“Pieces of Light” by Julie Cave

Pieces of Light, Dinah Harris Mystery Series #3

 
Dinah Harris’ life is finally beginning to come together.  With sobriety coming easier and her faith playing a larger role in her life as she joins a small group at church, Dinah is successfully working as a private consultant.  She’s soon drawn into a case that has all of the metro-DC area alarmed as churches become the targets of bombs – and not of the smoke variety.  With the death toll rising and few clues pointing the way, the investigation depends on Harris’ sharp profiling skills.  It soon becomes clear that someone is seeking revenge on the church at large, and there seems to be no end in sight.  Can Harris find and disarm the bomber before she becomes the next victim?
 
In Deadly Disclosures Dinah’s life was full of darkness.  She held such possibility, such skill, and was so broken that you couldn’t help but cheer for her despite her many flaws and impossible decisions, but in Pieces of Light she is just that:  full of promise, hope, light.  At this point in her story the reader is no longer shaking their head sadly over her plight but instead standing on tiptoes, applauding her choices and basking in the glare of her newfound hope.  The two novels have completely different feels to them and yet both showcase the transformation that a person undergoes after finding new life in Jesus.  I love this change in Dinah and the expert way that Cave shows it in her writing.
 
Cave ends the trilogy in an unusual way.  Dinah Harris’ story is wrapped up, and while you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, you can be awfully sure; but from the remnants of the first two books rises a new possibility for a sequel.  This ending is so unforeseen, so unexpected, that it completely intrigued me – to the point that (after mulling over the ending for a few days) I broke out the computer and emailed Cave herself.  Cave declared that this was only expected to be a trilogy, but that there may be a sequel on the way … or maybe not.  Either way, she plans to keep writing, and I, for one, can’t wait to read the next book.

“Pennsylvania Patchwork” by Kate Lloyd

Meeting the family that her mother had kept hidden from her, Holly comes face to face with her real life and blood legacy. She also falls for the charming Zach, a handsome Mennonite veterinarian who is everything she’s ever wanted in a husband: confident, kind, successful, and authentic. And Zach proposes marriage. Is this too soon? Is this the right choice? Mother and Amish grandmother think she’s rushing into too much of a lifestyle change. Holly is in love with Zach and that precludes everything. Until she meets an attractive Amish man. And an old suitor shows up.

Pennyslvania Patchwork is the moving, richly told story of one woman’s heart, her faith and trust, and the choices she makes. Never easy, but one choice can change your destiny.


Pennsylvania Patchwork is about the choices that we make and how they affect our lives.  A dramatic saga about three women, this book picks up right in the middle of conflict.  A prologue catches the reader up to speed with what happened in the first book of the series, and soon that reader will be hurtling through Lancaster County faster than a runaway horse and buggy.  

Pennsylvania Patchwork is a tangled web of emotions, mistakes, grace, and forgiveness.  It’s a story full of wisdom and seeking to live God’s way, no matter how you might dress to do so.

I really enjoyed this story.  Although it did take me a few chapters to figure out the full backstory for each character as I haven’t read the first in the series, I got up to speed quickly and fell in love with their situation.  I could relate to each character, despite all being from different backgrounds and generations.  I want my children to be faithful adults like Mommy Anna.  Like Esther, I don’t want to hold grudges from past hurts and want to make right past issues.  Like Holly, it’s sometimes confusing to be faced with multiple options for a dream – what is the best way to choose?  Because each person felt so realistic, I felt as if I had a vested interest in the choices that they made.  Near the end, a few of those choices felt as if they’d been made very quickly. This high-action part of the plot kept me at the edge of my seat, however, as my eyes flew over the pages.

Having been in Lancaster County just a few short weeks ago, it was fun to read about a group of Amish where the lifestyle and location is so familiar to me.  I definitely will be watching for Kate Lloyd’s next book.  This is one of the best Lancaster County Amish stories I’ve read in a long time!


Author Kate Lloyd is a passionate observer of human relationships. A native of Baltimore, Kate spends time with family and friends in Lancaster County, PA, the inspiration for her novels. She is a member of the Lancaster County Mennonite Historical Society. Kate and her husband live in the Pacific Northwest. Kate studied painting and sculpture in college. She’s worked a variety of jobs, including car salesman and restaurateur.

Learn more about Kate at http://www.katelloyd.net


I received a free copy of Pennsylvania Patchwork from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“Pastors’ Wives” by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen


What’s it like when the man you married is already married to God? asks Pastors’ Wives, an often surprising yet always emotionally true first novel set in a world most of us know only from the outside.

