by about 100 times because her fiance isn't just an ordinary man - he's the ruling king of a nation. So her fears and struggles are very public. I loved how her pastor at home gave her some sound advice. I also loved how Nathaniel decided to do whatever it took to show her that he loved her and understood what she was giving up by marrying him. And the way he goes about showing her is where I got the silly grin on my face and it didn't disappear until I finished the book.

Once again the supporting cast of characters, Avery, Susanna's parents, Jonathan, and Prince Stephen were all delightful to engage with through the story. I'd love to see a story for Avery, Jonathan, or Prince Stephen.

With the Royal Wedding series, I can honestly say that Rachel Hauck has become one of my favorite authors. After all, what little girl doesn't dream of being a princess?

I received an e-copy of the book for free from Thomas Nelson/Zondervan's Booklook Bloggers program for the purpose of reviewing. I did also purchase this from Amazon. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recommended to fans of happy endings, weddings, Rachel Hauck, fairy tales, Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, contemporary romance

Rating - 5 stars - I just can't gush enough about this one!