“The Letters” by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Rose Schrock is a plain woman with a simple plan. Determined to find a way to support her family and pay off her late husband’s debts, she sets to work to convert the basement of her Amish farmhouse into an inn. While her family, especially her cranky mother-in-law, is unhappy with Rose’s big idea, her friend and neighbor, Galen King, supports the decision and he helps with the conversion. As Rose finalizes preparations for visitors, she prays. She asks God to bless each guest who stays at the Inn at Eagle Hill. As the first guest arrives and settles in, Rose is surprised to discover that her entire family is the one who receives the blessings, in the most unexpected ways. And she’s even more surprised when that guest decides to play matchmaker for Galen King.

With her signature plot twists combined with gentle Amish romance, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites readers back to Stoney Ridge for fresh stories of simple pleasures despite the complexity of life. Fisher’s tale of God’s providence and provision will delight her fans and create many new ones. Welcome to the Inn at Eagle Hill.


I couldn’t put The Letters down.  I love the story that Fisher has crafted.  It’s full of love, loss, and new beginnings.  I’ve never heard of an Amish family running a bed-and-breakfast, but the premise of what might cause this type of intense interaction with the outside world is fascinating.  

I appreciated Rose’s positive outlook in the face of extreme disappointment.  That is a true gift, and she shared it – not only with her family, but with others that she encountered.  Her wish to have her inn be a blessing to guests instead of merely saving her family financially is amazing.  

Rose is not the only interesting character in the story.  Lydia also faces major problems, and with Roses’s help, she climbs out of bed to face another day.  In her situation, I’m not sure that retaliation, or at least some shouting, wouldn’t be on my list of immediate reactions, but Lydia remains a lady throughout her ordeal.  Her resilience teaches a wonderful lesson.

I’m looking forward to the next book in the Inn at Eagle Hill series.  I can’t wait to find out what sort of new mischief Mim finds herself in or to read the next part of Galen’s story.  These characters were loveable and real – and their situations, while maybe not loveable, were certainly realistic.  

My favorite type of story is one in which the main characters get knocked down and figure out how to get back up.  The lessons those characters learn are often ones that we all  need to learn – well, me, anyway.  Everyone in this story – except perhaps notably Anna – grow and do so with grace.  

This is another Fisher winner – but then again, is there any other kind?

You can read other reviews on this bloggy hop here or purchase your own copy here.


Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, includingAmish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children’s series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. For more information, please visit suzannewoodsfisher.com and connect with her on Twitter @suzannewfisher. Get Amish proverbs delivered right to your iPhone or iPad! Download the Free App! http://bit.ly/134r55G

Learn more about Lily at http://adventuresoflilylapp.com/


I received a free copy of the Letters from LitFuse publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“The Lesson” by Suzanne Woods Fisher


 In her wildest dreams, spunky and impulsive nineteen-year-old Mary Kate Lapp never imagined herself behind a schoolteacher’s desk. A run-in (literally) with the schoolteacher compels her to act as a substitute teacher, just as her restless desire to see the world compels her to apply for a passport . . . just in case. The only thing of interest to M.K. in the sleepy Amish community of Stoney Ridge is the unexplained death of a sheep farmer that coincided with the arrival of a mysterious young man into the community. Frustrated that no one takes the crime seriously, she takes matters into her own hands. Unfortunately, as tends to be the case for M.K., she jumps headlong into trouble.

The Lesson has more twists and turns than a rabbit hole, keeping readers turning pages in total suspense.  I loved it!  With a wide cast of familiar characters who become totally intertwined in some really creative and zany ways, this book is both heart-wrenching and fun.


M.K. is almost grown up, nearing twenty years old and still feeling restless.  This translates into adventures for the readers as she careens around on her scooter and takes quick action on snap decisions.  Because this carelessness is balanced with true heart, M.K. makes a loveable lead character as well as a fun one.  


These adventures and side trails translate into what makes Fisher’s books so wonderful.  With each character innately involved in advancing the plot and putting their own spin on M.K.’s antics, the Stoney Ridge series is unlike any other Amish book that I’ve read. With meaningful spiritual lessons wrapped in a fun package, The Lesson is unique but packed with realistic action.  Simply put, The Lesson is captivating.

To learn more about The Lesson, purchase it here.

