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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Beneath the Bellemont Sky

Sometimes the best way we can understand our future is to spend some time looking through the past. For America, a lot changed when we entered WWII, and as thousands of husbands, brothers, and fathers left to serve, women stepped up in a role not familiar to them to pick up in factories where the men left off, their way of helping in the war effort.

As the war ended, and some men returned home, often times with less than they had before, with disabilities, missing limbs, and dealing with PTSD, women were again challenged to step into the roles vacated to help those returning home. Then again, there were those women who married before the war, and were notified that their husband, was killed and would not be returning home. This set the stage for the beginnings of the women's right movement as men returned to go back to work, women who enjoyed working were now faced with resuming the role of a full-time wife and mother, and wanted the respect and recognition that they got in working that was missing in their domestic roles.

That is the stage set for Beneath the Bellemont Sky by Raneè S. Clark. For the Larsen family, having a farm is what helped them to get by during the war and now that the men are beginning to return home, the women in the family are looking forward to having the men take over the farm tasks. Vera and her four children have moved back home after learning her husband wouldn't be coming home after all and a way to help make ends meet. The hardest part for any of them is learning to move forward into an unknown future when all they have known is their past. As the town attempts to resume normal life, Andrew Larsen returns with a French wife and now the town's socialites have decided to snub her at every attempt, partly because one of them had hoped that Andrew might return to marry her instead.

Vera knows she has to find a new start for her life and finds solace in the new teacher that comes to town, Dominick Whitaker, who is finding starting over in a small town might just be what he needs but also brings its own share of problems as well. Vera and Dominick hit it off as friends being in similar places in their futures and find an instant connection in their conversations, one that lasts beyond the time they spend with each other. Will Dominick be ready to take on a ready made family or will something in their pasts keep them apart despite their growing affections for one another?

I received Beneath the Bellemont Sky by Raneè S. Clark compliments of Covenant Communications. I truly LOVE the novels set among the war time because so much was forced to change to help benefit everyone both in serving in the war or supporting those who left behind those empty places. Change was forced whether one embraced it or not. And in a small town of Wyoming, one can only imagine that everyone knew everyone else. When the war came to a close, some women wanted to stay working, and raising a family and not everyone wanted to return back to their former lives, especially when things we so different. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and give it a 4 out of 5 stars in my opinion.

For more information about Beneath the Bellemont Sky, Raneè S. Clark or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:

You can find Raneè S. Clark on Facebook to stay up to date on all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on Beneath the Bellemont Sky, please visit Amazon's website.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Stars Above Northumberland

I have to admit it. I'm guilty.

Guilty of being hooked on what some might label the genre as Traditional Regencies! Fans of Jane Austen's novels and fans of Downton Abbey understand exactly what I am saying. It is a genre like any other because of the social implications for women back in the 1800's. Women had little to say in the way things were handled and often time had very little to do except accept what social standards dictated at the time.

For Meriwether Sturgess, that was a life of seven years to a mean man whom she married that had one persona on the outside and another in the quiet confines within his home and in their marriage. That is why it came as no shock when the man died quite unexpectedly leaving her not only a widow and single mother to their two children, but also the large financial inheritance she would assume or rather oversee until her son Crispen was old enough to assume the responsibilities of running the Sturgess finances and holdings.

But for Meri, she simply planned carefully for the last seven years, holding back a small fund from her husband's allotment of her monthly expenses to keep up appearances for both herself and the children. Along with the jewelry he bestowed upon her, she kept it all hidden until the day she could change both her own circumstances and that of her children. She shared no affections for her husbands family and couldn't wait to leave the estate under the guise of needing to get away and be with her family to deal with her grief. There was no turning back for Meri.

Now she has returned to live with her Aunt Annabel at the Rosewell Manor and finds a bit of a surprise to learn that her childhood friend, Elliot Rosewell has returned as well and he hopes to find a second chance at love with Meri and her two children, something he has deeply regretted for those same seven years, watching her go and marry another man, while he had to deal with his own broken heart. But like all great romances, there are bound to be complications which work against our dear couple in an effort to keep them apart but will these secrets truly be the ones that keep their love from full blossoming?

I received The Stars Above Northumberland by Anita Stansfield compliments of Covenant Communications. I absolutely LOVED this entire novel, although at the beginning there are parts of the novel that appear repetitive as though you just read the same pages previously. Once you get pass those however, you find yourself ever rooting for our beloved couple and know that Meri's quick departure will not be a lasting one. No one can ever truly run from their pasts. I have loved reading Anita Stansfields novels and now anxiously await each new one she pens. I easily give this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars in my opinion.

For more information about The Stars Above Northumberland, Anita Stansfield or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:

You can find Anita Stansfield on Facebook to stay up to date with all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on The Stars Above Northumberland, please visit Covenant Communications website. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Light on the Hill

One of my favorite new genres is biblical fiction. It is taking factual events from the Bible, and creating a bit of a backstory to the characters we know about, but not everything about. It might even use a major biblical event as the setting for the novel, such as Connilyn Cossette has done brilliantly in her series, Cities of Refuge. The first novel in the series is A Light on The Hill, and takes the readers back just after the fall of the walls of Jericho.

Back to the lands filled with the idol worship of false gods, where temples were built to commemorate and worship those idol images. Moriyah was a young girl when she was kidnapped and branded on her face as a temple prostitute even though she never was violated in that manner. It would be a brand she would forever face discrimination and rumors about what those who knew of her perceived her to be. It would also make finding a suitable husband for her, almost an impossibility. What man would want to deal with a wife who had to remain covered by a veil whenever she went out in public. Yet even that did nothing to prevent the stares or public shame she had to endure.

When Moriyah learns that her father has found a suitable match for her, she believes God has finally heard her prayer. She believes the young man she meets on the night of a festival is the same man promised to marry her. However she soon learns that he is simply the youngest of the brothers, her father has arranged to marry her. He is not the one. The man she is forced to marry is the oldest brother and the only desire he has for her, is her dowry that her father has promised to any man who will marry her, vineyards beyond riches. She faces her own challenges dealing with not only her potential future husband, but he has vowed she will remain forever veiled so no one will ever look at her and see who she really is.

I received A Light on The Hill by Connilyn Cossette compliments of Bethany House Publishers. This is such a wonderful novel in that during my own Bible reading, I have read about the horror stories of the people who lived behind the walls of Jericho and the things they did they flew in the face of the God of the Bible. We see glimpses of that with Joshua and how he brought down the walls, and of the prostitute Rahab that hid the men of God who would have been killed had they been discovered. It was the same favor that saved the life of not only her but her family as well. This picks up after that has occurred and shows the fall out of the life of those trapped behind those walls that now have to deal with the repercussions of that lifestyle, even if they didn't agree with it. A wonderful discussion guide is included at the conclusion of this novel that makes for a great book club selection. For me, I can't wait to read the remaining novels that will follow this one, and thus the reason for giving this one a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars in my opinion.

For more information about A Light on The Hill, Connilyn Cossette or where you can pick up a copy of this book today, please click on the links below:

You can find Connilyn Cossette on Facebook to stay up to date with all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on A Light on The Hill, please visit Bethany House Publisher's website.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate Utah

"There is no darkness, but ignorance."

That is the central theme for the novel, My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate Utah, by Angie Dicken. Taking readers into the heart of the west in Castle Gate, Utah during the 1900's, we find racial prejudice present even in the past. For those immigrating from Greece to settle in the small towns ripe with the hope of prosperity and opportunity, they also face discrimination based on the fact, they are not considered true Americans and have to settle in a place outside of town known as Greek Town.

It is here that the Pappas family has found hope with the opening of their restaurant serving Greek food to those that work in the mines, more Greek immigrants. For someone like Alex who came here to make money to help care for the health of his wife back home, but tragically couldn't make enough before she passed away. He then used that money to bring his own family to America where they can all be together to make it in this new world.

