“My Daughter’s Legacy” by Mindy Starns Clark & Leslie Gould

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A thrilling tale of two women longing to follow God’s leading, make the most of second chances, and find true love at last
Virginia, 1864
Therese Jennings cannot abide the thought of owning slaves. When her widowed mother inherits a plantation, Therese flees to Civil War Richmond, where she works as a governess by day and tends to wounded soldiers at night. But when trouble befalls her family, can she reconcile her obligations with her beliefs? And will love-whether with an old beau or a handsome new suitor-ever fit in her broken world?
Virginia, present day
Nicole Talbot’s life is back on track after years of substance abuse. Home from college for the summer, she’s finally ready to share a shocking secret, one that raises new questions about a traumatic childhood experience. But when facts she uncovers cast doubt on her family’s legacy, she must risk all that she’s gained-her fresh start, her family’s trust, and her growing relationship with a new man-to unlock the secrets of the past.
My Daughters Legacy
Clark and Gould fascinate with My Daughter’s Legacy!  I loved the parallel stories happening in this one, and these authors are masters of this technique.  Intertwining the historical story with the modern-day component keeps the interest high and the pages turning.
I absolutely loved the historical element of this story.  As a Northerner living in the South, the effects of the Civil War remain obvious, and so reading about the beginning of this conflict was fascinating.  I especially liked reading about the issue of slavery from a different perspective, and I thoroughly enjoyed Therese’s.
Nicole’s story was interesting, though, too.  Her story began in the book before this one, so reading the earlier books in the series is helpful.  Nicole grows a great deal in these books,  She’s becoming a strong and independent woman, and she makes my favorite kind of lead. 
Clark and Gould have been favorite authors for years, and their books never disappoint.  My Daughter’s Legacy is no exception.

 
About the authors:
 
Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of more than 20 books, both fiction and nonfiction, with over a million copies sold. Mindy and her husband, John, have two adult children and live in Pennsylvania.
Find out more about Mindy Starns at http://mindystarnsclark.com.
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Leslie Gould, a former magazine editor, is the author of numerous novels, including “Beyond the Blue” and “Garden of Dreams.” She received her master of fine arts degree from Portland State University and lives in Oregon with her husband, Peter, and their four children.
 
Find out more about Leslie at http://www.lesliegould.com/.
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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

“Grounded Hearts” by Jeanne M. Dickson

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A brave midwife. A wounded pilot. A risky secret.
 
In the midst of World War II, Ireland has declared herself neutral. Troops found on Irish soil must be reported and interned, no matter which side they are fighting for. When midwife Nan O’Neil finds a wounded young Canadian pilot at her door, she knows she’s taking a huge risk by letting him in. Not only is she a widow living alone, but if caught harboring a combatant, she’ll face imprisonment.
 
Still, something compels Nan to take in “flyboy” Dutch Whitney, an RAF pilot whose bomber has just crashed over County Clare. While she tends to his wounds and gives him a secret place of refuge, the two begin to form a mutual affection-and an unbreakable bond.
But Nan has another secret, one that has racked her with guilt since her husband’s death and made her question ever loving again. As Nan and Dutch plan his escape, can he help restore her faith?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dickson’s written a most unique story in Grounded Hearts The setting is colorful, and if I didn’t know it was based on real stories and situations, I’d think it total fiction!  I enjoyed the way that Dickson brings the setting to life.  Her cast of characters is most colorful, and while Nan’s situation is dire, it is almost comical the way that the worst always, always seems to happen to her – until she finds her final resolution.
 
The ending was not unpredictable, but it did come about in a most unexpected way.  The journey to this ending was a fun one, and I didn’t want to put the story down.  I found myself turning page after page with increasing speed, needing to find out if Nan was able to stay out of trouble.  I liked this aspect of the story much more than expected.
 
Despite the unusual situations in which Nan finds herself, there is much depth to this story.  With internment on the line, Roman Catholic rules, and marital grief, sadness abounds.  Dickson writes deep spiritual lessons into this story with each twist and turn of the plot.
 
If you like WWII historical fiction, Dickson’s an author to watch.
 

