A Stranger at Fellsworth by Sarah E. Ladd (review by Kristi)

a stranger at fellsworth

About the book:  Could losing everything be the best thing to happen to Annabelle Thorley?

In the fallout of her deceased father’s financial ruin, Annabelle’s prospects are looking bleak. Her fiancé has called off their betrothal, and now she remains at the mercy of her controlling and often cruel brother. Annabelle soon faces the fact that her only hope for a better life is to do the unthinkable and run away to Fellsworth, the home of her long-estranged aunt and uncle, where a teaching position awaits her. Working for a wage for the first time in her life forces Annabelle to adapt to often unpleasant situations as friendships and roles she’s taken for granted are called into question.

Owen Locke is unswerving in his commitments. As a widower and father, he is fiercely protective of his only daughter. As an industrious gamekeeper, he is intent on keeping poachers at bay even though his ambition has always been to eventually purchase land that he can call his own. When a chance encounter introduces him to the lovely Annabelle Thorley, his steady life is shaken. For the first time since his wife’s tragic death, Owen begins to dream of a second chance at love.

As Owen and Annabelle grow closer, ominous forces threaten the peace they thought they’d found. Poachers, mysterious strangers, and murderers converge at Fellsworth, forcing Annabelle and Owen to a test of fortitude and bravery to stop the shadow of the past from ruining their hopes for the future.

Paperback, 336 pages                    Published May 16, 2017, by Thomas Nelson

 

My review:  If you are looking for a Regency era romance with all the trimmings such as fancy ball gowns, elegant ladies, and dashing men then this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a Regency era book with a good storyline, relatable characters, and a pace that doesn’t slow down then this is the perfect book for you! A Stranger at Fellsworth is a great read!

The main character in this book, Annabelle Thorley, is easy to like and have empathy for. Her family has been through a lot and she is now being forced to marry someone she does not want to. To escape the marriage she runs off to Fellsworth and the school there that is run by her uncle. Helping Annabelle is Owen Locke, gamekeeper for Bancroft Park, the estate adjacent to the boarding school. Owen is a likable character and also has a somewhat scandalous past that he is trying to get away from. These two characters, although different in social standing, have scandal as a common bond and a friendship soon develops.

I enjoyed this story and the two main characters. I liked the natural progression of their relationship from strangers to friends. I also enjoyed Uncle Langsby’s character. I liked how the author made him seem gruff to the young Annabelle yet a kind person to the adult Annabelle. Aunt Lydia was equally likable and added a bit of lightheartedness to the story.

It was interesting to read of Annabelle’s struggles to adapt to a life without a maid. Even though Crosley accompanied Annabelle to Fellsworth, it was easy to see the chinks in their relationship as Crosley found her freedom. I didn’t really care for Crosley as I found her cold and untrustworthy but that just showcases the author’s ability to write characters for readers to love and to hate.

This story has a mystery to it but it doesn’t overpower the book. There is a great balance between romance and suspense in this story. There’s just enough of each to keep readers interested and on the edge of their seat.

Although this book is the third in the series it does quite well as a standalone. Fans of the author are sure to love this book and those new to her are going to be left wanting more. A Stranger at Fellsworth is Sarah E. Ladd at her best.

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

 

About the author:  Sarah E. Ladd has always loved the Regency period — the clothes, the music, the literature and the art. A college trip to England and Scotland confirmed her interest in the time period and gave her idea of what life would’ve looked like in era. It wasn’t until 2010 that Ladd began writing seriously. Shortly after, Ladd released the first book in the Whispers on the Moors series. Book one of the series, The Heiress of Winterwood, was the recipient of the 2011 ACFW Genesis Award for historical romance. Ladd also has more than ten years of marketing experience. She holds degrees in public relations and marketing and lives in Indiana with her family and spunky Golden Retriever.

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Home by Ginny L. Yttrup (review by Cathy)

home

 

About the book:

When novelist Melanie Vander faces a looming deadline, she decides it’s time for an escape to an inspiring, novel-worthy locale. She’s not running away. Really. She just needs time to focus. But as she disappears into her writing, she encounters a man whose tenderness leaves her reeling. Engaging and wise, psychologist Elliot Hammond tempts Melanie to question everything, including her marriage.

But that’s ridiculous. Dr. Hammond isn’t even…real.

Melanie’s husband, Craig, has his own problems, including a recession that’s threatening his business. Waning finances, a looming home foreclosure, and a wife who’s checked out emotionally, has Craig feeling as though he’s carrying his burdens alone. When his client, the beautiful and single Serena Buchanan, offers him a solution to his financial woes, he’s tempted by more than her offer of a business solution.

At a crossroads, Melanie and Craig seem headed in opposite directions.

As Melanie runs away from her problems by escaping into her own fictional world, Craig dives into his struggles, seeking God for strength and healing for his marriage. Ultimately, Melanie must choose whether she’ll check out completely, or allow her characters to lead her home.

