Amish Sweethearts: Four Amish Novellas by Amy Clipston (review by Kristi)

Amish Sweetherts photo

About the book:   Love and Buggy Rides (previously published in An Amish Harvest)

Janie Lantz is a cashier at Lancaster Souvenirs and Buggy Rides, where Jonathan Stoltfuz is a buggy driver. A frightening accident brings Janie and Jonathan together in a blossoming friendship, yet daunting obstacles stand between them and something deeper. Can love kindle into flames that burn away fear and regret—and lead them to a life together?

A Home for Lindsay

From Amy Clipston’s beloved Kauffman Amish Bakery series comes Lindsay Bedford’s story. Lindsay is happily looking forward to the day she becomes Matthew Glick’s wife and is excited for the plans he has for the house he will build her. So, when Matthew suddenly calls off the wedding, she is blindsided. She knows there is more to the story than what he is telling her, but will he open up and let her in on his own heartbreak?

Where the Heart Is

Tobias Smucker is back home, and it’s no secret he and his father are still not on the best of terms. But what is surprising is that his little sister’s best friend, Mariella, has been harboring her own secret feelings for Tobias. With her help, he begins to unravel a family mystery and learns that everyone has their own hidden depths, including his father.

Love Birds (previously published in An Amish Market)

While Ellie Lapp and her mother are still mourning the loss of her brother, Seth, Ellie starts working at one of the gift shops in town. Seth’s friend Lloyd is talented at carving wooden birds, but his father disapproves and expects him to take over the family farm someday. Ellie sees the beauty in Lloyd’s creations and insists Lloyd sell the birds in the gift shop where she works. As Ellie and Lloyd spend more time together, they begin to develop feelings for one another, but she accidentally betrays his trust. Will she lose any hope of a future with him?

Publication Date:  January 9, 2018

Publisher:  Zondervan

 

My reviewI think that with every novella or novella collection I review I state that I’m not a novella fan. And that’s still pretty true after reading so many. I just prefer a full-length novel where I can really get to know the characters and their stories. I like the detail provided in full-length novels, too. This being said though I truly enjoy Amy’s novellas. She is able to pack all the qualities I love about full-length novels into a novella and leave me completely satisfied. Amish Sweethearts is no different.

I don’t have a favorite among these four stories as each one is unique in its own way. The collection is about Amish people finding love and Amy does it in a way that is so genuine and real. The characters and their stories are well-developed and the stories are perfectly paced. There are no feelings of things being rushed or skipped over to meet a word count or to meet all of the requirements of a novella. Each of these four stories is a complete story from beginning to end and I loved that I could really get to know the characters throughout their stories.

Amish Sweethearts is Amy Clipston doing what she does best. She has created characters that we will soon think of as real and stories that we will treasure and talk about long after reading. Fans of Amy are sure to enjoy this collection and this would also be a fantastic way to introduce someone to Amy and the genre. This book is definitely one for the keeper shelf.

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:  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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Perennials by Julie Cantrell (review by Cathy)

Perennials

About the book:
When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents’ 50th anniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother’s perennial garden.

Eva—known to all as Lovey—grew up in Oxford, MS, surrounded by literary history and her mother’s stunning perennial gardens. But a garden shed fire and the burns suffered by one of her best friends seemed to change everything. Her older sister Bitsy blamed her for the fire—and no one spoke up on her behalf. Bitsy the cheerleader, Bitsy the homecoming queen, Bitsy married to a wealthy investor. And all the while, Lovey blamed for everything that goes wrong.

At eighteen, Lovey turns down a marriage proposal, flees from Oxford and the expectations of attending Ole Miss, and instead goes to Arizona—the farthest thing from the South she can imagine. She becomes a successful advertising executive, a weekend yoga instructor, and seems to have it all together. But she’s alone. And on her 45th birthday, she can’t help but wonder what’s wrong.

When she gets a call from her father—still known to everyone as Chief from his Ole Miss football days—insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration, she’s at wits end. She’s about to close the biggest contract of her career, the one that will secure her financial goals and set her up for retirement. But his words, “Family First,” hit too close to home. Is there hope for her estranged relationship with Bitsy after all this time?

