Tag Archives: Inspirational Fiction

Married By Monday by Cathryn Brown

About the Book

Neither of them wants to get married, especially not to each other.

Isabella visits her friend Cassie in Two Hearts, Tennessee. Bella’s ready to go back to the city almost as soon as she arrives. And she has a situation to take care of when she gets home.

Micah may want to stay in his small town, but his family has other plans for him. He has two choices to solve his problem. He has to get married—soon—or move to the city. Neither appeals to him, but one may be better than the other.

These two strike a deal to . . . get married by Monday. Falling in love isn’t even an option. This marriage is a temporary solution for both of them.

Then why won’t their hearts stay out of it?

We are transported back to Two Hearts, Tennessee, thanks to Cathryn Brown’s newest novel, Married by Monday, about Cassie Van Bibber’s best friend Isabella “Bella” Bennett.

Bella has run into financial difficulties because of a sequence of terrible events. Micah Walker’s tyrannical grandfather gives him six days to either join his firm as a partner or get married. So, what to do? Get married, of course! As a result, hilarity, confusion, and mayhem ensue.

Brown has a unique ability to bring people and places alive. I could see Two Hearts’ allure while also picturing it in its derelict and abandoned state. I liked getting to know new people introduced in the story. I really appreciated seeing how the people and the town changed over time.

Married by Monday is a clean, inspirational story. The characters are loveable and endearing. The town is charming. The “Happily Ever After” is cute. Even though it’s a sequel, it can be read as a stand-alone, but the story is much richer if you read Runaway to Romance first.

I received this book from the author. However, my review is voluntary, and all opinions are my own.

Runaway to Romance by Cathryn Brown

About the Book

“Southern ladies didn’t make a scene. Her mother would tell her to march her hiney back into that church and marry the man.”

Cassie’s in her wedding dress and ready to walk down the aisle. Minutes later, she’s a runaway bride on her way to nowhere. Two Hearts, Tennessee, fits that description perfectly.

She’s also a wedding planner. When someone in her profession is a runaway bride, the story’s so sweet that she needs to stay hidden for a while.

Greg returned to Two Hearts to be the sheriff after years as a big city cop—and his fiancée dumping him. He’s living over the garage at his mother’s house (how did that happen?) and just doing his job.

Then he gets a call about a redhead in the diner wearing a wedding dress.

His life and the town are turned upside down.

Cassie wants to help Two Hearts while she’s hiding from her ex-groom and the media. She may have some ideas to give a boost to the dying town.

Cassie has a thriving business in Nashville. Greg’s tied to Two Hearts.

Will she be able to help the town AND avoid falling for the sheriff? The town, maybe. The sheriff? She’s pulled closer to his heart every minute she’s there.

Have you ever yearned to jump in your car and just drive until you run out of gas? Alternatively, ride a motorcycle until it runs out of gas, as in this case. Cassandra “Cassie” Van Bibber does exactly that. However, her justification is catching her fiancé cheating on her only seconds before they were to walk down the aisle. She was still wearing her wedding dress, astride a motorcycle she borrowed from her fiancé’s boss, when she ran away!

Cathryn Brown creates a wonderful story about a fictional Tennessee town named Two Hearts, near Nashville. As only an abandoned and neglected beauty can, the small rural area radiates charm. The inhabitants are incredibly generous, friendly and compassionate. Two Hearts is the kind of town most people can only dream of living in.

Runaway to Romance features a wonderful cast of characters (except for Cassie’s fiancé) and a town almost anyone would love. Runaway to Romance is a clean, charming novel, though not a Christian book per se.

Visit tomorrow when I review the sequel to Runaway to Romance, Married by Monday!!!

Save the Date by Multiple Authors on Tour with Celebrate Lit

Save the Date

About the Book

Book: Save the Date

Author: Hallee Bridgeman  (Author), Kari Trumbo  (Author), T.K. Chapin  (Author), Chautona Havig  (Author), Shoshanna Gabriel  (Author), Dori Harrell (Author), Liwen Y. Ho  (Author), Lisa M. Prysock (Author), Camy Tang  (Author), Jan Thompson  (Author), Marion Ueckermann  (Author), Jaycee Weaver  (Author)

Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance

Release date: June 2021

Save the Date cover

Weddings for every season and occasion. Adventures, mishaps, and dream destinations—this collection has it all!
As our guest of honor, you’re cordially invited on a journey through twelve heartwarming and inspirational novellas that will take you from small-town America to romantic Paris, from the sunny shores of Hawaii to New Zealand. Office romances, friends-to-lovers, second chances, and more await you in these stories full of forgiveness, redemption, laughter, and love.
Say “I do” and claim your copy of this limited-time anthology by your favorite USA Today and bestselling Christian romance authors!

