Monday, November 20, 2017

The Gift by Shelley Shepard Gray

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
Taking advantage of the drive on a last minute family fall vacation, I read several books in the last couple of weeks. One of them was The Gift by Shelley Shepard Gray. Set during the holidays, it opens with a bit of mystery as Susanna Schwartz finds herself in an overturned buggy accident as a result of shots that were being fired, seemingly at her and her horse. Fortunately, someone is there to help comfort and protect her until help can arrive. New to the community, she does not know her rescuer or the connection that they have. As the story unfolds, other accidents and incidents continue, leading them to wonder if her family is being targeted.

As has been the case with the other books in the Hart County Series, this book was captivating, suspenseful and had me hooked from the beginning. It was good that I was reading it on the car ride, because there were only the few questions from the backseat and the occasional stop to interrupt my reading - so different than reading a few minutes before bed each night. The twists and turns kept me guessing on who could be targeting the family and in the end, I was convinced it was different than was ultimately discovered. The story shared of one family's loss and another family's opportunity, of pride and jealousy, of the strength that can be found in family and the importance of hope and forgiveness. I enjoyed following the story as Susanna and Neil became unlikely friends and even found their feelings for one other developing deeper.

I look forward to reading more from Shelly Shepard Gray especially the suspenseful novels she is writing as part of her The Amish of Hart County series.
About the book:

A special Christmas story about love and blessings in the next book in the Amish of Hart County series
The Schwartz family is happy to be spending Christmas on their new farm in Hart County. But when Susanna Schwartz hears gunshots that causes her buggy to overturn, and then her little sister falls through a wooden bridge into the icy creek, it becomes clear from these dangerous "accidents" that someone wants them gone.

Neil Vance has been heartbroken ever since his parents lost their family farm. He knows it's not the Schwartz family's fault, but he can't help but be resentful. Until he meets Susanna. She is kind-hearted and bold, and Neil can't stop thinking about her pretty green eyes.

Neil thinks the accidents are just that, but Susanna's father is convinced the Vance family is responsible. Susanna refuses to believe Neil would do anything to harm her. She's fallen in love with him and knows he is a good man. But her family is ready to pack up and move, and time is running out to uncover the truth before someone gets hurt . . . or worse.

Learn more and purchase a copy.

About the author:
Shelley Shepard Gray is a "New York Times" and "USA Today" bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town's bike trail.
Find out more about Shelley at http://www.shelleyshepardgray.com.


Learn more about the book and check out other reviews on the blog tour landing page.


No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hope Toler Dougherty's 'Rescued Hearts' Blog Tour and Kindle Giveaway

Her personal safety isn't the only thing in jeopardy-so is her heart. In Hope Toler Dougherty's new novel, Rescued Hearts, children's clothing designer Mary Wade Kimball's soft spot for animals leads to a hostage situation when she spots a briar-entangled kitten in front of an abandoned house. Discovering the kidnapped woman ratchets the complications for undercover agent Brett Davis. Brett forsakes his three-month mission and helps her escape, the bent-on-revenge brutes following behind . . . and then Mary Wade's safety is threatened once more.




Cozy up this fall with Hope's new book and enter to win a Kindle Fire!






One grand prize winner will receive:


  • A copy of Rescued Hearts
  • A Kindle Fire 7
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on November 13. The winner will be announced November 14 on the Litfuse blog.






Rescued Hearts by Hope Toler Dougherty

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
After reading several historical fiction works, it was fun to return to modern day and read a contemporary fiction. Rescued Hearts is the second book that I have read by Hope Toler Dougherty.
As much as I enjoyed the first book that I read, I liked this one even more. Much like Mars...with Venus Rising (see my review here), Rescued Hearts has some quirky, lovable characters, but with the new addition of suspense. With the crafty blending of crime and romance and the utilization of characters that are like people you might have in your life, Hope created a story that was very enjoyable. The story pulled me in and had me wanting to read any free minute, so as to see what happened next. Unfortunately, as Mary Wade found her spaces invaded and questions about their safety arose, I was home alone with the kids while my husband was traveling. Not an ideal time to read such a suspenseful tale; proof positive that the story was realistic. It had me wondering how many people have inadvertently found themselves in danger as a result of a self-less act of trying to rescue an animal (or a person). Fortunately, Mary Wade discovered an inner-strength and was able to draw on her faith to find the hope necessary to help get her through.

