“The Quarryman’s Bride” by Tracie Peterson

Emmalyne Knox and Tavin MacLachlan were destined to be together . . . until the tragic deaths of Emmalyne’s youngest sisters. Family tradition mandates that the youngest daughter should remain single to care for her parents in their old age, and now that daughter is Emmalyne. Her father unyielding, Emmalyne surrenders to her duty, heartbroken. Tavin leaves town, equally devastated.

Years later, Emmalyne’s family moves, and she and Tavin meet again. Their feelings for each other are as strong as ever, but their painful past and Emmalyne’s father still stand between them. Soon both families are in the midst of the growing conflict rising between the workers at the granite quarry that Tavin’s father owns and operates. When a series of near-fatal accidents occur, Tavin must figure out who is behind the attacks before someone gets killed.

Bound by obligation, yet yearning for a future together, can Emmalyne and Tavin dare to dream that God could heal a decade-long wound and change the hearts of those who would stand in the way of true love?

The Quarryman’s Bride is a fascinating tale of love lost and faithful choices.  I must admit, I found it hard to identify with Emmalyne’s choice but loved her faithfulness and spirit.  That alone kept me turning page after page, hoping to find that Emmalyne’s choice was rewarded in some way.  I’m not sure that I could have remained so positive or cheerful if so many things had been taken away from me, and yet that was Emmalyne’s charm.

While Emmalyne had a tough choice to make in the beginning, it didn’t get any easier later, when her family returned to the quarry.  This time she purposely chose the hard road and tried to follow God’s wishes, not her own, and that upped the fascination factor for me.  

I really enjoyed The Quarryman’s Bride.  It’s a great story, full of faith, emotion, and taking up one’s cross – something that many of us don’t do enough.  With side plots of union troubles relating to the quarry and the stereotypes relating to the mentally ill, this book is not lacking action or intrigue, either.  It’s not just a great beach read – it’s a great anytime read.

To read other reviews in this blog hop, click here; or, click here to purchase your copy now.

Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana, and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana. 
Visit Tracie’s Web site at www.traciepeterson.com
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“The Promise Box” by Tricia Goyer

With her heart – and her loyalty – on the line, can she let true love in her life?

Every year, young Amish men descend on the cozy little town of West Kootenai, Montana, arriving in the spring to live there for six months and receive ‘resident’ status for the hunting season in the fall. They arrive as bachelors, but go home with brides! Lydia Wyse, a book editor from Seattle who grew up Amish, returns to the small community of West Kootenai, Montana to give comfort to her father after her mother’s death.
She is drawn back to the familiar Amish ways after finding her mother’s most precious possession, a Promise Box of prayers and scripture. What her publisher sees, though, is an opportunity for a sensational ‘tell-all’ book about the Amish. Lydia soon finds herself falling in love with Amish bachelor Gideon Hooley. She wants nothing more than to forget her past and look forward to a future as an Amish bride. 
Will the pain of her childhood-and her potential betrayal of her community-keep her from committing her whole heart?
The Promise Box is an amazing story of faith and yet different from most other Amish books out there.  Lydia doubts her own value in God’s eyes after learning that her conception was the result of rape – and it changes her entire life.  While she questions her place as an Amish woman, her larger question of why a good God allows bad things to happen is one asked by nearly everyone at some point in their lives.  
Lydia’s journey to find the answer to that question makes up the bulk of this book – which, of course, includes a sweet love story and a beautiful mountain setting.  (Somehow reading books about ugly swamps is just not appealing to me!  I’d rather live beautifully and vicariously through the characters.)  Her journey, although full of hardship and loss, has a very Goyer-esque sweetness to it.  
The book is titled after a special box kept by Lydia’s mother in which she wrote scriptural promises that she wanted to remember – a Bible diary, of sorts.  I’ve seen this same type of ‘journal’ take many forms, but I especially like this one, and it made for an interesting tool of plot advancement throughout the story.
The Promise Box is a sweet journey of love, hope, and reconciliation.  I love how Goyer writes about a realization that we each must come to:  that we are all valuable in God’s eyes because He made us, not because of circumstances or anything that we’ve done, but because of who He is and what He has done.  Lydia’s story is well worth the read.
Click here to read other reviews on this bloggy hop.  Click here to go ahead and purchase your own copy now. 🙂
Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of one, and wife to John. Somewhere around the hustle and bustle of family life, she manages to find the time to write fictional tales delighting and entertaining readers and non-fiction titles offering encouragement and hope. A bestselling author, Tricia has published thirty-three books to date and has written more than 500 articles. She is a two-time Carol Award winner, as well as a Christy and ECPA Award Nominee. In 2010, she was selected as one of the Top 20 Moms to Follow on Twitter by SheKnows.com. Tricia is also on the blogging team at MomLifeToday.com, TheBetterMom.com and other homeschooling and Christian sites. In addition to her roles as mom, wife and author, Tricia volunteers around her community and mentors teen moms. She is the founder of Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, and she currently leads a Teen MOPS Group in Little Rock, AR. Tricia, along with a group of friends, recently launched NotQuiteAmishLiving.com, sharing ideas about simplifying life. She also hosts the weekly radio podcast, Living Inspired. 
Learn more about Tricia at www.triciagoyer.com.
I received a free copy of The Promise Box from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“Princess Ever After” by Rachel Hauck