January Hope by Kari Trumbo

Clothing historian Cleo goes on the hunt for an 1880s fashion magazine wedding dress. Discovering it’s part of a museum collection, her biggest obstacle is handsome curator Lowel. Unfortunately, his no-touch policy just might put a stop to her hunt and her heart.

A Valentine for Veronica by Lisa Prysock

Veronica purchased her dream wedding dress though she’s single. When an encounter with a former peer—now a wedding magazine photojournalist—entices her into doing a special feature, the pressure is on to find a husband. Will Veronica’s pride be her downfall, or will her faith lead to love?

I Take You by Marion Ueckermann

Since childhood, Kaia has dreamed about her fairy-tale wedding. But when her father’s choices crush Kaia’s dreams, her fiancé is left scrambling for a solution to their dilemma. Kaia doesn’t want to delay their wedding, and neither does Leo. He’s waited a lifetime to make Kaia his wife.

Adoring April by Chautona Havig

Whoever heard of a church expecting an incoming minister to marry their only single member as a condition for employment? Legality aside, what kind of woman would possibly agree to such a crazy idea? What’ll it take for Jesse to go from avoiding April to adoring April?

A Change of a Dress by Hallee Bridgeman

Belle struggles to bury the past and grasp her elusive future. Scarred by an incredible act of heroism, combat veteran Vince longs to courageously walk the road less traveled as an army chaplain. The two unknowingly cross paths time and again until meeting changes everything.

Time for Me by Jan Thompson

When Sheryl tries to get a world-famous sculptor to display his artwork in her gallery, she doesn’t expect him to fall in love with her in this friends-to-more romance.

The Wedding Dress by T. K. Chapin

Alexa Anderson doesn’t want to wear her mother’s wedding dress when it’s time to marry the love of her life, Brad Jackson. Little does she know, the wedding dress has a story of its own to tell…

The Wedding Kimono by Camy Tang

A tomboy massage therapist and her boss discover a mysterious message hidden in her grandmother’s wedding kimono. Can her family legacy help her to see her inner beauty and open herself up to love?

One Vow for September by Liwen Ho

She’s a writer with an unconventional assignment, he’s the jaded coworker playing her husband; together they’re one odd couple about to find out how real love is.

Braver with You by Jaycee Weaver

She’d follow her childhood sweetheart anywhere, but first they’ll need all her courage and all his support to make it through the wedding their mothers have planned.

Grateful for You by Dori Harrell

Jeans-only Libby hasn’t spoken to lawman Jamie since she turned down his proposal. But when she sees a frothy gown in a store window, she knows he’s the guy for her. But winning him back might mean landing herself in jail.

Countdown to Her Cowboy’s Christmas Wedding by Shoshanna Gabriel

A handsome rancher. The girl next door. A childhood promise comes due that could change their lives… for better or worse. When their Christmas wedding preparations bring out painful memories of heartbreak, will Kate be able to forgive Jay—and herself—so they can finally be together?

Click here to get your copy!

Save the Date is a set of twelve different authors featuring a story for every month of the year.

I enjoyed the individuality of the stories and the unique perspectives of each of the authors. Plus, they took me on a trip around the world, too!

I appreciate the faith element in each story. How interesting to see how each author approaches it and gives their own inimitable viewpoint.

Save the Date is perfect for reading a quick story or for binge reading.

I received this book from Celebrate Lit. However, my review is voluntary, and all opinions are my own.

About the Authors

The authors of Save the Date joined together for this limited-time collection as an opportunity to bring their readers an excellent reading experience. From California to Kentucky, South Africa to Idaho and everywhere in between, these authors live and write the stories on their hearts to touch the hearts of their readers.