About the author:
 
Jeanne M. Dickson was born into an Irish American family, the only girl surrounded by four brothers. She credits her mother, her aunts, and her grandmother with her love of storytelling. Perfecting her craft, she attends many writer’s conferences and over the years, she has won and finaled in numerous RWA romance writing awards including the Daphne du Maurier Award, the Maggie Award, The Molly, The Tara, and she was the overall contest winner of Launching A Star. Today she lives in Coastal San Diego with her fabulous husband, her two wonderful girls, and a dozen disobedient rose bushes.
Find out more about Jeanne M. at http://www.jeannemdickson.com.
 
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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.
 
 

“A Letter from Lancaster County” by Kate Lloyd

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Two sisters get a second chance at life and love
 
Angela—Her mother’s untimely death, a struggling marriage, a strained relationship with her sister, Rose, and regrets over what might have been haunt her. Despite being a wife and mother, she feels she has little to show for her life.
Rose–Still single, she longs for a husband and children. But Angela has all that and still isn’t happy. Rose wants to be closer to her older sister, but she and Angela couldn’t be more different. Both strong women, will their sibling rivalry ever end?
* * *
When a letter arrives from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Angela and Rose decide to visit Aunt Silvia, their mother’s Mennonite sister, in the heart of Amish country. This vacation could provide the opportunity both sisters need to sort out their issues. And yet instead of finding a new way of connecting with each other, Angela and Rose discover surprising family secrets that add to their strife and threaten Rose’s romance with a new beau.
Through it all, the two sisters must find the faith necessary to face their personal problems and allow God to restore hope and healing to their hearts and relationship as only He can.
Kate Lloyd
 A Letter from Lancaster County is here, and it’s Kate Lloyd’s best work yet!  This emotionally-charged novel will keep you guessing about motivations, secrets, and temptations from the first page to the last.  I think Lloyd’s writing is a bit messy in this one, but given the extreme messiness of human emotion, it was a necessary evil for the writing of this novel.
Despite it’s drama, it’s an action-packed one, too.  With adventures, crushes, missing people, secret rooms, and more, there’s always a new problem arising.
I enjoyed reading about Rose and Angela’s complicated relationship, but I liked Silvia even more.  I especially liked her quiet, deep faith that steadied the crazy currents of emotion that were happening all around her. 
The sisters were certainly more complicated, and that made them feel three-dimensional and extremely real.  I enjoyed the way that Lloyd brought them to life.
The ending of the book felt a bit abrupt; I wasn’t ready to turn the last page any more than I was ready for the sisters to leave Lancaster County.  The epilogue concludes the story nicely, however, and I was happy to learn that there is a sequel coming.
I can’t wait to read it. 

 
About the author:
 
Kate Lloyd is a bestselling novelist whose books include “A Portrait of Marguerite” and the Legacy of Lancaster trilogy. A native of Baltimore, she enjoys spending time with friends and family in rural Pennsylvania and is a member of the Lancaster County Mennonite Historical Society. She now resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband.
Find out more about Kate at http://katelloyd.com.
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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

“His Guilt” by Shelley Shepard Gray

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Mark Fisher has returned home to Hart County, determined to put the past behind him. Two years ago, after being wrongly accused of assault, he left the Amish community, though never forgot his home. When the one person who had helped him through his rough times asks for help, Mark returns. But it is pretty Waneta Cain who makes him want to stay…

Neeta is one of the few people in Hart County who doesn’t believe Mark is guilty of hurting anyone. However, his worldliness and tough exterior do make her uneasy. As she begins to see the real man behind all the gossip and prejudice, she wonders if he is the man for her.

Just when Mark starts to believe a new life is possible, a close friend of Neeta’s is attacked. Once again, everyone in the community seems to believe he is guilty. But what hurts most is Neeta’s sudden wariness around him. When another woman is hurt, a woman who is close to both Neeta and himself, Mark fears he knows the real culprit. And time is running out. Will Mark be able to find him before Neeta becomes his next victim?

 
Shelley Shepard Gray
 
Gray pulled out all the stops with His Guilt!  I enjoyed the way that Gray created a realistic situation in today’s society and set it in an Amish community.  This setting certainly added to the emotional drama and personal complications for the main characters, but it provided the perfect opportunity to explore interpersonal relationships between Amish and English.
 
Gray used those relationships to delve into themes of gossip, forgiveness, and the way that we care for those in need around us.  The characters grew throughout the story, in character and in depth, until they felt like friends long before I turned the last page.
 
