“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.

“Glittering Promises” by Lisa T. Bergren

 

 Lisa T. Bergren’s popular Grand Tour series concludes as Cora Kensington journeys farther into Italy, wrestles with a terrible ultimatum from her father, and comes to terms with the Father who will never fail her.

 
America’s newest heiress must decide if her potential fortune is rationale enough to give up her freedom and all that God is leading her toward. And when her newly-discovered siblings are threatened with ruin, her quandary deepens. Then as Cora nears Rome, more journalists are tracking the news story of the decade—“Copper Cora,” the rags-to-riches girl—and want to know more about her family and the men vying for her attention. Meanwhile, a charming Italian countess decides that if Cora isn’t going to claim Will’s heart, she might just 
try . . .
 
You won’t want to miss the stunning conclusion to the Grand Tour series.  Full of intrigue and strategy, business and pleasure, this heartwrenching love story is the perfect ending to this trilogy.  I love the way that Bergren wraps up each detail and finishes out the story.  Although you think you know the ultimate romantic conclusion, Bergren keeps you guessing – and I never would’ve predicted the final players in the battle between ‘good’ and evil.’  
 
Cora has changed since the series began, and that is never as clear as it is in this final installment.  Her growth, faith, and confidence are unmatched as she moves forward to find what she wants.  I appreciate the way that she learns that her own goals are not only what matter – but but that ultimately God’s ways are best.
 
As in the rest of the series, the history and descriptions of each Italian locale are completely stunning.  Although fascinating, Italy has never topped my list of ‘top places to visit,’ but Bergren just might have changed that.  I would love to visit the country vineyard and rest in the out-of-the-way hot springs.  I can’t imagine more beautiful places from which to view God’s creation.  
 
I’m not usually a huge fan of rich main characters.  Wealth, while it doesn’t automatically bring happiness, can certainly pave the way to an easier, if not simpler, lifestyle.  That very trait is why I like Cora Diehl Kensington.  While she may be unimaginably rich, she did not grow up that way – and although she’s not in danger of going hungry, she’s certainly in more danger than many people can fathom.  She also doesn’t let her money change her.  She continues to think of other people, to work hard, to care for those around her, and to love lavishly.  I think that she would be fun to spend time with – and she’s certainly a lot of fun to read about.
 
 
 
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.
Learn more about Lisa here:http://lisatawnbergren.com.
 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“Glamorous Illusions” by Lisa T. Bergren

About Glamorous Illusions …

It was the summer of 1913, and Cora Kensington’s life on the family farm has taken a dark turn. Not only are the crops failing, so is her father’s health. Cora is carrying on, helping her mother run their Montana farm until a stranger comes to call, and everything changes. Cora then learns a secret that will radically change her future: she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper king who has come to claim her. 

Cora is invited to take the “Grand Tour” of Europe, a journey intended to finish a person’s education, to solidify an understanding of ancient culture and contemporary refinement. As she travels from England to France with half-siblings she’s never known, Cora encounters the blessings of the Kensington family name, as well as the curses. But when an unbidden love begins to form, she realizes the journey is only beginning.

Faced with the challenge of accepting her father, new family, and the identity that comes with it, Cora also struggles to accept that she is also the daughter of the one true King-a Father who is the only One who can truly heal.
 
When it all comes right down to it … I really liked this book.  Couldn’t put it down, in fact – I stayed up half the night to finish it.  Cora is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of girl, and I like that.  She’s very honest and hardworking, dedicated to her family, and yet she sees life with the same kind of rosy glow that most of us do who have not yet been fully on our own. 
 
The drama of Cora’s situation is intense, and Bergren well describes the emotional roller coaster that Cora experiences.  Beyond the family drama, Bergren does a fantastic job of taking the reader on a tour through parts of beautiful, traditional, luxurious Europe.  I loved reading about the grand buildings and the history from the tour’s perspective.  While I’m glad I don’t need to be ‘finished’ by such a tour, it was really exciting to read about.
 
Glamorous Illusions is the first in the Grand Tour Trillogy.  Caught up in the excitement of the Tour, I forgot that – and was enthusiastically reading along, anticipating the conclusion of a love spark, when suddenly the book ended!  That was definitely my only negative to the book.  To learn about the next segment in the series, we’ll have to wait for the next book – and I’m waiting quite impatiently!
 
I received a free copy of Glamorous Illusions from Litfuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.  You can read other reviews in this blog hop here.

**Also, through this Friday, Glamorous Illusions is available as a free download!  I just got mine from Barnes and Noble.  Be sure to check it out!

 
About Lisa: 

Litfuse

Lisa Tawn Bergren is the best-selling, award-winning author of over 30 books, with more than 1.5 million copies sold. She just finished writing a Colorado historical trilogy (the first book, BreatheSing and Claim), and has begun a teen series called River of Time.


