“Imperfect Justice” by Cara Putman

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The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . . can they?

To the world it seems obvious: Kaylene Adams killed her daughter and then was shot by police. Attorney Emilie Wesley knows a different story: Kaylene would never hurt anyone and was looking for a way out of a controlling, abusive relationship. Her death shakes Emilie’s belief that she can make a difference for women in violent marriages. Self-doubt plagues her as she struggles to continue her work in the wake of the tragedy.

Reid Billings thought he knew his sister – right up until he learned how she died. He discovers a letter from Kaylene begging him to fight for custody of her daughters if anything should happen to her. No attorney in her right mind would support an uncle instead of the father in a custody case, but Kaylene’s letter claims Emilie Wesley will help him.

Thrown together in the race to save Kaylene’s surviving daughter, Emily and Reid pursue the constantly evasive truth. If they can hang on to hope together, can they save a young girl – and find a future for themselves in the process?

Putman

Cara Putman penned the perfect mystery in Imperfect Justice.  Building layer upon layer of intrigue and suspense, she’ll keep you guessing until the very last chapter.

Putman writes realistic characters that you’ll want to cheer on to success in their endeavors – in this case, in finding the truth about what happened to Kaylene Adams.  Emilie is a determined lawyer and caring person, and I love the way that she navigated the waves of trouble that kept coming her way.

I enjoyed Reid’s journey to realization about how distant his family had become.  Family is an important thing, and the lessons that Reid learned throughout this story are ones that we should all heed.

The best part of this story is the reality of the trouble that Kaylene finds herself in – well, the best and worst.  It’s very realistic, which keeps the suspense factor high.  That reality is what makes it sad, though, because the thought of someone actually experiencing what Kaylene did is awful – but Putman handles the situation carefully.  Between the problems that Emilie sees at work, Kaylene’s situation, and Emilie’s unique problem itself, any reader will understand why it’s important to choose a relationship carefully. Putman provides hope for the reader and valuable lessons about a woman’s worth no matter her current romantic situation, and I appreciate the theme that she’s leaving readers with:  that God loves you for you, and it’s never to late to find hope and help if you need it.

Putman’s Imperfect Justice is dramatic and suspenseful both, and I love the combination.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Click here to read other reviews on this bloggy hop or click here to purchase a copy now.

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

 

“Seeds of Hope” by Barbara Cameron

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Miriam Troyer has had a secret crush on Mark Byler since they were teenagers. She knows they can never have a relationship: Mark is a big-city attorney – an “Englischer” – and Miriam loves her quiet way of life in her Amish community. But when Mark unexpectedly shows up in Paradise, Pennsylvania, Miriam realizes it’s going to get a lot harder to hide her feelings.

Even though Mark always loved visiting his grandfather’s farm as a boy, he’s convinced the Amish life is not for him. But when he suddenly finds himself out of a job and without direction, Mark heads back to the farm just in time to help with the harvest. Coming for a visit and coming to stay, however, are two very different things.

Everything changes when Mark sees that Miriam, the girl he remembers from his youth, has grown into the kind of faith-filled woman he wants in his future. Could life in this simple world be right for Mark after all? Has Miriam finally found her happily ever after? True love sprouts from seeds of hope.

 
Cameron
 
Seeds of Hope is a sweet story of deep and lasting love – between family, between friends, and between neighbors.  I love the way that Cameron portrays the relationships between this Amish community in Paradise, Pennsylvania.
 
Just like in real life, there’s a variety of relationships here, and I like the way that Cameron wove them together.  It made for a fun story, and bringing in these people serve not only as great examples of model behavior but also an avenue for introducing interesting subplots.
 
I can’t say that Seeds of Hope is unpredictable; really, how many possible endings are there for a romance taking place in an Amish community, really?  That doesn’t make the path to the ultimate ending any less interesting, though, because you can feel the drama and heartache that the journey causes.  There are lessons to be learned and fun to be had, and I enjoyed the ride.
 
I’ve read several of Cameron’s books, but I think that Seeds of Hope is the best one yet.
 
Click here to read other reviews in this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.
 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

“The Gift of Christmas Past” by Cindy Woodsmall & Erin Woodsmall

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Arson wasn’t the only fire that ignited between them.

