Ибо так возлюбил Бог мир, что отдал Сына Своего Единородного, дабы всякий верующий в Него, не погиб, но имел хизнь вечную.
While I receive many books in exchange for review, I am never required to leave a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my very own.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Review: Serendipity by Cathy Marie Hake

Todd Valmer should have known better. A farmer who's been through several disasters, he travels to Virginia to fetch his widowed mother to cook and help him around his Texas farm...or that was the plan until she keels over on the train and they get kicked off. Maggie Rose barters for a living and also makes soaps, lotions, and perfumes with a special rose recipe passed down from mother to daughter for generations. She hasn't wanted to marry...until that handsome Texan shows up. Her heart skips a beat, and when he proposes, a hasty marriage follows.

What ensues, however, is a clash of culture and a battle of wills--and it's clear they both mistook instant attraction and infatuation for love. As their marriage loses its sparkle and fills with disillusionment, Todd and Maggie must determine what is worth fighting for. He dreams of a farm. Maggie wants to fulfill the family tradition with her rose perfumes. Todd's mother, however, has entirely different plans for her son that do not include Maggie. In light of their hasty marriage and mistaken dreams, is there any hope of recapturing their love and building a future together?

 According to my Goodreads profile, I've already read this book, but it must have been too long for me to remember doing so. I have loved reading the Gooding series since I first stumbled upon Whirlwind years ago. Serendipity was no exception. I picked it up yesterday and finished it yesterday. Marriage of convenience will always be one of my favorite tropes, however conflict driven mainly by miscommunication makes me crazy! This book was a nice balance. The characters were endearing, and it was the perfect little mix of Texas fun with sweet romance. Still not sure how I feel about Ma, but it was so nice to see Linette finally make her match in Gooding. Overall, a pleasant read that is nice and light for a beautiful almost-maybe-spring day. Enjoy the read! Have you read any of the Gooding books? Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Review: Along the Rio Grande by Tracie Peterson

Recently widowed Susanna Jenkins has decided to follow her family to the booming town of San Marcial, New Mexico, for a fresh start and to aid in her family's sudden change in fortune. They are tasked with managing her uncle's new Grand Hotel, and it takes all her patience to try to help her parents see the good of their circumstances and relinquish their sense of entitlement.

Owen Turner works as a boilermaker for the Santa Fe's train shops in San Marcial. He's immediately attracted to Susanna upon meeting her, but he hesitates to risk opening his heart again. Especially as painful memories are stirred up of his own late sibling when Susanna's brother is assigned to work under him.

When misguided choices put Susanna's family in an even more precarious situation, she needs someone to rely on. But if Owen can't face the past, he'll miss out on his greatest chance at love.

 It's been an embarrassingly long time since I've read any of Tracie's newest books, even though she's in my top 5 authors list. Along the Rio Grande, her latest release was a wonderful story of growth. I've never seen so many whiny characters that I wound up not absolutely despising at the end. Any Tracie fan will love picking up this brand new series. I loved the setting and the cultural aspects woven into the novel. Of course, the romance was sweet, although slow. Honestly, the first two or so pages have so much information that it's almost overwhelming, but after that the story slows way down. The pacing felt funny, but it was a quick read. I knocked it out real fast, and I was engaged the whole time. It wasn't as gripping as some of my Tracie faves, but, at the same time, I think my brain was ready for some light reading and I was never bored. I've been reading so much heavy material lately, that it was good to slow down and just have a story that's not kicking my adrenaline into overdrive. Overall, a great story, with so many wonderful spiritual truths, but not comparable to Striking a Match, Alaskan Quest, or Yukon Quest. However, if you're looking for a masterful light read, help an author out and go check out the new book baby.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Review: Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green

The one thing Sylvie Townsend wants most is what she feared she was destined never to have--a family of her own. But taking in Polish immigrant Rose Dabrowski to raise and love quells those fears--until seventeen-year-old Rose goes missing at the World's Fair, and Sylvie's world unravels.

Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder, Kristof Bartok, for help. He is Rose's violin instructor and the concertmaster for the Columbian Exposition Orchestra, and his language skills are vital to helping Sylvie navigate the immigrant communities where their search leads.

