Sep 162014
 

for-elise-book-on-cd--1409088362_MEDFor Elise

Author: Sarah M. Eden

Publisher: Covenant Communications

Published: September 2014

ISBN13: 978-1-62108-787-8

Paperback: 258 pages

Regency romance

FTC FYI: Received a paperback copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by Mindy

Goodreads Summary

In the sprawling gardens of their neighboring estates, childhood friends Miles and Elise spent countless pleasant days together in the spirited adventures of youth. They were inseparable—until Elise vanished without a trace. Miles searched, but Elise could not—or would not—be found.

After years spent laboring on the family plantation in the West Indies, Miles Linwood is shocked by the unexpected news: he has inherited his distant cousin’s estate and the title of Marquess of Grenton. Miles’s return to England is tarnished by only one thing—he is still haunted by Elise’s mysterious disappearance. So when he glimpses a woman with a startling resemblance to his lost friend, he’s shaken to the core. This is no mere shadow of the past: it is truly Elise. But his dear friend has changed—to the point that he questions whether it is really her, though he knows it is. Accustomed to rescuing Elise from childhood escapades, Miles takes her and those in her care back to his estate, even as he struggles to understand her fear and mistrust. As their friendship and feelings slowly blossom again, the shocking truth of their separated years is revealed, and Miles realizes more than ever that he must protect Elise. She slipped away once, and he cannot lose her again.

My Review

Miles finds his long-lost friend Elise and is surprised to see that she has a child.  He takes them both right away to his estate.  Elise is very close lipped and Miles can tell that Elise is troubled.  Little does he know it has everything to do with him.  Elise is a widow now and has been raising her daughter with her mother-in-law.  They have survived on close to nothing, and it is hard to Elise to accept Miles’s help, even though she has so little.  Once they arrive at Miles’s home, mysterious things start happening.  Can Elise let go of the past and ask for help?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I loved Miles, he had me at the first page.  His humor, spirit, and especially his devotion, will make him a character that I will compare others to.  All of the characters are magnificent.  Elise especially.  I also really liked Mr. Langley, Miles’s brother-in-law.  He was a great comic relief.  His sister Beth was a delight, too.  I really enjoyed the turn the story took with Elise and the secrets she was keeping.  The romance with a touch of mystery added in, was a perfect mix.  I liked how the events came about and one thing really surprised me!

5 out of 5 stars.  A perfect book from a perfect author.  I will read anything from Sarah.  Her books are always well-written and entertaining.

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May 302014
 

18479841Spy for a Spy: Spy Another Day #2

Author: Jordan McCollum

Publisher: Durham Crest Book

Published: November 13, 2013

ISBN13: 9781940096032

Paperback: 320 pages

FTC FYI: Received a PDF copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by Mindy

Goodreads Summary

Canada is probably the last place you’d expect to find an American spy. And it was the last place CIA operative Talia Reynolds expected to run into fellow operative Brand Copley. AKA her new boss. AKA her ex-boyfriend.

Just the guy every woman wants to face in the middle of planning her wedding. Once again, Talia’s lying to the man she loves, but this time, to protect his heart.

After Brand takes over Talia’s latest case and steals her newest agent, he assigns her to spy on her old boss—who’s suddenly giving her every reason not to trust him. With only weeks until the big day, planning falls by the wayside as she goes into damage control mode. But when Talia discovers Brand’s real plan, fighting him is the only option, no matter what the personal and professional cost.

My Review

I was thrilled that both Spy for a Spy and I, Spy were Whitney Award finalists for 2013. Not only was it very deserved, but I was also so happy for Jordan.  I loved, loved, loved this book. While reading, right away, I knew I was going to love this book, just like I loved I, Spy.  I loved Spy for a Spy even more, if that was even possible!  Talia is such a great character. Her snark, humor, and smarts are my favorite things about her. She is always full of surprises and just plain awesome.  Loved Danny too. Jordan is such a great author. She really knows how to draw you in and makes you keep reading until the end, and then you’re wanting more. I can’t wait for more from her. This book has it all!

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Author Links

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About the Author

7064847An award-winning author, Jordan McCollum can’t resist a story where good defeats evil and true love conquers all. In her day job, she coerces people to do things they don’t want to, elicits information and generally manipulates the people she loves most–she’s a mom.

