Amongst the Roses (Keystone Legacy,#1) by Meghan M. Gorecki (review by Cathy)

Amongst the roses


About the book:

The War Between the States shakes Margaret Bryant out of her comfortable upper-class life when her father enlists in the Army of the Potomac. Despite being safely ensconced above the Mason-Dixon Line in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Margaret finds her strength tested by opposition from familiar faces and Confederate threats. Will she let a young man from a lesser station into her heart even as war rages ever nearer to the home front?

Restless Connor Doyle sees the war as a way to escape from his family’s farm and his identity as a poor Irishman’s son. His brother, Adam, torn between duty to country and his family, enlists alongside Connor. Adam dares to hope in a future with Margaret when he begins a courtship correspondence from the war front. The two brothers make a vow to protect one another at all costs, but when faced with death and destruction from all sides—will they be able to uphold it?

The three bloodiest days in America’s history bring these three together at Gettysburg and tragedy’s cruelty threatens to tear two hearts apart—and bring two unlikely allies together.


My thoughts:

I honestly lost track of time while reading, Amongst the Roses.  It was just one of those books that I wanted to savor and read slowly, yet at the same time, I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next, so I continued to read chapter after chapter.

I loved the civil war setting and battles they fought.  The author allowed us to see her characters were war-weary and at times frightened which made perfect sense.  The Doyle brothers, Connor and Adam enlist for different reasons.  I loved Adam and his loyalty to his brother.  To me, he is the epitome of a brave, kind, caring and loving man.  I could fully understand why Connor felt so compelled to enlist with his hope for a better life than he has.

Of course, with strong male characters, you need strong female characters, right?   I’ll start with the mother and siblings of Connor and Adam, who are left to take care of the home and crops.  I guess since they had no choice, it was best not to whine and complain.  I’m not so sure I could have handled what they did quite so well. .  I just loved this family so much and only wanted the best for them.

The Bryant family stole my heart, too.  I wasn’t so sure that I would like Margaret, but she turned out to be one of my favorite characters.  As she matured and showed a softer side, she became more relatable to me.  She had more strength and stamina than I originally thought she would.  As she shouldered more responsibility, I enjoyed her relationship with her sisters and mother.

The correspondence between Adam and Margaret was something that I looked forward to as much as they did.  I was so disappointed when they had to wait for long periods of time between letters.

I really felt like I was a part of the characters lives.  I felt their fears, disappointments, frustrations and a longing for the war to end.

Overall, this book  is well written and thoroughly researched,  with some fantastic characters that I grew to love.  I felt all kinds of emotions while reading this and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book and was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.







A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green (review by Cathy)

a refuge assured


book Blurb:

Vivienne Rivard fled revolutionary France and seeks a new life for herself and a boy in her care, who some say is the Dauphin.

But America is far from safe, as militiaman Liam Delaney knows. He proudly served in the American Revolution but is less sure of his role in the Whiskey Rebellion.

Drawn together, will Liam and Vivienne find the peace they long for?


My thoughts:

I had heard so many great things about this book and was eager to find out for myself.  I have to agree with other readers, this book is fantastic.

Rich in history and beautifully written, I was engaged from the beginning. I loved Lacemaker, Vivienne Rivard, she had strength and courage that was unimaginable to me.  I thought she would be delicate because lace making seems like pretty delicate work.  It occurred to me that it also required patience, dedication and hard work.

Escaping from the French Revolution, Vivienne takes refuge in Pennsylvania where she and many others hope to make a new and better life for themselves.  I have to say that some of the things described in the book are ghastly but an unfortunate part of history, and to the authors credit they weren’t too detailed.

There were several characters that  I really liked and found myself looking forward to hearing from them after a long absence.  Liam was one of those characters, as was Henri.  Oddly enough, I never expected to like Henri, so that was unexpected and pleasant.