From the glittering architecture of the fair to the dark houses of Chicago's poorest neighborhoods, they're taken on a search that points to Rose's long-lost family. Is Sylvie willing to let the girl go? And as Kristof and Sylvie grow closer, can she reconcile her craving for control with her yearning to belong?

 Not gonna lie, I jumped right into this book after reading number three in the series, and I liked it even better than Drawn by the Current. I read this in one day, stayed up past midnight to finish it. I was so drawn and captivated by the story. Sylvie is definitely one of my new favorite literary characters. And yes, I felt like smacking Rose multiple times during the book. I liked seeing a heroine who wasn't in the 18-25 age bracket. It made for a sweet change of rhythm. Plus, all the details of the World's Fair were so fascinating. Usually, if there's too much of a history lesson hidden in the book, it annoys me, but the details were so sharp and interesting that I was eating it up. I love how the story took so many turns emotionally. Some quotes that I loved: 

"God says I am His child, I am good enough for Him-- not because of what I've done, but because of what Christ has done on my behalf."

"Just because we are still doesn't mean that God is. We can rely on Him."

Monday, February 21, 2022

Review: On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright

Adria Fontaine has been sent to recover goods her father pirated on the Great Lakes during the war. But when she arrives at Foxglove Manor--a stone house on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior--Adria senses wickedness hovering over the property. The mistress of Foxglove is an eccentric and seemingly cruel old woman who has filled her house with dangerous secrets, ones that may cost Adria her life. 

Present day. 

Kailey Gibson is a new nurse's aide at a senior home in a renovated old stone manor. Kidnapped as a child, she has nothing but locked-up memories of secrets and death, overshadowed by the chilling promise from her abductors that they would return. When the residents of Foxglove start sharing stories of whispers in the night, hidden treasure, and a love willing to kill, it becomes clear this home is far from a haven. She'll have to risk it all to banish the past's demons, including her own. 

This is the second book I've read by this author. I love the dual timelines that are so interconnected. I love the mystery and intrigue. I like finding the normal explanation for the ghoulish tricks that inevitably happen. While I expected this book to be dark, I wasn't quite prepared for how dark this one went. I don't know how much to say without spoiling, but the feelings that Adria was having, the trauma that Kailey goes through, it's all a lot to process. I felt that perhaps there could have been a little less current events woven into the story, but that's a personal preference, not a dig on the author. Comparing this to Bonaventure Circus, I liked that one better than Foxglove, but I'm still super excited to dive into my next Jaime Jo Wright book. One of the things I like about her writing is that she's so good at keeping me from guessing who the bad guy is. I was 1 for 4 this time. Overall, a good read, but not my favorite. That being said, I really couldn't put it down, actually, reading it during my breaks and in the car and before bed. If you like spooky vibes, I say go for it.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Review: Drawn by the Current by Jocelyn Green

Lives depend on the truth she uncovers.
She can't give up her search.

A birthday excursion turns deadly when the SS Eastland capsizes with Olive Pierce and her best friend on board. Hundreds perish during the accident, and it's only when Olive herself barely escapes that she discovers her friend is among the victims.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Olive returns to her work at a Chicago insurance agency and is immersed in the countless investigations related to the accident. But with so many missing, there are few open-and-shut cases, and she tries to balance her grief with the hard work of finding the truth.

While someone sabotages her progress, Olive accepts the help of newspaper photographer Erik Magnussen. As they unravel secrets, the truths they discover impact those closest to Olive. How long will the disaster haunt her--and how can she help the others find the peace they deserve? 

