The Fashion Designer (The Pattern Artist #2) by Nancy Moser (review by Kristi)

the fashion designer

About the book:   The American Dream thrives in 1912 New York City

Annie Wood, the housemaid-turned-pattern designer in The Pattern Artist, jumps at the chance to design her own clothing line when a wealthy New York couple offer to finance her endeavor. Joining the project is Annie’s new husband, Sean Culver, her best friend at Butterick, Maude Nascato, and a mother figure, Edna Holmquist.

Annie and her colleagues give up their careers, risking everything to follow a shared passion: clothes that are both fashionable and functional for modern, busy women in 1912.

Personal and financial setbacks threaten to keep the business from ever selling a single dress and test old relationships and new romances. No one said it would be easy. But the promise of the American Dream holds a deep hope for those who work hard, trust God, and never give up.

Publication Date:  July 1, 2018

Publisher:  Shiloh Run Press

Genre:  Christian fiction, Historical Fiction

 

My thoughtsAfter reading The Pattern Artist I wanted more about Annie, Sean and their friends. So I was really excited when I was invited to read The Fashion Designer. I got to not only spend more time with these characters but I also got to learn more about the fashion industry in the early 1900s. A definite win~win!!

Nancy Moser has created believable, realistic and extremely likable characters. It’s was just impossible not to like the characters in this book. OK, so maybe I didn’t care for Sean’s dad, Richard, all that much. He was a total jerk! (And I’m being nice here.) The fact that I didn’t care for him one bit shows the ability of the author to create a wide range of characters with different personalities. I love the author created characters for me to both love and despise. (Although maybe towards the end I didn’t despise Richard as much.) I really liked the addition of Vesta, Sean’s mother.

Another aspect of the book I really liked was the attention to historical detail. The details add to the story and made me feel as if I were experiencing the time period along with the characters. In addition to the historical details, the author includes a lot of fashion design details that were very interesting. There is the inclusion of the story of Lane Bryant that was done in a way that felt genuine to the story and not just added in because the author discovered how the store got its start. All of the details added really brought the story to life and soon I wasn’t seeing words on the page but the workshop, apartments, and streets of NYC.

The book was effortless to read. As much as I wanted to rush through the book I also wanted to read it slowly and enjoy every moment with these characters. As satisfied as I was with the story I still want more of these characters and am hoping the author will give me a chance to visit with them again. Wouldn’t it be fun to see how Annie and the gang adapt to fashion in the 1920s??

This book is well-written and is just a really good story. It’s a story that makes you feel good while reading it. And with the lovely cover, it’s definitely a book for the keeper shelf! Happy reading!!!

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

 

About the authorNancy Moser is the award-winning author of thirty inspirational novels that focus on discovering our unique purpose. Her genres include both contemporary and historical stories.

Her latest historical novel is “The Pattern Artist” about Macy’s and the Butterick Pattern Company in 1911 New York City. It was a finalist for a Romantic Times award. Its sequel is “The Fashion Designer”.

Other recent titles include the Downton Abbey-inspired Manor House Series: “Love of the Summerfields”, “Bride of the Summerfields”, and “Rise of the Summerfields.”

Her historical bio-novels allow real women-of-history to share their life stories: “Just Jane” (Jane Austen), “Mozart’s Sister” (Nannerl Mozart), “Washington’s Lady” (Martha Washington) and “How Do I Love Thee?” (Elizabeth Barrett Browning.)

“An Unlikely Suitor” was named to Booklist’s Top 100 Romance Novels of the last decade.

Nancy’s time-travel novel, “Time Lottery”, won a Christy Award, and “Washington’s Lady” was a finalist.

Her contemporary books are known for their big-casts and intricate plotting. Some titles are “The Invitation”, “John 3: 16”, “Crossroads”, “Solemnly Swear”, “The Sister Circle”, “The Seat Beside Me”, and “The Good Nearby”.

Nancy and her husband live in the Midwest. She’s earned a degree in architecture, traveled extensively in Europe, and has performed in numerous theaters, symphonies, and choirs. She knits voraciously, kills all her houseplants, and can wire an electrical fixture without getting shocked. She is a fan of anything antique–humans included.

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A Rebel Heart (Daughtry House #1) by Beth White (review by Cathy)

A Rebel Heart

About the book:

Five years after the final shot was fired in the War Between the States, Selah Daughtry can barely manage to keep herself, her two younger sisters, and their spinster cousin fed and clothed. With their family’s Mississippi plantation swamped by debt and the Big House falling down around them, the only option seems to be giving up their ancestral land.

