Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Egypt's Sister

Daughter of the royal tutor, Chava, has grown up alongside Egyptian princess Urbi in the royal palace at Alexandria.  When Urbi unexpectedly becomes Queen Cleopatra, Chava holds to a promise given by God that, "Your friendship with the queen lies in My hands.  You will be with her on her happiest day and her last.  An you, daughter of Israel, will know yourself, and you will bless her."  Despite their promise to be friends and sisters forever, however, Cleopatra imprisons Chava after an argument.  Sold into slavery and shipped to Rome, Chava begins a years-long journey back to her beloved home, that will eventually bring her face-to-face with the queen and friend who betrayed her so viciously.

From the palaces of Alexandria to the Roman countryside and the very halls of Roman power, Angela Hunt takes readers on a powerful and compelling journey in Egypt's Sister.  Impeccably researched and full of wonderful historical detail, Hunt's latest Biblical-era novel is nothing less than fascinating.  She expertly has readers explore the the competing worlds of Egyptian, Greek, Jewish, and Roman thought.  The story itself is fast-paced, and makes the books almost impossible to put down.  For such a lovely story of identity in God, faithfulness, and forgiveness, though, there was just so little joy to be had.  After finishing the novel, I felt like I had journeyed and learned alongside Chava, but that neither of us had truly reached a happy ending.  The hopeless romantic and occasional optimist in me simply wasn't satisfied by the ending and needed just one more-- perhaps cliche-- chapter to bring the story to its conclusion.

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

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.