Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection (review by Cathy)

Of Rags and Riches

Book Blurb:

Journey along in nine historical romances with those who lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed.

 

My review ((4-stars)

A nice collection of 9 novellas.  Each story of the Gilded Age was very enjoyable., admittedly, some were more to my liking than others.  Some of the authors were familiar to me and I found some new to me authors.

This wasn’t a book that was a page turner for me.  It was one where I could read a couple of the novellas and put it aside for a few days and then get back to it.  I didn’t have a favorite story in this collection and that’s because all of them were well written.

I received a copy from Netgalley and have given my honest opinion.

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A Time to Stand by Robert Whitlow

a time to stand

About the bookIn a small Georgia town where racial tensions run high and lives are at stake, can one lawyer stand up for justice against the tide of prejudice on every side?


Adisa Johnson, a young African-American attorney, is living her dream of practicing law with a prestigious firm in downtown Atlanta. Then a split-second mistake changes the course of her career.

Left with no other options, Adisa returns to her hometown where a few days earlier a white police officer shot an unarmed black teen who is now lying comatose in the hospital.

Adisa is itching to jump into the fight as a special prosecutor, but feels pulled to do what she considers unthinkable—defend the officer.

As the court case unfolds, everyone in the small community must confront their own prejudices. Caught in the middle, Adisa also tries to chart her way along a path complicated by her budding relationship with a charismatic young preacher who leads the local movement demanding the police officer answer for his crime.

This highly relevant and gripping novel challenges us to ask what it means to forgive while seeking justice and to pursue reconciliation while loving others as ourselves.

Published September 12, 2017, by Thomas Nelson
My review:

As someone who reads books predominately written by female authors I’m always a bit hesitant when I start a book by a male author. I always wonder if I will be able to relate to the characters and the writer through their writing. I was excited to read this story by Robert Whitlow (my first by this author) because on the cover it suggests fans of John Grisham will enjoy this story. I enjoyed the book but there were a couple things that prevented this from being a perfect read.

When I started reading the book I was really interested in it. The storyline could have been ripped from the headlines of newspapers across the country. I liked that the book was very in the moment and the author presents the story with the emotions and feelings of both the white police officer and the black attorney and does so equally. It was easy to understand how both sides felt and at times the tension seemed to jump off the page. This was something I really enjoyed about the book as it made me feel part of the story.

As far as the characters go I liked Adisa right away. She’s an intelligent and confident woman who is good at her job yet hasn’t forgotten where she came from and has a strong sense of loyalty to her family. I also liked Luke, the police officer. Not only does he have to worry about what will happen to him and his young family but he also has to worry about Adisa who is one of the attorneys representing him in court. The tension and conflict between the two was written in a way that made it seem real and completely understandable. As the story went on though I was puzzled at some of the things that happened. Would it really be ok for someone to try to be a special prosecutor against the officer and then be able to take a job defending him? Would it be acceptable for the Adisa to have a friendship with Pastor Reggie when he is close to the shooting victim’s family? Not being a lawyer I had to take the author’s word that this was all acceptable and it added some tension to the story but weren’t aspects that I really cared for. Tension could have been presented in different ways. Also, why does the detective want to wait a couple of days to return to a crime scene to look it over? Wouldn’t it be best to do it immediately?

Parts of the story involving Aunt Josie seemed to drag on a bit. She’s a central character to the story as her medical condition is the reason Adisa makes changes in her life but I felt like at times there was just too many hospital scenes that didn’t add to the story. I did like Aunt Josie and she added a bit of humor to a story with a very serious storyline.

My main issue with this book was the ending. There was such a buildup to the climax and then once the climax of the story was reached the book just kind of hurriedly ended. And I think the ending was a bit too perfect for “real life”. It is easy to see the author thinks there should be equality and peace between everyone but the ending was just too sweet for my taste and I’m not sure things would have happened as they did in the epilogue.

As I said earlier this was my first book from this author and I enjoyed the story enough to give his books a try. I liked his writing style and his ability to pull my into the story from the first page. I would probably recommend this book to readers who enjoy legal stories or those about current events.

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 authorRobert Whitlow is the best-selling author of legal novels set in the South and winner of the prestigious Christy Award for Contemporary Fiction. A Furman University graduate, Whitlow received his J.D. with honors from the University of Georgia School of Law where he served on the staff of the Georgia Law Review. A practicing attorney, Whitlow and his wife, Kathy, have four children. They make their home in North Carolina.

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A Plain Leaving (The Sisters of Lancaster County/Book One) by Leslie Gould (review by Cathy)

a plain leaving

Book Blurb:

 

Gould Offers a New Amish Series in Idyllic Lancaster County

At age twenty, Jessica Bachman left her two beloved sisters and her Amish community after clashing with the new bishop about her role in the family and the future of their farm. She tried to convince Silas Kemp, who’d been courting her for two years, to join her, but when he said no, she fled anyway.

