Friday, March 9, 2018

Too Far Down Wraps Up The Cimarron Legacy

 The third and final book in  Cimarron Legacy (Too Far Down) marks a couple of milestones for me. 

 Specifically, I've had the pleasure of reading and reviewing 5 of Ms. Connealy books making her the author that I've critiqued the most.

Also, this is the first time I've reviewed an entire series. (No Way Up October 2016 & Long Time Gone April 2017).

Too Far Down starts off with an explosion...a mining explosion! Recently recovered from a gunshot wound, Cole Boden sustains minor injuries and loses five of his miners. The eruption was made to look like an accident, but as Cole investigates he's discovering it was all set up intended to spark a series of actions targeting the Boden clan and the Cimarron Ranch (CR). Younger half-siblings, Justin and Sadie along with their spouses are there to help him in unraveling the mystery surrounding the attacks on their family.

Neighbor Melanie "Mel" Blake is a cowgirl through and through and also "... a savvy woman who could hold her own." (Connealy, 139).  She is surprised when she finds herself falling for Cole, the polished Harvard graduate.  Returning from his decade in Boston, Cole is astounded to find himself noticing Mel in a new light."He'd never thought about her looks before...But they'd grown up together so, you'd've thought he'd've noticed how beautiful she was." (Connealy, 19).

In terms of Ms. Connealy's typical heroes, Cole is somewhat of a departure. He's a college graduate who pairs tailored 3 piece suits with his Stetson and gun.  Initially, Cole is resentful of his father's will stipulating that he and his siblings all move back home and live at the CR. However, over time, Cole realizes the wisdom of his father's plan

Author Mary Connealy skillfully crafts Too Far Down tying up all the loose ends and bringing the conspiracy full circle.

A Song Unheard is a Beautiful Melody Blending Mystery, Suspense, and Intrigue

A Song Unheard (Shadows Over England Book 2)

Willa Forsythe, the younger 'sister' of Rosemary, is a professional thief and a violin prodigy from a young age. Now 23, she's been commissioned by "Mr. V" for a mission that utilizes her skills as a pickpocket, but also "...her skill [on] the violin [ which is] unsurpassed." (White, 67).
Her assignment: to obtain a cypher key from world-renowned violinist Lukas De Wilde.

  Lukas De Wilde's reputation proceeds him, and not in a positive way.
He's seen as a bit of a play-boy. However, fame, fortune, and war have changed him.
At one time, he relished the prestige that his prominent violin playing brought him,
but now "with the world having gone mad. Not just with the war, with everything." (White, 77)
he's changing his tune.  His sole focus is spent on trying to rescue his mother and sister,
both trapped in enemy occupied Belgium.

Willa's initial meeting with Lukas prompts him to offer her violin lessons.
He sees natural musical ability as surpassing his own and he wants to help perfect her form
and teach her how to read music.

She is a complex heroine who is a series of contradictions. Stubborn and sensitive at times,
she loves her 'family' and is fiercely loyal and protective of them. As a violin wonder she doesn't realize how good she is and has trouble accepting praise from others. More importantly, Willa has a hard time believing that God is interested in or cares for her.

Ms. White's over-arching theme is that God speaks to us in different ways.
In Willa's case He uses music.

The author skillfully weaves her tale of suspense, mystery, and intrigue all the while slowly unraveling it to draw the reader in.
A Song Unheard was difficult to put down.

The cover art for Ms. White's Shadows Over England series is beautiful,
capturing the WWI time period.
A Name Unknown (Shadows Over England Book 1)

An Hour Unspent (Shadows Over England Book 3)

I'm ecstatic to announce the 3rd and final book An Hour Unspent (Shadows Over England)  comes out September of this year. Isn't the cover gorgeous?! I love how the darker jewel tones of the books look together. Can't wait to add this to my shelf! 

~~ A Song Unheard was provided to me by Bethany House and author Roseanna M. White in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. ~~  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Judah's Wife is a Reminder to be Faithful

New York Times bestselling author Angela Hunt brings readers back to "the silent years" in the Bible. Judah's Wife is set approximately 160 years before Jesus' birth.

Judah Maccabees is the 4th of five sons.  Their father, Matthias, is a descendant of Judah. Due to the King's decree all the people are commanded to worship false idols. Judah's family resolves to leave Jerusalem because they want to remain faithful to Adonai and will not worship man-made images.

A native of Jerusalem, Leah grew up in an abusive home. Her father often and repeatedly beat her mother and was verbally abusive to his daughter. When it's arranged that she marry Judah she sees her marriage as a way out and longs for it to bring her peace.

 Over the course of the story, Leah's character goes through a great deal of personal growth and change. When Judah and his brothers go to war to follow the laws of Moses rather than conform to the Syrian rule, she becomes resentful. Over time, she supports his decision to go to war and realizes she "married an unusual man, and humility was one of his rare qualities. He seemed to be content no matter where he was, in the goat pen or on the battlefield." (Hunt, 264-265).