Pinkerton agent and former Union cavalryman Levi Riggins is investigating a series of robberies and sabotage linked to the impoverished Daughtry plantation. Posing as a hotel management agent for the railroad, he tells Selah he’ll help her save her home, but only if it is converted into a hotel. With Selah otherwise engaged with renovations, Levi moves onto the property to “supervise” while he actually attends to his real assignment right under her nose.

Selah isn’t sure she entirely trusts the handsome Yankee, but she’d do almost anything to save her home. What she never expected to encounter was his assault on her heart.

My thoughts:

Let me start by saying this is the first book that I’ve read by Beth White, and after reading the first few pages, I was glad that I found a new to me author, but disappointed that I haven’t read any of her previous work.

I can honestly say that this book has everything I appreciate in a well written novel.  An engaging plot, well-developed characters, a little suspense, romance and has a perfect pace.  I’m a fan of historical romance, especially a well researched one like, A Rebel Heart.

Keep in mind that this is set during the Reconstruction Era, so there is a lot of research the author did, which I personally liked.  There were a few parts that I found sad, but the many good parts were fantastic.  But, that’s history, right?

Overall, I found this book to be a promising start to a new series and I’m looking forward to reading the next book when it releases.  A new to me author is now one I consider a must read author.  If you like Southern historical fiction than I’m sure you are going to enjoy this as much as I did.

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

 

 

Cowboy Bodyguard (Gold Country Cowboys #3) by Dana Mentink (review by Kristi)

cowboy bodyguard.jpg

About the bookShe must protect a baby…With her secret husband’s helpIn this Gold Country Cowboys novel, Jack Thorn gets a surprise call from the woman he married in secret years ago. Shannon Livingston needs his protection for herself and the baby she’s hiding from a biker gang targeting the mother. Now Jack must help Shannon, even if shielding her means pretending to be a true husband to the only woman he’s ever loved…

Publication Date:  July 3, 2018

Publisher:  Love Inspired Suspense

Genre:  Suspense, Contemporary Fiction

 

My thoughts:  I probably say this in every review I write of a Dana Mentink book but it just amazes me that a dog-loving, elementary school teacher with a great sense of humor can write such great suspense stories. But Dana does just that. Each book of hers I read just wows me with the characters, descriptions, and storylines.

Jack’s story had me hooked from the very beginning. I sat down to read just a few chapters and soon realized I had read over half the book. And if it wasn’t for work the next morning I would have stayed up all night to finish the book. I just had to know how this story ended. The pace of the book is wonderful with all of the nonstop action. The story flowed easily from chapter to chapter and kept my interest.

Dana Mentink does a wonderful job of creating a wide range of characters. From cowboys to bikers she managed to perfectly capture the personalities of each. Each one seemed so realistic is was easy to picture them facing off with one another. To go along with these well-developed characters were descriptions that made me feel as if I were part of the story.

Realistic characters, a good storyline, and great descriptions made this book so easy to read it was as if the pages turned themselves. I can’t recommend Dana Mentink and her suspense books enough. Even though this is the third book in the series it can totally be read as a standalone. I think it would be the perfect introduction to the author’s work. Beware though! This book is hard to put down!

I received a complimentary copy of this book and was under no obligation to write a review. All opinions are mine.

 

About the authorDana Mentink enjoys writing in many different capacities. She currently writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Harvest House Publishers.

Dana is the recipient of a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, two ACFW Carol Awards as well as a Holt Medallion.

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Where Hope Begins by Catherine West (review by Cathy)

Where Hope Begins

About the book:

In the aftermath of her husband’s act of adultery and abandonment, Savannah must finally face the ghosts that haunt her and discover for herself whether authentic faith, grace, and ultimate healing really do exist.

When her husband of twenty-one years leaves her, Savannah Barrington believes she’s lost almost everything she’s ever loved. With her daughter in college and her son in boarding school, Savannah retreats to her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, where hope and healing come in the form of an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, a touch of magic, and a handsome man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove she’s still worth loving.

But when her husband asks to reconcile, Savannah is faced with the hardest challenge of all: Forgiving the unforgivable. Somehow she must find freedom from the chains of their past and move forward or face an unknown future without him.

My thoughts:

This is one of those books that will stay with me for a very long time.  I felt the emotions that Savannah felt and her overwhelming loss and sadness.  I loved her and strongly disliked her husband, Ken.

Now, keep in mind that the story begins with Ken leaving Savannah, so I had no idea  what had happened during their twenty-one years of marriage, all I knew was there was going to be a family in pain and that was so sad to me.

This isn’t just a sad story, it’s one of self discovery, love, forgiveness and finding there can still be good times with new friends and yes, even laughter. I loved seeing Savannah spend time in her parents lake house, meeting  and spending time with her neighbors in the Berkshires, Clarice, Brock and his young daughter, Maysie.  I found myself looking forward to their 4:00 weekly tea time.

Ms. West touches on some very heavy topics in this heartrending story, but she has woven in hope, forgiveness,  new beginnings and happiness.  I don’t know how she managed to put in  all of that, but she did and she did it beautifully. I found my self being more understanding and compassionate with all of the wonderful characters in this book.

I’ve read a few books by the author, but this one is my favorite so far.  I wanted to read this book as fast as I could, but I also wanted to make it last as long as I could, because it’s just that good.  I highly recommend this book and a box of tissue, because you’re going to cry.

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

 

 

 

 

 

All For Love: Three Historical Romance Novellas of Love and Laughter by Mary Connealy, Kristi Ann Hunter and Jen Turano (review by Cathy)

All For Love

About the book:

Bestselling, award-winning Christian fiction authors Mary Connealy, Kristi Ann Hunter, and Jen Turano are well-known and beloved for their sweet and humorous historical romances. For the first time in print, these three novellas offer delightful and heartwarming stories of couples finding a love worth giving it all for.

Mary Connealy’s “The Boden Birthright” journeys to the Old West, where ranch hand Chance Boden’s determination to be his own boss is challenged by his employer’s pretty daughter.

Kristi Ann Hunter’s “A Lady of Esteem” follows a Regency-era young lady whose reputation in society and chance at love are threatened by a nasty rumor.

Jen Turano’s “At Your Request” tells of a young woman who is humbled at her newly lowered status in society when she is reunited with the very man whose proposal she rejected.

My thoughts:

Okay, first of all I have to say that this is one of the loveliest covers I’ve seen in quite a while.   Now that I have that out-of-the-way, I’ll say that the three novellas are sweet, charming, humorous with the perfect amount of romance blended in.

I’m a fan of various genres, so I love that Mary Connealy took me on a journey to the Old West, Kristi Ann Hunter took me to the Regency Era , but my favorite stop on the journey was New York City in 1883 courtesy of Jen Turano!    As much as I enjoyed each one of the novellas, there is just something about Jens’ characters in, At Your Request that I loved.  They are oh so delightful and kept me engaged throughout the story. I felt as though I was hearing them speak and could clearly see what they were doing.

Overall, this is a wonderful collection that is a fast and fun read, especially for this time of year when you’re on vacation, at the pool or just relaxing at home and want something lighthearted to read.  This is definitely one that I recommend.

I received a copy of this book and was under no obligation to give a positive review. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kappy King and the Pickle Kaper (An Amish Mystery #2) by Amy Lillard (review by Kristi)

kappy king and the pickle kaper

About the bookAs a fan of Amy Lillard’s Amish fiction and contemporary fiction books, I was a bit skeptical when I saw she was writing a cozy mystery. I didn’t know if she could pull it off so to speak. However, I kept an open mind and began reading and was I ever wowed! Amy can not only write great Amish fiction and romance but she can write a darn good cozy mystery!

This story has fun characters who balance each other well. Kappy (short for Katherine) is not your typical Amish woman. While being Amish she describes herself as living on the fringe of the community. Not really belonging but also not not belonging. Ex-Amish Edie is a bit eccentric in her choice of clothes but she is a ton of fun and is the perfect partner for Kappy in their mystery-solving. And then there’s Jimmy, Edie’s special needs brother, who has an innocence about him and added some lighthearted moments in the book. These three are just the perfect combination of characters and worked well off each other. I can’t say as I have a favorite because I enjoyed them all separately and together.

The plot of this story is good and moves along at a good pace. There’s never a dull moment with Kappy and Edie (unofficially) on the case. There is the typical cast of characters who are suspects but I didn’t figure out who the guilty person was until the very end. I kept changing my mind between who and why. This story was easy to get into and it kept my interest until the end.

With a perfect mix of comedy and mystery, this book was a quick read. It would be a perfect weekend book. This is the second book in the series but can be read as a standalone. I, myself, haven’t read the first book yet but will soon be correcting that. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to see what Kappy and Edie get into next!

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

Publication Date:  June 26, 2018

Publisher:  Zebra

Genre:  Cozy Mystery, Amish

 

My thoughtsAs a fan of Amy Lillard’s Amish fiction and contemporary fiction books, I was a bit skeptical when I saw she was writing a cozy mystery. I didn’t know if she could pull it off so to speak. However, I kept an open mind and began reading and was I ever wowed! Amy can not only write great Amish fiction and romance but she can write a darn good cozy mystery!

