The Captive Brides Collection by Jennifer AlLee, Angela Breidenbach, Susan Page Davis, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Lucy Thompson and Gina Welborn

My Review

The Captive Brides is a compilation of nine novellas in one book and is a mix of both favorite and new to me authors. I liked the play on words in the title, too.

In the first story, Love’s Labor Found, by Jennifer AlLee, I was shocked by the gruesomeness (for lack of a better word) of the story. I was also shocked at the callousness portrayed by the victim, though I will say the villain got what he deserved. In fairness to the author and the story, when a book elicits a strong reaction, it usually means it was well-written and developed. I perceived a cavalier attitude toward barbaric cruelty and found it disconcerting.

If I had been steeped in the seventeenth-century moral insensitivity, I might have found the plot less repugnant, but Love’s Labor Found is a novella with word constraints. I never felt fully in the seventeenth century, and I felt twenty-first-century revulsion for a setting in which torture, beatings and murder were the norm.

The cavalier attitude toward evil reminded me of a story (required school reading) I LOATHED, The Great Gatsby. Even Love’s Labor Found doesn’t deal with characters as horrific as The Great Gatsby’s but leaves the same sour taste in my mouth.

Several of the stories deal with abhorrent issues; others aren’t quite so repugnant. Some deal with horrendous acts of enslavement, while others deal with false accusations and arrest, a marriage of convenience, runaway slaves and other tales where women are “captive” to their situations.

Each narrative is well written and thought-provoking. Some elicit more emotion than others, but they overall show how faith and belief in God can draw you out of horrible situations into lives of hope and potential.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Love Brings Freedom in 9 Historical Romances

Journey along as nine historical women are about to make their escape from some of life’s greatest challenges. Can their captive hearts be freed to dream, to dare, to love?

Love’s Labours Found by Jennifer AlLee – Montserrat, West Indies, 1655
Temperance Simms only wanted a better life. Instead, she finds herself labeled a criminal and sold as an indentured servant. After a kind man saves her life, can Temperance trust that God will turn her sorrow into something beautiful?

His Indentured Bride by Angela Breidenbach – Pennsylvania, 1773-1776
Leaving Scotland for a short indenture with her betrothed, Maire Greer’s contract is sold when disaster strikes her kindly owner, and then extended through cruel circumstances. Can Kirk Lachlan’s service in the American Revolution save her or will she lose love and freedom forever?

The Suspect Bride by Susan Page Davis – Oregon, 1890s
Verity Ames cooks at the restaurant where shy lawyer Jack Whitwell eats lunch daily. As Jack works up courage to ask her for a date, the sheriff walks into the restaurant and arrests Verity for murder.

His Golden Treasure by Darlene Franklin – San Francisco, 1873
Goldie Hatfield grows up on the Barbary Coast until her guardian demands she pay the cost of her upbringing—or work at her brothel. How far will Pastor Joshua Kerr go to set Goldie free?

Through Stormy Waters by Patty Smith Hall – Atlantic Ocean, 1745
Deported to the British colonies for her father’s crimes, Charlotte Singleton helps Captain John Randall when an epidemic breaks out on his ship. Can two battered hearts find love in the midst of a storm?

Moira’s Quest by Cynthia Hickey – New York, 1869
A quest for revenge ends in a marriage of convenience and a feisty Irish lass discovers that not everything is as it seems as family secrets are revealed. An Irish cop, bent on saving the fallen women of Five Points, New York, finds himself thrust into the role of husband with a woman determined to break down a notorious crime boss. Can these two pull together and find a love bigger than they are?

Love’s Escape by Carrie Fancett Pagels – Virginia, 1850
With her life in peril, Lettie seeks escape from slavery. When Nathan offers to “conduct” her North via an unusual segment on the Underground Railroad, will his efforts help or do them both harm?

Waltzing Matilda by Lucy Thompson – Sydney, Australia, 1821
Henry didn’t plan on a runaway convict masquerading as a shepherd. Or on the woman’s baby. Keeping them safe will cost him his freedom—or will it?

A Score to Settle by Gina Welborn – On the Missouri River, 1870
For JoJo the kiss was a means to an end—she wanted his wallet. For Cyrus her kiss changed everything. He vows to help her escape the snake oil salesman she works for, but exposing the man’s lies may mean settling a score at a cost neither JoJo nor Cyrus can pay.

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My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah by Angie Dicken

About the Book

Name of book: My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah

Author: Angie Dicken

Genre: Historical Romance

Release Date: November 1, 2017

Schoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Good riddance to coal dust, rugged men, and the fatal mine that took her husband’s life.

Until the widow meets a widower who awakens her heart…and she finds herself inexplicably falling for miner Alex Pappas which stirs up a whole heap of trouble.

Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him. When the schoolteacher’s association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Gate…though she will be leaving her heart behind.

Click here to purchase Angie’s amazing book!

My Review

Angie Dicken realistically depicts the hardships of overcoming adversity, deep-seated prejudices and anger in My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah: Leanna’s Choice, the newest edition of the My Heart Belongs series. Hardships they faced included flooding of the mines, being underground for 12 or more hours and breathing coal dust. Instead of creating bitterness, these adversities instilled hope and determination.

The plight of coal miners in Castle Gate, Utah, in the early 1900s, is harrowing, especially for those from Greece. Not only did they have to work in horribly shocking and appalling circumstances, but they had to contend with cruelty because of unspeakable prejudices. Their rudimentary English skills make things ripe for a disaster. Throughout the story, though, the Greek families carry on with admirable fortitude.

Dicken does an impressive job of detailing the lives of the Greek miners and what they faced, contrasted by their optimism and belief in the fresh start at life afforded them by immigrating to America. Her attention to detail and research is evident from start to finish in the book. She is a new author to me, and I’m looking forward to reading more books by her.

I received this book free through the Celebrate Lit Blog Tour and NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

About the Author

Angie Dicken is a third generation Greek American, the granddaughter of strong men and women who endured hardship to grow American roots. My Heart Belongs In Castle Gate, Utah is set near the birthplace of her grandfather, a Greek coal miner’s son, and published 100 years after his birth. Angie is a contributor to The Writer’s Alley blog and an ACFW member since 2010. She lives with her husband and four children in the Midwest where she enjoys exploring eclectic new restaurants and chatting with friends over coffee. You can connect with Angie at www.angiedicken.com.

Guest Post from Angie Dicken

My Publishing Story: A Journey of Perfect Timing

“Wait for the LORD;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14
 
I wrote a story five years ago. My footing was finally solid on how to write, after a couple ACFW conferences and connecting with my bestie writing sister, Ashley. So in 2012, I poured my heart out within the parameters of what I’d learned.

The story I wrote stemmed from my heritage. From a very young age, I’ve been inspired by my grandfather. He was the son of a Greek coal miner who came over from Greece in the 1910’s. My grandfather always had wonderful stories to tell–he stirred up my intrigue for WWII era as he was a Purple Heart recipient (twice), and spoke of freeing concentration camps and invading Hitler’s homes; my grandfather lived a rags to riches legacy, having been born in a tent in a coal town, and then becoming a successful home and commercial builder–I declared I’d be an architect at age eleven…even majoring in Landscape Architecture in college.

My great-grandfather, born in 1884 and
immigrated to Utah in 1910’s.

Papou was one of my greatest heroes. And my novel was a tribute to him, to my Greek roots, to an American legacy.

So, at ACFW 2012, I took my novel to conference with more confidence than I had before. This story caught the attention of an agent– and I signed a contract with the Steve Laube Agency in November of that year. That was amazing…I chuckle now because the name of the room that I interviewed with Tamela was the “McKee” room–the last name of my heroine. A sign? Maybe. When she sent my story out for all publishers to see that next month, I thought my time for that book was just around the corner.

And…

Now it’s 2017, and that story is under contract with a publisher as of Fall 2016.

What timing, right?

Why the heck did it take so long? Not for lack of trying. My agent and I took every possible measure.

Why did I get rejection after rejection, and write two other books in the wait?

What happened between then?

Only in looking back, do I see why I had to wait for this book. And when I look back, I realize just how much Timing is His and there’s nothing I can do to speed it up or make it mine. All I can do is take courage, and wait.

I’ll give you a quick recap of what happened between 2013–when the book was put in the proverbial drawer of unwanted manuscripts–and now, 2017, the year it will get published (um, after a few rewrites and edits–always learning…).

In looking back, this is what I see:

