Out of Their Element: Four Full-Length Novels by Robin Lee Hatcher, Angela Breidenbach, Vickie McDonough and Deborah Raney

My Review

The Out of Their Element Collection is written by four of my favorite authors. Each novel highlights a couple where one or both are “out of their element.”

Each story features realistic and relatable scenarios, and can I just say, it’s nigh on impossible to pick a favorite. They are all outstanding, and I had a hard time putting the book down to sleep or do normal day to day activities. However, with four full-length novels, even though I read rapidly, I couldn’t read more than one every two or three days. Sigh!

I liked how all four authors had clear messages of love, acceptance, forgiveness and mercy which richly illustrated how God extends the same courtesies to us.

I also enjoyed having different settings in each of the included narratives. I appreciate when there is a common theme, but it is nice sometimes to read an anthology where each plot is unique from the others.

Robin Lee Hatcher’s story, Whispers from Yesterday, includes a dual timeline that consists of the World War II era and contemporary times. We learn about World War II through letters the protagonist reads. Even though I know the letters are fictional, I felt myself drawn into them as though they were real “whispers from yesterday.” I have always loved and been fascinated by history, and the letters were a skillful and spellbinding way to tell parts the story.

Footprints on Her Heart, by Angela Breidenbach, will leave “footprints on your heart,” too, as you begin to care for “Razzy.”  My first thoughts and emotions about her were way off base, and before the story ended, I was not only cheering for her but had also come to love her.

In A Wagonload of Trouble, by Vickie McDonough, I would have never guessed the “wagonload of trouble” Bethany would encounter, and could it all be because of a greenhorn computer geek named Evan?

Deborah Raney previously released All the Promises under the title Silver Bells. Plucky new reporter Michelle quickly realizes she is in over her head. However, Robert Merrick III (whoop de do!!) wants to help her not only with her new job, but with “all the promises” he can make, to inspire and help encourage her.

If you are looking for out of the ordinary, appealing stories you can curl up and read as the weather gets cooler, then you can’t go wrong with the Out of Their Element Collection!

I received this book from one of the authors. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

They are totally out of their element! Four mismatched couples find unexpected romance.

Whispers From Yesterday
(Christy Award winner and RITA Award finalist)
by Robin Lee Hatcher

Following her father’s death and her own attempted suicide, pampered socialite Karen Butler reluctantly seeks refuge at the home of Sophia Taylor, the grandmother she has never known. Determined to escape Sophia’s broken-down ranch as soon as she can, Karen resists connecting with its inhabitants – especially Dusty Stoddard, the driven director of the Golden T’s summer camp for at-risk youth. For through their kindness and acceptance, along with the diaries of a remarkable women who died twenty-eight years before she was born, Karen will discover hidden secrets and amazing truths that could lead her to the greatest love of all.

Footprints On Her Heart
(A new novel)
by Angela Breidenbach
For fans of A Healing Heart, Footprints On Her Heart features an all grown up Cadence Keegan in her own love story. She’s a fitness coach thrown into an impromptu relationship with Jackson Campbell, a computer whiz and game designer, when a troubled girl causes a fire damaging both businesses. After the teen delinquent is ordered into restitution work, Cadence and Jackson are brought face-to-face with a choice between individual dreams and a future together. Can love overcome all their obstacles or will her heart be trampled?

A Wagonload of Trouble
(Finalist in Heartsong Presents Favorite Novel Award – previously published in Wyoming Weddings)
by Vickie McDonough

A computer geek is completely out of his element in the wilds of Wyoming. While his sister stays home with her sick son, Evan reluctantly accompanies his niece on a two-week wagon train tour with her history class, despite a pressing business deadline. The pretty gal heading up the tour thinks he’s a total greenhorn, but he can’t help being attracted to the competent woman who seems to have it all together. When the tour is sabotaged, will Evan’s unique skills help solve the mystery?

All the Promises
(previously published as Silver Bells)
by Deborah Raney

Michelle Penn has dropped out of college to work as a reporter for a tiny weekly newspaper. The boss’s handsome son, Robert Merrick III, is quickly making her forget all about her former sweetheart, but Rob is forbidden by office policy to date Michelle. His father is standing firm on that policy, but if Rob leaves the company he’ll have nothing to offer the woman he’s quickly falling in love with. It seems they need a small miracle to be able to keep all the promises they’ve made—to themselves and to each other.

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The 12 Brides of Summer Collection by Mary Connealy, Amanda Cabot, Miralee Ferrell, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Margaret Brownley, Susan Page Davis, Pam Hillman, Maureen Lang, Amy Lillard, Davalynn Spencer, Michelle Ule, Vickie McDonough

12 Brides of Summer

My Review

The Honey Bride, by Diana Brandmeyer, introduces us to Katie Tucker. Katie is afraid of bees, but they may be the only option for her, her brother and grandmother to survive. After her father’s death, she has to keep the family farm going. It looks like her neighbor, Pete Dent, and the bees may be her only solution.