Jordan holds a degree in American Studies and Linguistics from Brigham Young University. When she catches a spare minute, her hobbies include reading, knitting and music. She lives with her husband and four children in Utah.

 

 

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Feb 242014
 

TheOrchardThe Orchard

Author: Krista Lynne Jensen

Publisher: Covenant Communications

Published: April 2013

Paperback/Kindle/ebook: 245 pages

Genre: LDS Contemporary Romance

ISBN# 978-1608611454

Reviewed by: Shanda

FTC FYI: purchased my own copy with my own money at LDStorymakers 2013

Summary (Goodreads)

On the idyllic shores of Flathead Lake, Montana, Alisen Embry finds purpose and comfort tending her late mother’s cherry orchard adjacent to the family’s beloved lake house. Though pained by the loss of her mother and her father’s estrangement, it is Derick Whitney—the man she fell in love with four years earlier—who truly influences Alisen’s view of her future . . .

Derick and Alisen wanted nothing more than to spend eternity together; however, intolerance and secrets forced Alisen to make a shattering choice between her family and the man she loved.

But destiny always has a way of setting things right . . .

Now the Embry family has found themselves hopelessly in debt, and they realize renting the lake house is the only hope of saving the cherished orchard and family home. When Alisen discovers the new tenants have a connection to her past, her life takes an unexpected turn. Will fate find a way to reconnect what was broken so many years before?

Review

I might as well start out by saying that Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel. It’s not perfect (especially not the movies — that’s for another post), but…that letter. I mean, wow. It sets my heart aflutter, though not as much as The Orchard did. My, oh my.

Honestly, I had forgotten that The Orchard was based on the basic story of Persuasion but recognized it soon after I started reading. That made me doubly excited. Not only was I finally getting to read the long-awaited book that had been staring at me from my bookshelf, but it was based on PERSUASION!

The Orchard starts off with the budding romance of Alisen and Derrick, something we don’t get to witness with Anne and Captain Wentworth. There are some lovely romantic moments between them and everything is moving along exceptionally well. That is until certain events, as well as her widowed father and a family friend, complicate matters and Alisen is forced into a heartbreaking decision.

When her family’s financial situation becomes desperate a few years later, Alisen and Derrick come face to face once more. The tension and chemistry is running high between Derrick and Alisen, easing only a little as circumstances continue to throw them together. They discover they have both changed–grown–since that summer years earlier. The question is whether these changes will bring them close once again or drive them further apart.

Even if Persuasion isn’t your cup of herbal tea, you’ll want to read The Orchard. Great romance, thoughtful writing and a touch of humor have earned The Orchard a place on my Favorite Romances bookshelf. Next up — Falling for You, which is signed and waiting as motivation for me to finish another category of Whitney reading.

Visit Krista:

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Feb 102014
 

AsYouAreAs You Are (The Jonquil Brothers #3)

Author: Sarah M. Eden

Publisher: Covenant Communications

Published: January 2014

Paperback/Kindle/ebook: 193 pages

Genre: Regency Romance

ISBN# 9781621085751

Reviewed by: Shanda

FTC FYI: received a free digital review copy in exchange for an honest review

Summary (Deseret Book)

A horse breeder by trade, Corbin Jonquil is more at home in the stables than in the ballroom of his sprawling estate. Corbin is the quietest of the Jonquil brothers and has always faded into the background, contentedly unnoticed. When a mysterious young widow, Mrs. Clara Bentford, moves into the neighborhood, however, Corbin quickly comes to realize that being noticed has its advantages. But how to catch the eye of the lady? According to his brothers, Corbin need only make a few simple changes to transform himself into the object of any woman’s desire—dubious advice, indeed. Following a series of misadventures, Corbin and Clara slowly lower the facades behind which they’ve been hiding, leaving Corbin shocked by the horrors that haunt the woman he’s coming to care for so ardently. When the menace of Clara’s past threatens to tear them apart and tensions mount, will the couple have the courage to fight for the promise of forever?

Review

In As You Are, we read about Corbin Jonquil, one of the quietest of the Jonquil brothers. He is brilliant, especially with horses, but he struggles to express himself to others. When he is won over by the beautiful smile of the mysterious woman who has moved into a nearby cottage, he longs to get to know her. Considering how difficult it is to speak to his own family, carrying on a conversation with Clara seems an impossible endeavor.