Promises shattered.
Lies spoken.
She was arrested.
He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents.Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four-year-old-girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire. 

Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family.

Can the love of Christmas past drift into the present, bringing healing and hope for all?

 
Woodsmall
 
I love, love, love this book!  Hadley is such an exciting character.  She’s an overcomer, in the words of Mandisa, and even though her life has been unspeakably hard, she continually looks outward at how she can use her experiences to help others.  I love that perspective.  Elliott is just as fun – because even though she’s not quite as together as Hadley, maybe, she’s all in for being generous and smart and working toward the combined improvement of their circumstances.  I love their willingness to stick together and work together.
 
Monroe is complicated, but I love the stance that he takes near the end of the book, and if there was any doubt in my mind about his character, that resolved it.  I won’t say any more as I don’t want to spoil anything, but he turns out to be a pretty cool guy – a dreamy one, you might say.
 
The setting is amazing, too.  Taking place in the Asheville area of North Carolina, that’s only a few hours west of me, and I’ve been there several times.  French Broad Chocolates is now definitely on my list of places to go, and I love walking through the downtown area.  The Woodsmalls nailed the quirky character of that downtown, and I’ve seen several of the landmarks that they named – it’s always fun to come across a place you know in a book!  Biltmore Village is a fun place to shop, and the Estate itself is incredibly beautiful.  The same goes for Looking Glass Falls – I could just picture the scene that happens there.  Their lifelike descriptions definitely match the real places.
 
There are lots of twists and turns in the plot for this story, and I really enjoyed that.  I didn’t want to put this book down while reading – and I procrastinated several times to avoid doing so.  I loved the lessons of forgiveness and faith that shone clearly throughout the story.  I’m not sure those are things I’ll ever perfect, or at least be able to do after being seriously hurt without a struggle, and I’m always encouraged by the story of others’ journey in this area (even if it’s a fictional one).
 
The Gift of Christmas Past is a fantastic new holiday story.  Pick up a copy today – you’ll be glad you did.
 
You can read other reviews on this bloggy hop here, or go here to purchase your own copy now.
 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.
 

“Christmas at Grey Sage” by Phyllis Clark Nichols

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Nestled in the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Santa Fe, the Grey Sage Inn looks like the perfect place for weary travelers to escape the craziness of the Christmas season. There’s plenty to see in historic Santa Fe during the day, and the inn’s owners, Maude and Silas Thornhill, are happy to spend their evenings hosting this year’s guests from across the country.

But an unusual snowstorm throws a wrench in the festive mood. The sprawling inn becomes close quarters as stranded guests discover this Christmas won’t be the relaxed vacation they expected. Tension and fear mount as the storm worsens, and Silas, a retired doctor, is called away in the middle of the night to care for a neighbor. The snow and stress unlocks tongues and in the unexpected conversation that follows, secrets and pasts are revealed, and hearts are healed.

In the midst of snowdrifts and fireside conversations, of tales of days gone by, the warmth of Christmas brings a renewed hope as these trapped strangers become friends – proof again that the joy, hope, peace, and love of Christmas can be experienced no matter where you are.

 
Nichols
Reading Christmas at Grey Sage will put you in the Christmas spirit, no matter how far from it you start!  Nichols has written a sweet story of healing and holiday fun.  It’s like settling in with a warm cup of hot chocolate after a cold walk outside.  Somehow her words settle into your spirit and warm your soul.  Even when there are exciting things happening on the pages, and I didn’t want to put the book down, the story stayed sweet.
 
Sometimes you’re in the mood for a fast-paced, hard core mystery; others, you need something soothing, and Christmas at Grey Sage is just that kind of story.  I think it’s because Maude always seems to have everything together, even when you know she really doesn’t.  She stays calm in the pages of the book, even when you learn about her tragic past, and she lends an air of sweetness to the whole thing.
 
That’s  not to say that everyone is as calm as Maude.  Nearly every other character is, at best, downright quirky.  Bea gets most facts wrong and Lily is full of fire, just to name a few, but they keep the mood lighthearted and fun.
 
I love the way that Nichols explores deep life lessons throughout the story and her wide cast of characters.  The things with which her characters must deal are things we all face at one time or another, ‘seeing’ others deal with them successfully is encouraging.
 
