Annie’s Recipe (Hope Chest of Dreams, #2) by Lisa Jones Baker (review by Cathy)

annies-recipe

About the book:

Annie Mast and Levi Miller were best friends until his father was shunned by the church. Now, ten years later, Levi has returned to Arthur, Illinois, for a brief visit, and he and Annie discover their bond is as strong as ever. Spending as much time together as possible, Annie finds herself dreaming of a future with Levi. And Levi is soon dreaming of building a home on a beautiful local hillside–to live in with Annie.

Yet their longings are unlikely to become reality…
Levi is part of the English world, and while Annie cannot see herself there, she knows she must reveal her heart’s truth to him. And Levi, strongly reminded of his Amish roots, knows he must heal the bitterness of the past. And together, with love on their side, they just may find their way to an answered prayer…

My review (4-stars)

It’s always a good day when I find a new to me author.  Finding a well written book with relatable characters is a plus which made Annie’s Recipe a pleasure to read.

Annie and Levi are reuniting after 10 years and it’s quite easy to get caught up in their story as they spend time together catching up with each other.  I felt like I’d known them from their childhood as they reminisced about their past and shared so much of themselves. They had taken different paths and changed their views over time.

I haven’t read the first book in the series but there’s enough of the back story that I could figure out the community and its residents.

I’m looking forward to reading more of this authors work.

Another plus?  There’s a recipe for sponge cake.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.

 

 

 

 

More Than A Marriage by Amy Lillard (review by Kristi)

more-than-a-marriage

About the book:  In the close-knit Amish community of Wells Landing, Oklahoma, a women’s quilting circle welcomes a new member who is struggling to keep her marriage together—or let it go . . .

Quiet and unassuming Tess Smiley is new to Wells Landing. She is also newly married to Jacob Smiley. But already she is finding that married life isn’t the gentle union of contented devotion she had envisioned. Rather, the old-fashioned qualities that had endeared her to Jacob have become a source of inner confusion. As his father did with his wife, Jacob has begun treating Tess like a servant, taking her for granted, no longer surprising her with little presents. And once he began his job at the Englisch shed company, he has become more interested in his company smartphone than in spending time with Tess . . .

Jacob can’t see what Tess is upset about and continues his boorish ways, ignoring her pleas to attend marriage classes. Tess loves Jacob with all her heart, but it’s her heart that tells her she must take a stand. With surprising determination, she asks for help from her new community and is welcomed into the home of her friend Clara Rose and her husband Obie. Only then does Jacob begin to see how deeply his behavior has hurt Tess. But is he too late? He may be contrite, but he will need to show much more than that to win her love all over again . . .

Kindle Edition                                              Published February 28, 2017, by Zebra

 

My review:  After reading More Than a Marriage I truly believe if I am to continue reading Amy Lillard’s books I need to learn to speed read. She creates stories that I just can’t read fast enough to find out what will happen next. I devoured this book in one sitting.

Tess and Jacob, the Amish couple in this book, have problems that any married couple could have. The difference is in how they handle the problems and I think Amy gives us a realistic, inside view of Amish life and marriage. I was cheering this couple on and hoping they could find their happily ever after.

This novella has all the elements of a novel: developed characters, engaging storyline, and a wonderful message. So set aside a couple of hours to read More Than a Marriage. You’ll be glad you did.

I received a free copy of this book from the author and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

 

About the author:  I’m a wife, mother, and bona fide Southern belle. Published author, expert corn bread maker, and Squirrel Princess.

I live in Tulsa, though I was born in Mississippi. I moved to the Sooner State when I was seventeen and met my soul mate and best friend not long after. I’ve retained a little of my Mississippi accent though most people think I’m from Texas. (?) Rob and I have been married for over twenty years and have a son–a mom proclaimed prodigy, of course!

I love homemade tacos, nail polish, and romance novels–not necessarily in that order. I’m a big fan of country music, a staunch proponent of saving the Oxford comma, and I’m shamefully obsessed with all things Harry Potter.

I believe that God is love. I guess that’s why I adore romances.

I have always been intrigued with the Amish culture, their gentle ways and slower-paced lifestyle. (And I love, love, love the fact that they stay married for their lifetime.) But until recently I never thought to blend this interest with my penchant for romance. Okay, okay, I’m a bit old-fashioned and even enjoy the gender roles that are present in this culture. I love to cook and take care of my family. Yes, that’s me June Cleaver with a laptop.