My review (4 stars)

This is the first book that I’ve read by this author so I really didn’t know what I expect.  I found the book well written and very interesting. The character struggles were real and ones faced by all of us or  at least by people we know.

Melanie and Craig really had some very difficult times and quite honestly, I felt more sympathy for him.  I understood Melanie, but didn’t really connect with her.
I found myself much more interested in their neighbor’s, Jill and Marco and their storyline and looked forward to reading about them.

This is a very interesting and thought-provoking book that will touch you on many different levels and one I highly recommend.

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

Rachel’s Dream (Hope Chest of Dreams #3) by Lisa Jones Baker (review by Cathy)

Rachel's Dream

 

About the book;

Patience, faith–and the hopes and dreams within their hand-carved hope chests–help to bring three young Amish women, one by one, the blessed futures their hearts desire…
Rachel Kauffman and Jarred Zimmerman seem to have nothing in common. She’s the outgoing youngest of a large, close-knit Amish clan, and longs to raise a brood of her own near those she loves. Estranged from his family by tragedy, Jarred is a young veterinarian who trusts the animals he heals far more than he trusts people. However, when Rachel’s beloved horse falls ill, Jarred’s struggles to save him show Rachel he’s a man who cares deeply. And the respect he feels for her gentle warmhearted ways soon becomes an irresistible bond…

When Rachel tries to help Jarred reunite with his parents, it is an unexpected blessing–with one complication. If he takes this chance to put his past to rest, it could separate him and Rachel for good. Now, with prayer, love–and her hope chest’s small miracles–Jarred and Rachel must find the courage to reconcile their wishes into a joyous life together.

 

My review (4-stars)

I’ve loved the Hope Chest of Dreams series.  The stories are so tender and the characters are so very sweet.

Rachel and her love for her sick horse really tugged at my heart.  As an animal lover myself, I knew the heartache she felt.  I loved Jared and his dedication to his work and more importantly his faith.   The strong message of faith throughout added to my enjoyment.

Old Sam has been my favorite character throughout the series so I was delighted to catch up with him again. He’s wise, kind and caring and such an important part of this series.
If you love sweet Christian romance than this book and series are highly recommended.

I received a complimentary copy of Rachel’s Dream and have given my honest opinion.

The Chapel Car Bride by Judith Miller (review by Kristi)

the chapel car bride

About the book:  Hope Irvine always sees the best in people. While traveling on the rails with her missionary father, she attracts the attention of a miner named Luke and a young mine manager. When Luke begins to suspect the manager is using Hope’s missions of mercy as a cover for illegal activities, can he discover the truth without putting her in danger?

Paperback, 352 pages                        Published April 4, 2017, by Bethany House Publishers

 

My review:  I was an instant Judith Miller fan after reading one of her books. I liked the way her books included strong female characters in situations that showcased their strength. I liked her writing and the way she pulled me into the story and kept me interested in the character’s story. I was hoping The Chapel Car Bride would be a book such as this but unfortunately, it wasn’t.

Now, I’m not saying this is a bad book because it isn’t. It just wasn’t up to par with her other work. I liked the premise of the book and thought it was unique and interesting. I liked the main characters, except for Kirby Finch, and thought they were relatable. I thought the author did a good job of describing the lives of the miners and their families.

So what was wrong with this book? Well, for me the storyline just fell flat. I wasn’t really sure what direction the story was going to take. Also, there wasn’t really a buildup to a climax or really even a climax at all. The story is a nice one and was easy to read but there just wasn’t that “something” Miller’s other books have.

I would recommend this story to readers looking for a nice, clean read. It’s a good book just not what I expected from the author.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

 

About the author:  Judith McCoy Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. Judy and her husband make their home in Topeka, Kansas.

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Lord of Chance by Erica Ridley (review by Kristi)

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About the book:  Disguised as a country miss, Charlotte Devon flees London, desperate to leave her tattered reputation behind. In Scotland, her estranged father’s noble blood will finally make her a respectable debutante. Except she finds herself accidentally wed to a devil-may-care rogue with a sinful smile. He’s the last thing she needs…and everything her traitorous heart desires.

Charming rake Anthony Fairfax is on holiday to seek his fortune…and escape his creditors. When an irresistible Lady Luck wins him in a game of chance—and a slight mishap has them leg-shackled by dawn—the tables have finally turned in his favor. But when past demons catch up to them, holding on to new love will mean destroying their dreams forever.

The single title 2017 release is an expanded “Author Edition” of the story that first appeared in the Scandal’s Daughters anthology.

Kindle Edition, 199 pages                         Published April 11, 2017

 

My review:  Erica Ridley is fast becoming my favorite author in this genre. Lord of Chance is a perfect example of why. Fun characters, an appealing storyline, and great writing made this an entertaining and quick read.

I enjoyed spending time with the characters in this book. They had great chemistry and I loved the banter between them. They were so easy to like and care about. I really liked the fact there wasn’t a lot of tension between them and they were just two lonely and lost souls that found each other. I loved that they wanted to help each other out. For me, it is so frustrating to read books in this genre where the hero/heroine dislike each other at the beginning or there’s a lot of tension so the fact that the author didn’t follow that route was so refreshing.

