To Gain a Mommy (Gaining Love Book 1)

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About the Book

They had a plan, but will it work?

Thirteen years ago, pediatrician Hope Michaels was the fool-hearted girl who came home from college to learn the man she loved was engaged to her twin. But now to move on with her life and accept a proposal of marriage, she must confront the one man who holds the key to the wounds of her past.

Fire Captain Carl McGuire can put out any flame, except for the one Hope sparks within him. As she stirs up his life and heart, Carl knows some things never change. Even a past he’d rather keep hidden.

When a new neighbor moves in across the street who would be a perfect fit for their family, Mary and Brody form a plan to bring their dad and Hope together. But how will it work if Hope keeps pushing him away?

My Review

Widower Carl McGuire is trying to carry on after the death of his wife, Faith. He and his children, Mary and Brody, are getting on with their lives, until Hope Michaels moves in across the street, throwing everyone’s life into an uproar.

Hope relocated her pediatric firm back to her hometown to be close to her Mom. Little did she know, she would be moving across the street from the only man she had ever loved, the one who betrayed her and broke her heart.

I really enjoyed To Gain a Mommy. The children were so true to life. Mary is twelve with a going on 20 attitude and Brody is eight, and loves dogs, and don’t even get me started on Hope’s dog, Goldie. She is such a sweetheart! I appreciated feeling as if I was getting to know each character, and in getting to know them, to also understand why they chose certain paths or behaved a particular way.

Even though this is a novella, the characters are well rounded. As you read the story, you become invested in their pains, hopes and dreams.

Tanya Eavenson has written a short (only 93 pages), sweet story of heartbreak, betrayal and redemption. To Gain a Mommy is a quick read and a great book to curl up with on a lazy day.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The Elusive Miss Ellison (Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace) by Carolyn Miller

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About the Book

Handsome appearance counts for naught unless matched by good character and actions.

That’s the firm opinion of not-so-meek minister’s daughter Lavinia Ellison. So even though all the other villagers of St. Hampton Heath are swooning over the newly returned seventh Earl of Hawkesbury, she is not impressed. If a man won’t take his responsibilities seriously and help those who are supposed to be able to depend on him, he deserves no respect from her. In Lavinia’s pretty, gray eyes, Nicholas Stamford is just as arrogant and reckless as his brother–who stole the most important person in Livvie’s world.

Nicholas is weighed down by his own guilt and responsibility, by the pain his careless brother caused, and by the legacy of war he’s just left. This quick visit home to St. Hampton Heath will be just long enough to ease a small part of that burden. Asking him to bother with the lives of the villagers when there’s already a bailiff on the job is simply too much to expect.

That is, until the hoydenish, intelligent, and very opinionated Miss Ellison challenges him to see past his pain and pride. With her angelic voice in his head, he may even be beginning to care. But his isn’t the only heart that needs to change.

These two lonely hearts may each have something the other needs. But with society’s opposition, ancestral obligations, and a shocking family secret, there may be too many obstacles in their way.

My Review

Lavinia Ellison, the daughter of St. Hampton Heath Village’s pastor, isn’t affected by riches or looks. She believes in helping the poor, living modestly and owning up to your obligations.

Nicholas Stamford, Earl to St. Hampton Heath Village, just wants to turn his duties over to his bailiff and be done with it, but he is thwarted at every turn.

I particularly enjoyed Lavinia’s wit and somewhat sharp tongue. Critical of those not living up to their legal and moral responsibilities, she often had an acerbic tone. However, she was equally as condemnatory of her own failings.

Sprinkled throughout the tale are rich portrayals of the villager’s pitiable homes and the landscape of the area juxtaposed against the detailed narrative of the aristocrat’s estates and opulent lifestyle, leaving you feeling the despair and sadness against which Lavinia struggled.

An impressively written story rich in history, the book abounds with faith, aspirations, romance and just the right amount of intrigue and family mystery. It is so well written, I had a hard time comprehending this was Carolyn Miller’s debut novel.