 
Lisa Takeuchi Cullen’s debut novel Pastors’ Wives follows three women whose lives converge and intertwine at a Southern evangelical megachurch. Ruthie follows her Wall Street husband from New York to Magnolia, a fictional suburb of Atlanta, when he hears a calling to serve at a megachurch called Greenleaf. Reeling from the death of her mother, Ruthie suffers a crisis of faith—in God, in her marriage, and in herself. Candace is Greenleaf’s “First Lady,” a force of nature who’ll stop at nothing to protect her church and her superstar husband. Ginger, married to Candace’s son, struggles to play dutiful wife and mother while burying her calamitous past. All their roads collide in one chaotic event that exposes their true selves. Inspired by Cullen’s reporting as a staff writer for Time magazine, Pastors’ Wivesis a dramatic portrayal of the private lives of pastors’ wives, caught between the demands of faith, marriage, duty, and love.
 
I’ve been thinking and thinking about how to describe this book.  Tossing words around in my mind for several weeks.  I’m still not sure how to do it.
 
Pastors’ Wives is amazingly well written. It’s a tightly-woven story of several families all connected to pastors and how they handle the pressures and stresses of always being the public specter, of how much of a leadership role they really play in their respective churches.  The details spring each character to life and the large cast of characters keep the story interesting.  The drama happening inside the church reads like a soap opera (as I imagine it often does in real life), and you won’t be bored with this story.
 
Unlike many of today’s popular novels, Cullen’s writing sounds formal and a bit distant.  It took me a few chapters to switch gears mentally into this style of writing, but I appreciate the excellent quality of her work.  Nobody could claim that this is a watered-down piece of literature.
 
I appreciate how one of the biggest problems was resolved in the end, but the ending for another left me disappointed.  Not because it wasn’t realistic, because it may be, but because I didn’t feel as if it offered any encouragement or hope for readers.  Life is not perfect and we don’t always get the happy ending that we want, but in this case, I felt as if the characters made a poor choice and that it was considered acceptable.  That attitude left a bad taste in my mouth where this book is concerned.
 
So with that said, I’m still not sure what to say about this book.  Because of the questionable ending, I won’t be passing this book along to anyone who may be in a similar situation.  If you’re strong in your faith journey, however, and you appreciate quality literature, you might really enjoy Pastors’ Wives.
 
To read other reviews of this book, click here.  Go here to purchase your own copy.
 
 
Lisa Takeuchi Cullen was a longtime staff writer for TIME magazine. She now develops TV pilots for production companies and recently sold her first pilot for “The Ordained” to CBS. Born in Japan, Cullen lives in New Jersey with family.
Find out more about Lisa at http://lisacullen.com. 
 
I received a free copy of Pastors’ Wives from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“Over the Edge” by Mary Connealy

Seth Kincaid survived a fire in a cave, but he’s never been the same. He was always a reckless youth, but now he’s gone over the edge. He ran off to the Civil War and came back crazier than ever.

After the war, nearly dead from his injuries, it appears Seth got married. Oh, he’s got a lot of excuses, but his wife isn’t happy to find out Seth doesn’t remember her. Callie has searched, prayed, and worried. Now she’s come to the Kincaid family’s ranch in Colorado to find her lost husband.
Callie isn’t a long-suffering woman. Once she knows her husband is alive, she wants to kill him. She’s not even close to forgiving him for abandoning her.

Then more trouble shows up in the form of a secret Seth’s pa kept for years. The Kincaid brothers might lose their ranch if they can’t sort things out. It’s enough to drive a man insane–but somehow it’s all making Seth see things more clearly. And now that he knows what he wants, no one better stand in his way.

This is a rollicking adventure full of humor and drama!  Connealy has penned a Western like no other.  From forgotten wives to “crazy” cowboys, you won’t want to put Over the Edge down.  


The story of the Kincaid brothers continues in this, the third adventure in the series.  Connealy does a wonderful job of weaving each brother’s story together, layering the depth, emotion, and sheer hilarity of a man who’s traumatized enough to forget his own wife.  


Personally, if I was forgotten by my own husband, I’m not sure I could chase after him, but Callie has the strength of character and stubbornness needed for this monumental task – and her courage in the face of adversity makes her totally lovable.  Seth, on the other hand, appears to be so addled that one can’t help but feel for him.  You want to cheer him on just as you groan with frustration that he’s losing his grip on reality – again.  When these two are joined with several other brothers, children, ranch hands, a few bandits, and a missing fortune, you’ve definitely got a winner.