 

Suzanne Woods Fisher lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has one husband, four children, one son-in-law, a brand new grand-baby, and a couple of dogs. She graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California.  Suzanne has contracts with Revell for six more books about the Amish, both fiction and non-fiction. She is also the host of “Amish Wisdom·” on toginet.com, a weekly radio program featuring guests who are connected to Simple Living.

Find out more about Suzanne athttp://suzannewoodsfisher.com/. 

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

“The Journey of Josephine Cain” by Nancy Moser

When a socialite from the nation’s capital embarks on a journey to the Wild West, her life is changed forever.A setting populated by hundreds of laborers, outlaws, and Indians is hardly the place for a wealthy general’s daughter. But Josephine Cain is determined to visit her father, who supervises the day-to-day work involved in the grandest ambition of post-Civil War America: the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Life with the railroad is far from the proper life Josephine is used to, and she faces deadly gunfights, harsh weather, and vigilante uprisings. She is torn between the West and the East; between her privileged upbringing and the challenges of a new frontier; between the pull of the suitable beau her parents approve of and an attraction to a rough but charming Irish railroad worker. But if Josephine is willing, she just might find a new life, a unique purpose . . . and true love

The Wild West has always been my era.  It’s the time period in history that has fascinated me since I watched Little House on the Prairie with my parents and grandparents.  There’s just something about the independence and the undeveloped, wild beauty that draws me – and apparently I’m not the only one, because it drew thousands during the frontier era.

That very rawness is what captivates in this story.  You can’t help but wonder what the suitable beau has up his sleeve, because it’s obviously not just his elbow, and Josephine’s developing maturity is worthy of a cheer.  It’s the sheer possibilities of the story that delight.  In Washington Josephine is shuttered into following her mother’s expectations of a proper young socialite, but in the West anything is possible.  She can throw her sensibilities to the wind and dare to dream, and it’s the hope for a fireworks-shooting romance that will keep you turning page after page.  

I loved the real history tucked neatly into this story.  The tidbits are relatively unknown but real and add a distinct flair to the plot.  These new characters and stories keep the reader on her figurative toes, which must have been how Josephine felt when venturing off into this wild new land.  

Whether you come down on the side of the immigrant pulling himself up by his bootstraps or prefer to read about princesses strong enough to tough out the proverbial pea, you’ll find what you’re looking for in The Journey of Josephine Cain

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

 
Nancy Moser is the best-selling author of more than twenty novels. She is a winner and two-time nominee of the Christy Award, and her latest novel was named to Booklist’s “Top 10 Romance Novels of 2011.” Nancy and her husband have three grown children and three grandchildren, and they live in the Midwest.

Learn more at Nancy at: http://nancymoser.com/.
 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“It Happened At The Fair” by Deeanne Gist

A transporting historical novel about a promising young inventor, his struggle with loss, and the attractive teacher who changes his life, all set against the razzle-dazzle of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

 
Gambling everything, including the family farm, Cullen McNamara travels to the 1893 Chicago World’sFair with his most recent invention. But the noise in theFair‘s Machinery Palace makes it impossible to communicate with potential buyers. In an act of desperation, he hires Della Wentworth, a teacher of the deaf, to tutor him in the art of lip-reading.
The young teacher is reluctant to participate, and Cullen has trouble keeping his mind on his lessons while intently watching her lips. Like the newly invented Ferris Wheel, he is caught in a whirl between his girl back home, his dreams as an inventor, and his unexpected attraction to his new tutor. Can he keep his feet on the ground, or will he be carried away?
 
It Happened At The Fair is a spectacular look at the underbelly of the Chicago World’s Fair.  If we think anything at all about these historical expositions, it’s usually of shiny new inventions and gleaming innovations, but rarely do we think about the hard work or the dangers that accompanied this major event – or of how people’s lives were changed because of the successes or failures they found there.
 
This story will change all that.
 
In a last-ditch attempt to save his family’s farm, future, and livelihood, Cullen convinces Della to teach him to read lips.  I know next-to-nothing about lipreading, but I studied sign language in college, and I think it’s a beautiful way to express oneself.  I was fascinated to learn through this story about the stereotypes and indignities that people with hearing disabilities used to have.  Imagine being deprived of this now-common, beautiful language because others thought you mentally imbalanced!  
 
As always, I loved Gist’s descriptions.  I feel as if I’ve been at the fair myself.  I can picture the beautifully faux buildings, the fountains, the people from all over the world, and the danger that lurked beneath every dry building.  I can see the crush of the crowds and the awe in the eyes of children in a city for the very first time.
 