Diana Brandmeyer has written an excellent story showing us how we can rest assured of the Lord’s help with all our fears and sorrows.

Margaret Brownley has written a fun, enjoyable story in Dog Days of Summer.

Marilee Davis, a music teacher, has found the perfect assistant-her pet dog, Mo. He has an ear for music, and when Marilee’s students hit a discordant note, Mo lets them know. Tim Colbert, the city blacksmith, has the perfect dog, too, Dynamite. Marilee and Tim have noticed their dogs keeps disappearing, but neither one suspect that Mo is actually Dynamite!

The Fourth of July Bride is by Amanda Cabot.

Naomi Towson and her mother are struggling to make ends meet, with Naomi working as an assistant in the town’s bakery. When her mother needs a delicate and expensive surgery, Naomi knows that she can’t afford to pay for it. Only her trust in God keeps her from being overwhelmed with despair. So, when Gideon Carlisle, local cattle baron, offers to pay for the surgery in exchange for Naomi pretending to be his fiancée, she jumps at the chance.

In A Bride Rides Herd, Mary Connealy mixes a story of delightful mischief and abject fear, with humor and seriousness, creating a charming love story.

Matt Reeves is traveling to his brother’s ranch when he hears an ear-piercing scream. Spinning his horse around to head back where he heard the scream, he’s expecting to find the worst. Instead, he finds two of his brother’s daughters deliberately catapulting themselves into a fast moving stream.

Warring emotions overcome him as he gathers them up to take them home, only to discover his brother left a seemingly inept young lady as the babysitter.

Susan Page Davis does a great job of setting up The Blue Moon Bride.

Ava Neal is going on an adventure-a train ride to visit her best friend in Wyoming Territory. She travels unaccompanied, an uncommon thing for a young woman to do in the late 1800’s.

As Ava ventures West, Joe Logan befriends her. Joe, tasked with delivering valuables to a client of his law firm, is on his way to San Francisco. However, the train they are riding on is robbed.

As you read, you feel the fear during the robbery, Ava’s joy at arriving at her friends and the thrill of the race to catch the thieves. Along the way, you cheer for Ava and Joe as they begin to fall in love.

You are sure to enjoy the playful story of The Dogwood Blossom Bride by Miralee Ferrell, written with just the right amount of romance and seriousness.

Gracie Addison is a tomboy through and through. Her favorite pastimes are climbing trees and horseback riding. In fact, falling out of a tree was how she first met Will Montgomery.

Will is single and raising his niece and needs help in the process. Gracie may be the perfect answer. However, he doesn’t realize at their first meeting she is grown. And he is constantly fighting against her tomboy tendencies, trying to keep Gracie from influencing his little girl too much.

Pam Hillman ‘s The Lumberjack’s Bride is a story full of danger and excitement.

Lucy Denson is a cook for a lumberjack crew, something the Chicago native never dreamed she would be.  She just wants to go back home where everyone and everything is civilized. Eli Everett, a member of the logging crew, couldn’t agree with her more. Her citified ways are jeopardizing the camp crew.

The Summer Harvest Bride, by Maureen Lang, is a romantic story with a bit of intrigue.

Sally Hobson’s family, and even Sally to some extent, are convinced she should marry the Mayor’s son, Willis Polit. However, Sally starts having second thoughts when Lukas Daughton, with his brothers and his father, ride into town with plans to build the community’s first gristmill. When the mill is sabotaged, Sally comes to the rescue and realizes her true love.

The Wildflower Bride, by Amy Lillard, is about Grace Sinclair, a widowed preacher’s daughter.

Grace has accepted that her lot in life is to stay unmarried in order to assist her father. All her convictions change when her sister gets married, and Grace meets Ian McGruer, with whom she falls in love at first sight.

The story is very reminiscent of Grace Livingston Hill romances. The young couple meets and immediately falls in love. However, they have seemingly insurmountable obstacles to overcome.

The tale was a little hard for me to get into, as I don’t think someone can fall in love within moments of setting eyes on another, much less have the love reciprocated. Nonetheless, it is an enjoyable, romantic account of two young people.

The Country Fair Bride, by Vickie McDonough, is a heartwarming story of redemption, forgiveness and the ability to change with God’s help.

Prudence “Prudy” Willard returns home to Bakertown, Missouri, in 1892 to see her ill father. She originally left, spending about a year and a half with her Aunt, after her scandalous treatment of the new pastor and his fiancé. She is determined to keep her new forgiving spirit, but when Adam Merrick, interim mayor while her dad is sick, seems to be too comfortable, Prudy’s waspish tongue stings again.