The main character’s development, tempered by their faith added a unique perspective to this tale.

Regency Era fans will love Carolyn Miller’s debut book, The Elusive Miss Ellison.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The California Gold Rush Romance Collection

The California Gold Rush Romance Collection: 9 Stories of Finding Treasures Worth More than Gold by Amanda Barratt, Angela Bell, Dianne Christner, Anne Greene, Linda Farmer Harris, Cynthia Hickey, Pam Hillman, Jennifer Rogers Spinola and Jaime Jo Wright

california-gold-rush

About the Book

Rush to California after the 1848 gold discovery alongside thousands of hopeful men and women. Meet news reporters, English gentry, miners, morticians, marriage brokers, bankers, fugitives, preachers, imposters, trail guides, map makers, cooks, missionaries, town builders, soiled doves, and more people who take advantage of the opportunities to make their fortunes in places where the population swelled overnight. But can faith and romance transform lives where gold is king?

My Review

Everyone, from all walks of life, is caught up in gold fever during the California gold rush. The California Gold Rush Romance Collection richly captures a slice of life during this tumultuous and exciting time in American history.

Nine authors come together to give a unique perspective on the robust era of the gold rush.

Amanda Barratt pens the story of Lorena Quinn, in The Price of Love. Lorena is a struggling new reporter who jumps at the chance to cover the gold rush and to prove her boss wrong. Women don’t need men to take care of them, even if the woman is unbecoming with unfashionably red hair.

The Best Man in Brookside by Angela Bell focuses on Donovan, an Irish immigrant to England. However, Donovan had to flee England after being falsely accused of theft. He feels himself a failure for having to leave his little sister and wants to vindicate himself. So, he seeks his fortune in gold in America, hoping to free himself and his sister.

Civilizing Clementine by Dianne Christner, introduces us to Clementine Cahill, forced to return to San Francisco with her Chilean friends after her father is injured in a logging accident. Motherless Clementine begins to feel betrayed when her invalid father badgers her to clean up her grammar and start wearing dresses.

Ann Green’s story, The Marriage Broker and the Mortician, opens with the robbery of Eve Malloy, while she was at a boarding house. Rafe Riley, happening upon the scene 15 minutes later, offers to assist her and takes her to dinner when none of the multitudes of men at the boarding house seem to care.

Jo Bass is made known to us in The Lye Water Bride by Linda Farmer Harris. Jo and her brother Thaddeus run the local bank. However, Thaddeus falls ill, leaving Jo with the chore of caring for day-to-day operations.

Cynthia Hickey writes the story of Rose McIroy in A Sketch of Gold. Poor Rose is forced to cut her hair to hide her muliebrity. She can’t believe her father’s latest get rich quick scheme involves trying to pass her off as a male and call her boy all the time.

Pam Hillman’s tale, Love is a Puzzle, presents the story of Shanyn Duvall and her aunt who traveled from the tip of South America to Sacramento in the hopes of seeing Shanyn’s father. They learn he has passed away, and during this time, Sacramento is not a friendly town for two single women.

The Golden Cross by Jennifer Rogers Spinola centers on Ming and her uncle, who travel from China to California. Ming feels God called her to be a missionary to America, and her uncle is hoping they can find riches in the gold-rich state.

Golden Haven Heiress, by Jamie Jo Wright, is about Jack Taylor and Thalia Simmons, residents of a ghost town. Thalia, trying to escape her past, moved to Golden Haven to be left alone, then Jack shows up and disrupts her peaceful life.

The stories in the Gold Rush Collection differs in their seriousness of Biblical applications. However, each author does a fitting job of presenting Christian principles.

I thoroughly delighted in each story and each author’s interpretation of the gold rush time frame. I also enjoyed the ability to read as many or as few stories as I wanted in one sitting.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

At Your Request by Jen Turano

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About the Book

After her father lost the family’s fortune, Wilhelmina was cast out of the fashionable set and banished to the wallflower section. Taking a position as a social secretary to help support her family, she’s mostly come to terms with her new status. But when her old friend Edgar returns to New York society for the first time since she rejected his marriage proposal, she’s newly ashamed at how far she’s fallen–and how hastily she dismissed him years ago. Her strategy is to avoid a face-to-face encounter at all costs, but he seems to have other plans. Will Edgar take advantage of their now reversed positions and make her regret her refusal, or is there still hope for a friendship between them–or something more?