Overall, this is one of those books that made me feel so many emotions. Heartache, sadness and yet I felt a hopefulness throughout because, I truly wanted the best outcome possible for all of them.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to give a positive review.  All opinions are my own.











All Things Bright and Strange by James Markert (review by Cathy)

All Things Bright and Strange

About the book:

In the wake of World War I in the small, Southern town of Bellhaven, South Carolina, the town folk believe they’ve found a little slice of heaven in a mysterious chapel in the woods. But they soon realize that evil can come in the most beautiful of forms.

The people of Bellhaven have always looked to Ellsworth Newberry for guidance, but after losing his wife and his future as a professional pitcher, he is moments away from testing his mortality once and for all. Until he finally takes notice of the changes in his town . . . and the cardinals that have returned.

Upon the discovery of a small chapel deep in the Bellhaven woods, healing seems to fall upon the townspeople, bringing peace after several years of mourning. But as they visit the “healing floor” more frequently, the people begin to turn on one another, and the unusually tolerant town becomes anything but.

The cracks between the natural and supernatural begin to widen, and tensions rise. Before the town crumbles, Ellsworth must pull himself from the brink of suicide, overcome his demons, and face the truth of who he was born to be by leading the town into the woods to face the evil threatening Bellhaven.


My thoughts:

A very different book than I normally read, which is good because it took me out of my comfort zone and I found a new to me author.

As with any book, there were some characters that I liked more than others.  Ellsworth is one that I liked and at times pitied. I was fond of Anna Belle, too.  Honestly, I thought there were characters that I didn’t get to know because I lost interest in some of them after a few pages  which made the story seem slow to me.

It may have been just my frame of mind when I lost interest because after I stopped reading for a few days, I was able to pick up where I left off and get back into the story.

I have to admit that the cross between the natural and supernatural was interesting and I’m sure there are readers who will find this to be a fantastic read.  For me, it was an enjoyable one and I will recommend it to friends that I think I will enjoy it.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a positive review.  All opinions are my own.



My Heart Belongs in San Francisco, California Abby’s Prospects by Janice Thompson (review by Cathy)

my heart belongs in san francisco, california


About the book:

Journey now to San Francisco, California, of 1853 where…
An English socialite finds more treasure than expected on her trip to the American West.

When Abby Effingham becomes stranded in the middle of the California gold rush, her money depletes quickly even while her prospects for marriage increase daily. But Abby is on a mission to find her mother—not romance. Will a ridiculous scandal keep her from traveling on, or will it wake up an aloof innkeeper to the treasure right under his roof?

Samuel Harris runs a moderately priced hotel where Abby and her family’s elderly butler find shelter. He is looking forward to when she—and her parade of suitors—move on, though he concedes to let her work in his restaurant. When the sassy socialite is in trouble, will Samuel come to her rescue or find himself alone?


My thoughts:

What a fun and fast read this is!  The premise is delightful with Abby setting out to bring her mother home, it seems that mom needed a little adventure and Abby is being the adult in the family by talking her mother into coming home.

Abby isn’t traveling alone from Philadelphia, she has her trusted and very funny butler, Neville with her on her journey.  I loved his wry humor and keen observations.  When they end up in a town full of people who are a bit less refined than what they expect, I realized that the authors writing and character development was fantastic.  The relationship between Abby and Neville is sweet and I liked that he acted as her protector.

Cookie and Sam were wonderful characters, that I loved, too.  Especially, Cookie!  She’s a no-nonsense, but sweet woman known for her cooking skills, and quoting bible verses.  The prospectors aren’t going to give Cookie too much attitude because she wont let them eat another slice her cherry pie!

I liked the progression of the story as Abby discovers she needs to take a job to get the necessary funds needed  to leave San Francisco  to travel to Oregon City to meet her mother.  She learns so much about herself and others along the way.

Overall, this is a book that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and provide a few hours of relaxing entertainment.  The only thing that was missing for me personally, was a slice of cherry pie, so do yourself a favor and pick up some pie before you settle down to enjoy this book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.