I really enjoyed this story.  It’s just the kind I want to pick up at Christmas – fun and lighthearted but meaningful.  Check out this new book!
 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

“The Gift” by Shelley Shepard Gray

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The Schwartz family is happy to be spending Christmas on their new farm in Hart County. But when Susanna Schwartz hears gunshots that causes her buggy to overturn, and then her little sister falls through a wooden bridge into the icy creek, it becomes clear from these dangerous accidents that someone wants them gone.

Neil Vance has been heartbroken ever since his parents lost their family farm. He knows it’s not the Schwartz family’s fault, but he can’t help but be resentful. Until he meets Susanna. She is kind-hearted and bold, and Neil can’t stop thinking about her pretty green eyes.

Neil thinks the accidents are just that, but Susanna’s father is convinced the Vance family is responsible. Susanna refuses to believe Neil would do anything to harm her.  She’s fallen in love with him and knows he is a good man. But her family is ready to pack up and move, and time is running out to uncover the truth before someone gets hurts – or worse.

The Gift

Gray hits another one out of the park with her holiday offering, The Gift!  She really keeps you on the edge of Santa’s sleigh as you try to figure out whether the incidents surrounding Susanna are accidents – or something more dangerous.

The blossoming relationship between Neil and Susanna doesn’t happen smoothly.  It’s shadowed by increasingly dangerous problems, and I loved the realistic suspense that builds throughout the story.  Gray’s a fabulous writer, and her descriptions of the problems confronting the Schwartz family ring scary and true on each page.

I liked Susanna and Neil.  They were both likeable but not perfect, and they felt like they could be the neighbors up the street.  I love how she makes her characters feel so alive.  Somehow she had me cheering them on from the very first page.

I’m loving Gray’s Amish of Hart County series, and The Gift might just be my favorite one yet.  

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

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

“Murder in Disguise” by Donn Taylor

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Official verdict: Suicide. But why would that vigorous department chairman kill himself? To avoid disgrace? Those rumored ventures on the dark side? Some other secret life? Visiting professor Preston Barclay wonders. But his questions bring no answers, only anonymous threats. He has enough problems already, proving himself on a strange campus while radical faculty do all they can to undermine him. Worse yet, that sexy siren assigned as his assistant complicates his courtship of the beautiful Mara Thorn.

While Press keeps asking questions, Mara’s research reveals a cancer of criminal activity that permeates the community and even the campus itself. The more Press questions, the more dangerous the threats against him become, and the more determined he grows to clear his friend’s name.

But can Press and Mara’s stumbling efforts prevail against the entrenched forces of the police, the campus radicals, and an unseen but powerful criminal organization that increasingly puts their lives in danger?

Donn Taylor
 
Preston Barclay is a bumbling, yet exciting protagonist who will keep you turning page after page as he tries not to solve his friend’s murder.  When he becomes the target of strange attacks and even stranger conversations with other professors, Preston stumbles upon clue after clue and begins to put the mystery together.
 
Preston is not your typical main character.  He’s a little more advanced in age, for one thing, and is quite quirky.  Having lost his musician wife a few years before, he hears music as a soundtrack to his life.  He seems to be quite addicted to ham sandwiches and coffee.  Press is also loyal and smart.  He’s observant and dedicated to his friends, as well as being a strong person of faith.  He’s a neat main character, and I enjoyed reading about him.  
 
It was unusual, too, the way that Preston was clearly not  trying to solve a mystery, and yet developments kept coming.  This, along with some of Preston’s idiosyncrasies, makes the story especially entertaining.  The mood of Murder in Disguise is not as scary as other mystery-suspense stories that I’ve read, but I really liked the bits of humor scattered throughout.  I’ll definitely read more of Donn Taylor.
 
I received a free copy of Murder in Disguise from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.
 

“Where We Belong” by Lynn Austin

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In the city of Chicago in 1892, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert–and into a sandstorm.

Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies’ maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.

 
Lynn Austin
 
I want to be just like the Hawes sisters when I grow up!  They’re the neatest people.  I love the way that they don’t let themselves be defined by Victorian standards and how they stand up for what they feel is right, no matter the repercussions.  From clothing choices to how they spend their time, Flora and Rebecca do exactly what they feel God is leading them to do.
 