More from Chautona

Why One Epic Wedding Set Is about More Than “Just” Romance

“Oh, they say when you marry in June… you’re a bride all your life…”

When my kids were little, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was a favorite movie, although they used to call it “Dah-dah-dump-dum.” If you’ve never heard “Goin’ Courtin’” then that won’t make sense, but what can I say? Kids. Considering I had seven daughters, it’s no wonder that my kids loved that song sung by girls wearing pantaloons and camisoles the most. My boys never seemed to get that they were watching girls dancing around in their underwear. Much to my relief.

But you know, I’m a desert rat and not a fan of June weddings. Summer weddings are… HOT. I love outdoor weddings and receptions, and they’re miserable here in June, July, August, May… September… To be fair, there are maybe six whole weeks of the entire year that wouldn’t be—too hot, too cold, or just blasting with wind.

The authors of Save the Date all chose their months for different reasons. December, June, and February were obvious favorite choices, but I had three options that called to me. Either April, May, or June. Why? Well, my book title. I needed a woman’s name!

In this collection, you’ll find a couple of marriages of convenience, a friends-to-more, a destination wedding… you name it, we’ve got it. Each author has a meaningful story around the wedding dress, and through the course of each one, we have something especially beautiful.

Love.

I’m not speaking just of love between two characters. In sets like this, beautiful friendships are forged as we write, share, and celebrate. There’s a camaraderie that fills the group with every idea, every milestone, and every frustration.

You’ll also witness one more kind of love—love of craft. See, authors do the long, hard, sometimes tedious work of writing for a reason. We love the creation of characters, settings, and stories that weave all three into a picture that stirs the heart and feeds the soul. You could argue that they are a cheap imitation of the stories God writes on our lives, but because they are an offering to the Lord, they are also beautiful, rich, and a “sweet savor,” or so we hope.

We pray you’ll enjoy your time among the brides of Save the Date. We hope you’ll be blessed.

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, September 4

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

Texas Book-aholic, September 5

Inklings and notions, September 6

By the Book, September 6

For Him and My Family, September 7

deb’s Book Review, September 8

Locks, Hooks and Books, September 9

Back Porch Reads, September 9

Connect in Fiction, September 10

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, September 11

Jeanette’s Thoughts, September 11

Mypreciousbitsandmusings, September 12

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, September 13

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, September 14

CarpeDiem, September 14

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, September 15

She Lives To Read, September 16

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, September 16

Simple Harvest Reads, September 16 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)

The Meanderings of a Bookworm, September 17

Giveaway

To celebrate their tour, the Save the Date authors are giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11816/save-the-date-celebration-tour-giveaway

To Write a Wrong (The Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency Book #2) by Jen Turano

About the Book

to-write-a-wrong-book

Miss Daphne Beekman is a mystery writer by day, inquiry agent by night. Known for her ability to puzzle out plots, she prefers working behind the scenes for the Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency, staying well away from danger. However, Daphne soon finds herself in the thick of an attempted murder case she’s determined to solve.

Mr. Herman Henderson is also a mystery writer, but unlike the dashing heroes he pens, he lives a quiet life, determined to avoid the fate of his adventurous parents, who perished on an expedition when he was a child. But when he experiences numerous attempts on his life, he seeks out the services of the eccentric Bleecker Street Inquiry Agency to uncover the culprit. All too soon, Herman finds himself stepping out of the safe haven of his world and into an adventure he never imagined.

As the list of suspects grows and sinister plots are directed Daphne’s way as well, Herman and Daphne must determine who they can trust and if they can risk the greatest adventure of all: love.

review-to-write-a-wrong

I just have to say, I love Jen Turano’s books. Her mastery and aptitude with words, her knack for combining lots of laughter with intrigue and her skill for seamlessly interconnecting faith and the characters’ lives is a true gift. I try to always be on a list for her newest books.

Daphne Beekman, an inquiry agent and mystery writer, tries to stay out of the spotlight.  One evening when she goes by the office after hours, Daphne is startled when Herman Henderson, fellow mystery writer, shows up.

Dressed as a pirate, Daphne had planned to run by the office, which was only a few blocks from her home. Daphne hoped to garner ideas for her pirate tale. Herman wonders if he wants to retain the services of an agency which has a pressed paperboard cutlass-wielding pirate to unravel his problem.

So begins the delightfully, and sometimes harrowingly, adventurous tale of the Bleeker Street Inquiry Agency’s endeavors to solve the attempts on poor Herman Henderson’s life. Daphne’s escapades supply comic relief as well as clues to the mystery.

Several other characters in the story range from kind and genteel to horrific and deranged. The story of the latter’s character and his inexcusable behavior, along with its disclosure, may be difficult for some readers.

To Write a Wrong is part of a series but can be read as a standalone. However, to really enjoy the story, I recommend reading the first book in the series, too. My review of the first book in series, https://captivedreamswindow.wordpress.com/2020/11/27/to-steal-a-heart-by-jen-turano-on-tour-with-celebrate-lit-with-giveaway/.

I received this book from Bethany House through NetGalley. However, my review is voluntary, and all opinions are my own.

Aspen Crossroads by Janine Rosche-Available August 24th

About The Book

aspen-crossroads-book-1

Contemporary romance author Janine Rosche delivers an inspirational tale about overcoming strife and opening your heart to love with ASPEN CROSSROADS (Berkley Mass Market; August 24, 2021).

Haven Haviland has made it her life’s mission to help the people of her small community, until one mistakes costs her the beloved counseling practice that was once a haven for her patients. Trusting men has gotten her into trouble before, but in order to gain the forgiveness she so desperately craves, she must trust her heart—and her regrets—to a mysterious newcomer with his own rocky past.

Few in the community of Whisper Canyon have actually met Jace Daring, a handsome recluse who lives at Aspen Crossroads, the farm at the edge of town. But that doesn’t stop the rumors about the multiple women who live with him. He must protect the truth–that his farm-to-table restaurant will provide new livelihoods for women rescued from human trafficking–or he risks the safety and futures of those relying on him. But he can’t do it alone.

Haven Haviland has always been everyone’s safe place to fall until one mistake closes her counseling practice and leaves her open to the town’s gossip. Trusting men has gotten her in trouble before. However, accepting Jace’s job offer to mentor the rescued women seems like the perfect way to right her wrongs.

When the mayor’s campaign to clean up Whisper Canyon targets Aspen Crossroads, the restaurant comes under fire, dangers from the women’s pasts are awakened, and Haven’s sins are exposed for all to see. Jace would sacrifice himself to save Haven and the women under his care, but his efforts might not be enough. And in the end, it might not be the women most in need of saving after all.

Janine Rosche, a new author to me, writes about her characters with empathy, consideration and kindheartedness. Her talent and aptitude for addressing sensitive issues of great importance, seldom seen in Inspirational and Christian fiction, is a rare gift.

Due to a nefarious, lying character, Haven Haviland, who has lived in Whisper Canyon her entire life, becomes the target of a smear campaign. Jace Daring, who works for a company that rescues women from human trafficking and homelessness, becomes caught in the crosshairs of the smear campaign.

Aspen Crossroads highlights a bittersweet story with many aspects of the rescued women’s lives recounted, making it difficult to read. Your heart aches for the women.  The story line is complex, cutting-edge and unconventional-reminiscent of Ginny Yttrup and Francine Rivers- difficult to read and challenging those who do.

***The details recounted may be triggering for those who have suffered abuse.***

Aspen Crossroads features faith and faithlessness, hope and despair, vision and shortsightedness, all tied up in a tale of deliverance and redemption. There is also a thread of a tender romance interwoven softly through the book.

I received this book from Penguin Random House through  NetGalley. However, my review is voluntary, and all opinions are my own.

About The Author

Prone to wander, Janine RoscheJanine Aspen Crossroads finds as much comfort on the open road as she does at home. This longing to chase adventure, behold splendor, and experience redemption is woven into her Madison River Romance and Whisper Canyon Romance series. When she isn’t writing or traveling, she teaches family life education courses to college students, takes too many pictures of her sleeping dogs, and embarrasses her four children and husband with boy band serenades.

Sneak Peek

“Excuse me, miss. I have a question for you. Are you planning to buy that Ameraucana?”

Instinctively, Haven drew the chick close, holding her against her chest. The other chicks now peeked out of a cardboard box, their heads bopping about in time with their chirps. Beyond the box, a pair of legs donning work boots and jeans rose vertically until the light over the baby pool washed out the rest.