Ms. Hunt has a unique way of telling a story. Judah's Wife was divided into 4 parts and the chapters alternate between Judah and Leah's points of view.

What really struck me was the lengths that Judah and his family were willing to go in order to remain faithful and steadfast to God. Even to the point where they were willing to die.
It caused me to closely examine my own faith.

~~ Judah's Wife was provided to me by Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, for which I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone ~~

From Songster to School Teacher

Saloon singer Miss Louisa Bell a.k.a. Lovely Lola loses her job at the Cat-Eye.  Desperate for work, she makes a spur-of- the-moment decision to visit her brother Bradley, a Calvary soldier in Indian Territory who happens to be in some hot water with his commanding officer. Her trip to Fort Reno is two-fold; to help her younger sibling and to seek employment.

Major Daniel Adams is a widower juggling the responsibility of overseeing a fortress of troops and the upbringing of his two growing daughters. Hiring a governess seems like the perfect solution. It will appease his persistent in-laws and see that his girls receive a proper education.

Upon her arrival Louisa is mistaken for the governess. Not intentionally trying to deceive the family she takes on the new role because she needs the job. After all, she was accustomed to a crowd of rowdy hard could two playful girls be? Louisa soon finds out how wrong she is.

Daniel "[considers] Miss Bell a mystery and makes it his business to know everything about everything in his territory." (Jennings, 133). Initially he's skeptical as to her qualifications as a governess and gives her one week to prove herself.

The more time Louisa spends with the family she realizes that she relishes the respectable life, but feels unworthy because of her past.  Will Daniel accept her once he learns? Falling in love with Major Adams and being quite literally swept off her feet was the last thing she expected.

After being a widower for a decade, Daniel finds himself attracted to Louisa because of her character and the way she 'tutors' his children. Their romance develops through daily meals, deep discussions, and competitive chess games.

The cover art for Holding the Fort was creative and humorous, much like the story. In Louisa's stack of books one cover reads 'How to Salute' and in the spine of the book she's seen clutching a cannon ball behind her back.

Coming to the last page of Holding the Fort I closed the book with a satisfied sigh and a smile.
I look forward to more stories in Ms. Jennings Fort Reno series.

~~ Holding the Fort was provided to me by Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, with no requirement to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. ~~  

Monday, January 1, 2018

Out of the Ordinary Delivers Regency Romance with Humor & Heart

The honest and trustworthy Miss Gertrude Cadwalader works as a paid companion to the wealthy  and eccentric Mrs. Davenport. On occasion, Gertie finds herself wearing unconventional clothing  and returning items her light-fingered employer has pilfered  In the process she meets and forms a friendship with handsome shipping owner Harrison Sinclair. 

On one of her "returning stolen items" trips aboard a Sinclair yacht, Harrison's mother catches her and arrives at the wrong conclusion, believing Gertrude stole the items she was returning.
Harrison finds himself fixed between his falsely accused friend and his determined mother.

Gertrude and Harrison  are frequently thrown together, and their friendship is manipulated by society into a romance. Both of them see qualities in the other beyond their physical appearance. Harrison sees Gertrude's "...generous heart [that] makes [her] more of a prize than any beauties of the day..." (Turano, 30).  Gertrude has found in Harrison "...a gentlemen who'd cherish her, protect her, and allow her to embrace an extraordinary life instead of merely an ordinary one." (Turano, 326-327).

Jen Turano once again delights fans with her trademark humor and wit set against the backdrop of the Regency Era. I lost count of how many times I found myself laughing out loud while reading this story!

~ ~Out of the Ordinary was provided to me by Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, for which I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone ~~ ~ ~

Blind Spot is Riveting

Dani Pettrey has long been on my "authors I need to read" list.
Blind Spot (Chesapeake Valor Book 3) was my first introduction to her work
and definitely will not be my last!

FBI Special Agent Declan Grey is racing against time to stop a threat on American soil.
A pressing concern is the uncertainty of where this catastrophe will be unleashed.
So far his best clue leads him to an immigrant community that doesn't take kindly to outsiders.
He turns to Tanner Shaw, the FBI's newest crisis counselor.
She seeks justice for the refugees in the community and nationwide.

The author hints at Declan and Tanner having a previous relationship...the two occasionally tend to butt heads. The tension between the duo eventually leads to an attraction that turns into a romance.
Can Declan and Tanner figure out where the terrorist threat is, stop it in time, and give their budding relationship a second chance?

 Declan Grey was everything you'd want in a hero and more, but heroine Tanner Shaw positively captured my interest with her unique background, charisma, and heart for helping others.

Ms. Pettrey skillfully keeps the suspense intensified throughout Blind Spot, and even including a few unforeseen plot twists.

~ ~ Blind Spot was provided to me by Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, for which I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone ~~~ ~

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

"And she shall bring forth a son,
and thou shalt call his name Jesus:
for he shall save his people from their sins"
Matthew 1:21 (KJV)