I’ve had the good fortune of reading the first book in this series, and I loved it as much as I did this one.  Now, having read the third, I can’t wait to get my hands on the second one.  You won’t want to miss a single one, either – this series is just plain fun.


I received a free copy of Over the Edge in exchange for an honest review.


You can read other reviews on this bloggy hop here.  To begin your cavernous adventure now, purchase your copy here.

Mary Connealy writes fun and lively “romantic comedy with cowboys” for the inspirational market. She is the author of the successful Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie’s Daughters series, and her novel Calico Canyon was nominated for a Christy Award. She lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her husband, Ivan, and has four grown daughters.


Visit her on her Web site maryconnealy.com

“Once Upon a Prince” by Rachel Hauck

Susanna Truitt never dreamed of a great romance or being treated like a princess—just to marry the man she has loved for twelve years. But life isn’t going according to plan. When her high-school-sweetheart-turned-Marine-officer breaks up instead of proposing, Susanna scrambles to rebuild her life.

The last thing Prince Nathaniel expects to find on his American holiday to St. Simon’s Island is the queen of his heart. A prince has duties, and his family’s tense political situation has chosen his bride for him. When Prince Nathaniel comes to Susanna’s aid under the fabled Lover’s Oak, he is blindsided by love.
Their lives are worlds apart. He’s a royal prince. She’s a ordinary girl. But everything changes when Susanna receives an invitation to Nathaniel’s coronation.
It’s the ultimate choice. His kingdom or her heart? God’s will or their own?
 
Once Upon a Prince is the most romantic love story of the year!  From a sun-kissed southern island to a regal European palace, not a single element of this story has been left bereft of Hauck’s wash of love-colored paint.  Susanna Truitt’s situation, although funny as described, rings bleakly true, and too many of us will find something familiar in Prince Nathaniel’s duty-bound story.  
 
It is precisely that truth which makes the rest of this fantastic situation spellbinding.  All of us, at one time or another, have dreamed of a royal wedding.  We all want to be carried off into the sunset and live “happily ever after,” yet we know that this isn’t realistic.  
 
Susanna’s dreams, however, are in full color, especially after she visits Brighton Kingdom.  The plot progression deepens the moral lesson and also ups the suspense factor.  I couldn’t wait to find out just how Susanna’s lovelorn dilemma would reach resolution – I stayed up much too late to find out the answer.  Hauck is a romantic master and, in my opinion, has the corner in this genre. 
 
This is my favorite love story of 2013.  My only hope is that Hauck writes the next one in this series quickly. 
 
Once Upon a Prince, Book Trailer - Rachel Hauck
Once Upon a Prince, Book Trailer – Rachel Hauck
You can read other reviews on this blog hop here, or click here to purchase your own copy now.
 
Rachel Hauck is the bestselling author of Carol Award winner “Sweet Caroline”, and RITA Finalist “Love Starts With Elle”, and of the critically acclaimed fiction collaboration with multi-platinum country artist Sara Evans, “The Songbird Novels”. She lives in sunny, though sometimes hurricane plagued, central Florida with her husband and their ornery pets. Rachel earned a degree in Journalism from Ohio State University and is a huge Buckeyes football fan. She is the past President of American Christian Fiction Writers and now sits on the board as an Advisor.
 
Find out more about Rachel at: http://RachelHauck.com
 
I received a free copy of Once Upon a Prince from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“On Distant Shores” by Sarah Sundin

Caught between the war raging around them and the battles within, two souls long for peace—and a love that remains true.

Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie’s cozy life gets more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson.

Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancĂ©e. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they’ve made?

With her signature attention to detail and her talent for bringing characters together, Sarah Sundin weaves an exciting tale of emotion, action, and romance that will leave you wanting more.


Continuing with the wide cast of characters created in With Every Letter, On Distant Shores returns you to the drama unfolding within the military during World War II.  As if fighting Hitler, Mussolini, hunger, heat, and disease weren’t enough, Hutch also fights inequality within our very own military.  I’ve never before heard of the pharmacists’ fight to become recognized as officers, and it’s fascinating.  Who would’ve thought that such a respected and important profession would have faced such barriers?  I didn’t – but because of Sundin’s creative story, I enjoyed expanding my education!

