Monday, June 19, 2017

Freedom's Price

In order to avoid an unwanted marriage after the death of both her parents, Catherine Hays leaves her home in England and crosses the Atlantic in an attempt to find her mother's estranged family in Louisiana.  On her journey west, she catches the eye of wrecker Tom Worthington in Key West.  Enchanted by Catherine, Tom leaves his own home to accompany Catherine on the remaining leg of her journey.  When they arrive at the plantation outside of New Orleans, though, it no longer resembles the paradise Catherine's mother had always described. And as they learn more about the man now controlling the plantation, it becomes clear that Catherine and Tom's lives are more intertwined than either could have imagined.  Will they each stubbornly hold to the dreams of their youth, or will they be able to make a new life together?

Christie Johnson tells an intriguing story of life along the Gulf Coast in the 1850s in Freedom's Price.    While I enjoyed Tom as a character, I just couldn't bring myself to like or understand Catherine.  Whereas Johnson, I assume, wanted readers to see a strong and independent heroine, I found myself annoyed with her.  Time after time Catherine makes truly idiotic decisions for absolutely no good reason.  From leaving England in the first place to adamantly staying in a dangerous situation, Catherine's choices make her seem spoiled, selfish, and plain stupid, and made me long for Tom to just leave her to her own devices and head back to Florida.  She would have deserved it.  It took me a while to get into the story, but once Tom and Catherine reach Louisiana (which should have happened several chapters before it did), the story picks up quite a bit.  Other than Tom's poor choice in a love interest, the plot itself was interesting full of lovely surprises.

 I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Matter of Trust

Renowned backcountry snowboarder Gage Watson has left fame behind after being sued for negligence in the death of one of his fans.  He finds satisfaction in his new life as a member of the PEAK Rescue team near Glacier National Park, but still has moments when he resents the life he lost, and those who stole it from him.  

State senator and lawyer Ella Blair-- former friend and admirer of Gage's-- deeply regrets the role she played in prosecuting the civil suit against him... especially when she learns a damaging truth about the case.  When her younger brother goes missing on one of the park's most dangerous areas, Ella knows Gage is the only one capable of bringing him home.  As Ella and Gage battle snowstorms and injuries, will they also have the courage to tackle their own feelings and regrets and make it back down the mountain safely?  

Susan May Warren doesn't disappoint in her third installment of her Montana Rescue series, A Matter of Trust.  I might go so far as to say it's my personal favorite thus far!  Warren developed Ella and Gage's characters in such subtle a way that the reader fully understands their individual choices, without the need to knock the reader over the head with a bunch of back-stories.  Minus the one mention of Gage sporting a "man bun" (ewww), he was a worthy and believable romantic lead.  I found Ella's personal journey of finding forgiveness and self-worth particularly poignant.  While Ella and Gage's story itself stands alone, Warren's weaving of series-long plot lines throughout this newest addition would make it confusing for readers not familiar with the previous novels.  

 I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.  

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Name Unknown

Having grown up as an orphan on the streets of London, Rosemary Gresham and her "family" of fellow orphans have become some of the best thieves in England.  When the mysterious Mr. V offers her more money than she has ever had to investigate the loyalties of a reclusive gentleman of German descent, she embarks on an adventure that will change her life and the way she views the world around her.

Due to his stuttering speech and German heritage, Peter Holstein spends most of his days writing adventure novels under a pen name, rather than interacting with his neighbors.  With Europe seemingly hurtling toward war, Holstein must find a way to prove to his neighbors, his friends, and his country that he is a trustworthy and loyal Englishman.

When Rosemary appears at Peter's door claiming to be a librarian willing to organize his mess of a library, he quickly agrees.  Peter soon finds himself drawn to his new employee, despite her tendency to disrupt his quiet life, and the small untruths he frequently catches her telling.  As she learns more and more about Peter, Rosemary similarly catches herself beginning to enjoy Peter's company, even though her family's future security depends on proving that he isn't a loyal British citizen.  When they each discover the truth about each other, will their newly formed friendship have the opportunity to turn into something more?

Roseanna M. White takes readers back to the intriguing world of Edwardian England in A Name Unknown.  After finishing White's "Ladies of the Manor" series last year, I've been anxiously awaiting a new series, and was far from disappointed.  Delving into the politics of pre-WWI was fascinating, wading through London's underbelly was thrilling, and exploring the county of Cornwall was truly lovely.  White's addition of a bit of mystery amid the engaging love story and historical detail was also masterfully done.  I absolutely loved Rosemary and her colorful family, as well as Peter and his accompanying cast of Cornish characters.  I couldn't put this one down, and look forward to more installments in this new series!