“Because if you aren’t, I’d like to.” The voice was masculine enough to stir up a few flutters in her belly. Then the owner of the voice bent down into a crouch. The light caught the striking lines of his face. A strong jaw and straight nose played against the tuft of sandy hair peeking out from his backward baseball cap, creating a playful combo of boyish and manly. He wasn’t from around here. Haven would remember him.

“I . . .” Haven started, peering down at the chick in her hands. “I hadn’t thought about it.” She had no coop. She had no house, either. At least not one of her own. With all Dad had going on, the last thing he needed to worry about was a pet chicken. “I guess not.”

The cute guy watched her for a long moment. If he was in a rush, he wasn’t showing it. The chick wiggled against her palms.

“She has an injured foot.”

His brow furrowed, and his lips dipped into a frown. He rose, then stepped around the pool to join Haven. When she stood, the man towered a good half foot above her. For some reason, she thought of the hickory armoire in her childhood bedroom at her dad’s house. “It’s sturdy,” Dad had said the day he gifted it to her. Now as she stood in a darkened tent with this handsome stranger, all she could think about was that dumb piece of furniture.

“Sturdy.”

“What?” he asked.

“Um, the chick. I don’t know how sturdy she’ll be as she grows.” Haven opened her hands to give him a view of the animal.

Yet the man waited two feet away. “May I?”

It took a second for Haven to realize what he wanted permission for. A gentleman? Now she was sure he wasn’t from Whisper Canyon. Haven gave a quick nod, and he moved in to inspect the chick. He allowed the warped toes to wrap his fingertip. He was gentle as he thumbed the tiny bones and talons. With his other hand, he stroked the chick’s head. With each movement, he brushed Haven’s hand, forcing her to train her thoughts on the animal— not the man whose ocean- clean scent threatened to buckle her knees.

No wedding ring. So much for training those thoughts. But she’d learned that was the most attractive trait a man could exhibit. Well, that and a habit of honesty, which was rare these days.

“I can try to splint those.” His voice dove to a deep, lulling timbre. Was he trying to soothe the bird? Or her? “Hopefully, it’s only cosmetic. If so, she’ll still be plenty useful to me.” Haven closed her hands and twisted away from him.

“Are you planning to eat her?” His smile cracked. “Ameraucanas aren’t meat birds. But I do plan to eat her eggs. Is that all right with you?”

The panic eased out on a breath. “I suppose.”

He held out his hands. They were calloused but clean, and Haven liked the look of them. Sturdy. Again, with that word. Haven placed the chick in his hands, his rough skin catching slightly on hers. Following her father’s advice, she looked the man straight in the eye to let him know she could hold her own. Not that the guidance had worked for her so far. Here she was, unemployed with no job prospects, covered in salmonella, and debating custody arrangements for a chicken.

“Thanks, miss. I’ll take good care of her.”

“Audrey.”

His forehead wrinkled. “Thanks, Audrey.”

“No, I’m not Audrey. The chick is Audrey. Hepburn.” Confusion turned to amusement. “How about Audrey Henburn?” His eyes pierced hers. She couldn’t tell their color in this light, but they crinkled at the corners and warmed her straight through. An image of the two of them sitting beneath a tree as the chicks hopped around their legs appeared in her head, but she quickly dismissed it. Her judgment, or lack thereof, was troublesome these days. A man, especially one like this, was the last thing she needed.

From ASPEN CROSSROADS published by arrangement with Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2021 by Janine Rosche.

A Dream of Family by Jill Weatherholt on Tour with Celebrate Lit

A Dream of Family

About the Book

Book:  A Dream of Family

Author: Jill Weatherholt

Genre: Inspirational Romance

Release date: June 29, 2021

A Dream of Family - cover

To give a little girl a home…

she must take a chance on forgiveness.

From the minute Molly Morgan saw sad-eyed little Grace, she longed to give her a happy home. But Molly’s struggling bookstore is endangering her adoption chances. Outgoing entrepreneur Derek McKinney has a puppy Grace adores—and a plan to save Molly’s business. But can he and Molly put their troubled past behind them in time to make a family for a lifetime?

Click here to get your copy!

I enjoy Jill Weatherholt’s books so much. Her latest novel, A Dream of Family, drew me right in. I empathized with Molly Morgan because there were times growing up when I felt books saved my life too.

Now grown and owner of an independent bookstore, Molly is struggling to stay afloat after a big-name competitor moves in close to her little store. The last thing she needs is Derek McKinney, the person who caused her fiancé to leave her at the altar, walking through the door of her bookstore.

Weatherholt blends together faith, hope, forgiveness and romance into a story of second chances and redemption. Creativity abounds with concepts on how to adopt business ideas for the bookstore to draw in more customers and increase sales.

Navigating her new normal isn’t easy for Molly, and she doesn’t make it easy for Derek, either. However, if they both stay true to their faith things will work out fine.

I received A Dream of Family from Celebrate Lit. However, my review is voluntary.

About the Author

HQ Headshot

By day, Jill Weatherholt works for the City of Charlotte. At night, and on the weekend, she writes contemporary stories about love, faith and forgiveness for Harlequin Love Inspired.

Raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., she now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, but her heart belongs to Virginia.

She holds a degree in Psychology from George Mason University and Paralegal Studies Certification from Duke University.

She shares her life with her real-life hero and number one supporter. Their relationship grew on the golf course, and now they have one in their backyard.

Jill believes in enjoying every moment of this journey because God has everything under control.

More from Jill

Working in a library or a bookstore has always been a dream job of mine. As book bloggers and readers, you may have had that same dream.

Sadly, I’ve never made that dream come true. So instead, I created a fictitious character, Molly Morgan.  In A Dream of Family, Molly Morgan owns and operates a bookstore, so by writing her story, I was able to somewhat fulfill my dream of working in a job where I’m surrounded by books all day.

As a child growing up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., I loved the bookmobile. Twice a month a small library on wheels rolled into the neighborhood and parked in front of our house. There was nothing better than to feel the wallop of arctic air the moment I climbed aboard. It was the perfect escape from the hot and sticky summer months. Like a time machine, the endless rows of books transported me to distant places. It was there I was introduced to The Box Car Children and Nancy Drew Mysteries. One stamp of black ink,and it was mine to devour for two weeks.

I haven’t seen a bookmobile since my childhood, but they still exist today. Thankfully, libraries and bookstores are still in our communities, offering wonderful programs to inspire young readers. But as I watch public libraries reduce their hours and bookstores close their doors, I’m grateful to have grown up in a time where bookmobiles traveled the streets of my neighborhood. Those days, my biggest decision during summer vacation was what book to take to the pool.

Blessings,

Jill Weatherholt

Blog Stops

Pause for Tales, July 27

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 27

Texas Book-aholic, July 28

She Lives To Read, July 29

Lighthouse Academy Blog, July 29 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Inklings and notions, July 30

Mary Hake, July 30

For Him and My Family, July 31

My Reading Journeys, July 31

deb’s Book Review, August 1

Britt Reads Fiction, August 1

Older & Smarter?, August 2

Locks, Hooks and Books, August 3

Writing from the Heart Land, August 3

Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, August 4

Batya’s Bits, August 4

Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, August 5

Remembrancy, August 5

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, August 6

Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, August 7

Labor Not in Vain, August 7

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, August 8

Kayem Reads, August 8

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, August 9

Vicky Sluiter, August 9

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Jill is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

https://promosimple.com/ps/11034/a-dream-of-family-celebration-tour-giveaway

Stories That Bind Us by Susie Finkbeiner

What a beguiling and captivating novel, Stories That Bind Us is! Susie Finkbeiner captures the era of the ’60s in vivid, powerful and striking detail.

Betty Sweet and her sister, Clara, grew up in tough circumstances. Betty was able to overcome most of her younger life with the help of her husband, Norman, and her penchant for inventing stories.  Her faith in God lifted her above the adversity in her life. Sadly, Clara was not so lucky.

Stories That Bind Us takes us through tumultuous times for our country and for Betty and Clara. Even though there seems to be a lot of turbulence and upheaval in their lives, Betty is able to ground herself and Clara’s son, Hugo, with her stories. Betty’s tales are relevant to the situations she and Hugo often encounter.

Reading the novel instilled a positive, encouraging and heartening feeling about life. Despite depressing and heartbreaking times, both in their lives and in the United States, Finkbeiner shines the light on the good and wonderful aspects of life, family and love.