The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel (review by Kristi)


About the bookMegan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide in her small Minnesota hometown and living with her parents, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

Publication Date:  March 13, 2018

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson

Genre:  Contemporary Fiction, Christian Fiction


My thoughtsI discovered this book when the publisher sent me an email suggesting I request it via NetGalley. I was intrigued by the cover as it was cute and had a bit of a chic-lit feel to it. I read the description of the story and was even more intrigued. A woman who has a heart transplant decides to travel and check off things on the bucket list of her donor. Not only did I request and receive the book via NetGalley but I also had to have a physical copy of this book too. There was just something about the cover and description that required me to hold the book in my hands while reading it.

Once I started reading the book I realized it wasn’t just about checking off items on a bucket list. Nope. This book was about so much more. There is the relationship between sisters, in this case, twins with one healthy and one not, starting over, letting go of the past, finding yourself, and realizing you can’t control everything. It was brilliant of the author to write this story with the sisters going on an around the world trip while checking off the bucket list items instead of in a way that would be more common and routine. It made the story more unique and gave the reader time to get to know the characters. It was also interesting how the author let the reader see the relationship between Megan and Amanda, her organ donor. The journal entries were placed in just the right spots in the story to keep it moving forward.

As far as the characters I liked Megan and Crystal equally. Both are trying to rediscover the relationship they once had and Crystal is also trying to find a balance between her work and marriage. Crystal seemed more mature than Megan at times but this was to be expected and seemed natural considering Megan led a more sheltered life due to her heart issues. Brian was easy to relate to as he and Crystal struggled with their marriage. Caleb was a perfect match for Megan because they shared a bond with both having heart transplants. It was easy to see the attraction between the two and I hoped from the beginning that they would become more than friends.

It was fun to spend time in other countries with the sisters on their travels. There wasn’t a ton of detail in some locations and that was just fine with me. This story was about relationships more than travel so it was nice that the author didn’t create a bunch of lag in the story with location details. There was just enough to serve as a backdrop to the story without taking over.

I would recommend this book. It was everything I was hoping it would be. While the cover might suggest to some this will be a light read the story does have some depth to it. This is a book that will make you think while it entertains. Happy reading!!

I received free copies of this book from the publisher via NetGalley and BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a review and all opinions are mine.


About the authorLindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and—of course—writing novels.

When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way.

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Keturah (The Sugar Baron’s Daughters #1) by Lisa T. Bergren (review by Cathy) + Giveaway



About the Book:

In 1772 England, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters find themselves the heiresses of their father’s estates and know they have one option: Go to the West Indies to save what is left of their heritage.
Although it flies against all the conventions, they’re determined to make their own way in the world. But once they arrive in the Caribbean, conventions are the least of their concerns. On the infamous island of Nevis, the sisters discover the legacy of the legendary sugar barons has vastly declined-and that’s just the start of what their eyes are opened to in this harsh and unfamiliar world.
Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. She could desperately use an ally, but even an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend leaves her questioning his motives.
To keep her family together and save the plantation that is her last chance at providing for them, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?


My review:

I was in awe of Keturah, Verity and Selah as soon as they decided to travel from England to the West Indies to their inherited sugar plantation.  I loved that they were close and  looked out for each other no matter what they faced.  Upon their arrival  to  their plantation they found some unpleasant and harsh realities.

I loved Gray, a fantastic friend and neighbor that they knew from England.  At times my patience wore thin with Keturah and her attitude towards him.  I could certainly understand her reluctance to get involved with him or any man  due to her abusive marriage. I just thought she was a little too cautious at times .

Speaking of abuse, there are parts of this story that were difficult for me to read.  They have nothing to do with Keturah, but the treatment of slaves.  Angus Shubert is such a cruel and vile man.  I was sickened by his character, even though I know that is a sad part of history where a plantation overseer treated other human beings so horribly.