My Community was Built. I fell in love with my writer friendships. A bit dramatic? Maybe, but it’s the truth. I connected with ladies who knew my heart as a writer, and allowed me into their lives in an authentic, Christ-loving way. I found hope in the writing journey because my friends held my hands and rubbed my back when all seemed lost. And in this, I grew not as a writer, but as a heart. My heart became soft for the needs of others and the value of authenticity in this short, precious life.
There was a Pride Monster, and He needed to kill it. Oh, Lord, if ever there was a pride monster, it was me. My gut reaction in every rejection, every criticism, every other person’s success was a measurement against them according to me. Yuck. Do you know what the best way to kill a Pride Monster? Starve it. Even though I had my sweet friends and my agent encouraging me along the way, my heart was set on publication and I was not getting that. I wanted it so badly that I turned ugly when it seemed to slip through my fingers with every rejection. And I spiraled and I came up for air to those authentic friendships speaking Truth in love. God knew what He was doing when He built my community, and He knew He would use it to lift me up and tear down my ugly.
The Darkest Valley Was Ahead. Everything stood still in 2014. My personal crisis gave me little room for any true focus on my writing success. If anything, it made the effort seem petty. When you go through your days wondering if you’ll make it to the next morning without a complete mental breakdown, you can’t really dream. My dream in those moments was to crawl out of my skin and run away. This was not about my writing, this was about God’s faithfulness to someone who was losing faith–in the person she loved, in the life she constructed, in the heart that was broken. Looking back (I did climb up and out of this valley), I needed this valley walk (or crawl) to happen when it did–without a book on the shelf, without confidence in something that I had accomplished. I needed brokenness to become stronger and know that my strength has nothing to do with me.

There are several other moments and signs that I see as I look back, but I’m not going for the longest blog post of 2017, but I do want to share two sweet confirmations that the timing really is His.

First, I got a book contract! You know this, but, the contract came at a time when I had grown peaceful in the journey–the pride monster lay slain, and I picked up a pen and took an opportunity. My Oklahoma Land Run book with Love Inspired Historical won the Manuscript Matchmakers contest…and WAS coming out in Spring 2018.

I had secretly told those closest to me, that it would’ve been nice for it to come out in September instead…just because that’s when the book opens–September, 1893–the historical date of the Land Run.

So, what happens after I turn in my complete book a few days before its deadline? My editor tells me they bumped up my date to September of 2017. And I am sure, for them, it had nothing to do with the history, but for me, it was everything to do with the history–and His timing. Look for my debut novel, The Outlaw’s Second Chance this September!

There’s more…

My second contract came in! And this was a wonderful surprise. My agent and I had found out last spring that a new series was being launched based on geographical places around the U.S. I immediately thought of my Coal country story. So, I put together a proposal for a book I’d written long ago…and got a contract with Barbour this Fall for my novel, My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah.

But, the timing? November 2017 is my release.

God’s Timing in its finest…The book comes out during the centennial year of my grandfather’s birth. He was born in Dec. 1917 in Carbon County, Utah. My hero and my inspiration for this very book.

I just can’t stop smiling at the chance to honor my late grandfather with a story written by his third generation Greek American granddaughter who was inspired by his roots grown a century ago.

If only he could be here now. But I know he’s smiling, too.

A century.

It took a CENTURY.

Only by God’s grace, and His perfect timing.

Blog Stops

A Baker’s Perspective, October 31

Faithfully Bookish, October 31

Caffeinated Reads, October 31

Captive Dreams Window, November 1

Reading Is My SuperPower, November 1

A Greater Yes, November 2

Janices book reviews, November 2

Daysong Reflections, November 2

Red Headed Book Lady, November 3

Books, Books, and More Books., November 3

Just the Write Escape, November 3

Carpe Diem, November 4

Christian Bookaholic, November 4

Radiant Light, November 5

History, Mystery & Faith, November 5

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, November 6

Texas Book-aholic, November 6

Babs Book Bistro, November 7

Kristin’s Book Reviews, November 7

Singing Librarian Books, November 8

Connie’s History Classroom, November 8

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 9

J.E. Grace Christian Author Blog, November 9

Neverending Stories, November 9

Have A Wonderful Day, November 10

Pause for Tales, November 10

Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 11

Mary Hake, November 11

Splashes of Joy, November 11

Bigreadersite, November 12

Blossoms and Blessings, November 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 12

Vicky Sluiter, November 13

Bibliophile Reviews, November 13

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Angie is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of her book The Outlaw’s Second Chance!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/c1ff

Christmas at Carnton: A Novella by Tamera Alexander

My Review

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, and when Tamera Alexander writes it, it’s even more special.

Miss Alexander’s Christmas at Carnton novella is the introductory story to her upcoming series, The Carnton Novels, based on the history of the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee-near Nashville. She adroitly takes a small slice of time centered around Civil War history and brings to life the hardships endured not only by the soldiers but also the families they left behind.

I felt heartbroken for Aletta Prescott, expectant mother, mother to adorable little Andrew and widow of Warren. Facing foreclosure with no employment prospects, Aletta doesn’t lose faith or hope. In fact, she perseveres under unimaginable circumstances and is steadfast in her beliefs.

Captain Jack Winston, a wounded Confederate soldier, is demoralized when he is commanded to assist with the Women’s Relief Society auction, spearheaded by the mistress of Carnton Plantation, Mrs. John McGavock, wife of Colonel McGavock.