Eva’s journey home, to the memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother, becomes one of discovering roots, and truth, and love, and what living perennially in spite of disappointments and tragedy really means. Eva thought she wanted to leave her family and the South far behind . . . but she’s realizing she hasn’t truly been herself the whole time she’s been gone

 

My review (5-stars)

Perennials is beautifully written with characters that captured my heart. It’s the story of the Sutherland family and their friends in Oxford, Mississippi.

Bitsy and Lovey had an idyllic childhood, playing with brothers Fisher and Finn when suddenly something occurs  causing a rift between the sisters. Lovey quickly became my favorite of the two  as she tried to repair their relationship.  Chief, the patriarch of the family is absolutely my favorite character in the book. The love and respect he has for his wife is touching and the  time and resources he spends to mark their 50th anniversary brought tears to my eyes.   Her love of family and her beautiful flower garden brings her happiness and he’s determined to make her as happy as he can.

As the family reconnects and friends are reunited, I felt like I knew each and every one of them and my emotions were all over the place.  I felt their joy and deeply felt their sadness.  A sign of a very good book in my opinion. This one is keeper, plus the cover is gorgeous.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Wedding at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer (review by Kristi)

a wedding at two love lane

About the bookNever say never when it comes to love.

Greer Jones has made a real name for herself at the elegant matchmaking agency Two Love Lane. For a lot of reasons–including a past engagement she broke off–practical tech expert Greer is more interested in the business of love than the experience of it, but she can’t help but covet a gorgeous wedding gown that’s the prize in an upcoming cocktail-party contest. In a moment of brazen inspiration, Greer asks a handsome Brit she’s only just met to accompany her to the party. He agrees–and Greer believes her date is a starving artist. Little does she know the truth. . .

Ford Smith, as he calls himself, is actually Stanford Elliott Wentworth Smythe, the Eighth Baron of Wickshire. Fresh off a breakup with a money-grubbing siren who deceived him all the way to the altar, Ford has no desire to fall in love–especially with Greer who, like the desired wedding gown, is beautiful but only skin-deep. But soon Ford realizes that there’s more to Greer than meets the eye. Her professionalism is matched only by her passion for life and love. . .and, best of all, she has no idea that he’s to the manor born. Could it be that true love is priceless after all?

Publication Date:  January 2, 2018

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Paperback

 

My review: Not familiar with this author or series based on the cover I was expecting a nice, sweet love story. Unfortunately, that is not what I got. What I got instead was, in my opinion, a story that was flat with characters I couldn’t relate to or care about. This book, while ok, was a bit of a disappointment.

I didn’t realize when I started reading this book that it was the second book in a series and maybe that’s why I felt a little lost. I felt like I should have known these characters more than what I did. I felt like I had missed out on something. I had high expectations for Ford and he didn’t deliver on those. I found him a bit stale and too one dimensional. Greer wasn’t the character I thought she was going to be either. She had potential but the author just didn’t deliver on that potential.

It seemed to me also like the author intended for there to be conflict between Greer, Wesley, and Serena and instead it was a love fest that didn’t seem genuine. I didn’t really care for the relationship between Greer and Ford. It seemed forced and not organic. I also thought the mentioning of Greer’s mom and dad’s relationship dynamic seemed out of place and not relevant to the story.

All in all this wasn’t a completely bad story and I didn’t entirely dislike it. This was just a story that had potential but just fell short. In my opinion there are much better stories out there to enjoy.

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

 

About the authorUSA Today bestselling author Kieran Kramer currently writes fun contemporary romance with a Southern flair for St. Martin’s Press. She lives where she grew up–in the Lowcountry of South Carolina–with her family. The first two books in her three-book TWO LOVE LANE series are on shelves now. The third book, SECOND CHANCE AT TWO LOVE LANE, comes out Fall 2018.

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Beneath a Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer (review by Cathy)

Beneath a Prairie Moon

Book Blurb:

Readers rabid for the sweet historical romances of Tracie Peterson and Tamara Alexander will flock to Kim Vogel Sawyer’s prairie-set heartwarmer of a pair of opposites destined for love.

Estelle Brantley grew up in affluence and knows exactly how to behave in high society. But when she is cast from the social registers due to her father’s illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined: tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in the subjects of manners and morals so they can “marry up” with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose father was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he’s put off by the snooty airs and fastidious behavior of the “little city gal” in their midst. But as time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the down-to-earth men. How can he teach her that perfection won’t bring happiness?