Corbin is so endearing. I couldn’t help but love him, even though I cringed (and laughed) at some of his attempts to get Clara to notice him. He was trying so hard, not realizing that it was enough just to be himself. Clara is a very likable character. Because of her past, I related well to her. I love that there is a bit of suspense in As You Are, as well as several cameos of characters from Sarah’s other books.

I look forward to each new book in the Jonquil Brothers series. (Good thing there are lots of brothers!) As grateful as I am for the digital review copy of As You Are provided by Covenant, I will be buying a copy of the physical book as well. First, I need Sarah to sign it for me, then it will be placed on the bookshelf reserved for my treasured Sarah M. Eden collection.

Visit Sarah:

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Jan 222014
 

HearthFires_FrontCover_FINALHearth Fires

Author: Dorothy Keddington

Publisher: Walnut Springs/Currawong Press

Published: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59992-894-4

Genre: Romantic/suspense

Paperback: 303 pages

FTC FYI: Received a paperback copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by Mindy

Goodreads Summary

Mackenzie Graham’s ideal assignment – writing an article on storybook homes – takes a dangerous turn when she photographs a clandestine meeting between a prominent judge, a black-market kingpin, and a crooked cop. Rescued from harm’s way by a rugged cowboy-attorney, Mackenzie finds her career and life forever changed. Flying bullets and wild bulls team up with romance and suspense in the classic Keddington tradition. This exciting new novel will warm you on the coldest of nights.

My Review

I am so excited to shout this new book from Dorothy Keddington from the rooftops!  I have been eagerly awaiting a new book from Dorothy for years.  Dorothy is the beloved author of Return to Red Castle, Jayhawk, Shadow Song and many others.  Dorothy is also my “Aunt Rae”, so that makes it all the more exciting.

Hearth Fires is full of the same heart-pounding romance, suspense, and twists that make all of Dorothy’s books shine.  Hearth Fires has a page-turning plot and well developed characters that will keep you up late reading.  I loved Mackenzie and William.  They had a connection that was instant and deep.  I loved the kind, caring way William was with Mackenzie and when he was gone, I missed him.  All of the characters are enduring and entertaining.  You will be thinking about these characters, long after you finish reading.  The story is so exciting, and the romance heart-felt.

5 out of 5 stars.

Author Links

Goodreads / Amazon / Deseret Book

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Jan 212014
 

AMatchMadeInTexasA Match Made in Texas: A Novella Collection

Authors: Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Carol Cox, Mary Connealy

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Published: January 2014

Paperback/Kindle/ebook: 384 pages

Genre: Christian Historical Romance

ISBN# 978-0-7642-1176-8

Reviewed by: Shanda

FTC FYI: Received a free digital review galley from NetGalley. Thank you to Bethany House for the opportunity to read and review A Match Made in Texas.

Summary (Goodreads)

In Dry Gulch, Texas, 1893, a young woman with a tender heart that longs to help those in need takes it upon herself to meddle in the affairs of three acquaintances who are in dire straits. Wanting to stay anonymous, she relies on unusual methods to hire men and women of good character who she thinks can solve the problems facing her “targets.” How was she to know that her meddling would turn into a cupid’s arrow? And what will she do when her friends turn the tables on her with a matchmaking scheme of their own? Four novellas in one volume.

Review

A Cowboy Unmatched by Karen Witemeyer

This story is one reason I am happy for the opportunity to review A Match Made in Texas. Having read the first two books in the Archer Brothers series (Short-Straw Bride and Stealing the Preacher), I was excited to read Neill’s story. He is the youngest of the Archer brothers, and it was fun to see him all grown up and making his way in the world. Clara’s story is a tragic one, but it is easy to respect her for the strength and courage she shows in the face of difficult circumstances.

Because I like the Archer brothers, I do wish this story was a full-length novel so I could spend more time with them, however A Cowboy Unmatched is a complete and satisfying romance. I look forward to future releases from Karen Witemeyer.

An Unforseen Match by Regina Jennings

Grace O’Malley was a schoolteacher until her fading sight kept her from doing her job. The school board has purchased a small, rundown homestead for her and she’s fed through the generosity of the residents of Dry Gulch. Her pride has definitely taken a hit, but she has little choice and almost no other option available to her. The homestead desperately needs work–repairs that she can’t see well enough to do–so when Clayton Weber answers a newspaper ad that she didn’t place, she accepts his help.