I love their refrain: God knows the hour of our end, so there’s no need to worry”  (That’s my summary of it, not an exact quote.)  I’m horrible about worrying and seeing trouble around every corner, so I loved hearing this motto throughout the story.  Having it come up whenever trouble was in sight was a great way to remember what is really important.
 
The sisters were fascinating main characters.  I loved the history embedded in the story, but their pluck and sense of adventure was by far my favorite part.  I loved their willingness – no, their determination – to head out on an adventure, whether it was down the street or overseas.  That’s exactly the kind of person I want to be!  
 
Austin wrote the perfect ending for the sisters.  Their life does not give them the neat-and-tidy ending they wanted, but it does fit the plot of the story and the character of the women.  I enjoyed seeing it play out and couldn’t wait to find out what happened – although I didn’t want it to end!
 
I was shocked when I turned the last page and found out that the Hawes sisters were based on real women.  Who knew?  I’ve never heard of the real people before, but I definitely want to learn more about them now.  They sound like super interesting people, and I love that Austin took a piece of truth and built such fascinating characters around real women.
 
I haven’t read an Austin book yet that is less than wonderful, but they seem each to get better by turn.  Where We Belong is my favorite Austin offering yet.
 
I received a free copy of  Where We Belong from the author.  All opinions are my own.

“Rescued Hearts” by Hope Toler Dougherty

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Children’s clothing designer Mary Wade Kimball’s soft spot for animals leads to a hostage situation when she spots a briar- entangled kitten in front of an abandoned house. Beaten, bound, and gagged by the two thugs inside, Mary Wade loses hope for escape when a third villain returns with supplies.

Discovering the kidnapped woman ratchets the complications for undercover agent Brett Davis. Weighing the difference of ruining his three months’ investigation against the woman’s safety, Brett forsakes his mission and helps her escape, the bent-on-revenge brutes following behind.

When Mary Wade’s safety is threatened once more, Brett rescues her again. This time, her personal safety isn’t the only thing in jeopardy. Her heart is endangered as well.

 
Rescued Hearts
 
 Dougherty packs the plot of Rescued Hearts full of action from the very first page to the last!  When I read that the main character was a clothing designer, I somehow figured the story would be mostly sweet romance, but while that element is there, Rescued Hearts is much, much more.
 
That action starts off at the very beginning and rises throughout.  It never feels scary, which I appreciate, but Mary Wade finds herself in some really tough situations.  I enjoyed Brett’s changing roles and the way that his experience and job adds to the action, both physical and emotional.
 
Both kinds of action are there.  Dougherty uses lots of physical action to advance the plot, but there’s a lot of emotional and spiritual drama going on, too.  Mary Wade and Brett both have spiritual lessons to learn, and they are very relatable.  
 
I love the way that Dougherty describes Mary Wade without using words.  She uses incidents and story sketches to show the reader who her characters really are, and I love that skill.  Bringing the past into the present in small bits and pieces throughout the story ups the suspense factor and is another talent of this author.
 
I love mystery and suspense stories, and Rescued Hearts ranks right up there with Colleen Coble or Teri Blackstock.  I can’t wait for the next one!
 
I received a free copy of this book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.

“Blind Spot” by Dani Pettrey

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FBI agent Declan Grey is in the chase of his life–but isn’t sure exactly what he’s chasing after. Threatened by a terrorist that “the wrath is coming,” Grey fears something horrible is about to be unleashed on American soil. When his investigation leads him to a closed immigrant community, he turns to Tanner Shaw to help him. She’s sought justice for refugees and the hurting around the world, and if there’s anyone who can help him, it’s Tanner.

Tanner Shaw has joined the FBI as a crisis counselor . . . meaning she now has more opportunity to butt heads with Declan. But that tension also includes a spark she can’t deny, and she’s pretty sure Declan feels the same. But before anything can develop between them, they discover evidence of a terror cell–and soon are in a race against the clock to stop the coming “wrath” that could cost thousands their lives.