I dislike people trying to convince me to read the Twilight series (I’ll get to it or I won’t, either way I’m good with it), gratuitous violence, and strawberry ice cream. (I know I’m alone on this last one, and again, I’m good with it.)

Favorite movies–(besides HP) French Kiss, Maid of Honor, A Lot Like Love, Just Married, and Sweet Home Alabama. Oh, and Miss Congeniality, Sabrina (both versions) and a 1940’s movie called Dear Ruth. If you haven’t seen it, you should! A-dorable. Anything with Doris Day and most all of Marilyn’s and Audrey’s.

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My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas (Priscilla’s Reveille) by Erica Vetsch (review by Cathy)

my-heart-belongs-in-fort-bliss-texas

About the book:

Fashion artist Priscilla Hutchens has a grudge against the army that has ruined her family and taken the people she holds most dear. When her twin niece and nephew are left orphaned at Fort Bliss, Texas, she swoops down on Fort Bliss to gain custody of them immediately. There is just one thing standing in the way—Post surgeon Major Elliot Ryder, who is also the twins uncle, also claims the children and thinks he knows what is best for them. Priscilla and Elliot will cross swords, but each will have to lay down arms if they are to find a lasting peace on which to form the family both are longing for.  Who will win the battle? Or will a truce be called for the sake of love and family?

 

My review (5-stars)

I’d heard such good things about this book that I just had to find out for myself how good it is! I was not disappointed and can say that all the compliments are completely justified.

The vivid descriptions, the witty dialogue and strong characters are fantastic. I must say that Tessa and Timothy were my favorites in Fort Bliss. They’re a bit incorrigible through no fault of their own. They’re seven year old orphans being raised on a military fort by their bachelor uncle, Major Elliot Ryder.

Unbeknownst to him their Aunt Priscilla is about to challenge him as she arrives unannounced to take custody of them immediately.

From the moment, she arrives things get lively and that’s where the author uses her humor and creates several laugh out loud moments.

There are plenty of secondary characters that add to this pleasant and fast paced read.

The flow of the story is wonderful which is always a bonus to me.

If you like historical fiction, this is one that you’ll want to read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and have given my honest opinion.

 

 

 

Close to Home by Lily Everett (Sanctuary Island #5) (review by Kristi)

close-to-home

About the book:

The best journeys take us home….

When Tessa Alexander came to Sanctuary Island, she left behind a marriage to a man who didn’t love her the way she loved him. When she finally found the strength to set them both free, she discovered friendship and self-acceptance in her adopted hometown. Now she’s settled into a quiet life on her own—never expecting to see her husband again.

Johnny spent almost two years deep undercover, unable to let his wife into his cold, dangerous world. He’s shaken to the core when he comes home to find her gone. It’s painfully clear that Tessa is no longer the timid young woman he married—she’s become a force of nature, a brave and determined beauty. Johnny can’t let her go without a fight so he sets out to seduce his own wife. But will passion alone be enough to convince Tessa that her new life should include a second chance at happiness with a man who must learn to believe in love?

Kindle Edition, 304 pages                 Published February 7, 2017, by St. Martin’s Paperbacks

 

My review:  I wanted to like this book. I really did. I liked the premise of a story about a couple who are already married and trying to find their way back to each other. To me, it’s a fresher storyline than the usual hate/love relationships that end in marriage. However, this story just really fell flat and I was a bit bored with it.

First, I really didn’t find any kind of connection to either of the main characters. Tessa’s character, while newly independent seemed weak to me. Johnny, on the other hand, didn’t seem as strong as I would imagine an ex-military and ATF agent to be. They didn’t really seem to have too much chemistry between them and I really didn’t care if they stayed together or got divorced. They just had an odd relationship and it didn’t seem genuine or real to me.

The storyline never really stayed on pace for me either. There were parts where the story moved quickly but then other parts it seemed to drag on. There is suddenly an awkward second storyline involving Marcus and Quinn. I’m not quite sure if Marcus is a bad guy or a good guy and Quinn just seemed like someone who was out for a good time. The entire epilogue of the book was about these two so I’m wondering if the next book in the series will be about this couple. As I’ve already got the next book I shall soon see.

One of the redeeming qualities of this book is Patty, the owner of the Patty Cakes bakery. She was a delightful character and I liked how she was with Tessa, Johnny, and Marcus. She made Marcus seem human and showed a more gentle side of him than anyone else in the book.