At Your Request is an e-only novella that gives an exciting introduction to Jen Turano’s new Gilded Age historical romance series, Apart From the Crowd! Includes an extended excerpt of the first full-length novel in the series, Behind the Scenes.

My Review

Jen Turano introduces us to Wilhelmina Radcliff and her friends in the novella, At Your Request. Wilhelmina, after her father’s fall from grace, has also fallen, from being a valued party and society participant to being banished to the wallflower section.

I laughed out loud several times at Wilhelmina and Permilia Griswold’s antics while falling in love with their stories.

Wilhelmina is a funny, enlightened and charismatic character, the story enchanting and delightful! I can’t wait to read the series being introduced by this novella, as I will get to see more of Wilhelmina and her entertaining friends.

Ms. Turano has managed to take a short story (only 105 pages) and makes you feel as if you are right there in the book. She richly describes the society snobs of New York, the feelings of despair and the joy of outsmarting the local social climbers.

At Your Request is a quick read, and it is currently free on Kindle (be sure to double check before clicking)! If you enjoy historical fiction with a dash of humor amongst a serious story, you are sure to enjoy this novella.

The Wedding Dress By Rachel Hauck

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 About the Book

Four brides. One Dress.

A tale of faith, redemption, and timeless love.

Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim?

Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new―shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and  timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed.”

Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history―and its new bride―begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.

My Review

The Wedding Dress requires a large element of suspension of belief, but once that is accomplished, what a delightful story!

Rachel Hauck has written a heart-warming and enchanting (in more ways than one, but I don’t want to give away the story) tale of four women linked through decades by a beautiful wedding dress.

Each of the four women, beginning with Emily in 1912, are on the cusp of marriage. However, each has a major struggle to overcome, and the wedding dress figures prominently in each situation.

Interwoven throughout the story is a Biblical theme, interspersed with magical whimsy and mysticism, reminiscent of fairy tales.  For instance, a ubiquitous, seemingly ageless, purple-attired man appears to two generations of brides.  More incredibly, the wedding dress fits perfectly around the figure of each bride, no matter that their physiques and statures differ.  The dress is magical and the story intriguing.

I was disappointed with one section, near the end, that gave away an integral part of the story. However, except for the spoiler, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the women, their lives and most especially, their wedding dress.

The Wedding Dress is book one in a series. Nonetheless, it can be a standalone book. I read the second in the series, The Wedding Chapel, a little over a year ago, and didn’t realize it was a sequel.

I received this book free through the Fiction Guild program in exchange for an honest review.

Avalanche (Peril in the Park Book 1) by Gayla K Hiss

avalanche

About the Book

When Park Ranger Jenny Snowfeather runs into Deputy Marshal Chase Matthews at her brother’s Fourth of July barbecue, she suspects there is more going on in Eagle Valley, WA than fireworks. After Chase confides that he believes the fugitive who killed his partner may be hiding out in the area, Jenny is skeptical at first. But when her peaceful town is besieged with a sudden crime spree, she realizes Chase’s theory may be true.

As the manhunt advances to the rugged backcountry of North Cascades National Park, Jenny is confronted with her past mistakes. But she soon discovers the greatest threat of all is losing her heart to Chase, who is obsessed with capturing the fugitive at all costs.

Risking everything to help Chase find the man who could kill them both, Jenny’s faith is put to the test. Like an avalanche waiting to happen, their path is fraught with danger. Will the enemy get away with murder? Will Jenny and Chase reach freedom and safety, or be buried alive? They must tread carefully. One step in the wrong direction could mean the difference between life and death.