A refreshing love story, The Columbine Bride, by Davalynn Spencer, illustrates how love can overcome and conquer even the worst of circumstances.

Lucy Powell is a young widowed mother of two children. As Lucy tries to navigate life without her husband, she doesn’t want charity. However, Buck Reiter can’t stand seeing the family work so hard. He constantly assists Lucy by bringing firewood and making repairs around the farm.

The Sunbonnet Bride, by Michelle Ule, places us in the life of Sally Martin. Sally has moved to town to work as a seamstress in order to augment her family’s farm income. However, she has a difficult decision to make. A tornado has destroyed the family farm, and two men are vying for her attention. Malcolm McDougal, a local man, is steady, dependable, a hard worker and not afraid to get his hands dirty helping the tornado victims. Josiah French, on the other hand, is a wealthy banker, offering loans to those whose homes were damaged and never seems to get dirty.  However, he could offer Sally and her family a way out of their hard life.

Michelle Ule skillfully weaves the difficulties facing Sally into an excellent account, complete with all the anxiety and worry one would expect under similar circumstances.

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

(I previously reviewed this book when it was in a multiple novella book form.)

The Cowboy’s Bride Collection

Cowboy's Bride

About the Book

Ride onto the open range alongside cowboys and cowgirls who embrace the adventures of living in the Old West from Kansas to New Mexico, Colorado to Texas. Whether rounding up cattle or mustangs, training horses, fending off outlaws, weathering storms, competing in rodeos, or surviving drought these cowboys work hard each day. But when hardheaded men have their weaknesses exposed by well-meaning women will they stampede away or will a lasting love develop? Find out in this exciting collection of nine historical romances.

My Review

The Cowboy Poet, by Susan Paige Davis, begins the stories in The Cowboy’s Bride Collection.

Rilla Lane has returned home to the family ranch due to her mother’s illness. She loves the ranch and her Ma and Pa, but the poetry that lives in her heart needs a release.

Bat Wilson, a cowboy, had come to work on the ranch while Rilla was away. They really didn’t know each other, but Bat was hoping to remedy that by writing his own poems.  What he didn’t expect was the ridicule he’d endure from the other ranch hands.

For A Song, by Susan Dietze, is a fun story full of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and lots of faith and humor.

Aunt Martha Phipps believes she has the perfect answer to sisters Lily and Delia Kimball’s dilemma when she receives a letter from her nephew, Jackson Bridge. However, she only opens up a can of worms, and there will be a lot of talking to get out of the mess!

Crazy About Cait, by Nancy J Farrier, introduces us to Cait Sullivan and Jonas Hall.

Cait is one of the best horse trainers in the area. However, her father hired Jonas to train his horses for the cavalry, and Cait feels betrayed. Not only did Jonas get her job, but he had stolen and then broken her sister’s heart, how could she ever forgive him?

 Love’s Sweet Storm, by Miralee Ferrell, puts us on the trail with Addie Patrick during a blizzard.

Addie is stranded when her wagon careens off the path, and the driver is gravely injured. Knowing she’ll never survive without shelter, she sets out to find somewhere warm.

Grant Hollis is caught out in the same blizzard, but he’s injured. When he arrives at the line shack Addie found, he passes out, leaving only Addie to assist him.

Darlene Franklin brings us the amusing story of Millie Cain and Wes Harper in The Reformed Cowboy.

Millie recently relocated to Wichita from Boston in order to meet her pen pal and possible boyfriend, Wes. However, she first decides she would like to teach the Kansas cowboys lessons in etiquette and how to be true gentlemen. Mayhem and confusion ensue, leaving Millie to wonder if cowboys can learn!

Trey Carpenter, a rancher by trade, is supposed to meet his mother at the train station in A Texan’s Surprise, by Vickie McDonough. However, his Mom has a surprise for him-she brought along a widow, Sadie Hunter, and her two daughters, Abby and Martha.

Trey isn’t very happy about his Mother’s unannounced surprise; however, he’s even more unhappy when the local men begin to court Sadie.

The Wrangler’s Woman, by Davalynn Spencer, captures the story of Corra Jameson, widower Josiah Hanacker and his two children, Joe and Jess, and Josiah’s meddling sister in law.

Josiah needs help with turning his daughter Jess from wrangling and tomboy ways to a refined and genteel young woman, and if Corra agrees, she’s the perfect answer to his dilemma. If Corra’s unable to help with his daughter, his sister in law plans to spirit her away and train her properly.

Toby Lane needs to hire on as a foreman at the Double L Ranch in Cowboy Competition, by Becca Whitham, but he fears his family’s “curse” will keep him from doing his job.