Erica Ridley has a writing style that is easy to read. The book flows effortlessly from beginning to end. I enjoyed the pace of the story throughout the book. It was easy to stay engrossed in the story and made for a quick read. I was able to read this book in just a couple of sittings.

This book does contain a couple of adult scenes in it.  I thought they were tastefully done and fit in the story well.  I was not bothered at all by them.

If you haven’t read any books by Erica Ridley then pick this one up and give it a try. I think you will be pleased with the story and the writing. This is a fun read.

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

 

About the author:  Erica Ridley is a USA Today and New York Times best-selling author of historical romance novels.  When not reading or writing romances, Erica can be found riding camels in Africa, zip-lining through rainforests in Costa Rica, or getting hopelessly lost in the middle of Budapest.

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The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston (review by Kristi)

the beloved hope chest

About the book:  In the final installment of the Amish Heirloom series, the Fisher sisters learn the mystery behind their parents’ marriage—and about the sibling who has never been spoken of.

Mattie Fisher’s three daughters know that she’s been keeping a secret from them. With each item pulled from the beloved family hope chest, they’ve discovered a new clue about their mother’s past.

But there’s a reason Mattie has been keeping her history hidden, and she’s not sure she’s ready to reopen old wounds. Will dredging up the past change the way her children view her? Or her marriage to their father? And can she handle the pain of revisiting the memories that preceded the last few happy decades?

Mattie’s story is one of grief and learning to love again. But like the best things preserved in a hope chest, it’s a story of love and redemption born out of heartache—and it’s past time to share it.

Paperback, 320 pages                     Published May 9, 2017, by Zondervan

 

My review:  All throughout the Amish Heirloom series readers have been teased with a secret surrounding a blue onesie. In this final installment of the series, we finally get to learn the story surrounding this tiny garment. And what a story it is!

I was so glad to finally be able to read Mattie’s story. I think it was perfect that her story was the last of the series. Some of the items mentioned in previous books are in this book and we get to discover the entire history of these items and for me, that was really fun and interesting. Readers really get to know Mattie and Leroy in this book. The characters are well-developed and complex. They have flaws and are realistic. It was so easy to forget they were fictional.

The storyline itself was heart-wrenching and romantic at the same time. It is an emotional read for sure. It was easy to sympathize with Mattie as her story was told and to also feel for Leroy. I found myself still thinking about their story long after I put the book down. The story is told at a perfect pace and there isn’t one thing I would change. This story was perfection.

Amy’s writing, as usual, is second to none. It is so easy to see that she pours her heart into every story she tells and wants to give readers the best story possible. I love the way she creates characters and describes scenes that just automatically pull me into the story and make me forget I’m reading. I actually feel as if I’m part of the story and am witnessing everything first-hand.

This book is a must-read for fans of the genre or anyone looking for a well-written book. Amy is, in my opinion, the BEST author of Amish fiction and her books are to be not only read but treasured. Thank goodness she shares her wonderful ability with us book lovers. This is a book for the keeper shelf.

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

 

About the author:  Amy Clipston has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her fiction writing “career” began in elementary school when she and a close friend wrote and shared silly stories. She has a degree in communications from Virginia Wesleyan College and is a member of the Authors Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. She is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series and Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series with HarperCollins Christian Publishing. Amy works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC, and lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, mother, and three spoiled rotten cats.

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Life After by Katie Ganshert (review by Cathy)

Life After

About the book:

On the day of a late spring storm, in Chicago, Autumn Manning boarded an “L” train. A bomb explodes, killing everyone in the train car except for Autumn—the sole survivor. A year has passed and Autumn suffocates under a blanket of what ifs and the pressing desire to bring the victims back to life, every day, if only for her. She doesn’t want their stories to be forgotten. She wants to undo what cannot be undone. An unexpected ally joins her efforts, also seeking answers and trying to find a way to stumble ahead.

But one victim’s husband, Paul Elliott, prays to let the dead—and their secrets—rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to hurt his loved ones.
Caught between loss and hope, these restless souls must release the past to embrace a sovereign God.

My review ( 5-stars)

One of the most touching books that I’ve had the pleasure of reading.  Very well written with characters that captured me from the very beginning.

The author takes you on an emotional roller coaster as you experience the aftermath of a bombing with the sole survivor, Autumn.  Her story is gut wrenching as I had expected it to be, although I honestly didn’t know just how affected I would be.  Of course, she wasn’t the only person affected by the tragedy, Paul lost his wife and the mother of his children and as he tries to help in their healing, he meets Autumn and things begin to change in their lives.

The story moves at a great pace and I loved the progression as it was important that the characters needed time in their journey.  Life After is about love, healing, forgiveness and hope and it’s a book that I highly recommend.
I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and have given my honest opinion.