I read this book as a standalone and I think most readers can. There doesn’t seem to be any backstory missing from the previous books or anything that led me to believe I would have enjoyed this story more had I read the previous books in the series.

I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

 

 

My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas: Priscilla’s Reveille by Erica Vetsch (review by Kristi)

my-heart-belongs-in-fort-bliss-texas

About the book:  Journey now to Fort Bliss in West Texas of 1874, where…
A Battle Is About to be Waged Between Two Hearts.

 
Fashion artist Priscilla Hutchens has a grudge against the army that has ruined her family and taken the people she holds most dear. When her twin niece and nephew are left orphaned at Fort Bliss, Texas, she swoops down on Fort Bliss to gain custody of them immediately.

There is just one thing standing in the way—Post surgeon Major Elliot Ryder, who is also the twins uncle, also claims the children and thinks he knows what is best for them.

Priscilla and Elliot will cross swords, but each will have to lay down arms if they are to find a lasting peace on which to form the family both are longing for.  Who will win the battle? Or will a truce be called for the sake of love and family?

Paperback, 256 pages                                     Published January 1, 2017, by Barbour Books

 

My review:  This was my first book by Erica Vetsch and it definitely won’t be my last. I loved everything about this book. I enjoyed the characters, the setting, the descriptions, the storyline. This book was just a really fantastic read.

I immediately liked Priscilla. She was well spoken (and outspoken at times), independent, and courageous. I thought Elliot was the perfect match for her. He was the kind of man ladies like to read about: a perfect gentleman, kind, caring, protective. I loved the chemistry between these two. They weren’t quite friends yet they weren’t enemies either. I really think under different circumstances they would have been attracted to each other without reservation. Along with Priscilla and Elliot, I really liked Fern. She was such a happy and sweet character. Her positive attitude was refreshing and she seemed good natured.

The descriptions in this book were so well-written that I could almost feel the Texas heat coming up off the pages. I felt many times like I was right there on the dry Texas land and was a part of the story. Whether riding horses, tending to the sick, or being out on patrol with the soldiers I always felt like I was “in” the story.

Even though the storyline of this book isn’t extremely original (I think I’ve probably read something along the lines of this one before) the author kept the story fresh and interesting. Her attention to detail and character development made the story interesting and one I felt connected to. I liked the theme running throughout the book of focusing on the positive and not letting bitterness control your life. The attitudes of Mrs. Bracken and Mrs. Crane exemplified this theme in a wonderful way.

This was a wonderful, quick, and easy read for me. I enjoyed the author’s writing and will definitely be looking for more of her work. Historical fiction fans won’t want to miss out on this book.

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

 

About the author:  Even though Erica Vetsch has set aside her career teaching history to high school students in order to homeschool her own children, but her love of history hasn’t faded. Erica’s favorite books are historical novels and history books, and one of her greatest thrills is stumbling across some obscure historical factoid that makes her imagination leap. She’s continually amazed at how God has allowed her to use her passion for history, romance, and daydreaming to craft historical romances that entertain readers and glorify Him. Whenever she’s not following flights of fancy in her fictional world, Erica is the company bookkeeper for her family’s lumber business, a mother of two terrific teens, wife to a man who is her total opposite and yet her soul mate, and an avid museum patron.

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An Uncommon Protector (Lone Star Hero,#2) by Shelley Shepard Gray (review by Cathy)

an-uncommon-protector

About the book:

Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one year post.


The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two-hundred-acre ranch as best she can.

When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.

Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.

But when cattle start dying and the squatters damage a barn, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero who’s survived a terrible past. He needs more than just his freedom, he needs her love and care too.

 

My review (4-stars)

This is the second book in the Lone Star Hero series.  It’s a great follow-up to the first book with some great and some not so great characters. Thomas and Laurel are obviously ones I considered great and their story was enjoyable.

Some of the characters that were not so great are Laurels’ stepsiblings.  Wow, they were lazy and annoying but their verbal exchanges with Thomas made me smile!

I liked getting to know more about Thomas and I felt bad for all he had endured in his life.  He was perfect for Laurel and their attraction to each other was sweet. As they work together to save her ranch the pace of the story picks up and there are a few surprises which I think readers will enjoy.   I know that I was one happy reader when I saw the ones that were willing to lend a helping hand.

I think readers of both Historical and Christian novels will enjoy An Uncommon Protector.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers.