Beneath the Summer Sun (Every Amish Season #2) by Kelly Irvin (review by Cathy)

beneath the summer sun

About the book:

Paul Graber has known–and loved–Jennie since they were children, and he’d hoped to court her when they were teenagers. But when he was fourteen, Paul’s father died suddenly in his arms. Ever since he’s been afraid of the searing pain of loss that comes from opening himself up to love. Now Jennie’s free again and he’s fighting to have the courage not to lose her a second time.

Nathan Walker is a Mennonite book salesman who makes it a point to stop by Jennie’s farm as often as he can. He’s grown to care for her, but he knows he has no right to court her unless he resolves his own struggle with his faith. He will have to change everything about his life in order to join the Jamesport Amish community. But would he be embracing a new life or running from his old?

The path isn’t clear for any of them. These three people, drawn together by circumstances and God’s plan, must come to grips with their pasts in order to discern God’s plan for their futures and find peace beneath the summer sun.

My review:

Kelly Irvin created three fascinating characters for this book and she created an equally fascinating storyline for each of them.  Jennie is raising her seven children on her own since her husband died, Nathan is a Mennonite book salesman that has grown fond of her and Leo has been in love with her since they were kids.

Ms. Irvin does not shy away from topics that you don’t see in too many Amish novels which is why I’m drawn to her work.  Jennie’s story is heart wrenching as she struggles to love and trust again after a less than happy marriage.  Nathan is struggling with his faith and his feelings for Jennie and Leo struggles with his fear of  losing the ones he loves. I have to say that I liked Nathan because he gave Leo more courage to follow his heart and let go of some of his fears.

There are secondary characters that I loved, too and would enjoy reading their stories in  future books in the series.

This is a story of love, faith and trust and is beautifully written. Although, this is the second book in the series, it can easily be read as a stand alone.

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

 

 

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The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz (review by Cathy)

The Lacemaker

Book Blurb:

When colonial Williamsburg explodes like a powder keg on the eve of the American Revolution, Lady Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson is abandoned by her fiance and suspected of being a spy for the hated British. No one comes to her aid save the Patriot Noble Rynallt, a man with formidable enemies of his own. Liberty is left with a terrible choice. Will the Virginia belle turned lacemaker side with the radical revolutionaries, or stay true to her English roots? And at what cost?

Historical romance favorite Laura Frantz is back with a suspenseful story of love, betrayal, and new beginnings. With her meticulous eye for detail and her knack for creating living, breathing characters, Frantz continues to enchant historical fiction readers who long to feel they are a part of the story.

My review:

I loved this book!  The storyline is fascinating and the characters are extraordinary.  Noble and Elizabeth/Liberty won me over immediately.  I couldn’t imagine being abandoned by my  fiancée, but if that had happened to me, I’d definitely want to have someone like Noble to count on.  Liberty is much stronger than I had expected her to be and I admired her courage to go on as best she could after having lost so much, including her home.   Noble is everything you’d expect a hero to be and more.

There are so many unexpected and delightful twists in the story that kept me reading, “just one more chapter”, until there were no more chapters left!   Liberty and Noble are characters that will stay with me for a long time.  I’m so glad to have met them. Do yourselves a favor and get a copy of this one as soon as you can.

I will want to read this one again, plus I love the gorgeous cover.  This is a keeper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beneath the Summer Sun by Kelly Irvin (review by Kristi)

beneath the summer sun

About the bookJennie Troyer knows it’s time to remarry, and with two men pursuing her, she doesn’t have to look far. But after the pain she’s experienced, can she open her heart to love?

It’s been four years since Jennie’s husband died in a farming accident. Long enough that the elders in her Amish community think it’s time to shed her grief and remarry for the sake of her seven children. What they don’t know is it isn’t grief that’s holding her back, but rather a fear of a repeat of her abusive marriage.

Paul Graber has known–and loved–Jennie since they were children, and he’d hoped to court her when they were teenagers. But when he was fourteen, Paul’s father died suddenly in his arms. Ever since he’s been afraid of the searing pain of loss that comes from opening himself up to love. Now Jennie’s free again and he’s fighting to have the courage not to lose her a second time.

Nathan Walker is a Mennonite book salesman who makes it a point to stop by Jennie’s farm as often as he can. He’s grown to care for her, but he knows he has no right to court her unless he resolves his own struggle with his faith. He will have to change everything about his life in order to join the Jamesport Amish community. But would he be embracing a new life or running from his old?

The path isn’t clear for any of them. These three people, drawn together by circumstances and God’s plan, must come to grips with their pasts in order to discern God’s plan for their futures and find peace beneath the summer sun.

Publication Date:  January 16, 2018

Publisher:  Zondervan

 

My reviewAmish fiction is one of my favorite genres. However, sometimes I feel like the genre becomes a bit stale or cookie cutter. That’s why I find books like Beneath the Summer Sun refreshing. This book has complex characters with real problems. I was entranced in the story from the first page and found myself reading the entire book over the weekend.

There are three main characters in this story and each one has thier own story. They share a common bond of trying to let go of the past and moving forward. Jennie was so easy to like and have sympathy for. A widow of four years she is trying to raise seven children on her own. All under the watchful eye of the church leaders. Nathan is a Beachy Amish Mennonite book salesman who is tired of traveling around in his minivan named Bunny and wants to settle down and perhaps join the Amish faith. Leo Graber is an Amish carpenter who says very little. At first it might seem like he is shy but as the reader gets to know him it is revealed that shyness is not is problem but he suffers from guilt. There are several secondary characters including the seven children and Jennie’s friends and community members. I didn’t have any trouble keeping the characters straight in my mind while reading and I credit that to the personalities the author gave them. It was like meeting a group of people and getting to know them better.

I like Kelly Irvin’s writing style. She has a way of pulling the reader into the story. From the first sentence of the book I felt like I was part of the story. She also writes about a serious topic in this book and does it in a way that provides enough detail to the story without being too much.

While this book is part of a series it isn’t necessary to read the previous book first. This book reads fine as a standalone. This book would be a great introduction into the genre or Kelly Irvin books. This is a book that I highly recommend.

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

 

About the authorKelly Irvin’s newest series, Every Amish Series, began with the debut of Upon a Spring Breeze, in April. The second book, Beneath the Summer Sun, will debut in January 2018. It is a four-book series published by Zondervan/HarperCollins Christian Publishing. This follows the Amish of Bee County series, The Saddle Maker’s Son, released in June 2016. It is an ECPA bestseller. It follows The Bishop’s Son, and the critically acclaimed bestseller, The Beekeeper’s Son, which earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. The reviewer called it “a beautifully woven masterpiece.” The Beekeeper’s Son was a finalist in the romance category of the 2016 ACFW Carol Awards Contest.

Kelly has novellas in The Amish Christmas Gift and The Amish Marketplace, both of which were also ECPA bestsellers. She is also the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Amish Amish series. The first series includes To Love and To Cherish, A Heart Made New, and Love’s Journey Home, published by Harvest House. The New Hope Amish series includes Love Still Stands, followed by Love Redeemed, which was an ACFW Carol Award finalist, and A Plain Love Song.

Kelly has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine..

The Kansas native is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and ACFW’s San Antonio local chapter Alamo City Christian Fiction Writers.

A graduate of the University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism, Kelly has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years. She studied for three semesters at the University of Costa Rica, learning the Spanish language. As a journalist, she worked six years in the border towns of Laredo and El Paso.

She worked in public relations for the San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department for 22 years before retiring earlier this year. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-eight years. They have two young adult children and have two grandchildren. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories, read books by her favorite authors, and looks forward to visits with her grandchildren.

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The Crown Prince’s Bride by Donna Alward (review by Kristi)

the crown prince's bride.jpg

About the book:  A Crown Prince gets a second chance at love with the woman who’s always been there – in the next book in the prince duology from Donna Alward!

The Crown Prince of Marazur is suffering from a broken heart. After losing his wife and future queen, he knows he’ll never find love again with a partner as wonderful as her. He’s thrown himself into his duties and is trying to be a better father to his two children, but he’s lonely. Even though falling in love seems impossible, so does spending the rest of his life alone.

Stephani has been Raoul’s assistant for years. Smart, loyal, and discreet, Stephani is fantastic at her job. Except for the fact that she’s been in love with her boss since her first week of employment, not that she would ever act on it. Besides, Raoul is first in line to the throne and she’s his assistant. If Raoul ever marries again, it’ll be with someone who can be a future queen. Not someone like Stephani.

When Raoul’s date for a state dinner is unable to attend, he invites Stephani. She’s well-versed on the issues and castle protocol, and Raoul’s always been comfortable with her. But when Stephani arrives, Raoul hardly recognizes her. Is this stunning woman the same one who’s run his office for years?

The Crown Prince’s Bride is the ultimate fairy tale for readers looking for Cinderella to get her prince—and be able to keep him past midnight.

Publication Date:  January 9, 2018

Publisher:  Swerve

 

My review: Tedious. This book was just tedious to read. But not being one to give up on a book I plodded on and read the entire thing. This is a pretty standard romance and that part didn’t bother me. It was the characters, their lack of chemistry and lots of repetition in the story that made it a difficult and drawn out read for me.

This is book two in the series and it doesn’t really make a difference if you’ve read the first book or not. I haven’t and I didn’t feel lost as this story pretty much stands on its own. The two characters in this book have known each other for a long time and consider each other family even though that’s a stretch seeing as the female lead is a cousin of male lead’s deceased wife. This is a main part of the story and it is repeated over and over that she is like family and he is like family and the enter family is like family. Yeah, it’s that repetitive. Reading these parts I felt like I was watching a car that was stuck and spinning its tires but going nowhere. This was my first book by this author and I didn’t enjoy her writing style. Her writing lacked a smoothness and was just too choppy for me. At times I wondered if I had missed a page or if something was missing in the formatting of the edition I read. Even the romantic scenes fell flat and were lacking.

As far as the characters go I couldn’t really relate to them and didn’t have that reader/character bond I enjoy when reading. Stephani is ok at best but I soon got over her secret love of Raoul. I’ve seen this storyline written much better in other books. Raoul seemed weak to me. I tried to like him but I just couldn’t. Two secondary characters, Diego and Rose, seemed more interesting than the two main characters. And is it wrong to like Marco, Raouls’ driver, more than any of the other characters?

I’m not sure if I would pick up another book by this author. While this book was not the worst I’ve ever read it lacked both the romance element I was looking for and substance.

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

 

About the authorWhile bestselling author Donna Alward was busy studying Austen, Eliot and Shakespeare, she was also losing herself in the breathtaking stories created by romance novelists like LaVyrle Spencer, Judith McNaught, and Nora Roberts. Several years after completing her degree she decided to write a romance of her own and it was true love! Five years and ten manuscripts later she sold her first book and launched a new career. While her heartwarming stories of love, hope, and homecoming have been translated into several languages, hit bestseller lists and won awards, her very favorite thing is when she hears from happy readers.

Donna lives on Canada’s east coast with her family which includes a husband, a couple of kids, a senior dog and two crazy cats. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading (of course!), knitting, gardening, cooking…and is a Masterpiece Theater addict.

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Author Interview with Amanda Barratt

Amanda

ECPA bestselling author Amanda Barratt fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story – a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Now, Amanda writes inspirational historical romance, penning stories that transport readers to a variety of locales – from the sweeping coastline of Newport, Rhode Island, to the rugged landscape of Central Texas. Her novella, The Truest Heart, was a finalist in the 2017 FHL Reader’s Choice Awards.

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she lives in the woods of Michigan with her fabulous family, who kindly put up with the invisible people she calls characters.

My Belongs in NiagaraFalls

So happy to welcome Amanda Barratt to the blog today.  She’s the author of several books, her latest release is, My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York.  Isnt the cover gorgeous?

Amanda :  Thank you so much for having me today! 

Cathy:  Amanda, how long have you been writing and what was your first published book?

Amanda: I’ve been writing for around seven years. Much of that time was spent learning the craft of writing, and completing LOTS of practice drafts. Those drafts are now where they belong–on my computer, never to see the light of day. 🙂 I’ve been published going on four years. My first release was A Bride for a Bargain, a novella in The Most Eligible Bachelor Romance Collection.

Cathy:  When did you realize that you wanted to me an author?

Amanda:  I think I was around fourteen.  I was taking a college-level writing course offered for high school students.  Part of the class required each student to write three different pieces and read them out loud.  I’ve always been a huge Dickens fan, so instead of writing three separate pieces, I wrote a six part serial story. It was full of elements from Jane Eyre.  After I finished reading part six, and the class broke into spontaneous applause.  It was a toss up whether they actually enjoyed it, or were just relieved  they no longer had to listen to a Victorian romance.

Cathy:  I have read several of your novellas which I’ve enjoyed. Do you have a favorite novella that you’ve written?  How about a favorite character you’ve created?

Amanda:   Aww, thank you! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed my novellas! I love each of my stories, but one that stands out as a favorite is The Truest Heart (Seven Brides for Seven Texans Collection). The plot of the collection revolves around seven brothers who are given an ultimatum by their father to marry within a year. Collaborating with the authors to create our family of brothers was so much fun! As for a favorite character, Drew Dawson from My Heart Belongs in Niagara Falls, New York completely stole my heart. He’s a daredevil with a heart for family, and I love rereading his scenes.
Cathy:  What drew you to historical fiction and why do you think it’s such a popular genre?

Amanda:  From an early age, I’ve always been a history buff. I was homeschooled, and was able to pursue my love for history very intentionally. In my teens, I discovered classic novelists like Charlotte Brontë and Charles Dickens, and modeled many of my early stories after these authors. I think the reason historical fiction is so popular is because people have a huge fascination with the past. It’s mysterious, and in our busy society, has a nostalgic element as well.
Cathy:  I absolutely love, My Hear Belongs is Niagara Falls, New York that released on January 1st.   What was your inspiration for your characters?

Amanda:  My premise for the novel was a woman who fears risk falling in love with a man who courts danger. Adele travels to America from Britain, so I was able to incorporate my love for England through her character. Drew was inspired by the real-life daredevils who crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope.

Cathy:  How much research went into writing this book?

Amanda:  Quite a bit. I watched several documentaries about the history of Niagara Falls and read multiple books. I thought about trying to walk across a tightrope, but since coordination isn’t my strong suit, decided that probably wouldn’t end well. 🙂

Cathy:  What is a typical writing day like for you?

Amanda:  I always work in the morning because that;s when my creativity is the freshest.  I set my word count goals, so if I’m working on a project, usually try to meet those before lunch. I work in an upstairs loft, and have to wear headphones to block out the noise of my busy family. I listen to a lot of great movie soundtracks that way.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us today, Amanda.

 

 

 

 

You’re Gonna Love Me (Thunder Creek #2) by Robin Lee Hatcher (review by Cathy)

You're Gonna Love Me

Book Blurb:

Who knew fate could twist a tragedy into a second chance at love?

Samantha Winters lives her life the way a good accountant should—measured, deliberate, and safe. After watching her father die in a tragic skiing accident, she decided never to allow risk into her life again. But she didn’t count on falling for Nick Chastain, who embodies everything she doesn’t want in her safely constructed world.

Against Samantha’s warnings, Nick plans a dangerous kayaking trip over spring break. Furious that he’s so careless with his life, she ends their fledgling relationship with harsh words.

Two years later, Samantha is desperately in need of a change. When she learns her grandmother has had an accident and is in need of a caretaker, Samantha quickly packs her bags and heads to Thunder Creek, Idaho. But nothing could prepare her for the surprise awaiting her in her grandmother’s hospital room . . . Nick.

With the charming backdrop of small-town friends, beloved cousins, and a whole church congregation rooting for them, can they set aside the disastrous ending of their first try at love? Has Nick changed enough to meet Samantha in the middle—and can she realize that a risk in love might be worth taking?

My review:

I loved the cover as soon as I saw it.  I loved the characters and the sweet story immediately.

When Samantha returns to Thunder Creek to care for her grandmother, the last person she wants to see, is actually one of the first people she sees. Nick, her old flame is visiting her grandmother in the hospital .  Nick lives life to the fullest which is the reason that Samantha ended their relationship.  The grandmother is my favorite character.  She’s feisty, funny and adorable.

There are some surprising twists in this story that I did not see coming.  I loved this second chance love story,  with its beautiful setting and the pace was perfect.  If you love sweet romances and fantastic writing, you will want to read this one.

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

 

A Song of Home: A Novel of the Swing Era (Pearl Spence #3) by Susie Finkbeiner (review by Cathy)

A Song of Home

Book Blurb:

Pearl Spence has finally settled into a routine in Bliss, Michigan, far from her home in Red River, Oklahoma. Like all the other kids, she goes to school each day, plays in the woods, and does her chores. But there’s one big difference: Mama is still gone, and doesn’t seem to have a thought for the family she’s left behind.

Escaping from her worries is another part of Pearl’s new routine, whether that’s running to Aunt Carrie’s farm, listening to the radio with Ray, or losing herself in a book. In fact, a chair in the stacks, surrounded by books, might be her favorite place on earth–until she discovers swing dancing. The music transports Pearl to a whole other world.

When Mama unexpectedly returns, it isn’t the happy occasion Pearl had imagined. Mama is distant and Pearl can’t figure out how to please her. And the horrible way she treats Daddy is more than Pearl can bear. Seems life would be better if Mama would just stay away.

Finkbeiner’s portrayal of both tragedy and everyday life in times of great change is charged with a raw beauty that will haunt readers. Fans of the two prior Pearl Spence novels won’t be disappointed!

My review :

Pearl Spence has held a place in my heart since I  met her in the first book in this series, A Cup of Dust.  The Spence family have certainly had their share of hard times and the author tells their story beautifully.

No matter how difficult things become, there are a few bright spots and Pearl manages to find hers in reading, playing with friends and learning to swing dance.   I loved Opal, “the hired girl”, who becomes an important part of Pearls life since her mother left home.  Mama is still gone, leaving Pearl, her father and Ray to do the best they can do and wondering if she’ll ever come back.   It was good to see how Aunt Carrie still welcomed the family to her farm and to her dinners.   I’ve looked forward to spending time with Aunt Carrie since the second book, A Trail of Crumbs.

This is an emotional story that had me smiling and at times tearing up, one that’s about, faith and forgiveness.  Susie Finkbeiner created characters that I absolutely adore and brought them to life with her masterful story telling.   I don’t know when her next book will release, but I do know that I will read it.    For those that haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend it.

I received this book through Kregel Book Blogger Program and was not required to give a positive review.  All opinions are my own.