Leanna McKee, a school teacher in Castle Rock, has found her own grief here, losing her husband Jack in an accident that left her a widow but also one with outstanding gambling debts her husband incurred without her knowledge. She dreams for a way to move forward in San Francisco where she has connections with her family, but without funds, she has to stay where she is until she has saved enough to make the move there. Thankfully that opportunity comes to her via Alex Pappas who needs someone to escort his niece and nephew back and forth to school while their parents tend to the health of their mother during her pregnancy. When he offers to pay her, she immediately accepts! Is this truly an opportunity from God or is this a complication she should avoid with the tensions building in Castle Rock against those that associate with the Greeks?

I received My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate Utah by Angie Dicken compliments of Barbour Publishing and Net Galley. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for immigrants to come to this country, legally at that time and the tensions that they had to deal with. Just friendships with those immigrants was often meet with hostility and anger to ensure that the discrimination would continue, despite how very wrong it was. I love how it is something that is worked out between Alex and Leanna by the conclusion of the novel, but also highlights a time in our own history when things did not goes as smooth as we might have believed. It also shows how strong traditions and culture were to those immigrants. Things they didn't want to leave behind.I easily give this one a 4.5 out of 5 stars in my opinion.

For more information about My Heart Belongs in Castle Rock Utah, Angie Dicken or where you can pick up a copy of this book today, please click on the links below:

You can find Angie Dicken on Facebook where you can stay up to date with all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate Utah, please visit Barbour Publishing's website. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

His Risk

I have fallen in love with Shelley Shepard Gray's latest series, The Amish of Hart County. In the fourth book in the series, His Risk, readers are once again transported back to the Amish community of Hart County. There you pick back up with familiar characters from the previous novels as they now become secondary characters in this novel.

Alice Yoder is the community's school teacher and she adores her job. She believes it is truly her calling and the one thing that brings her the most joy. However when she undertakes watching her brother's home while they vacation in Pinecraft and also care for Valentine, their cat. It is one job she truly looks forward to is a quiet night at the end of a busy day. She just didn't expect to find her curiosity peaked by the young man standing outside her neighbors home. Being a bit bold, she finds herself wanting to know who he is and why he is staying at their home.

Calvin Fisher is now staying with his brother, Mark and his wife Waneta as he undergoes a risky surgery to remove a cancerous kidney. He hopes that he will be able to be there for his brother as much as he helped to raise Calvin as a child. Both of his parents had their own issues to deal with and for Calvin, it meant leaving the Amish community. However know he has come home, but with it comes a threat that he believes he can handle as he works as an undercover DEA agent for a well known crime syndicate. Now that he has worked his way up in earning the King's loyalty, he believes he can balance the roles he is playing while keeping everyone safe.

But when his undercover life begins to show signs of being in Hart County, Calvin believes that he has brought a very real risk to those he cares about and even those he might begin to fall for. Will he be able to end the double life he is living before he endangers those he loves the most?

I received His Risk by Shelley Shepard Gray compliments of Avon Inspire, a division of Harper Collins Publishers. This is such a cross over genre because you are combining a love for the Amish with its connection to the English world in a suspenseful way. Without realizing it, and while they remain very much divided in their faith and ideals, there are no physical walls to keep one from encroaching on the other as it does in this series of novels by Shelley Shepard Gray. I think she orchestrates it masterfully in that you don't even realize that you're reading two very different genres in a well blended series. I have loved every single one and am looking forward to the next one in this series. Finally authors who simply don't end a good thing after three books! This one is worthy of all 5 out of 5 stars in my own opinion.

For more information about His Risk, Shelley Shepard Gray or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:

You can find Shelley Shepard Gray on Facebook to stay up to date with all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on His Risk, please visit Harper Collins Publisher's website.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Masterpiece

I have fallen in love with Francine River's novels.

So whenever I hear that she has written a new one, it's an automatic response for me to buy it. I don't even have to know what it is about, because I love the way she writes her novels. I know it will be life changing for me. I know it will also challenge me in a good way as well.