Gist is also a master at building suspense.  She does so in a myriad of ways in this book – by escalating the fear of a great fire on the grounds, by increasing the danger to Cullen’s family farm, with flying sparks between Cullen and Della.  It Happened at the Fair is one book you won’t be able to put down until you’ve turned the very last page, because until then, you’ll devour each one like the very fires that Cullen fears.
 
To read other reviews in this bloggy tour, click here; or, if you’d like to purchase your own copy now, click here.
 
 
Deeanne Gist—known to her family, friends, and fans as Dee—has rocketed up bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere with her very fun, very original historicals. She has received numerous RITA nominations, two consecutive Christy Awards, and rave reviews. Deeanne has a background in education and journalism and a degree from Texas A&M. She has written for People, Parents, and Parenting. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and has four grown children. She has a very active online community on her website at IWantHerBook.com and at Facebook.com/DeesFriends. 
 
I received a free copy of It Happened At The Fair from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“Inescapable” by Nancy Mehl

Lizzie Engel is used to running away. At eighteen, she left her Mennonite hometown, Kingdom, Kansas, with plans never to return.
 
But five years later, the new life she built is falling apart. Lizzie knows she’s being followed, and she’s certain the same mysterious stranger is behind the threatening letters she’s received. Realizing she’ll have to run again, the only escape Lizzie can manage is a return to the last place she wants to go.
 
Once she arrives in Kingdom, Lizzie is confident she’ll be safe until she comes up with a new plan. In reacquainting herself with the town and its people–especially her old friend, Noah Housler–she wonders if she judged her hometown and her Mennonite faith too harshly. However, just as she begins to come to terms with her roots, Lizzie is horrified to discover the danger she ran from is closer than ever. 
 
No longer sure who to trust and fearful for her life and the lives of those around her, Lizzie finds she has only one place left to run–to the Father whose love is inescapable. 
 
I really liked the premise of this book:  How might a former Mennonite handle worldly trouble of the dangerous variety?  I’ve never encountered this idea in any other Mennonite or Amish book, and Mehl used this idea to create a storyline reminiscent of the old-timey villain movies.  You know the ones – where the damsel-in-distress runs, screaming, from the dark-haired villain, up the steps and straight towards him?  You know where he is, you can see her mistakes, but you can also understand why she’s making them, and you’re sadly unable to help her.  Mehl also pulled in church disagreements and large doses of grace, which we all need, and created a story of love, suspense, and redemption.  You can’t help but cheer Lizzie on – and you’ll be unable to put down the book while you’re doing so.
 
Ultra-conservative sects are sometimes misunderstood in our society, but like the rest of us, they are people finding their way.  I love how Mehl depicted them individually as people who don’t always get along and struggle to determine God’s path for them, just as the rest of us do.  Just as the characters in Inescapable had to learn how to give grace and work together, so our world needs a big, heaping helping of this.
 
If you’ve ever felt the need for grace, that a mistake you’ve made separates you from the faithful around you, or you just want to know about how other people live, pick up Inescapable.  You won’t be able to put it back down.
 
To read other reviews on this blog tour, visit the schedule here.
 
I received a free copy of Inescapable from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for a free review.

 

“Indivisible” by Kristen Heitzmann

Chief of Police Jonah Westfall typically fights only small-town crime in Redford, Colorado, but a series of animal mutilations and a rising drug problem bring about new challenges for his small  force.  Westfall struggles to hold onto his sobriety while he continues to make peace with his past, which includes Tia Manning – a childhood friend with whom he shares a stormy history.  Can Westfall restore peace to his beloved town – before someone gets hurt?

I LOVE the way that Heitzmann weaves this story!  The cast of characters grows slowly, as do their connections, which truly brings to life each person and their own personal story.  The characters each have his/her fatal flaw, which serves to make them seem real, instead of packaged and plastic.  Each one has his or her own well-developed style and story to tell, yet all cause the reader to ponder one main question: how do we deal with the pain of being hurt?  Each character in the story reacts in a different way to past pain, and seeing the consequences of each can be eye-opening.  Past mistakes are not glossed over or seen as ‘acceptable’ sins, but are viewed for what they are – dark problems with far-reaching consequences.