The Amish may be resist violence, but His Guilt is no peaceful story.  With brutal beatings, attempted rapes, unofficial shunning, and emotional and verbal abuse, this is not your typical Amish read.  Much like the real world, Amish and English mingle throughout the pages, interacting in a typical small town and sharing news and concerns.  That real life aspect, which is missing in so many Amish novels, brings His Guilt to life.  The story becomes a thrilling tale of suspense and attraction, and how often can you say that about an Amish story?
 
If you enjoy reading Amish fiction but are ready for a deep, edgy story, give His Guilt a try.
 

 

Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

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Click here to read other reviews on this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.
 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

“Dragon Seed” by Marty Machowski

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An angry teen, a desperate mother, a missing father, and a shadow lurking in the background. Things were going from bad to worse for Nick and his family. Tempted to run away after yet another argument with his mom, Nick receives a handwritten, leather-bound copy of an old book a family legend passed down to him from his great grandfather. The book, called Dragon Seed, leads Nick deep into his family s history and introduces him to another angry young man who lived in the shadows (the shadows of the tombs). Like Nick, you’ll be shocked to discover where he fits in this story of epic proportions! This page-turning, young adult fiction story invites older children and teens into the real-life struggles of Nick. But it also ushers them into an imaginative exploration of the life of the young man Jesus saved as he wandered through the tombs. Best-selling author Marty Machowski uses both stories to introduce the reality of spiritual warfare and how its shadows affect and change us. Machowski, a trusted teacher for children of all ages, presents a thoroughly biblical view of spiritual warfare that emphasizes the importance of humility and dangers of pride. Teens will be drawn to the story of Nick and his struggles and will learn, as they read, to also identify the shadows in their own life and turn from them. While the biblical teaching is evident throughout the narrative of Dragon Seed, Machowski also includes a twelve-lesson Bible study at the end of the book to help teens ground their understanding of spiritual warfare on biblical principles. Youth pastors, leaders, and parents will also want to explore with teens the small group study at the end of the book with its unique take on spiritual warfare that emphasizes the biblical theme of humility. This is a perfect book to read with a group and discuss together the implications of Nick s struggles for their lives.

Machowski

Dragon Seed is the parallel story of teenage Nick and God’s great love for mankind colliding in an action-packed, concrete way.  Machowski turns sin into dragons and makes the spiritual realm visual in a way that reminds me of Ted Dekker’s Circle trilogy. 

Dragon Seed is billed as a modern-day parable, and I don’t think that label quite fits.  While part of the story is based on scripture straight from the Bible, but with the gaps we don’t know filled in fictionally, much of the story is straight from scripture.  So much is based on Biblical account that I don’t think it can be called a parable; I think ‘allegory’ is a better fit, although, again, so much is Biblical that I’m not sure that’s a great moniker, either.

When it comes right down to it, I’m not sure the label is really all that important.  What is important is that the Biblical references are true and real.  The story is compelling and well written.  The characters are real and life-like and reachable.  The story itself is one that everyone can relate to.

I love the way that Machowski took the idea of the dragon from Revelation and used the concept of sin throughout the Bible to show how easily that sin can infect us all; how none of us are immune to it, and how nobody is too far gone to be saved from it.  The concrete imagery is easy to picture and something that, again, we can all relate to.

Amazon bills this book as for older children and teens, but I disagree.  With children of varying ages, and several adults all in the story, I think it’s one that almost everyone can relate to. 

As I finished reading the book, I found myself wishing for discussion questions, as my children were already clamoring to read it for themselves.    While those are not available, the book does contain twelve devotions at the end, which do include questions – and some even reference projects or activities you could do to make them more hands-on and inclusive.

Dragon Seed would be a great book for a youth group, church study, or family read aloud. It’s versatile, exciting, and relates truth, but best of all, it points to Jesus’s love while encouraging discussion.  Dragon Seed deserves a place on your bookshelf.

I received a copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

“The Writing Desk” by Rachel Hauck

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Tenley Roth’s first book was a runaway bestseller. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who has run out of inspiration?

With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

A century earlier, another woman wrote at the same desk with hopes and fears of her own. Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams she doesn’t know how to realize. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has taken extreme measures to manipulate her future, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds, but fate has bound them together in a way time cannot erase.

The Writing Desk 2

Rachel Hauck is the master of creative, historic romance, and she’s penned another bestseller:  The Writing Desk.  She artfully compares contemporary romance with the arranged marriages of the wealthy during the 1920s while painting elements of spiritual lessons in every scene.