My Review

Jennifer Snowfeather meets Chase Matthews at a Fourth of July picnic, and immediately her antenna goes up. Something doesn’t feel right to her. How does he know her name, and what about the gun he carries? Will she be able to discover why something seems off with Matthew?

Beautiful scenery exquisitely described, suspense that causes you to hold your breath as it plays out and danger around every corner are just of a sampling of the richness illustrated in this story.

I figure out the “whodunit” early on in most mysteries I read. However, with Avalanche I was so caught up in the story, I didn’t even try to guess! I was completely surprised by the villain.

The characters in this thriller will endear themselves to you. You will come to care for them, catching yourself wanting to warn them of imminent danger and feeling their pain.

Gayla K. Hiss is a new author; however, you would never guess it. She has done an excellent job of interweaving Biblical applications into her story without being preachy or belaboring a point.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Avalanche. There were a few scenes that were a little difficult to read due to my past history, but overall it was an exceptional book. I can’t wait to read the sequel!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Finding Love In Big Sky, Montana (Resort to Love — Finding Love Series Book 2) by Angela Ruth Strong

findin-love-in-big-sky-montana

About the Book

Bright Star Ranch led him to her–but will he stay?

Josh Lake is forced to head home for the holidays after he’s suspended from his job in the city, but running into Paisley Sheridan could be exactly what he needed. Not only does she board him at her ranch in exchange for his advertising expertise, but spending the Christmas season with her in Big Sky, Montana, brings more joy than he’s felt in a long while. Is he willing to give up the lavish lifestyle he’s worked for in exchange for the gift of love?

The last thing Paisley wants for Christmas is to spend time with Josh Lake—the guy who broke her heart in high school—but until her bank loan goes through, she has to take all the free help she can get. Unfortunately, Josh seems to want back in her life again, and the town’s quirky coffee shop owners don’t help by hanging mistletoe at every opportunity. Will Paisley succeed in driving him away, or will she find the healing needed to have hope for a future together?

My Review

Paisley Sheridan’s heart was broken by Josh Lake when she was younger, and who turns up in Big Valley close to Christmas? None other than Josh.

Set during the Christmas season, and during an extremely difficult time for the two main characters, the story pulls us between joy and sadness as they overcome the many obstacles in their paths.

And, oh my, you can’t help but love and laugh at (and with) Dot and Annabel, co-owners of The Coffee Cottage. Their fun-loving antics, especially when matchmaking, are giggle inducing. However, they can be serious, too, if the situation calls for it.

Angela Ruth Strong has written a witty and heartwarming story. As you read Finding Love in Big Sky, Montana, you are struck by how well developed the main characters are. In addition, you feel their problems, having encountered them yourself, or knowing someone who has.

This story is book two of the three-part Resort to Love-Finding Love series. However, it is set in a different state and features different characters. There are a few small interactions with Emily and Sam from book one; nonetheless, it works well as a standalone book.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Now You’re Speaking My Language by Gary Chapman

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About the Book

This especially popular book from the multimillion selling author encourages husbands and wives to offer steadfast loyalty, forgiveness, empathy, and commitment to resolving conflict, thus encouraging each other in spiritual growth.

Quite masterfully, Dr. Chapman shows how communication and intimacy are key points in developing a successful marriage by focusing on these principles:

  1. Lasting answers to marital growth are found in the Bible.
  1. Your relationship with God enhances your marriage relationship.
  1. Communication is the main way two become one in a marriage.
  1. Biblical oneness involves sex, but also intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and social oneness.

My Review

Gary Chapman has written a self-help book for those who are married, be it newlyweds or long time married couples.

Now You’re Speaking My Language focuses primarily on communication and intimacy, with many practical applications and proactive steps for enhancing and/or improving your marriage. Each chapter includes a section of Questions to Ponder, and We Do – a section for couples to do together.

The book is written from a Christian viewpoint and has numerous applicable lessons and Biblical references. However, there are a few aspects, such as those alluding to spousal abuse, that seem a little simplistic.