About the Book:
Rescued Hearts | Hope Toler Dougherty

Children's clothing designer Mary Wade Kimball's soft spot for animals leads to a hostage situation when she spots a briar- entangled kitten in front of an abandoned house. Beaten, bound, and gagged by the two thugs inside, Mary Wade loses hope for escape when a third villain returns with supplies.

Discovering the kidnapped woman ratchets the complications for undercover agent Brett Davis. Weighing the difference of ruining his three months' investigation against the woman's safety, Brett forsakes his mission and helps her escape, the bent-on-revenge brutes following behind.

When Mary Wade's safety is threatened once more, Brett rescues her again. This time, her personal safety isn't the only thing in jeopardy. Her heart is endangered as well.

Meet the Author:

Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master's degree in English and taught at East Carolina University as well as York Technical College. A member of ACFW, RWA and SinC, she writes for Almost an Author. Before writing novels, she published non-fiction articles on topics ranging from gardening with children to writing apprehension. She follows the Pittsburgh Steelers, ACC basketball, and Army West Point Football. Hope and her husband, Kevin, live in North Carolina and chat with their two daughters and twin sons through ooVoo. Her debut novel, Irish Encounter, is partially set in Ireland. Her second one, Mars . . . With Venus Rising, is published with Pelican Book Group.

Learn more at hopetolerdougherty.com.


You can learn more about the book and read additional reviews on the blog tour landing page.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
The weather here has been unseasonably warm lately, with temperatures hitting the 90s last weekend, but fortunately, the weather has returned to more fall like weather. I love fall weather, it is the perfect time of year to sit on the porch or curled up on the sofa reading a book. Of course, yesterday, with only 100 pages to go in An Inconvenient Beauty, I found myself sitting at the table and reading while I enjoyed a nice hot cup of pumpkin spice coffee and getting up only to make another cup of coffee.
I thoroughly enjoyed An Inconvenient Beauty and couldn't put it down. In fact, when I did put it down after reading all 379 pages, my daughter commented 'didn't you just start that book'...as I closed the book and exclaimed 'I can't believe that was the last one in the series, I want it to go on!' It really was a great story, that was well written and had great scene and character development. Having met Griffith and the rest of the family in an Uncommon Courtship, which was the third in the four book series, I was glad to get to know him better. His family is the type of family that anyone would be happy to be part of, a group that is there for support and guidance, a group that knows how to play and have fun together, and a family that loves to pick on one another but would not fail to support one another.

Isabella and her cousin Frederica were well developed characters and both had to overcome adversity. Isabella not only had her challenges at home, problems she was hoping to solve with her time in London, but the added complexity of the role her uncle expected her to play and the threats he held over her. Freddie had only her father to deal with, but she clearly had a strong character having survived the loss of her mother and brother, but also as evidenced in the way she carried herself and the role she played in helping the right things happen.

Reading a story from an era with very different societal norms and expectations is always interesting to me. Despite recognizing how different of a time it was for women, there is still something so intriguing to me. On one hand, I think it would be so fun to get dressed up and go out to events, but I think that by the end of a season I would be well beyond interested in dressing up and putting on my 'social face'. I think that the idea of having a chaperone with you at all times as you court seems a bit extreme (and how boring for the chaperone!), but love how innocent courting was - filled with visits to see art and walks in the park.

An Inconvenient Beauty is a great reminder that sometimes the best way to find love is to not look for it. In fact, even when you are avoiding it (or someone), a love that is meant to be will find a way (and likely make you appreciate it more).

About the Book:

Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, so he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. While he's certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, she is strangely elusive, and he can't seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge.

Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, she has no choice but to agree to a bargain that puts her at odds with all her romantic hopes--as well as her conscience. And the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she regrets the unpleasant obligation that prevents her from any dream of a future with him.

As all Griffith's and Isabella's long-held expectations are shaken to the core, can they set aside their pride and fear long enough to claim a happily-ever-after?

About the Author:

Kristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in computer science but always knew she wanted to write. Kristi is the author of the Hawthorne House series and a 2016 RITA Award winner and Christy Award finalist. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at www.kristiannhunter.com.

I have only read the last two books in the series, but I would highly recommend reading the Hawthorne House series by Kristi Ann Hunter. I intend to pick up the first two books myself, so that I can read them.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Reunited by Danger by Carol J. Post

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
The kids are back at school. My daughter came home from school the other day sharing about the different types of stories that they are talking about at school. She asked me what my favorite type of stories are and I told her suspense.