I love the way that Hauck ties Birdie’s story with Tenley’s.  Hauck connects them in myriads of ways, some superficially, some with a much deeper meaning.  These connections usually relate to spiritual lessons happening within the pages from which the reader can grow, as well. 

In some of Hauck’s books, these lessons are super deep, ones that totally shook me as I was reading.  The lessons in The Writing Desk are a bit different; they’re simple, basic tenants of the Christian faith, but ones that many of us struggle with.  Long-time Christians may not find these lessons earth-shattering, but I think that this is the perfect sort of book to give a person new to faith, or to someone who isn’t yet a believer.  Tenley’s situation and confusion resonates, and Hauck shares answers to that confusion gently and creatively.

These faith lessons are not diluting the romance.  For someone who’s supposed to be writing such a story, Tenley is living a sizzling one of her own.  Hauck spares no sidelong glance or warm, fuzzy feeling when penning The Writing Desk, and with Birdie involved in her own romantic relationship, this book is oozing love.

The Writing Desk is another winner, and I hope Hauck continues to be as prolific as Birdie.

I received a free copy of this book from the author.  All opinions are my own.

“The Captain’s Daughter” by Jennifer Delamere

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When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.

A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he’s glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can’t wait to leave behind.

The Captain's Daughter

The Captain’s Daughter is the perfect story for fans of mysteries and musicals!  With an unusual combination of Gilbert and Sullivan, London theater life, and villains on every corner, this story is unexpectedly fun.

Delamere weaves threads of mystery and history throughout the story.  There’s more to Rosalyn’s background than we know, and I have a feeling that there’s more to the story that will be revealed in later books.  I love the way that her past was affecting her present, and I’ll be anxious to see what it does to her future.

The theater plays an enormous role in this book – a much bigger one than I expected.  That’s not really my thing, but I enjoyed the way that Delamere used the interactions off stage to add spiritual depth and lessons to the story.

The Captain’s Daughter is a great summer read.  With loads of British history, scoundrels, and lessons to learn, you should add it to your reading list.

Click here to read other reviews in this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

 
About the author:
 
Jennifer Delamere’s debut Victorian romance, “An Heiress at Heart,” was a 2013 RITA award finalist in the inspirational category. Her follow-up novel, “A Lady Most Lovely,” received a starred review from “Publishers Weekly” and the Maggie Award for Excellence from Georgia Romance Writers. Jennifer earned a BA in English from McGill University in Montreal, where she became fluent in French and developed an abiding passion for winter sports. She’s been an editor of nonfiction and educational materials for nearly two decades, and lives in North Carolina with her husband.
 
Find out more about Jennifer at jenniferdelamere.com.
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I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

“A Matter of Trust” by Susan May Warren

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Champion backcountry snowboarder Gage Watson has left the limelight behind after the death of one of his fans. After being sued for negligence and stripped of his sponsorships, he’s remade his life as a ski patrol in Montana’s rugged mountains, as well as serving on the PEAK Rescue team. But he can’t seem to find his footing–or forget the woman he loved, who betrayed him.

Senator and former attorney Ella Blair spends much of her time in the limelight as the second-youngest senator in the country. But she has a secret–one that cost Gage his career. More than anything, she wants to atone for her betrayal of him in the courtroom and find a way to help him put his career back on track.

When Ella’s brother goes missing on one of Glacier National Park’s most dangerous peaks, Gage and his team are called in for the rescue. But Gage isn’t so sure he wants to help the woman who destroyed his life. More, when she insists on joining the search, he’ll have to keep her safe while finding her reckless brother, a recipe for disaster when a snowstorm hits the mountain.

But old sparks relight as they search for the missing snowboarder–and suddenly, they are faced with emotions neither can deny. But when Ella’s secret is revealed, can they learn to trust each other–even when disaster happens again?

Susan May Warren

A Matter of Trust takes you on a downhill ride through danger, forgiveness, and love – and isn’t that the oddest combination?

Warren totally makes it work, though.  Gage’s skiing prowess makes him read like a superstar, which feels a bit unrealistic, and yet their humbleness makes them feel like the kids next door.  Ella’s skill and the way that the two are able to combat danger together makes it feel as if you’re right there with them.

It’s that pairing that I love about Warren’s writing, and she’s pulled it off in every book of hers (that I’ve read – which is a lot).  Her characters all have high-action, high danger careers, and Warren uses those jobs as vehicles for deep spiritual lessons. 