Dani Pettrey
Don’t start Blind Spot unless you have at least four free hours, because once you pick it up, you won’t put it down until you’ve turned the last page!  Pettrey has outdone herself in this latest book in the Chesapeake Valor series.
 
Pettrey ups the game by introducing a heretofore-unknown character, and his actions not only move the plot along, but kick it out of the park.  Blind Spot has the absolute best cliffhanger ending.  I’ve never heard more readers asking impatiently for the release date of the next book, and I am right there with them!  (The next book will release in July, in case you’re wondering.  I’ve already made a note on my calendar.)  
 
I love the way that the various plots throughout the books begin to come together in Blind Spot.  Background characters take a bigger role as the stakes get higher with each plot.  Revisiting the main characters from the previous two books feels … friendly?  reassuring? as if you’re catching up with an old friend, and I love that part of this series – that you can see older characters’ plots and lives advance.
 
After turning the last page, I stewed for a day or so, frustrated at having to wait so.  very. long. for the next installment in the story, and then I handed the book to my husband, who had read the first two.  He’s not generally a reader, and the kids usually yell, “Whoa!  Daddy’s reading!” whenever he does pick up a book, so you know that it’s a rarity in this house of bibliophiles.  After starting Blind Spot, though, we didn’t really see him for about three days after that – until he had finished the book.  
 
If suspense stories are your cup of tea, this is definitely a book you need to have on your shelf.
 
I received a free copy of this book to review.   All opinions are my own.
 
There’s a great giveaway associated with this Blind Spot!  Check it out here.

“Many Sparrows” by Lori Benton

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In 1774, the Ohio-Kentucky frontier pulses with rising tension and brutal conflicts as Colonists push westward and encroach upon Native American territories. The young Inglesby family is making the perilous journey west when an accident sends Philip back to Redstone Fort for help, forcing him to leave his pregnant wife Clare and their four-year old son Jacob on a remote mountain trail.

When Philip does not return and Jacob disappears from the wagon under the cover of darkness, Clare awakens the next morning to find herself utterly alone, in labor and wondering how she can to recover her son…especially when her second child is moments away from being born.

Clare will face the greatest fight of her life, as she struggles to reclaim her son from the Shawnee Indians now holding him captive. But with the battle lines sharply drawn, Jacob’s life might not be the only one at stake. When frontiersman Jeremiah Ring comes to her aid, can the stranger convince Clare that recovering her son will require the very thing her anguished heart is unwilling to do: be still, wait and let God fight this battle for them?

Lori Benton
 
Lori Benton had me hooked from the very first page of Many Sparrows!  The suspense and action in this story is bar none, and it’s incredibly dramatic, too.  Normally, it would be the very kind of book that I can’t put down, except …
 
Lori Benton wrote this story in an incredibly realistic way.  I typically sail through stories, my nose firmly engrossed at the edge of the page, while I fly through it to find out what happens next.  I couldn’t do that with this story, however; it was too realistic.  Benton brings Clare’s feelings and problems and pain to aching reality, and I found that I needed a break periodically to separate myself from it.  Not that I wanted to stop reading, because I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next, but because I could feel Clare’s pain all-too strongly.  The breaks helped provide some needed distance and helped me to absorb the story fully.
 
The intense drama doesn’t detract from the story, however, as evidenced from the way I bounced on my seat through the beginning of the story – for an unusual reason, I suppose.  The Chief Logan of the story settled at one point in my home county back in Pennsylvania – and many local things are named for him.  I’d not heard his whole story before, however, and encountering it in this book was fascinating.  Being face-to-face with Mingoes and Logans, the original ones, was incredible, and I found myself wishing I could mail the book off to my great-grandmother for another one of our by-mail book clubs.  She would’ve loved meeting local history in the pages of such a famous book, and I would have loved sharing it with her.
 
My local connection aside, Benton knew her setting and brought that to life, too.  Between land descriptions, drama, and Jem’s story slowly coming to light, there were many things to keep the pages turning, and one didn’t always know what might be coming in the next chapter.  Despite what you might want to happen, Benton kept surprising me.  I love when authors can do that.
 
Benton definitely created a new fan with Many Sparrows.  I can’t wait to read more!
 
I received a free book from LitFuse Publicity.  All opinions are my own.