There is something in the style of Carol J Post that I just really enjoy. From the very first page, the reader is pulled into the story. She starts off quickly and then finds the right pacing to provide the details to help develop characters that you feel like you know and in settings described so you can picture the scene, all while keeping the story moving forward down a suspenseful pathway.

Whenever I read suspense or mystery books, I am always trying to find the clues and figure out who-dun-it or what is really going on. I usually have several theories over the course of the book, as each of them is disproven I find myself reconsidering the clues and trying to find a new theory. In Reunited by Danger, I was able to figure out the killer pretty early in the book. Of course, I didn't know I knew until I knew, but when I found out I had read the right clues, it was almost frustrating, even disappointing. My reaction was a surprise to me, I would have expected to be excited at my ability to read the clues, rather than disappointed that I had known as long as I did. Don't get me wrong, even though I had figured it out, since I didn't know I had figured it out, I still fully enjoyed the story development.

One unique thing about this story is that all of the main characters have known each other since high school, although several had not seen one another in the 10 years since graduation. With even the detective having attended high school with them, there was a unique dynamic and familiarity between the characters and in some ways, the detective had an advantage in knowing the back stories of those in the story. Another aspect of this book that I found to be interesting was the previous relationship between Amber and Caleb from when they were younger. In most romances that I’ve read where the two main characters knew each other in high school, they either dated each other, at least one of them had a crush on the other, there was an unrequited love situation between the two, or there was some kind of pretty big history between them in some other way, but for Caleb and Amber, they were simply acquaintances in high school, not in some kind of relationship with each other. I found that deviation from the typical plot line to be refreshing. It gave their developing relationship a different feel than in other books I’ve read and I appreciated that.

About the book:

CALCULATED REVENGE


When a former classmate is murdered at Detective Caleb Lyons's ten-year high school reunion, he knows the victim's old group of friends are keeping secrets. That includes Cedar Key, Florida, police officer Amber Kingston. Back in school, Amber was headed for trouble, but now she's as dedicated to the law as he is. As he works overtime to get the pretty cop to open up to him, Amber and her friends receive messages threatening payback for past deeds. And her friends keep dying…one by one. But protecting Amber and unmasking a murderer isn't just the widowed detective's shot at redemption—it's his unexpected second chance at love.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this suspenseful love story and have recommended it to friends. If you enjoy suspense stories, check out this book and others by Carol J. Post.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

A complimentary review copy was provided to me.
It has been a while since I have read a piece of Edwardian fiction, but these past couple of weeks I have been deeply engrossed in A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White. A Name Unknown is the first book in the Shadows Over England series and is set primarily in Cornwall in 1914.

The author did a good job developing characters through the progression of the story, continuing to reveal things about some of the characters right up to the end of the story. Rosemary and Peter are an unconventional pair, she is poor, opinionated, streetwise and independent, and full of doubt when it comes to faith, he is rich, inclined to not speak his thoughts, has friends that look to him for advise and is strong in his faith. As the story unfolds, the reader starts to recognize the growing relationship between them and may even know they are falling in love before they do. Through her vivid descriptions of the settings, both internal and external, the author is able to transport the reader to another time and place. Her story was so engaging and that I found myself not wanting to put the book down, resulting in me yet again staying up later than I should simply so I can read a little more. The book had the perfect balance of an unlikely friendship, romance, mystery, deception, intrigue and faith.

I look forward to reading the next book in this series.

About the book:

She's out to steal his name. Will he steal her heart instead?
Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins that helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets-now they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary's challenge of a lifetime comes when she's assigned to determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. How does one steal a family's history, their very name?
Rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can't help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the crown-so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstop pretending to be a well- credentialed historian, Peter believes she's the right person to help him dig through his family's past.
Anger and danger continue to mount, though, and both realize they're in a race against time to discover the truth-about Peter's past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.
Learn more and purchase a copy.


About the author:

Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she's homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna is the author of over a dozen historical novels and novellas, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her British series. Spies and war and mayhem always seem to make their way into her novels . . . to offset her real life, which is blessedly boring. She passes said boring life with her husband and kids in the beautiful mountains of eastern West Virginia.
Find out more about Roseanna M. at http://www.roseannamwhite.com.


You can read more reviews and learn more about the book on the Blog Tour Landing Page.

No compensation was received for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family. A complimentary review copy was provided to me.