 

My review (5-stars)

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book written by this author, and I don’t know why!  She’s a wonderful author as evidenced in this book.

This  isn’t a typical order bride story that’s for sure.  This has such depth to the story that I personally haven’t seen before.  The characters are sure to steal your heart and cause a few chuckles as you read the story of the men of Spiveyville, Kansas waiting for their mail-order brides from Bingham’s Bevy of Brides.

I’ll let you know that the men are in for quite a surprise when they meet Mrs. Bingham and her lovely assistant.  The ladies are used to a more refined life and they are in for quite a surprise when they meet the prospective grooms waiting for a match.

I really wish that this book would be a series because I’d love to follow-up with each and every character.  I just wasnt ready to say a final goodbye. If you love Christian fiction, you’ll definitely want to read this one.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books and have given my honest opinion.

 

Amish Sweethearts (Four Novellas ) by Amy Clipston (review by Cathy)

Amish Sweetherts photo

About the book:

Love is in the air in these four sweet romances!

Love and Buggy Rides (previously published in An Amish Harvest)

Janie Lantz is a cashier at Lancaster Souvenirs and Buggy Rides, where Jonathan Stoltfuz is a buggy driver. A frightening accident brings Janie and Jonathan together in a blossoming friendship, yet daunting obstacles stand between them and something deeper. Can love kindle into flames that burn away fear and regret—and lead them to a life together?

A Home for Lindsay

From Amy Clipston’s beloved Kauffman Amish Bakery series comes Lindsay Bedford’s story. Lindsay is happily looking forward to the day she becomes Matthew Glick’s wife and is excited for the plans he has for the house he will build her. So, when Matthew suddenly calls off the wedding, she is blindsided. She knows there is more to the story than what he is telling her, but will he open up and let her in on his own heartbreak?

Where the Heart Is

Tobias Smucker is back home, and it’s no secret he and his father are still not on the best of terms. But what is surprising is that his little sister’s best friend, Mariella, has been harboring her own secret feelings for Tobias. With her help, he begins to unravel a family mystery and learns that everyone has their own hidden depths, including his father.

Love Birds (previously published in An Amish Market)

While Ellie Lapp and her mother are still mourning the loss of her brother, Seth, Ellie starts working at one of the gift shops in town. Seth’s friend Lloyd is talented at carving wooden birds, but his father disapproves and expects him to take over the family farm someday. Ellie sees the beauty in Lloyd’s creations and insists Lloyd sell the birds in the gift shop where she works. As Ellie and Lloyd spend more time together, they begin to develop feelings for one another, but she accidentally betrays his trust. Will she lose any hope of a future with him?

 

My review:

As a longtime fan of the authors writing, I was excited to read this collection of novellas. I think that this compilation is fantastic!   I have to admit that I have two favorites  although I loved all four of them.

I’ve been a huge fan of the Kauffman family since I read the first book in the, Kauffman Amish Bakery series. So. A Home for Lindsay  is one of my favorites.  Lindsay  and Matthew are characters that I adore.  There is so much love and tenderness to their story that you can’t help but love them.  I desperately wanted things to work out for these two.

My other favorite in the collection was, Where the Heart Is. This one is touching in so many ways.  I loved Tobias and could imagine the courage it took for him to face his family and community when he returned home from Florida.  It is a story of forgiveness and encouraging those that you love.

All of the stories are filled with loveable characters that will appeal to everyone that reads this book.

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

 

 

Christmas at Cade Ranch (Rocky Mountain Cowboys #1) by Karen Rock (review by Cathy)

Christmas at Cade Ranch

Book Blurb:

James Cade has one priority: keep the family ranch running smoothly in the wake of his younger brother’s death. With Jesse’s ex, Sofia Gallardo, and her young son, Javi, stranded at Cade Ranch over Christmas, this task just got a lot harder.

The longer Sofia and Javi stay, the harder it is to imagine the ranch without them. James couldn’t save his brother from his inner demons, but he can give his nephew a secure future. Maybe more—if he can figure out how to trust Sofia, and stop feeling like he’s betraying Jesse. Because trying to stop thinking about beautiful, determined Sofia is impossible.

 

My review:

I know that it’s after Christmas and you may wonder why I’m posting this review now, well, I’m posting it now to say that loved this book!   I loved each of the characters immediately.