My favorite character is Tempy. Even though she has suffered an inconceivable early life, she hasn’t let it break her, and Miss Alexander writes her story with depth, feeling and just a touch of espièglerie.

I received this book from NetGalley and Fiction Guild. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

A Christmas story to launch a brand new three-book series . . . The Carnton Novels

Amid war and the fading dream of the Confederacy, a wounded soldier and a destitute widow discover the true meaning of Christmas – and of sacrificial love.

Recently widowed, Aletta Prescott struggles to hold life together for herself and her six-year old son. With the bank threatening to evict, she discovers an advertisement for the Women’s Relief Society auction and applies for a position – only to discover it’s been filled. Then a chance meeting with a wounded soldier offers another opportunity – and friendship. But can Aletta trust this man?

Captain Jake Winston, a revered Confederate sharpshooter, suffered a head wound at the Battle of Chickamauga. When doctors deliver their diagnosis, Jake fears losing not only his greatest skill but his very identity. As he heals, Jake is ordered to assist with a local Women’s Relief Society auction. He respectfully objects. Kowtowing to a bunch of “crinolines” isn’t his idea of soldiering. But orders are orders, and he soon discovers this group of ladies – one, in particular – is far more than he bargained for.

Set against the backdrop and history of the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, Christmas at Carnton is a story of hope renewed and faith restored at Christmas.

The Promise of Dawn by Lauraine Snelling (Under the Northern Skies Book 1)

My Review

Lauraine Snelling’s newest book, The Promise of Dawn, focuses on the lives of Rune and Signe Carlson and their boys after they move from Norway to America to help relatives Einar and Gerd Strand.

I had a hard time getting into the story. Einar is a tyrant and basically, treats Rune and his sons like they are indentured slaves. Gerd, who is bedridden, treats Signe essentially the same way. Einar is mean and gruff, and Gerd is demanding.

Einar is verbally abusive and unkind. As the story progresses and different situations occur, Signe begins to stand up to him. However, it’s not until an accident occurs that Rune begins to support his wife and children and stand up to Einar, also.

The story could have been better if there was some relief from or explanation of Einar’s attitude, but alas, there was none.

I came to appreciate the hard work everyone did so trees could be felled and shipped, farm animals could be taken care of and a large household maintained. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but there are a few sweet, endearing scenes near the end. Overall, it was an interesting story with a great lesson in persistence and Godly love toward others.

The Promise of Dawn is the first in a new series, Under the Northern Skies. It was not one of my favorites of Lauraine Snelling’s. I do plan to read the next in the series, though, if for no other reason than to see if I can discover what caused Einar to be the way he was toward his relatives.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

When Signe, her husband, Rune, and their three boys arrive in Minnesota from Norway to help a relative clear his land of lumber, they dream of owning their own farm and building a life in the New World. But Uncle Einar and Aunt Gird are hard, demanding people, and Signe and her family soon find themselves worked nearly to the bone in order to repay the cost of their voyage. At this rate, they will never have land or a life of their own.

Signe tries to trust God but struggles with anger and bitterness. She has left behind the only life she knew, and while it wasn’t an easy life, it wasn’t as hard as what she now faces. When a new addition to the family arrives, Signe begins to see how God has been watching over them throughout their ordeal. But after all that has happened, can she still believe in the promise of a bright future?

Don’t forget, follow this link for the giveaway!

An Uncommon Protector (A Lone Star Hero’s Love Story Book 2) by Shelley Shepard Gray

An Uncommon Protector

Publisher’s Summary

Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one year post.

The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two hundred acre ranch as best she can.

When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.

Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.

But when cattle start dying and Laurel’s life is threatened, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero, and he needs more than just his freedom—he needs her love and care too.

My Review

Laurel Tracey is fighting a seemingly losing battle a few years after the Civil War. Her step-father had left his ranch to her, but having no one but her lazy step-siblings who don’t help her, she rapidly realizes she may lose everything.

Thomas Baker is a former Confederate soldier, and just a little bit hot headed, creating more problems than results for himself. One problem he creates lands him in jail. Hoping to be freed under a labor purchase program at the local jail, he submits to being caged in the hot sun and scrutinized by the citizens of the area, never dreaming a beautiful woman would free him.

Told from the perspective of both Thomas, by employing flashbacks, and Lauren, we learn a lot about both characters.

I enjoyed this story very much. Laurel and Thomas are hurt, lost souls that are having a hard time seeing their own worth. Both have some deep-seated issues to work through, and being forced to work together every day helps to compel them towards facing and resolving their difficulties. However, they both come across as likable and hardworking, with fun and engaging personalities.

An Uncommon Protector, by Shelley Shepard Gray, is the second novel in A Lone Star Hero’s Love Story, but it works well as a standalone tale.

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