I jumped right into book three of this series, not unusual for me, let's be honest, but I can honestly say that it was totally fine. In fact, I enjoyed the characters so much that I started book 2 immediately after finishing. (Yes, I'm reading backward. It'll be fine, I promise.) I have only read one of Jocelyn's books before, and I loved it, so I had high hopes for this story. And yes, I loved Drawn by the Current. I think that Olive and Erik were both really fleshed out characters that had so much depth and growth going on. Olive realizing that being useful was not the entirety of her personhood was so powerful. I enjoyed the little bit of intrigue going on. I will say that I was surprised that the love interest didn't really show until about a quarter of the way in, which is unusual. I was about to chalk this one up as a non-romance, and you know what, I was okay with that, because the story was interesting and engaging. I think the portrayal of the accident was so moving, and the many storylines that took. At one point I know there were at least four different angles I was following, which kept the story moving. Now, here's where I may lose some of you who have read it, but I didn't care for Claire all that much. She just didn't have the emotion I expected to see, not until the very end. Overall, though, I think this series is probably going to be a favorite for lots of people. I'll tell you how books two and one go when I'm done reading them. Bottom-line, if you enjoy early 1900s romance, lots of mystery, Chicago, and sooooo many classical literature references, then you'll like Drawn by the Current. Have you read it? Who was your favorite character. Let me know in the comments.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Review: The Wounded Shadow by Patrick W. Carr

The kings and queens of the northern continent lay siege to the Darkwater Forest, desperate to contain its evil. But rumors of gold and aurium have lured deserters and the desperate into its shadow, creating a growing army held in its sway. Desperate after the death and dissolution of their greatest ally, Willet and the Vigil seek the truth of what lies at the heart of the evil they face. They delve the mind of an old enemy and find an answer far worse than they could have imagined.

Danger stalks the cities of the north, striking at the rulers of the kingdoms. As Willet and the rest of the Vigil seek to find answers, the group is scattered with an ever-growing darkness around them. Will they discover a path to keep their land safe, or will an ancient evil reclaim the world it once called its own? 

This has been on my TBR list since I read The Shattered Vigil in 2017 or something like that. I love the fantasy world that Carr built and I drunk in every single ounce of description he gave. I would recommend reading the books in order, because there are so many characters and the world building is so extensive that it is very easy to get confused. The different POVs presented in The Wounded Shadow were incredible. I'm fascinated by the gift of domere, and Pellin is incredible. Watching Mark and Elieve interact was probably one of my favorite things, but in all honesty, with even one piece missing from the story, it wouldn't have been whole. I loved the allegory going on, even if I didn't understand it all. If you love escaping to another world and delving into gifts and callings, well, this series might be for you. The books are long, but worth it. I only wish the series hadn't come to an end. 

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Review: In Search of a Prince by Toni Shiloh

It seems like a dream come true . . . until it forces her to question everything.

Brielle Adebayo is fully content teaching at a New York City public school and taking annual summer vacations with her mother to Martha’s Vineyard. But everything changes when her mom drops a bombshell–Brielle is really a princess in the island kingdom of Ọlọrọ Ilé, off the coast of Africa, and she must immediately assume her royal position, since the health of her grandfather, the king, is failing.

Distraught by all the secrets her mother kept, Brielle is further left spinning when the Ọlọrọ Ilé Royal Council brings up an old edict that states she must marry before her coronation, or the crown will pass to another. Brielle is uncertain if she even wants the throne, and with her world totally shaken, where will she find the courage to take a chance on love and brave the perils a wrong decision may bring?

 Toni is a new-to-me author. I'd heard of her for years, but never got around to reading her work. Boy, am I glad this was my first. I'm not really into the fantasy kingdom in the real world contemporary stories, but I started this book last night and finished it today. It's been a while since I've read a book in just one POV and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It really helped to get me into the story, and while at first I was distracted by too many details, I was all in before too long. I think this book did such an awesome job of sharing culture and adventure and God's peace. There were a few heavy on the romance portions, but overall, I enjoyed reading this princess book, and now I think I need to go ask my parents some questions just in case there's some hidden royalty in my family tree. If you're looking for a sweet romance with a hint of whodunit, a best friend who's absolutely over the top, the sweetest grandpa ever, and some awesome Princess Diaries vibes, go for it.

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley but all opinions are my own. 

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Review: To Disguise the Truth by Jen Turano

"When Arthur Livingston seeks out the agency to find a missing heiress, Eunice Holbrooke realizes her past has finally caught up with her. In order to avoid Arthur and conceal her real identity, Eunice goes undercover on another case. But will the truth she uncovers set her free or place her-and her heart-in peril's way?"