Hutch and Georgie make colorful characters who complement each other well, and yet their differences in rank and those waiting for them at home make for a romantic story.  Sundin’s push beyond the typical romance – making the story not just about finally finding a happy ending for their love but instead learning to grow as God’s children and follow His will – make this a deep and enduring kind of story.  

Well written and full of historical detail, Sarah Sundin is rapidly moving up on my ‘favorite author’ list.  This has always been a period in history that is fascinating to me, but Sundin’s On Distant Shores shines a spotlight on a little-known corner of it – and it shows us just how important these hardworking men and women were during this war.

Sundin reminds us that our lives are really not about us – not necessarily about our plans or our wants but instead what God wants us to do and how we can help others.  

What a fun way for God to deliver that reminder. 

You can read other reviews in this blog hop here or visit this page to purchase our own copy.


Sarah Sundin is the author of “With Every Letter” and the Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A “Memory Between Us” was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children. 

Visit www.sarahsundin.com for more information.


I received a free copy of On Distant Shores from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“A Noble Groom” by Jody Hedlund

Michigan, 1888

Annalisa Werner’s hope for a fairy tale love is over. Her husband failed her in every way and now his death has left her with few options to save the family farm. She needs a plentiful harvest. That, and a husband to help bring it in. Someone strong, dependable. That’ll be enough. A marriage for love…that’s something she’s given up on.
So her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa agroom.
Then a man appears: Carl Richards, from their home country of Germany and a former schoolteacher—or so he says. He’s looking for work and will serve on the farm until her husband arrives.
With time running out, she accepts his help, but there’s more to this man than he’s admitting. He’s also gentle, kind, charming—unlike any man she’s ever known. But even as Carl is shining light into the darkness of her heart, she knows her true groom may arrive any day.
 
Every Hedlund book gets better, and A Noble Groom is no exception to that rule.  Jody Hedlund is a master at painting a scene.  She fully immerses you in the drama that she has created until you’re positive that her characters are real and that you’re watching them live out their story.
 
It doesn’t hurt that A Noble Groom is set in the American pioneer era, one of my favorites in all of history, but I’m convinced I’d love it anyway.  Hedlund’s mixture of historical reality and fictional drama are remarkably rare.  Most authors excel at creating an unforgettable story or an amazing historical setting, but few can accurately portray the pain of a given era while still showcasing it as a romantic possibility as Hedlund.
 
If you’d like to find out more about the pioneer spirit in Michigan or are just a historical fiction junkie, be sure to add A Noble Groom to your must-read list.
 
Read other reviews on this bloggy tour here.  To buy your own copy of A Noble Groom, click here.
 
 
 
 Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of “The Doctor’s Lady” and “The Preacher’s Bride”. She won the 2011 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award, the 2011 Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers and was a finalist for Best Debut Novel in the 2011 ACFW Carol Awards. Currently she makes her home in central Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. She loves hearing from readers on Facebook and on her blog.
Find out more about Jody athttp://jodyhedlund.com/
 
I received a free copy of A Noble Groom from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“No Safe Harbor” by Elizabeth Ludwig

 

She came to America searching for her brother. Instead all she’s found is a web of danger.

Cara Hamilton had thought her brother to be dead. Now, clutching his letter, she leaves Ireland for America, desperate to find him. Her search leads her to a houseful of curious strangers, and one man who claims to be a friend-Rourke Walsh. Despite her brother’s warning, Cara trusts Rourke, revealing her purpose in coming to New York.
She’s then thrust into a world of subterfuge, veiled threats, and attempted murder, including political revolutionaries from the homeland out for revenge. Her questions guide her ever nearer to locating her brother-but they also bring her closer to destruction as those who want to kill him track her footsteps.
With her faith in tatters, all hope flees. Will her brother finally surface? Can he save Cara from the truth about Rourke… a man she’s grown to love? 

No Safe Harbor is full of twists and turns!  Cara’s journey is a difficult one as she tries to find her brother without knowing whom she can trust, and that makes the entire book suspenseful.   It seemed as if every other person she met had some kind of possible connection to her brother, and not knowing whether she’s safe keeps the reader on her toes.

My absolute favorite aspect of the book, though, was that of Cara’s Irish heritage.  I loved hearing the references to her homeland, to searches through Ellis Island to trace immigrants, and the brogue fairly jumped off the page and into my ears.  My great-grandmother once traced my ancestors back to Ireland in 1632, and I’ve always wondered what their journey – earlier though it was – must have been like.  While I’ve never heard of my ancestors having these types of strong family “connections,” this makes for a fascinating story!