So when her latest novel, The Masterpiece arrived, I couldn't wait to carve out some time to sit back and enjoy my book, like someone would enjoy a fine wine, a decadent dessert or whatever will cause you to get excited because it is something you will look forward to.

I was not disappointed.

The story takes place between a struggling famous artist, Roman Velasco, who has to come to terms with his past before he can ever move forward in his future. To say he is a success at painting is an understatement and his paintings are always sold out for obscene amounts of money. He can't seem to find a way to manage all the time in between and has gone through so many personal assistants, the agency is down to its final candidate and if he isn't happy with this one, they are done trying to work with him.

Fortunately for Grace Moore, she needs this job and will stop at nothing to ensure she makes enough money that she can move out of the home she shares with a couple that had hoped to adopt her young son when he was born. They are still hoping she will change her mind and thus the reason for letting her stay. They understand how difficult it is for a single mother to make it in Los Angeles alone! So Grace is will to pass along a little "grace" to Roman and hopefully find a way for the two to work together. But she will also need to come to terms with her own past, and one that can apply a little grace to both of their lives.

The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers is an exceptional look into the pasts that we think define who we are today and unfortunately for some hold us back in the very areas that God wants to release us from. While Grace has the faith to work through some of her issues, there are some still holding her back. Yet at least, she begins to peel back the layers of Roman's past and help him to see that God is his only hope for a future, that is if she can reach him before his has a tragic accident that will forever change them both. Well worth all 5 out of 5 stars in this reader's opinion and now proud to add this novel to my permanent library.

For more information about The Masterpiece, Francine Rivers or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:

You can find Francine Rivers on Facebook to stay up to date on all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on The Masterpiece, visit Tyndale House Publishers website. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

The View From Rainshadow Bay

Just read the first two pages.

If you can manage to put the novel down after that and decide you have other things to do instead, I would have to check to see if you are still breathing. Of course, for me, I didn't realize I was holding my breath as I read those first two pages. What begins as a full adrenaline rush with the prologue beginning of The View From Rainshadow Bay, the latest novel from Colleen Coble in her Lavender Tides Series. She is truly one talented author in her ability to jump seamlessly from one genre to another without breaking a sweat.

In what marks the beginning of a new trilogy, suspense and murder mystery fans will want to jump on this series. The books opens quickly with a murder that will connect itself into the storyline that begins with what has happened a year later. We need that to help connect the dots to what happened earlier and why that would be so relevant to the characters we meet in the novel. Shauna McDade finds herself working through the recent loss of her husband Jack in a climbing incident, and one for which she holds Zach Bannister responsible as his best friend. Now she is forced to make her way as a single parent to her five year old son, as a helicopter charter pilot, using the skills she learned in the Navy. The last thing she needs is another loss on her plate and she will do whatever she can to make ends meet financially.

But like all great novels, things are about to get messy and complicated, when her business partner is murdered and leaving behind a message that Shauna and her son are in danger as well. Of course, now is when you have to learn to release your breath again, because things have just increased to put Shauna and her son at risk while they try to uncover what it is that is causing them to both be the focal point of a murder threat. She will have to learn to trust Zach again if she hopes to keep her son alive, despite all the threats that are now beginning to appear.

I received The View From Rainshadow Bay by Colleen Coble compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishers and TLC Book Tours. I guess you could say I am hooked and I love both a complex mystery to engage my brain, because I try to piece together my own clues to figure it out before the ending of the book. The intensity between Shauna and Zach is crazy because you have Zach trying so hard to make amends for the guilt he feels for Jack's death, and he also has to win over Shauna's trust to allow him to help her, even when she is fighting against her own personal feelings towards him. Let's just say I know you will LOVE how this one all plays out in the end. Well worth all 5 out of 5 stars in this reader's opinion.

For more information about The View From Rainshadow Bay, Colleen Coble or where you can pick up a copy of this novel today, please click on the links below:

You can find Colleen Coble on Facebook to stay up to date on all her latest novels.

To read more reviews on The View From Rainshadow Bay, please visit TLC Book Tour's page.