For a Christian book, there is very little so-called Christian ‘stuff’ here.  There is no preaching or outright teaching, but the faith of the author – and the characters who have it – is evident in the twist of the story.  Manning and Westfall do discuss their faith a few times, but those discussions are used more as a springboard for solving relationship issues and understanding the choices they had made in the past few years.  Someone looking for a Bible verse on every page should, perhaps, look elsewhere; but for someone who wants to read an incredible, suspenseful, realistic story about people who have faith, this is the book to read.

I received a free copy of this book from Multnomah’s Books for Bloggers program in exchange for an honest review.

“Indelible” by Kristen Heitzmann

Trevor McDaniel is a former Olympian who risked his life to save a toddler from a mountain lion – and gained an unlikely admirer in the process.  A prodigious artist, Natalie deals with her eidetic mind the best way she knows how – even though it puts her life in danger – and is the toddler’s aunt.  Trevor and Natalie see sparks when thrown together – but will things change when Natalie suddenly is given care of her still-recovering nephew?  When pictures of children in danger from across the nation begin showing up in Trevor’s mailbox – and then mysterious dangers show up in Redford – can police chief Jonah Westfall piece together the connection to Trevor before a child – or someone Trevor loves – ends up dead?

Indelible is a fantastic suspense that explores the mysteries of the mind while surviving real life in the physical world.  Heitzmann draws the reader in and keeps them engaged through an ever-expanding cast of characters, each with a curious role in the plot.  Indelible follows Indivisible, another book set in Redford, but is not a typical sequel.  Both books could be read independently with no problems, but because the character set overlaps, a depth is added to the story that would be difficult to add otherwise.

Heitzmann writes from the perspective of both admirer and Trevor, demon and archangel.  She explores perspective in an interesting way – are things ever what they seem?  Is anyone absolutely anything?  Can people be black and white?  How much of a role do circumstances play in what we become, and how can we overcome them?

I’ve read many of Heitzmann’s other books, and I’ve loved them all.  Indelible did not disappoint.  Once begun, I could not put it down – and so I highly recommend this book and look forward to the next.

Shall we see more of Redford?  I hope so.

*I received a free copy of Indelible from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

“The Headmistress of Rosemere” by Sarah E. Ladd

 

 Patience Creighton has dedicated herself to the Rosemere School for Young Ladies. But the return of the enigmatic master of the estate puts everything she loves at risk.

Bright, sensible Patience knows what is expected of her. At twenty-five, her opportunity for a family of her own has passed, so she invests herself in teaching at her father’s school for girls. When her father dies suddenly and her brother moves away to London, she is determined to make the school successful.

Confirmed bachelor William Sterling also knows what is expected of him, but mistake after mistake has left him teetering on ruin’s edge. As master of Eastmore Hall he owns a great deal of property — including the land where Rosemere School is located — but possesses little money to manage its upkeep. When debtors start calling, he is desperate to find a new source of income, even if it means sacrificing Rosemere.

When a fire threatens the school grounds, William must decide to what lengths he is willing to go to protect his birthright. And when Patience’s brother returns with a new wife to take over management of the school, Patience suddenly finds herself unsure of her calling. After a surprising truth about William’s past is brought to light, both William and Patience will have to seek God’s plans for their lives-and their hearts.

What would you do if your entire world was crashing down around you?  That’s what this book ultimately was about to me.  Patience is a stellar lead who’s strong, capable, and determined, but she secretly longs for love.  Reading about her struggles to maintain the integrity of the school in face of danger, as well as hide her missing brother’s absence and care for her depressed mother was fascinating.  A strong character, one who will push on with wisdom and integrity in the face of adversity, is my very favorite kind, and Patience fits that description to a ‘T.’

William isn’t so bad, either.  Although it was his carelessness and greed that placed him into his present troubles, he doesn’t try to avoid them, but instead faces his problems head-on and does his best to deal with them with all of the wisdom and experience he now possesses.  It’s this very attitude – this recognition of failure and a determination to be different – that makes him admirable in my eyes.  He has become the gentleman he never wanted to be, somewhat in spite of himself, but now that he has, he takes to the role beautifully.

The Headmistress of Rosemere drew me in from the very first page.  With a mysterious and dangerous late-night encounter as your introduction, Ladd set the bar high for suspense and intrigue throughout the book, but better yet, she topped it.  I enjoyed the story so much that I finished it in a single sitting.  I couldn’t wait to find out if William would work out his problems and how Patience would hold on through her difficulties and if they would ever find their way to each other.

 If you enjoy romantic historical fiction but also appreciate a story with an edge, The Mistress of Rosemere is definitely the book for you.