I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review was required, and all opinions are my own.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Heart on the Line

Grace Mallory finally feels safe in Harper's Station surrounded by supported friends, working at a job she loves, and getting to know a mysterious and engaging fellow telegraph operator every evening.  When she gets a message from a friend warning that the man who has hunted Grace for the last year has discovered her location, Grace must choose whether to trust her new friends and face the man responsible for her father's death, or continue to run.

Quiet, yet charming Amos Bledsoe knows he isn't the rugged and dashing hero most women look for in West Texas.  But as he talks nightly to his delightful telegraph companion-- Miss G.-- he begins to wonder if he has finally found a woman that will appreciate and love him for who he is.  When he finally builds up the courage to meet her in person, though, he discovers that his potential love interest may be in mortal danger.

Will Amos have the courage to leave his quiet and comfortable life to save Grace?  Will Grace be able to trust him even if he does?

In Heart on the Line Karen Whitemeyer takes readers back to Harper's Station for another entertaining story full of adventure, mystery, and love.  I adored the fact that Amos wasn't the typical gun-wielding, horse-riding, tough-guy hero of typical Western romances.  Small, shy, and introverted Grace was equally refreshing.  In addition to creating interesting characters, Whitemeyer manages to simultaneously tell a beautiful love story and intriguing mystery, while also teaching reminding readers to look beyond outward appearances.  I thoroughly enjoyed this latest installment, and can't wait to return to Harper's Station.

 I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Weddings, Weddings, and more Weddings

I'm a bit behind on book reviews... but I'm guessing it's due to the fact that we've driven to Houston the last two weekends in a row for some family weddings.

My lovely sister-in-law got married first.  Since I was in this one, I didn't get to take too many pictures, but I got to take their engagement portraits a few months ago...

My father-in-law got married this past weekend, and I took plenty of official pictures!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Trusting Grace

Recently widowed and charged with the care of her ailing father, Grace Bidwell begins to wonder if her dreams of growing old with a loving husband in a house full of children will ever come true.  Struggling to balance her father's needs with single-handedly running her late husband's farm, Grace decides to place an advertisement for a farm hand.  She soon begins to wonder if single-father to three newly acquired step-children, Robert Frasier, just might be the answer to both of Grace's prayers.  After each has experienced so much loss and disappointment in recent years, will Grace and Robert learn to trust one another with their hearts and ultimate happiness?

Set in 1860s Montana, Maggie Brendan's Trusting Grace had plenty of potential to tell a beautiful story of love and loss against a rugged backdrop, but unfortunately falls short.  Brendan introduces a host of compelling and relatable problems for many of the characters, but each one manages to virtually solve itself without much fanfare, effort, or payoff.  Robert struggles to parent three children he barely knows.  He kind of figures it out.  Grace is jealous and threatened by her father's new love interest.  She gets over it.  There's something shady about the man trying to court Grace.  He ends up in jail.  Again, lots of potential... very little payoff.  The only situation that took any real amount of time or effort to resolve was Grace and Robert's relationship, and even that was barely satisfying.  Rather than solving itself, this plot line simply dragged on for about 50 more pages than it needed to.  It was if Brendan felt the need to create random problems for secondary characters to work through just to prolong the story.  This one was a struggle to finish, I'm afraid.

 I received a free copy from the publisher.  No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.  

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Love So True

Evelyn Wisely absolutely loves her work ministering to the orphans and prostitutes of Teaville, Missouri.  Though her friends and family regularly try to convince her to court a number of eligible men in town and start a family of her own, Evelyn has always managed to push them away.  When the dashing David Kingsman arrives in the small town to manage one of his father's businesses for a few months, though, Evelyn lets her guard down.  Assuming that the handsome and charming younger man would never fall for a passed-over spinster, Evelyn allows herself to befriend David and accept his offered help with her various ministries during his stay in Teaville.  When it becomes apparent that they have fallen in love with one another-- despite their best intentions-- will David be able to stand up to his father and properly court Evelyn?  Will a closely guarded secret from Evelyn's past drive David away even before he has a chance?  

Melissa Jaguars tells yet another lovely story of grace, forgiveness, and love in A Love so True.  Neither David nor Evelyn are typical, run-of-the-mill historical fiction protagonists, and I loved them for it.  David's complaisance, need to be well-regarded, and overwhelming desire to please his demanding father made him particularly compelling and complex, and I loved watching him develop and evolve as a character.  Similarly, Evelyn's big secret was not at all what I expected, and added a believable twist to an enjoyable love story.  While it would be tough to top A Heart Most Certain as far as I'm concerned, I still thoroughly enjoyed this latest installment of Jagears's Teaville Moral Society series.  

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.