Ella and Gage both need to make peace with their pasts, and the stories of how they do so are complicated.  Warren weaves the book previous in the series with this one and seamlessly sets up the next book, as well.  I love how wide the cast of characters are, and how each character feels like a friend by the end of the book.

While I would never want to take on a huge mountain on skis personally, I thoroughly enjoy reading about it.  If you, too, like reading action-packed adventure stories, move A Matter of Trust to the top of your summer reading list.

I received a free copy of A Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren.  All opinions are my own.

“Hello Stars” by Alena and Wynter Pitts

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Lena Daniels never thought she’d get the chance star in a movie. Headstrong and determined, she has her life planned out to the minute. But when her best friends, Savannah and Emma, tell her about an audition, she knows there’s nothing else in the world she’d rather do. And now that she’s gotten her wish, Lena finds that being in the spotlight is harder than it sounds. She got everything she never wanted! Her face turns up everywhere she goes, and everything in her life is flipped upside down. Lena wonders if this is a dream come true or a horrible nightmare. Even a visit from her best friends during filming turns into a disaster.

With her little sisters—Ansley, Ashton, and Amber—and her mischievous pup, Austin, constantly at her side, Lena must face the challenges of everyday life while chasing her dreams of being a model and actress on the big screen. Lena tackles tough choices, learns the value of perseverance, and keeps her hopes high. She knows her faith and family will keep her feet on the ground and her eyes on the stars.

Hello Stars

Lights … camera … action!  for a fabulous new book!  Alena Pitts has written an exciting story, full of drama, spiritual lessons, and movie lights. 

It’s those lights that create such inner turmoil for Lena, the main character of the story.  I love the way that the author has her parents, friends, and even a singer-celebrity helping her to learn big lessons when she faces hard times.  Those lessons incorporate scripture, giving readers a steadfast foundation upon which to lean.

The troubles that Lena faces are realistic, even if much of the story is not.  Most tweens won’t have the opportunity to star in a movie, or even meet their favorite celebrity face-to-face, but the author puts the character, despite those amazing situations, in places of realistic, everyday-people kind of stress, and she learns how to cope with that stress in real ways.  That was definitely my favorite aspect of this book.

Hello Stars is a fairly short, fun read.  It’s the first in a trilogy, and I expect great things in the subsequent books.

I received a free copy of this book.  All opinions are my own.

 

“Fly Away” by Lynn Austin

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Wilhelmina Brewster has been a college music professor for 41 years, devoting her life to her career and never marrying. Now, after her forced retirement at age 65, she is mourning her loss and searching for something to fill the empty hours. Widower Mike Dolan is a pilot and World War II veteran who has always lived life to the fullest. When medical tests confirm that his cancer has returned, he makes plans to take a final flight in his airplane rather than become a burden to his family. Wilhelmina accidentally learns of Mike’s final plans, and when she discovers that he isn’t a believer, she knows it’s her Christian duty to talk with him about her faith. But although she has been a lifelong Christian, she feels totally inadequate for the task of witnessing to an unbeliever.
Mike and Wilhelmina are two very different people—one figuring out how to live, the other how to die. Yet they will find themselves journeying together as they search for answers to life, loss and faith in God.

Fly Away

Fly Away is a poignant tale about the circle of life.  We spend most of our days spinning our wheels, caught up in ‘stuff’ that has no eternal significance, and most of us are too afraid to be real, even with our friends. 

Austin calls us on it.  Mike doesn’t want to waste a moment of his life, but Wilhemina doesn’t know how to do anything else.  Austin explores this dichotomy while probing Wilhemina’s fears.  I admire Mike’s strengths and the way that they complement each other.  They made a uniquely suited couple, if only for a few months.

So death and eternal life are deep topics, and that’s exactly what Austin writes – a book with the spiritual depth of the Mariana Trench.  There are life lessons and spiritual lessons to be learned here, and yet it’s not a depressing book.  I found myself cheering on both main characters, and while I was sad for Mike, Austin keeps the mood from becoming completely glum.  Instead, it’s quite provocative as the reader will identify with both Mike and Wilhemina in turn.

Fly Away isn’t a fluffy beach read – but it is an enjoyable one, and one you’ll be very glad to read.

I received a free copy of this book from the author.  All opinions are my own.