I enjoyed the flashbacks to the “oldies” music of the ’60s, which reminded me of my childhood. Accounts of historical events also teased my mind, as I vaguely remembered news stories and happenings in areas I lived in or near, which resonate with current events now.

A novel that will stay with you for a long time after reading it, Stories That Bind Us, is a must-read for anyone interested in faith-inspired historical fiction.

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

#StoriesThatBindUs #NetGalley

Publisher’s Summary

Betty Sweet never expected to be a widow at 40. With so much life still in front of her, she tries to figure out what’s next. She couldn’t have imagined what God had in mind. When her estranged sister is committed to a sanitarium, Betty finds herself taking on the care of a 5-year-old nephew she never knew she had.

In 1960s LaFontaine, Michigan, they make an odd pair. Betty with her pink button nose and bouffant hair. Hugo with his light brown skin and large brown eyes. But more powerful than what makes them different is what they share: the heartache of an empty space in their lives. Slowly, they will learn to trust one another as they discover common ground and healing through the magic of storytelling.

Award-winning author Susie Finkbeiner offers fans a novel that invites us to rediscover the power of story to open the doors of our hearts.

Being Known by Robin Jones Gunn


Robin Jones Gunn books are always encouraging to read. Gunn, time after time, pens realistic, true to life stories, and Being Known delivers the encouraging read I had expected.

Being Known focuses mainly on Jennalyn, a young mother of two children, and her difficulties in handling home, friends and life alone due to a virtually absent, workaholic husband. Many women can easily and readily identify with Jennalyn’s struggles and frustrations at her husband’s constant excuses, even if they are valid (at least in his mind), and his absences are at times necessary.

The story picks up with the Haven Makers aka DOEs (Daughters of Eve), a group of young married and single female friends who meet periodically to inspire, boost and nurture each other through the good and bad times of their lives. The group is founded on Biblical principles and draws heavily on Biblical truths to guide them.

I had a small problem with this book in the beginning.  I thought it faltered at first, with a spate of short, choppy sentences.  Don’t be deterred.  When the novel hits its stride, the story that emerges develops wonderfully and flows seamlessly.  No one should miss this heartening and inspiring book.

Being Known is the sequel to Becoming Us but works fine as a stand-alone.

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

#BeingKnown #NetGalley

Publisher’s Summary

From the bestselling author of Becoming Us comes a novel that asks: What does it mean to be truly known? In a marriage, in a friendship, or by a loving God?
 
After her mom passed away, Jennalyn was in the midst of moving, adjusting to life with a new baby, and helping her husband, Joel, work toward his dream job. At the time, she thought she’d processed her mother’s death, but only now that Jennalyn has two small children, a lovely new home, and a husband who is always working does she feel the full impact of what she has lost.

Even among her sweet circle of friends, the Haven Makers, grief silently overwhelms Jennalyn, until an unexpected encounter allows her to express herself in ways she hasn’t fully been able to with her husband. Even though Christy, Sierra, Emily, and Tess provide a soft place to land in times of tension, Jennalyn remains guarded, especially when Tess reveals she is tangled emotionally in a relationship that was thorny from the start.

Will the two women open up and remain honest with the others in their Haven Makers group? Or will their hesitation to truly be known, faults and all, keep them from holding on to the friendships that have been the sweetest gift during this season of life?

The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch

I always look forward to Erica Vetsch’s novels. I, unfortunately, have not had time to read novels like I have wanted to. I’m so glad I took the time to read The Lost Lieutenant!

Vetsch has done a great job in her research, not only into the Regency period but also the feelings and emotions of the people who lived them.

Diana Seaton has a cruel father. He obviously never wanted a daughter, and never lost an opportunity in digs, slights and other ways of letting Diana know his feelings. I could really empathize with Diana. Even though my father wasn’t quite as cruel as Diana’s, my father was sometimes cruel. He, too, wanted a boy and was extremely disappointed when his first child, me, was a girl (hence my name!).

Evan Eldridge was a war hero, much to his dismay. The Prince Regent promoted him to the ranks of nobility, leaving Evan upset and disgruntled. I could also understand Evan’s feelings. I would rather be a regular everyday person than one in a position of “privilege”.