 It has been too long since I've picked up a book by Jen Turano, even though I know I love her. The wit and humor in her books always have me in a good mood, and even laughing out loud in inopportune moments. I wish I had started reading this particular series from book 1, as I have no doubt I would have loved the characters and their development exponentially, but picking up in book 3 did not detract in any way from the delight that I found in To Disguise the Truth. A defining characteristic in Jen Turano books is women who know their own mind, and Eunice sure fits that mold, even down to sneaking into an insane asylum. I loved getting straight to the heart of the conflict from the very first words, and the author even snuck in a mystery surrounding the reading of a will in a way that gave me Agatha Christie vibes towards the end. (If AC were, you know, funnier...) Every single twist of this story made it more endearing, and I was laughing so hard. And what's great is that somehow every single character had a multi-faceted personality just to surprise you. A splendid first read of February. Bottom line? Go for it if you enjoy witty humor, independent ladies, romantic fellas, and the Gilded Age and Wild West shaken into a delightful cocktail. 

 (PS no matter how annoyed you are with your father, maybe Sunshine isn't the best revenge legal middle name to give your kid...)

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley but all opinions are my own.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Review: Ever Constant by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

She's always determined to be the stable, reliable one. But now her commitment may destroy her.

On the surface, Whitney Powell is happy working with her sled dogs and welcoming the new additions to her family through her sisters' marriages and an upcoming birth. But her life is full of complications, including an estranged father, that have her on the edge of losing control. Growing up, she was the strong sister, and she can't give that up now.

When villagers in outlying areas come down with a horrible sickness, Dr. Peter Cameron turns to Whitney and her dogs for help navigating the deep snow, and they become close while ministering to the sick together. Peter has long recognized her finer qualities but is troubled by the emotions and secrets she keeps buried within. He wants to help but wonders if she is more of a risk than his heart can take.

As sickness spreads throughout Nome and another man courts Whitney, she and Peter will discover that sometimes it is only in weakness that you can find strength.

 It has been too long since I've been able to review a duo by these two, and too long since I've read an Alaska book. Ever Constant was the absolute BEST ending to this trilogy. The story was so poignant. Whitney, with her determination to be strong, always, and Peter, with his desire to compartmentalize all the emotions, really resonated with me. The emotions are high with this one, and especially if you've read books one and two (which is a definite must) then you'll be so attached to the characters that you've just got to go along for the ride. Seriously... this is probably the only book I have ever read that made me cry in chapter one. What's with that? (We talked about making Erica cry, Kim!) I loved seeing the changing relationship between Whitney and her dad. I loved Peter's patience and love. But mostly, I loved the reminders that God is the only one who is Ever Constant in this life, a message I too often forget. I was nowhere near ready to let this family go, but I'm thinking that since Chris has three younger children, and he still needs to resolve some issues with Matthew, that we've got the makings of another trilogy there... Just saying. Absolutely five out of five stars.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, but per usual, all opinions are honest and my own.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Review: To Treasure an Heiress by Roseanna M White

Beth Tremayne has always been drawn to adventure. During her childhood, she fed that desire by exploring every inch of the Isles of Scilly. As an adolescent, she dreamed of love in London's ballrooms. Now, stumbling across an old map on her family's property, she's found more adventure than she ever craved in the hunt for pirate treasure. Unfortunately, Beth can't escape the attentions of her family's guest, Lord Sheridan.

Sheridan has spent years pursuing whatever archaeological interests caught his imagination. And when he discovers that Beth's search connects with one of his favorite pirates of history, he can't help getting involved. Plus, he finds her irresistible, even though she insists he stole a prized possession of hers.

As they work together following different clues and drawing closer to danger, they start to piece together a story of tragic love and piratical adventure. But the true surprise is the treasure they discover in each other.