Three years later, she returns home for the first time since leaving Lancaster to attend her father’s funeral. Her arrival back revives all sorts of emotions–yearnings and sorrows alike. Jessica knows things will never return to how they were. But in seeing Silas again, she can’t help but wonder what might have been.

Struggling to decide where her next step should take her, she learns the story of a Revolutionary War-era ancestor that echoes her own choices. Will Jessica leave her family and community forever, or is their peace and healing and love yet to come?

 

My review (5-stars)

There is something so unique about the Bachman family that I really liked.  Perhaps it is the different approach the author took on an Amish woman leaving her community without the usual cliché.  Obviously, Jessica has been shunned, but her choice to leave is something she feels confident about.  She has new friends, a new relationship and a job she really loves.

What I liked in this story is the subject of fracking on an Amish farm and a contaminated well.  That is a something that I have not read before in an Amish fiction novel, but something  I find very interesting.   The story is much more than that, it’s a story of family conflict, the death of a parent and lost love.  It’s a story of healing past hurts and new beginnings.

It’s also a dual time line story and that is something that Leslie Gould does so well in my opinion.   For some reason, I’m always drawn to the characters in the past.  I find their stories to be so fascinating and the author blends them perfectly with her present day characters.   In  this book, I enjoyed both storylines equally.

I really did not want this book to end!  I do find solace in knowing there will be more books in  this series and I am so anxious to read them because I already miss the characters, especially Aenti Suze!

If you’re looking for a well written and interesting book, I recommend A Plain Leaving.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cowboy Christmas Guardian (Gold Country Cowboys #1) by Dana Mentink (review by Cathy)

Cowboy Christmas Guardian

About the book:

 

Someone is dead set on stopping Shelby Arroyo from doing her job: assessing mineral rights in a mine in gold country. But after rancher Barrett Thorn rescues her from an attack, the handsome widowed cowboy seems to feel responsible for her.
That is, until he discovers she’s from the family that he’ll never forgive for his wife’s death. As the threats against Shelby escalate, cowboy honor and an unexpected attraction keep Barrett by her side, even at his own risk.
And since Shelby won’t back down, Barrett must protect the brave, loyal woman he has no business falling for…a woman someone wants to kill by Christmas

 

My review (5-stars)

Saddle up and get ready for a wild ride in the first book in the Gold Country Cowboys series by Dana Mentink!

This is an action packed, tense, heart racing and fantastic story.  It’s also a story of love, strong family ties and a touch of sadness as Barrett grieves the loss of his wife.  I felt as though the Thorn family is real and could imagine them working  on their ranch,sharing meals and attending church services together.  I loved Evie Thorn, the mother of Barrett and his three brothers.  She’s a no-nonsense woman, something I absolutely love!

Shelby has an entirely different set of circumstances with her family ties.  She does have loved ones, but nothing like Barrett and his family have.   I have to say that she is a tough lady, which is a good thing since someone is trying to kill her as she sets out to obtain mineral samples for her uncle in a mine.  There are some harrowing moments that will keep you turning pages as fast as you can.

As a huge fan of this authors work, I have to admit that I have truly loved every book of hers that I’ve read,  but there is just something about this one that is my favorite one so far.   It’s going to be hard to wait for the next book in this series.

I received a copy of a Cowboy Christmas Guardian from the author and was not required to give a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

A Plain Leaving by Leslie Gould (review by Kristi)

a plain leaving

About the book:  At age twenty, Jessica Bachman left her two beloved sisters and her Amish community after clashing with the new bishop about her role in the family and the future of their farm. She tried to convince Silas Kemp, who’d been courting her for two years, to join her, but when he said no, she fled anyway.

Three years later, she returns home for the first time since leaving Lancaster to attend her father’s funeral. Her arrival back revives all sorts of emotions–yearnings and sorrows alike. Jessica knows things will never return to how they were. But in seeing Silas again, she can’t help but wonder what might have been.

Struggling to decide where her next step should take her, she learns the story of a Revolutionary War-era ancestor that echoes her own choices. Will Jessica leave her family and community forever, or is there peace and healing and love yet to come?

Published October 3, 2017, by Bethany House Publishers

 

My review:  To be honest I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this book. I am so used to reading dual timeline stories from Leslie Gould and Mindy Starns Clark together that I couldn’t imagine one written just by Leslie. I am so glad I was given the chance to read this book because it is well-written and is a fantastic story. This book is perfection!

I liked Jessica’s story because it wasn’t what is normally found in the Amish fiction genre. She has been shunned by her family and church yet she returns home when she receives the news that her father has died. Jessica faces much conflict with her family upon her return, and she finds comfort with her Aenti Suz. It is from this Suz that she learns Ruby’s story.

Ruby’s story is just as interesting as Jessica’s and I was anxiously turning pages to find out what was happening to Ruby and the farm. I liked the friendship she built with Duncan since it was formed out of necessity yet gently turned into a genuine bond.