You can read other reviews on this bloggy hop here or purchase your own copy now here.

 
 
Sarah E. Ladd has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. The Heiress of Winterwood was the recipient of the 2011 Genesis Award for historical romance. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever.

Learn more about Sarah at: http://sarahladd.com
 
I received a free copy of The Headmistress of Rosemere from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“The Guest Book” by Marybeth Whalen

The Guest Book

Macy Dillon has been drawing in the guest book of a beachside vacation rental for 10 years – and a young boy has been drawing her pictures in response.  Until, that is, her father died and Macy’s family stopped visiting the beach.  Now, years later, they return to find closure for her father’s death and Macy prays that she might find that boy who so ensnared her dreams years before.  With everything in disarray and pain on every side, might the guest book provide the hope and healing that Macy has been searching for?

I really enjoyed my read of The Guest Book.  Macy’s young enough to be innocent and spoiled in many ways, and yet jaded enough to have real issues that many of us can relate to.  She struggles on so many fronts – with motherhood, men, independence, grief, and who she wants to be as a woman – that she has a lot to figure out.  The weight of these issues keeps the book from being a for-fun-only read, but the way that God goes about answering Macy’s prayer adds a huge element of fun.

More than either of Whalen’s previous books, there’s a bit of mystery around some of these characters.  With each one so different and inadvertently teaching Macy something new, I couldn’t put the story down.  I couldn’t wait to find out if she would meet her long-lost picture-pal!

If fun reads are too shallow for you but you’re not up for Russian literature on the beach, definitely check out The Guest Book.  The balance of fun, suspense, and depth is right-on, making this the perfect summer story.

I received a free copy of The Guest Book from Marybeth Whalen in exchange for an honest review.

“Grave Consequences” by Lisa T. Bergren

  


The Powerful, Epic Romance Continues, Book 2 in Lisa T. Begren’s Grand Tour series

 
For Cora Kensington, the journey of a lifetime takes unexpected twists. And her future-her very life-depends on the decisions she’ll make at each crossroad. As her European tour with her newfound family takes her through Austria, France, and Italy, an unseen enemy trails close behind. Meanwhile, a forbidden love continues to claim her heart, putting everyone’s plans in danger.
And as Cora stays one step ahead of it all, what might need the most protection is her own heart, torn between the dramatic pursuit of a dashing Frenchman and a man who has been quietly staking claim to her affections all along. Love has dangers all its own. She must escape the bonds of the past and discover the faith to make the right choices, as each one has grave consequences. 
 
The very premise of this book boggles my mind.  Spend weeks touring Europe just because you can, in the very lap of Royal luxury?  I can’t imagine!  Doing so with several love interests, people who don’t like you, people who want to kidnap you, and not knowing whom you can trust – I think I’d lose it.  
 
With that said, the descriptions of each place visited in Europe are completely fascinating.  As a total lover of history, I would love to stay in a Venetian palace, visit a French ruin, or climb a glacial mountain.  Just imagine who might have been there before you!  
 
Unlike the first book of this series, it took me a bit to get my head in this book, but I think that’s because of the way the last one ended – and how long it’s been since I read the first one. That one didn’t have a final wrap -up or slow resolution; instead, it ended like a soap opera, with the reader wanting desperately to just pick up the second book and keep going.  This series reads more like installments or chapters than separate books, so since I read them months apart, it took some time to get back into it without the usual warm-ups and introductions that usually take up the first chapter or two of a series.  However, I was soon back in the game, and once there, I didn’t want the book to end.
 
The ending of this book did feel more final than that of the first in the series, with a more complete conclusion and resolution, but it did not keep me from wanting to read on.    Instead, I was completely impressed by the ending.  The surprise both in action and in the character of Cora is a perfect transition to the next book, and I can’t wait to read it.
 
If you’ve ever wanted to travel, if you find the luxury of the Titanic incredible, or you just plain like history, this is definitely the series for you.  With so much action, intrigue, and adventure, and romance, all done in corsets and silks, Grave Consequences is a riveting read.
 
Other reviews of this book are available here.  You can make Grave Consequences your own here.
 
 
Lisa T. Bergren is the award-winning author of over thirty-five books, with more than 2 million copies sold. A former publishing executive, Lisa now divides her time between writing, editing, parenting three children with her husband, Tim, and dreaming of her next trip to Italy. She lives in Colorado Springs. 
 
 
I received a free copy of Grave Consequences from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.