Vetsch pulls you into the roller coaster named The Lost Lieutenant and does not let go until the end of the story. She paints vivid word pictures, putting you right in the scene. Her characters run the gamut from kind, charismatic and loving to cruel, hedonistic and evil, which creates a thoroughly captivating novel.

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

Publisher’s Summary

He’s doing what he can to save the Prince Regent’s life . . . but can he save his new marriage as well?

Evan Eldridge never meant to be a war hero–he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. And he certainly didn’t think that saving the life of a peer would mean being made the Earl of Whitelock. But when the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry.

Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler. What he doesn’t have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there’s something he can’t quite remember. It’s important, dangerous–and if he doesn’t recall it in time, will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone’s very life.

Readers who enjoy Julie Klassen, Carolyn Miller, and Kristi Ann Hunter will love diving into this brand-new Regency series filled with suspense, aristocratic struggles, and a firm foundation of faith.

Diamond Knot Dreams Series by Mary Manners


Mary Manners books/novellas have never disappointed!

Her Diamond Knot Dreams series consists of four stories, plus a prequel. The prequel, a fun and lively story, focuses on the older generation, whereas her other four stories focus on the younger generation.

Veiled Gems, Book 1

Lila Brooks picked Clover Cove as the perfect place to start her one-stop wedding shop. Morgan Holt, a builder, agrees to assist Lila in renovating a charming, neglected, Victorian home for the business. However, things go awry from the beginning and they don’t seem to get better as time goes on.

I enjoyed this story for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was the renovation aspect. The details of the renovation brought back pleasant memories of when I worked in new and renovation construction.

Mary Manners always pulls you into her stories and doesn’t let go. Her characters are relatable, her cities ever so charming and she doesn’t paint life as always being a bed of roses. In fact, she has quite a few thorns that have to be avoided or picked out after getting too close!

Veiled Gems is just the right size story for a quick escape, one I’m sure you will enjoy!

Jeweled Dreams, Book 2

Jeweled Dreams opens with such a cute, most erudite child that you immediately fall in love with her! Mackenzie “Kenzie” Ballentine not only stole her uncle’s heart when he became her guardian, but she will steal yours, too! Reading about her will leave you amazed at her language skills and ability to perceive situations, while at the same time being delighted by her five-year-old charisma.

I am also loving this series. I have a special place in my heart for renovations and new business ventures, both of which are highlighted. Plus, who can help falling in love with a small town where life is so idyllic?

Jeweled Dreams is a novella, so it is quick to read and sure to delight!

Precious Fire, Book 3

Mary Manners has written another cute romance novella centered around the Diamond Knot Dreams Bridal Boutique.

Precious Fire introduces us to Claire McLaughlin, friend of Lila and Avery from the first and second story in the series, along with Ryan Kendrick. Claire has come to Clover Cove at their request to be the baker for the boutique.

I really liked Ryan’s little brother, Caleb. He overcame some huge adversities but still maintained a positive outlook. I hope in future books we can revisit Caleb and get a glimpse at how he is doing as he grows up.

I loved being able to learn more about Clover Cove and enjoyed the way everyone worked together to make their hometown a pleasant and fun place to live.

MY THOUGHTS (And A Glimpse of the Prequel!)

Mary Manners has the unique ability to put you in the middle of the plot. This quality endears you to her characters and helps you become vested in their lives. It is so much fun to learn of each new couple, while at the same time catching up with the other Clover Clove residents. You feel as if the area is your home away from home and the people are your friends! I love the way she sets up her stories with such delightful personalities. I can easily see myself as friends with any or all of the people she so eloquently pens.

(I haven’t finished Crystal Wishes. However, I know it will be as wonderful as Mary’s other books!)

A Tender Season, Book 0

A Tender Season is Mary Manners’ prequel to the Diamond Knot Dreams series of novellas (In case you wondered about the Book 0 in the title!).  The story, by necessity, is short, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good book, or have a good plot!

I enjoyed this short, tender story of love the second time around, where the two main characters of the novella weren’t sure if they would ever face love again.

One of my favorite types of stories is a series that follows characters from previous books, and Mary Manners has done this with her Diamond Knot Dreams series. Each person is inter-related in some way, either through friendship or birth. The only problem is when the series ends, and I have lost all my new friends!