Sofia and her young son, Javi are so sweet and they will touch your heart.  She has made some mistakes and she’s working to make a better life for the two of them.  I could imagine the joy Javi felt when he meets his paternal grandmother, aunt and uncles.

The attraction between James and Sophia is instantaneous and delightful.  The one thing that doesn’t come immediately is trust, which is something that needs to be earned.  This book is about forgiveness and second chances and the author writes the story beautifully.

This is the first book that I’ve read by Karen Rock, but it wont be the last.  I adored the Cade family and am looking forward to the next book in the series.

 

 

The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam (review by Kristi)

the lost season of love and snow

About the bookThe unforgettable story of Alexander Pushkin’s beautiful wife, Natalya, a woman much admired at Court, and how she became reviled as the villain of St. Petersburg.

At the age of sixteen, Natalya Goncharova is stunningly beautiful and intellectually curious. But while she finds joy in French translations and a history of Russian poetry, her family is more concerned with her marriage prospects. It is only fitting that during the Christmas of 1828 at her first public ball in her hometown of Moscow she attracts the romantic attention of Russia’s most lauded rebel poet: Alexander Pushkin.

Enchanted at first sight, Natalya is already a devoted reader of Alexander’s serialized novel in verse, Evgeny Onegin. The most recently published chapter ends in a duel, and she is dying to learn what happens next. Finding herself deeply attracted to Alexander’s intensity and joie de vivre, Natalya hopes to see him again as soon as possible.

What follows is a courtship and later marriage full of equal parts passion and domestic bliss but also destructive jealousies. When vicious court gossip leads to Alexander dying from injuries earned defending his honor as well as Natalya’s in a duel, Natalya finds herself reviled for her alleged role in his death.

With beautiful writing and understanding, Jennifer Laam, and her compelling new novel, The Lost Season of Love and Snow, help Natalya tell her side of the story—the story of her greatest love and her inner struggle to create a fulfilling life despite the dangerous intrigues of a glamorous imperial Court.

Publication Date:  January 2, 2018

Publisher:  St. Martin’s Griffin

 

My review: I received an invitation from the publisher to read this book and accepted based on the fact that I liked the cover and because, well, I just don’t say no to books. Once I started reading the book it sounded like it was based on a historical figure. A quick Google search confirmed that Alexander Pushkin was indeed a real person. This didn’t really deter me from wanting to read the book although I don’t really get whipped into a frenzy over Russian poets.

I found the beginning of the story interesting and enjoyed the flirtation and romance between Natalya and Alexander. I also liked reading about the relationship between Natalya and her sisters. There was enough conflict between the sisters and also between Natalya and her mother to keep the story interesting and not overly romantic.

Halfway through the story, I began to get a bit bored. Now, it’s not the author’s fault that the marriage of Natalya and Alexander seemed doomed from the beginning but I got tired of reading the same thing over and over. Alexander had the personality of a creative type and seemed a bit fragile. I didn’t find myself liking him all that muchand I found it difficult to like Natalya. I admit I don’t know a lot about the ways of the people during this time period but it seemed wrong for her to go flirting with the men like she did. She supposedly loved Alexander but her actions to me told a different story. I found myself having no empathy for her.

I have no problem with the author’s writing style but just got tired of trudging through the same details over and over again. This caused the story to stall a bit and I found my thoughts drifting elsewhere. Not to be overly picky but I found the title didn’t fit the story. I’m a bit puzzled about how the author came up with the title. If you know, please drop me a line and let me know. I’d much appreciate it.

While this book ended up not really being my cup of tea it was an ok read. It may prove to be an enjoyable read for those who are familiar with these characters or those who like Russian history.

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

 

About the authorJennifer Laam is the author of THE SECRET DAUGHTER OF THE TSAR, THE TSARINA’S LEGACY, and the forthcoming THE LOST SEASON OF LOVE AND SNOW (January 2018), all from St. Martin’s Griffin. Jennifer has lived in Los Angeles and the suburbs of Detroit, and has traveled in Russia, England, France, and Finland. When away from her computer, she enjoys fussing over animals, binge watching her favorite TV shows, planning cosplay for Comic Con, and line dancing. Jennifer currently lives in Northern California, where she works for her alma mater, University of the Pacific.

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