Regina Beswick was born to be a princess.

But she’s content to be a small-town girl, running a classic auto restoration shop, unaware a secret destiny awaits her. One that will leap from the pages of her grandmother’s hand-painted book of fairytales.
Tanner Burkhardt is the stoic Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg. When he is tasked to retrieve the long-lost princess, he must overcome his fear of failure in order to secure his nation’s future—and his own.


Yet lurking in the political shadows is a fierce opponent with sinister plans to abolish the throne forever. Overwhelmed with opposition, Regina must decide if she’s destined to restore old cars or an ancient nation. Together—with a little divine intervention—Regina and Tanner discover the truth of her heritage and the healing power of true love.
Regina Beswick was born to be a princess, and Rachel Hauck was born to write about them.  Hauck can spin a romance like no other – setting amazingly beautiful scenery with the special touches that few could dream up – and then plunking a perfectly regular person in the midst of it.  I love watching how these seemingly ordinary Americans deal with the drastic change in circumstances.  How they try to navigate the rough waters of love, wealth, status, and royalty when the entire world is watching.
Few of us females reach adulthood without dreaming of being a princess.  A real one.  We want to twirl in the fancy dresses and be adored by someone who will stand beside us protectively, but we never think about the publicity, the politics, the backstabbing, or the etiquette that also surrounds anyone royal.  
Hauck blends the two in a fantastic story that is both realistic and beautiful.  She captures the beautiful possibilities of being royal while also capturing the emotional and spiritual drama that the position must entail.
So many books come my way that I rarely keep a book’s upcoming release date in mind, but I loved the first one in this series so much that I’ve been watching and waiting for this one for months.  Now that it’s finally here, I savored every word of the story – and can only hope there soon will be another.
Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as RITA nominated The Wedding Dress and RITA nominated Love Starts with Elle, part of the Lowcountry series, the Nashvegas series and the Songbird Novels penned with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Their novel Softly and Tenderly, was one of Booklists 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals. A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, she worked in the corporate software world before planting her backside in an uncomfortable chair to write full time in 2004. Rachel serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship at their annual conference. She is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker. Rachel writes from her two-story tower in an exceedingly more comfy chair. She is a huge Buckeyes football fan.
Learn more about Rachel at: http://rachelhauck.com
I received a free copy of Princess Ever After from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman

Carley Marek’s world shatters when she survives a horrifying accident, and she doesn’t know how to pick up the pieces. Trying to rejuvenate her career, she takes a trip to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to stay with a friend in an Old Order Amish home and write an article about the Amish culture. Although she expected to ask questions and be an impartial observer, she finds herself becoming a part of the community as she helps a sick child’s family and begins to fall for Dr. Noah, a man shunned from the very family she’s visiting. With all of these new pieces to the puzzle of her life, where can Carley go from here?

Beth Wiseman has written the best Amish novel I’ve read in years. True to the Amish culture of central Pennsylvania, this book does not romanticize their lives, nor does it make their culture seem foreign or strange. She creatively uses the characters and the plot to keep the reader in suspense while introducing real-to-life drama. Carley’s turmoil and questions regarding her past experiences and her faith are real and are not resolved in a paragraph. She struggles to understand the mystery surrounding the events of Noah’s shunning and the difficult ramifications his family faces because of that years later.

Plain Pursuit will challenge any reader to seek out forgiveness and to understand how they, too, can be a “child of promise.” If you’ve ever been interested in Amish culture or have questions about how God relates to His children, this is a book for you.

For more information about Plain Pursuit by Beth Wiseman, go here.
For more information about Thomas Nelson products, go here.

** Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

“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 fiancée. 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.