This story has fun characters who balance each other well. Kappy (short for Katherine) is not your typical Amish woman. While being Amish she describes herself as living on the fringe of the community. Not really belonging but also not not belonging. Ex-Amish Edie is a bit eccentric in her choice of clothes but she is a ton of fun and is the perfect partner for Kappy in their mystery-solving. And then there’s Jimmy, Edie’s special needs brother, who has an innocence about him and added some lighthearted moments in the book. These three are just the perfect combination of characters and worked well off each other. I can’t say as I have a favorite because I enjoyed them all separately and together.

The plot of this story is good and moves along at a good pace. There’s never a dull moment with Kappy and Edie (unofficially) on the case. There is the typical cast of characters who are suspects but I didn’t figure out who the guilty person was until the very end. I kept changing my mind between who and why. This story was easy to get into and it kept my interest until the end.

With a perfect mix of comedy and mystery, this book was a quick read. It would be a perfect weekend book. This is the second book in the series but can be read as a standalone. I, myself, haven’t read the first book yet but will soon be correcting that. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to see what Kappy and Edie get into next!

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

About the authorI’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 Twlight 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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The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck (review by Kristi)

the love letter.jpg

About the book:  With the colonies at war and his country divided, Hamilton Lightfoot must choose sides: Fight for the British Crown or for the Independence of America. But after witnessing the death of his family at the hands of redcoats, he fears he’ll fight for revenge instead of honor. On the verge of a great battle, he pens a letter to Esther, the woman he loves.

Esther Longfellow is in love with Hamilton, but her father is a loyalist, living in upcountry South Carolina and working for a wealthy British lord. When the Revolutionary War comes to her doorstep she is forced to choose between devotion to her father and her love for Hamilton.

Chloe Daschle is the daughter of Hollywood royalty—a great director and an Oscar-winning actress. Yet her career has taken an unexpected turn: She’s the queen of death scenes. Trying to break out, she accepts a supporting role in a revolutionary war film. But she longs for the perfect role and the perfect real-life romance. Does happily ever after only exist in the movies?

After a life-changing tragedy, MIT graduate Jesse Gates decides to leave his life behind and move to LA to try his hand at acting and screenwriting. When he finds a page from one of his ancestor’s letters, he becomes consumed with the love he finds there. Determined to help his grandfather find happiness at the end of his life, Jesse writes and sells a screenplay based on the events surrounding the lost love of previous generations.

When Jesse meets the woman he has cast to play Esther Longfellow—his grandfather’s one true love—the stories of all four collide across time and space. The love letter from the past might have more power to affect the future than any of them could have imagined.

Publication Date:  June 12, 2018

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson

Genres:  Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction (dual timeline)

 

My thoughtsRachel Hauck is one of my favorite dual timeline authors. She is able to write compelling stories set in different time periods and combine them into quick, easy, can’t-put-them-down reads. However, The Love Letter seemed to be missing something. Exactly what was missing I can’t put my finger on. I just know it wasn’t there.

For me, the story started off a bit slow. I found myself more drawn to Chloe and Jesse than Esther and Hamilton. I liked the instant connection between Chloe and Jesse but then became a bit disappointed in them. Jesse has a secret from his past and readers are also clued into an embarrassing video of Chloe that’s on the internet. I didn’t like the way Jesse and Chloe told each other their secrets at the same time. Were they even listening to each other? I’ve been in conversations such as theirs and just gave up trying to tell my story but these two characters kept going on and on until they had finished. Also, I think the phrase “hot and heavy” was a bit overused. It seems like within a few pages I read this phrase several times. (Does anyone even say that anymore?)

As for Esther and Hamilton the more I read about them the more I enjoyed their story. I’m not a big fan of the Revolutionary War and thought the all the fight scene details slowed down the flow of the story, which was slow enough on its own. I did enjoy the aspect of the story as far as them being on different sides of the war but still maintaining their friendship.

All in all, this isn’t a bad story and once I got into it I found it was a fairly quick read. I will admit towards the end I was ready for it to wrap up. While this isn’t one of my favorite stories from this author she is still on my must-read list.

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

 

About the authorNew York Times, USA Today & Wall Street Journal Bestselling author Rachel Hauck writes from sunny central Florida.

A RITA finalist and winner of Romantic Times Inspirational Novel of the Year, she writes vivid characters dealing with real life issues.

She loves to hear from readers. She also loves to encourage new writers and sits on the Executive Board of American Christian Fiction Writers..

A graduate of Ohio State University with a BA in Journalism, Rachel is an avid OSU football fan. She hopes to one day stand on the sidelines in the Shoe with Urban Meyer.

An avid Diet Coke fan, she is caffeine free. Sometimes you just have to compromise.

She’s never skied or jumped out of an airplane. She leaves such hijinks to Jason Bourne.

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