Lisa’s time is split between managing home base, writing (including a fair amount of travel writing), consulting and freelance editing (with a little speaking here and there). She’s married to Tim, a liturgical sculptor, graphic designer and musician. They have three kids-Olivia (15), Emma (12) and Jack (7).


All five of the Bergrens make their home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


For more information on Lisa and to view other books written, please visit her website: http://lisatawnbergren.com

“Giants in the Land” by Clark Burbidge

 

There are giants in the land.
 
And it has always been so as far as anyone can remember. They work side-by-side with the people, and whenever there is a job too difficult or a threat too great they are there to step in. The giants’ presence gives the townspeople a special confidence about life. But they have become much more dependant on the giants than they realize. One morning the people discover the giants have mysteriously disappeared. Fear and panic grip the town. Someone must find them and bring them back! 
 
Thomas, a young farmer, volunteers and sets out alone on a great journey of danger and discovery. Thomas learns the true nature of giants and what it means for him and his people. Join Thomas in his timeless rite of passage and learn what it means to become something more than you have been, why it is necessary in life, and how to do it.
 
Learn more about Giants in the Landhttp://www.giantsinthelandbook.com


Giants in the Land  is a neat spin on what our lives would be like if the intangible were tangible.  If our idols could walk among us and our fears plunder the earth, what would our lives look like?  How would we react to everything we would see around us?

That is Thomas’ dilemma.  As Thomas journeys to help his family, facing his fears along the way, we can clearly see what each ‘giant’ represents in his life – and just how we might apply his wisdom to our own life.

At times the prose begins to sound almost … well, preachy, but Thomas’ journey is so difficult and the lessons so wise that I really didn’t mind.  The story is super short overall and the action really holds one’s attention.  As a general rule, I’m not a fan of short books because the book tends to end at about the same time I become really fond of the main character, but Thomas’ honor and integrity shone through from the very first page, making me want to champion his cause even as he considered leaving home to help his village. 

There is a sequel to this book, and I’m most interested to learn what wisdom Burbidge has to impart next.  If you’d like to shake your reading material up a bit and go for something that is quietly, contemplatively thoughtful, then this is definitely the book for you.


About the author … 

Clark Burbidge’s path to becoming an award winning author had distant beginnings. He received an MBA degree from the University of Southern California and a BS Degree in finance from the University of Utah. His career spans 31 years in banking, project finance, investment banking and more recently as Chief Financial Officer of three separate companies. He has been actively involved in community and church service, including lay youth and adult ministry, for over 35 years. 

It has been his long-term dream to write and publish several works that have been kicking around in his mind for many years. His first book, “Life on the Narrow Path: A Mountain Biker’s Guide to Spiritual Growth in Troubled Times” was released nationally in March 2011. His second book “A Piece of Silver” was published in July 2011 and is currently entering its 2nd edition. Clark enjoys life in the foothills of the Rockies with his wife, children and three grandchildren. He looks forward to this next phase of life’s wonderful adventures.

Learn more about Clark by visiting www.clarkrburbidge.com.

To buy Giants in the Land, visit here.

I received a free copy of Giants in the Land from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“House of Mercy” by Erin Healy

Beth is a healer.  She seems destined to become a vet and help her family run the cattle ranch when an accident takes it all away.  In a bizarre series of accidents, Beth tries to make amends, but misfortune continues to follow hard on her heals.  Can she find a way to heal her family, or will one tragic mistake wipe it all away?

House of Mercy


House of Mercy is classic Healy – if there is such a thing already.  So outlandish it’s realistic but with a touch of the supernatural, you won’t be able to put House of Mercy down.  Just as Beth races against the clock in an effort to fix her mistake before the damage multiplies, so you’ll turn the pages faster and faster to reach that final, hopefully happy conclusion.

You won’t find what you’re looking for, though – you’ll find something better, and not because Healy wrote a poor ending, because she didn’t.  I’m not sure she could.  Healy wrote so many twists and turns into this plot that the ending, when it comes skidding into sight, is nothing I could have predicted.  It’s much, much better, and this surprise kept me thinking about Beth’s plight long after I closed the back cover.

You can’t help but like Beth.  One night of indecision, one night of trying to help a friend, one simple poor choice and years of dreaming are erased.  This would be difficult for anyone, but in Beth’s shoes it’s made worse by the events following that compound it – and so you feel for her, and yet she never gives up.  I admire that determination, and it’s that spirit that makes the story feel so personal and alive.

House of Mercy isn’t easily classified.  It’s not exactly a romance, though it has an element of that; it’s not exactly a mystery, though there’s some of that, too.  It’s not what I consider to be a fantasy exactly, either, though it has a supernatural element.  Maybe fantastic would be a better term.

Maybe you should read it and decide for yourself.  It’s definitely worth the read.

I received a free copy of House of Mercy from B&B Media Group in exchange for an honest review.