Nia (Petunia) Lindley is trying everything she can to convince her Father she can “run” the ranch and still be a lady. However, her Father is doubtful and determined to sell the ranch. Toby may just be the answer to her problems if he can overcome the family “curse.”

The Cowgirl’s Lasso, by Jaime Jo Wright, is about Jonah Sparks and his search for a new foreman on his ranch. He is thrilled when his mentor, Charlie, recommends CJ Matheson. That is until he learns CJ is a woman named Celia Jo.

Jonah doesn’t believe CJ can do the job and constantly challenges and undercuts her authority. CJ knows she can work wonders for the ranch if only Jonah would leave her alone to work.

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

 

Tuesday’s Tale

12 Brides

I got way behind on reviewing Christmas stories. Christmas just snuck up on me this year! Therefore, there will be a few more Christmas stories soon!

The 12 Brides of Christmas Collection by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Margaret Brownley, Amanda Cabot, Mary Connealy, Susan Page Davis, Miralee Ferrell, Pam Hillman, Maureen Lang, Amy Lillard, Vickie McDonough, Davalynn Spencer, and Michelle Ule

About Book

Enter the heartland of historical America at Christmastime through twelve inspiring romance novellas from acclaimed Christian authors. Meet Alma, Lucy, Esther, Marilee, Polly, Deborah, Annabelle, Sophie, Maddie, Karen, Arabella, and Kate who are surprised by how God brings them the desires of their hearts. Watch as faith, romance, and heartfelt gifts open each of their hearts to love.

My Thoughts

Originally, each of the novellas in The Twelve Brides of Christmas Collection released as individual features and later re-packaged as one book. The novellas each cover a different location of our country during the 1800’s. I liked how each story identified the date and state where the story took place. The book is a wonderful collection featuring many authors I know and several I don’t know. I enjoyed reading every story.

The twelve tales are short, roughly just 50 pages long. They are all wholesome Christmas stories capturing the true meaning and unique perspective of the season. Moreover, they highlight a romantic angle from a Christian viewpoint.

I opted not to review each novella individually. I felt a fair review of each story would almost require another book!

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

Monday’s Many Mini’s

12 Brides of Summer 4

The 12 Brides of Summer #4 by Vickie McDonough, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer and Davalynn Spencer.

About the Book

Love Is Buzzing in the Good Old Summertime!  Spend the sunny days of summer relaxing with an ice cold glass of lemonade and revel in the dreams of twelve brides who are a bit surprised by how the men of their dreams come into their lives.  Journey to the Old West, stay on the prairie, and visit quaint small towns. . .without leaving the comfort of your own front porch!

Summer’s winding down and the nights are getting cooler, but love still warms the heart in Novella Collection #4:

The County Fair Bride by Vickie McDonough

Having spent a year in St. Louis, Prudy Willard returns to Advent, Texas, and fills the new mayor’s desk with her ideas for improving the town. The only thing they can agree on is initiating the county’s first fair.

The Honey Bride by Diana Brandmeyer

Katie Tucker must overcome her fear of the bees her father left as her inheritance to run the family farm and her fear of those like Pete Dent who offer to help her. He’ll rebuild her barn, but is his friendship genuine?

The Columbine Bride by Davalynn Spencer

Lucy Powell is widowed with two children, but she is reluctant to accept Buck Reiter’s help on her neglected farm. Can the old cowboy convince her his interest is more than charity?

My Thoughts

Prudence “Prudy” Willard returns home to Bakertown, Missouri, in 1892, to see her ill father. She originally left, spending about a year and a half with her Aunt, after her scandalous treatment of the new pastor and his fiancé. She is determined to keep her new forgiving spirit, but when Adam Merrick, interim mayor while her dad is sick, seems to be too comfortable, Prudy’s waspish tongue stings again.

In The Country Fair Bride, story one in the book, Vickie McDonough has written a heartwarming story of redemption, forgiveness and the ability to change with God’s help.

The Honey Bride, by Diana Brandmeyer, introduces us to Katie Tucker. Katie is afraid of bees, but they may be the only option for her, her brother and grandmother to survive. After her father’s death, she has to keep the family farm going. It looks like her neighbor Pete Dent and the bees may be her only solution.

Diana Brandmeyer has written an excellent story showing us how we can rest assured of the Lord’s help with all our fears and sorrows.

Novella three, The Columbine Bride, is the story of Lucy Powell, a young widowed mother of two children. As Lucy tries to navigate life without her husband, she doesn’t want charity. However, Buck Reiter can’t stand seeing the family work so hard. He constantly assists Lucy by bringing firewood and making repairs around the farm.

A refreshing love story, Davalynn Spencer illustrates how love can overcome and conquer even the worst of circumstances.

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