Having said that, the abuse is a rather small part of this story.  Yes, there were many struggles the Banning sisters had, but they didn’t wallow in self-pity and they are no shrinking violets.  They face each and every challenge as they work to make their plantation a success. I loved that about them.

Overall, this is a story that is rich in history and beautifully written.  I cannot wait to read the next book in the sisters to find out what’s next for the sisters and their friends.

I received a copy from the publisher through Litfuse Publicity and was not required to give a positive review.  All opinions are my own.


About the Author:

Lisa T. Bergren

Lisa T. Bergren has published more than 40 books with more than 3 million books sold combined. She’s the author of the Christy Award-winning “Waterfall,” RITA®-finalist “Firestorm,” bestselling “God Gave Us You,” and popular historical series like Homeward, Grand Tour, and more. She’s also a recipient of the RT Lifetime Achievement Award. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and three teen-and-older children.

Find out more about Lisa at:


Keturah Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of Keturah.  Five winners will be chosen!  Click below to enter to win.  The winners will be announced March 13th on Litfuse Landing Page.

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A Refuge Assured by Jocelyn Green (review by Kristi)

a refuge assured

About the bookVivienne Rivard fled revolutionary France and seeks a new life for herself and a boy in her care, who some say is the Dauphin. But America is far from safe, as militiaman Liam Delaney knows. He proudly served in the American Revolution but is less sure of his role in the Whiskey Rebellion. Drawn together, will Liam and Vivienne find the peace they long for

Publication Date:  February 6, 2018

Publisher:  Bethany House Publishers


My thoughtsNever having read anything by this author I wasn’t sure what to expect. (Full disclosure here: I didn’t read the book blurb but just chose the book based on the cover.) When I started reading the book it immediately grabbed my attention and the first 100 pages went by in a blur. I found Vivienne’s story fascinating both in France and in the very young United States. I liked that this was a fictional story wrapped in actual historical events. For someone who doesn’t like to read nonfiction, I find this a nice way to learn about history. However, as the book went along I found myself a bit bored at times.

Like I said above, Vivienne’s story is interesting and I enjoyed Liam’s story too although I didn’t really like the whiskey rebel storyline. I liked these two characters and found them to be very dimensional and well-developed. I also liked Tara, Liam’s sister, and Finn, their cousin. There are plenty of other characters in this book to both like and dislike and each is well-developed.

The story itself is well-written and there is a lot of detail included. The author does a good job of making the reader feel as if they are there in the time period and witnessing the events as they happen. Sometimes though it seemed like the story got a bit bogged down with all of the detail. The book is just over 400 pages but could have been just as good at 350-375. One little minor thing that bugged me is Vivienne’s name. At times she is Vivienne and other times she is Vienne. It is briefly mentioned that this is a nickname of sorts and that’s fine but what bothered me was that in the same paragraph both names are used and it seems as if there is no rhyme or reason. The name changes happened at times where there was no dialogue so I don’t understand both names being used. I didn’t notice this at the beginning of the book. It could be there and I was just so engrossed in the story it didn’t stand out to me but once I noticed it about halfway through it was annoying.

All in all, this is a good story and a well-written historical read. I’m pretty sure after reading this that I would have never survived living in this time period and I blame that on the author for doing such a great job of describing how life must have been. 🙂 If you like books with a lot of story and time for characters to grow and really develop this is a book you will truly enjoy. Happy reading!!


About the author:  Jocelyn Green inspires faith and courage as the award-winning and bestselling author of numerous fiction and nonfiction books, including The Mark of the King; Wedded to War; and The 5 Love Languages Military Edition, which she coauthored with bestselling author Dr. Gary Chapman. Her books have garnered starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly, and have been honored with the Christy Award, the gold medal from the Military Writers Society of America, and the Golden Scroll Award from the Advanced Writers & Speakers Association. She graduated from Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, with a B.A. in English, concentration in writing. She loves Mexican food, Broadway musicals, Toblerone chocolate bars, the color red, and reading on her patio. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two children in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

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