Nevertheless, I feel this book could be a good tool for couples seeking to improve or enhance their marriage.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Murder Comes by Mail (The Hidden Springs Mysteries Book #2) by A. H. Gabhart

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About the Book

A Cozy Mystery Complete with a Small Town Full of Charming, Quirky Characters

Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane doesn’t particularly enjoy being touted as the hero of Hidden Springs after pulling a suicidal man back from the edge of the Eagle River bridge in front of dozens of witnesses–a few of whom caught the breathtaking moments with their cameras. But the media hype doesn’t last long as a new story pushes its way into the public consciousness of Hidden Springs’ concerned citizens.

Photos of a dead girl arrive in the mail, and Michael becomes convinced she was murdered by the man he saved. With a killer one step ahead, things in Hidden Springs begin to unravel. Now Michael must protect the people he loves–because the killer could be targeting one of them next.

Readers will love racing along with Deputy Sheriff Keane as the clock ticks in this page-turning mystery.

My Review

Sheriff Michael Keane loves his Aunt Lindy and doesn’t want to disappoint her, even if he prefers not to help her. Nevertheless, he helps her and things go downhill from there.

First, while taking a group of Sunday school seniors to a play in a nearby town, he has lots of trouble with the old church bus. Then he has to talk a potentially suicidal person off a bridge, and to make matters worse, the local newshound shows up to take a plethora of photos. However, what Michael doesn’t know is that these are the least of his worries.

Returning to Hidden Springs and becoming reacquainted with the townspeople was delightful, and you get to know and love the people even more. Consequently, when some of the individuals are threatened, you want justice.

The story is written in a swiftly moving pace, primarily from Sheriff Keane’s point of view, and pulls you in, keeping you guessing about the identity of the murderer until the very end.

I generally refrain from reading murder mysteries; however, I had read A. H. Gabhart’s (aka Ann Gabhart) other books in contemporary novels and Shaker historical fiction and really enjoyed them.  So, when the opportunity arose for me to review her mysteries, I decided to read them, and I’m glad I did.

If you like suspenseful, psychological page-turners, then you are sure to enjoy Murder Comes by Mail; even though it is the second book in a series, you won’t be lost if you read it first.

Murder Comes by Mail is a little more intense and graphic than book one, Murder at the Courthouse (see my review: https://captivedreamswindow.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/4607), but don’t let that stop you from reading it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and was under no obligation to post a review.

Finding Love in Sun Valley, Idaho (Resort to Love Book 1) by Angela Ruth Strong

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About the Book

Actress Emily Van Arsdale has returned to her Idaho hometown – with an entire film crew in tow! With its stunning scenery and reputation for hosting celebrities, Sun Valley is the perfect setting for Emily’s newest romantic comedy. Tracen Lake is happy to work as a stunt consultant for the movie but not as thrilled to deal with a bunch of high-maintenance Hollywood types. But Tracen is surprised to discover in Emily a down-to-earth Idaho girl who does all her own stunts and loves the outdoors. As filming wraps up and Emily heads off to her next gig, will she be able to leave Sun Valley – and Tracen – behind?

My Review

Emily Van Arsdale isn’t your typical actress – she’s more down to earth. She is a believable example of “you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.” Or, in this case, you can take the girl to Hollywood, but you can’t take Idaho out of the girl.

Tracen Lake is a diehard outdoorsman and is anything but happy to be helping the film crew for Emily’s upcoming new movie.

I found Finding Love in Sun Valley to be an entertaining story, but it also dealt with real life situations. For instance, El-Jor, a young child in the story, was a victim of bullying. I appreciated Emily’s kindness and how she handled the situation.

Unlike most romances, there are multiple threads running through the story. A cute kid with a penchant for unicycles, a down to earth pastor and a sneeze-prone outdoorsman will make it almost impossible for you not to love the book.

Angela Ruth Strong writes an entertaining and different kind of story featuring Hollywood glitz in the great outdoors of Sun Valley, Idaho, interjecting many comedic, serious and sometimes heart-stopping moments throughout the book.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.