Clayton is grateful that Grace can’t see the mark left years ago by troublemakers who falsely accused him of being a horse thief. He only accepts the work in Dry Gulch to help pay for the horse he needs to run in the approaching land race. Clayton is reserved around others and does his best to keep his scar hidden from curious stares. He’s a bit gruff, but Grace accepts him in a way he hasn’t experienced since before he was attacked. He never expected to find a woman like Grace on the way to claim his dream–land of his own.

I really liked Grace. It’s heartbreaking to read of Grace’s sight slowly being taken from her, but she manages to keep her spirits up. It took a while for me to “get” Clayton, though, and I never quite loved his character. At times, their dialogue was confusing to me. For example, I expected Grace to be upset at something Clayton had said, but she laughed, and I read back over it wondering if I had missed a joke. I think perhaps there were some missing cues for the reader so they could better grasp the emotion of the exchange.

Their first kiss was great. No details, but the experience certainly grabs the reader. Grace’s reaction afterward was so honest, I couldn’t help but smile. The scene in the barn when Grace goes looking for Clayton was emotional and touching, as was the scene in the house after Grace woke up, certain her sight was completely gone.  Overall, a nice romance that fans of Christian historical romances will enjoy.

No Match For Love by Carol Cox

After Lucy Benson’s father passes away, her life changes forever. Not only is she alone in the world, she has nothing left. Her father’s poor investments, discovered only after his death, mean that everything must be sold. Living on the charity of her friend’s parents, Lucy jumps at the chance to earn her own way as companion to an aging widow.

Only after arriving in North Fork, Texas, does Lucy learn that Martha Simms is not a frail old lady waiting out her remaining days, but a spirited and capable woman. Her nephew, however, is concerned for her mental state. Andrew Simms’ windmill business is bustling, and he can’t spend as much time on the ranch as he would like. When his aunt begins talking about strange things happening on the ranch, he wonders if she is becoming senile. He hires a companion for his aunt, never expecting someone like Lucy. After a rough start, Lucy and his aunt quickly become friends. But Andrew finds himself wanting to be more than Lucy’s friend…

I liked all three of the main characters: Lucy, Andrew, and Martha. Lucy’s father intended to marry her off to someone with money and station, so he insisted on having servants perform the domestic chores. She has little to no experience with cooking or cleaning, but is an eager and quick learner. Martha is spunky and direct, but is patient with Lucy and they soon enjoy each other’s company. The more time she spends with Martha, the more Lucy is convinced that she is of sound mind. But how can she convince Andrew that the strange events coinciding with each full moon are really happening?

There is a decent amount of suspense in the story due to the strange events on the ranch. There are also some sweet romantic moments between Lucy and Andrew that carry no pressure to jump into anything physical. The reader also gains insight into who is most likely playing matchmaker for the couples in each novella. There is a fast, intense climax that felt a teeny bit rushed, but in the end, it’s a nice clean romance with a dose of suspense for good measure.

Meeting Her Match by Mary Connealy

Hannah Taylor is both schoolmarm and mother to her younger siblings. She has resigned herself to becoming a spinster, despite being all of 22 years old. The only other single, church-going man in Dry Gulch is shy, awkward Marcus Whitfield. He is constantly avoiding her and has only spoken a handful of sentences to her over the last six years. He takes his coffee break about the same time as she leaves the school each day, and they walk the two-minute distance to the diner together, Hannah making all of the small talk. She doesn’t understand the depth of Mark’s feelings for her and he can’t find the words to tell her.

So he kisses her.

I can’t remember the last time I read a kiss with almost no detail that sizzled like that one. Very clean, but…wow. After this kiss, circumstances are such that, despite nothing unseemly happening, both fathers insist they wed. Though everyone knows Hannah’s reputation and they trust her, they also know how long Mark has loved her and turn that Sabbath afternoon into an impromptu wedding celebration. One of the best parts of this story is when Hannah and Mark talk in his parlor after the wedding celebration. I love the meeting of hearts that occurs there, the sincere communication between husband and wife.

I don’t think I’ve read anything by Mary Connealy before, but I am excited to seek out her novels. I have a feeling I’m going to like them very much.

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