This book is written in both first person and third person. Jessica’s story is told in the first person and at times almost had the feel of Jessica writing a letter to me letting me know what was going on in her life. Ruby’s story is told in the third person and was more of a traditional story. I liked that the book was written this way as it made it really easy to keep the stories separated in my mind.

What I liked best about this book is it is full of characters who are flawed. I think people often think of the Amish as having no problems since they lead simple lives. Jessica’s story shows that the Amish have just as much angst and turmoil in their lives as everyone else but maybe just not in the same way. Arden, Vi, and even Jessica’s mom seemed cold and distant but as I read the story it was easy to understand why. On the other hand, Jessica’s sister, Leisel, and her former beau, Silas, were friendly and warm. I liked these two characters and was hoping maybe there could be a second chance for Silas and Jessica.

This is easily one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Two riveting stories with complex and genuine characters. This book is definitely one for the keeper shelf and one I highly recommend.

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:  Leslie Gould is the #1 bestselling and Christy Award-winning author of twenty-two novels. She received her MFA from Portland State University and teaches writing at Warner Pacific College. Leslie enjoys traveling, hiking, and history. She and her husband, Peter, are the revolving-door parents of four children and three cats.

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The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey by Carolyn Miller (review by Cathy)

The Dishonorable Miss Delancey

 

About the book:

 

Will a damaged reputation and desire for society’s approval thwart the legacy of grace?
Tainted by scandal and forced to leave London for the quieter Brighton countryside, the Honorable Miss Clara DeLancey is a shadow of her former society self. She’s lost the man she loved to another and, in a culture that has no patience for self-pity, is struggling with depression. A chance encounter brings her a healing friendship with the sisters of an injured naval captain. But Clara’s society mama is appalled at the new company she’s keeping.

Captain Benjamin Kemsley is not looking for a wife. But his gallant spirit won’t let him ignore the penniless viscount’s daughter–not when she so obviously needs assistance to keep moving forward from day to day. Can he protect his heart and still keep her safe?
When they’re pushed into the highest echelons of society at the Prince Regent’s Brighton Pavilion, this mismatched couple must decide if family honor is more important than their hopes. Can they right the wrongs of the past and find future happiness together–without finances, family support, or royal favor?

 

My review (4-stars)

I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the Regency Brides in this series, and I am a little sad to see it end.   I was curious to see if Miss DeLancey would be a character that I would genuinely like and after a few pages, I did begin to like her and became interested in her story.  I felt that I better understood her and had a bit of sympathy for her.

There is some dialog that made me smile and I found myself wanting nothing but the best for Clara.   There is a bit of darkness and danger blended in that I didn’t expect to find, but I actually enjoyed it very much.

I’ve loved getting to know the characters and will miss them. I look forward to seeing what Ms. Miller has next for her readers.  This has been a wonderful series and one I highly recommend.  Although, the books could  each be read as a stand alone, I suggest you read them in order to fully appreciate each and every story.

I received this book through Kregel Publishing and was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

Ascension of Larks by Rachel Linden (review by Cathy)

Ascenscion

About the book:
When globetrotting photographer Maggie Henry loses the only man she’s ever loved, she jeopardizes her rising career and steps in to care for her best friends’ three young children on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest.

Free-spirited and fiercely independent, Maggie’s star is rising fast. But she has a secret. She can’t let go of her first and only love, renowned architect Marco Firelli, now married to her best friend Lena.

With the shattering news of Marco’s death, Maggie rushes to the Firelli family’s summer home on San Juan Island and attempts to provide stability for the children as fragile, perfectionist Lena slowly falls apart.

When Maggie is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to compete in the world’s most prestigious photography competition, she finds herself unable to leave the only family she has during their time of need. Devastated, Maggie takes a series of photographs documenting their life in limbo.

A mysterious man appears on the island, and Maggie soon realizes there is more to him than meets the eye. Daniel Wolfe, an award-winning Native American poet hiding in exile on the island, is responsible for Marco’s death. Maggie is both drawn to and repelled by Daniel, a sensitive, tortured soul with secrets of his own. Out of their loneliness and grief they form an unlikely friendship.

Maggie develops her recent photographs, and she’s elated to discover that they are good enough for the photography competition. She still has a chance to win. But she must first relinquish the past so that she can move forward and embrace the reality of her unexpected life.

 

My review (5-stars)

A beautifully written and captivating novel!  It’s rare for me to love all of the characters in any book that I read, but that’s exactly what I experienced in, Ascension of Larks.

Maggie is a rock for Lena after the tragic death of Marco.  A man who both of the women loved.   What I found so striking was the strong friendship the two women shared and the selflessness of Maggie.

I loved the setting and could easily imagine the idyllic times the friends shared before Marco died and learning to let him go is the new norm.  I loved the author’s style of writing and her strong character development.  Most of all, I loved finding a new author with a bright and promising career.  If her debut novel is this good, I cannot wait to read her next book.  This is definitely a keeper.

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