 I promise, this is the last Roseanna M White review for at least two posts. But when my GORGEOUS print copy of To Treasure an Heiress came in the mail, I couldn't NOT read it, now could I? Especially a signed copy! Once again, I am in love. This book takes place literally right after book one in the series, and picks up right where we left off. The main difference is we get to follow flighty but fierce Beth around the isles, and laugh together over Sheridan's sense of humor. (Full confession, I made the dog very upset by laughing too hard while reading this one...) Some of Sheridan's views may seem a bit... well, wrong, on the surface, but I find that he is such a real character. Someone who is shocked when no one else sees that he isn't a heathen. Someone who cares deeply. Someone who just can't stand up to his crazy older sisters. One who is inexplicably best friends with the character I was determined to hate after his behavior in book one, but who may or may not be growing on me just in time for his own book. (Looking at you, Telly...) Mamm-wynn is once again, amazing and just exactly what she needs to be. Senara took the third POV character, and I loved the wisdom that Ainsley and Senara's mam both poured into her. There were so many good things that happened in this story, even through the bad things, that I couldn't stop reading. (Even gave myself two migraines trying to read it on kindle before my print copy came...) If you're ready for some pirate treasure hunting in the most beautiful place you could be in 1906, then this book is definitely where it's at.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Review: The Nature of a Lady by Roseanna M White

Lady Elizabeth "Libby" Sinclair, with her love of microscopes and nature, isn't favored in society. She flees to the beautiful Isles of Scilly for the summer and stumbles into the dangerous secrets left behind by her holiday cottage's former occupant, also named Elizabeth, who mysteriously vanished. 

Oliver Tremayne--gentleman and clergyman--is determined to discover what happened to his sister, and he's happy to accept the help of the girl now living in what should have been Beth's summer cottage . . . especially when he realizes it's the curious young lady he met briefly two years ago, who shares his love of botany and biology. But the hunt for his sister involves far more than nature walks, and he can't quite believe all the secrets Beth had been keeping from him.

As Libby and Oliver work together, they find ancient legends, pirate wrecks, betrayal, and the most mysterious phenomenon of all: love.

 It's not often that I review the same author here twice in a row. Much less two days in a row, but I must. When I started this book, I was determined that I would NOT like it. It was so very opposite of everything that I had read from Roseanna M White so far. Not set in London. Not set in the 1920s. No sneak appearances of Brook. No, not something I was prepared to like. But oh, I was wrong. Despite myself, I fell for the characters. I fell for the place. I fell for the time. I fell, first, for Mamm-wynn. By the second half, I was laughing so hard. As many tears as A Portrait of Loyalty brought me, this brought me laughter. What's more, something mon papa is so quick to say to me was written almost word for word. "Always a choice." I showed him, and he approved. I honestly didn't know where Libby's obsession with Darwin was going, but I don't think it went too far, though I was nervous for a minute or two. Yes, this is just the lovely sort of tale I needed, but didn't know. I can't wait to read Beth's story next. Unexpected, but not surprising, this new series is a hit!

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Review: A Portrait of Loyalty by Roseanna M White

Zivon Marin was one of Russia's top cryptographers until the October Revolution tore apart his world. Forced to flee to England after speaking out against Lenin, Zivon is driven by a growing anger and determined to offer his services to the Brits. But never far from his mind is his brother, whom Zivon fears died in the train crash that separated them.

Lily Blackwell sees the world best through the lens of a camera and possesses unsurpassed skill when it comes to retouching and re-creating photographs. With her father's connections in propaganda, she's recruited to the intelligence division, even though her mother would disapprove if she ever found out.

After Captain Blackwell invites Zivon to dinner one evening, a friendship blooms between him and Lily that soon takes over their hearts. But both have secrets they're unwilling to share, and neither is entirely sure they can trust the other. When Zivon's loyalties are called into question, proving him honest is about more than one couple's future dreams--it becomes a matter of ending the war.

 I can't believe that it took me this long to read this book. I knew I loved everything I had read by this author, but at the same time, I wasn't in the mood, I thought. Yesterday, I decided to make this my first read of the new year and I am devastated. This book absolutely broke my heart. I had to stop reading in the middle and take five to sob my heart out. The artistry in this book is just beyond. I haven't cried so hard over a book in years. Each and every character was perfect, and somehow even the people I hated became people I loved, which I sure didn't think would happen the first time I saw them. I love how characters from the previous books were woven in: Brook, Margot, Barclay, Camden and Ara, Blinker Hall. At first, I didn't think there would be enough chemistry between the MCs but I was so very wrong. This may have been the perfect ending to a world I've come to love over the past several years. But following all of WWI from beginning to end had such a feeling of accomplishment. I absolutely recommend this book, this series, all three series that cover this basic time period and locale. I can already see this book being one of my top for all of 2022.