I can’t wait to read the next installment to the Edge of Freedom series.  

You can check out other reviews on the blog tour here, or, you can buy your own copy of No Safe Harbor here.  

  
 
Elizabeth Ludwig is an award-winning author and an accomplished speaker and teacher. Her historical novel Love Finds You in Calico, California earned four stars from Romantic Times. She is the owner and editor of the popular literary blog The Borrowed Book. Along with her husband and two children, Elizabeth makes her home in Orange, Texas.
 
I received a free copy of No Safe Harbor from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“Need You Now” by Beth Wiseman

Darlene Henderson and her husband Brad recently moved from big city life to a farm in rural Texas, where the kids are turning over a new, peaceful leaf and they’re all settling into life in the slow lane.  That is, until Darlene realizes that with their youngest child now doing well in middle school and less involvement with her children’s activities, she has more time on her hands than ever – and nobody seems to need her.  She takes a teacher’s position in a local school for students with special needs, and the family scrambles to fill her homemaking shoes.  In the commotion of the move, Brad’s long daily commute, and Darlene’s new schedule, however, nobody notices as each teen finds new temptations in small town life – and the Henderson marriage has trouble finding a new balance.  When the handsome dad of Darlene’s new student enters the picture, will he be just another ripple in the pond – or the final straw on the camel’s back?
 
I’ve been a fan of Wiseman’s work for a while – you can read my reviews of some of her other books here and here – and this one is even better.  From the very beginning, although my children are still small and need much daily help, I could identify with Darlene, especially in her quest to be useful.  She wants her work, whether at home, with her family, in her marriage, or at a paying job, to be of significance to somebody, and her family no longer notices the effort she puts forth for them each day.  
 
As a wife and mom, I think that this is something that most of us can relate to: do we stay home?  Do we work outside of the home?  Is being available really that important?  Are relatively clean floors and healthy meals of value, and if so, to whom?  Today’s American culture doesn’t seem to value these efforts in the same way that it did 50 years ago, and Darlene feels the pressure to fill her time and be important.  This struggle initally made me identify with Darlene, but it was her quest to find a solid friendship in her neighbor Layla and the issues with her kids that made me unable to put this book down.
 
Books where you can predict the ending are not fun.  It’s the question, the unanswered dilemma, the what-if that keeps the pages turning, and Wiseman has heaped them upon this book – in spades.  What makes this book completely fascinating is that each question is a pressing concern in our society today, and yet they’re all woven realistically into a tapestry that looks like a typical, caring American family.  One wouldn’t expect the Cleavers to have a rebellious son, a daughter who cuts, or a wife on the brink of an affair, and yet real families have real problems.  The Hendersons do, too.
 
That is the best part of Need You Now.  It reads like reality.  It’s taken from today’s headlines and written in such a way that these issues could be a part of anybody’s family.  The script flows smoothly, so well written that it allows the text to fade away as the characters and scenes play out in front of you.  
 
That is the excellence of Wiseman.  I love her past work.  This is my favorite so far.  I can’t wait to read the next one.
 
I received a free copy of Need You Now from B&B Media Group in exchange for an honest review.

“My Stubborn Heart” by Becky Wade

Litfuse 
 
When traveling to Pennsylvania to help her grandmother renovate her childhood home, Kate Donovan was excited for the break.  With her career as a social worker feeling lackluster following a tragedy and no Prince Charming in sight, Kate began to question God’s plan – and then she met Matt Jarreau, the man hired to complete the renovation.  Suddenly Kate begins to see purpose in the journey as the two begin to grow close, despite the tragedy in Matt’s past.  Can each be obedient to God’s instruction, however, even if it means giving up what they want most?
As a reader, you have to cheer Kate on.  She’s persistent, kind, and yet real in her desire for a husband.  She takes a stand for the underdog, the hurting, and yet bleeds while she does it.  She isn’t perfect and has her own doubts and sometimes gives in to them.  Wade writes amazing, funny, touchable characters that you want to befriend and invite over for dinner.
Wade’s writing is smooth with fantastic word choices and character quirks.  She’s written the best kind of romance – one that makes you fall in love with the characters while simultaneously crying for their problems.  This isn’t a piece of beach fluff, for they’ve endured real pain and real tragedy.  Their faith and their doubts and their questions can’t be brushed aside, but instead she digs in deep and helps them find the answers for which they search.  Forgiveness, true love, faith – this book is about so much more than romance.
I can’t wait to see what Wade writes next.
I received a free copy of My Stubborn Heart from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.