“Brush of Angel’s Wings” by Ruth Reid

Rachel Hartzler is not your typical Amish maiden.  With a less-than-excellent reputation in the kitchen and all thumbs with a needle, Rachel prefers more active pursuits outside, and her father accepts her help – until he hires Jordan, an Englischer with an Amish mother who’s trying to find his way.  As he grieves for his mother after her passing, he takes a job with the Hartzler family until he can plan out what to do next.  With his presence comes pressure for Rachel to accept a more traditional role, which doesn’t go down smoothly.  As Rachel and Jordan dance around their attraction for each other and struggle to find their place, tragedy strikes the community.  Will death ultimately throw them together – or forever apart?

Rachel is not a typical Amish girl, and this is not your typical Amish book!  While the Amish vs. English romance has been done before, the drama that Reid writes into the story takes this book far deeper than most. What really makes it stand out, however, and what kept me up late reading is the parallel story.  The Bible says that we do not fight against what we can see, and Reid makes this evident through paragraphs inserted into the action of this story that describe what is happening in a more celestial realm.  An angel named Nathaniel and a demon named Tangus are each fighting for Jordan and Rachel, and these asides make this story much more thought-provoking.

Brush of Angel’s Wings alone is a great story with likable characters and exciting action; but the addition of Nathaniel and Tangus take this book to a whole other level.  You won’t want to miss this story.

I received a free copy of Brush of Angel’s Wings from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.

“The Bride Wore Blue” by Mona Hodgson

What do you do when you can’t find a job, really want to be out from under your older sisters’ wings, and are just about out of money?  How far would you go to maintain your independence?  That’s Vivian Sinclair’s dilemma in The Bride Wore Blue.

The Sinclair sisters are a lot of fun.  This is the first book in the “Sisters of Cripple Creek” series that I’ve read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Hodgson took a very serious problem – how to achieve financial independence – and a spiritual one – how to forgive yourself – and addressed them with historical accuracy, emotional depth, and enough lightheartedness to keep the story fun.  Vivian’s antics were often comical and her run-ins with Carter, a deputy, had enough zaniness to make you blush for her.  Trying to untangle the mess she’s made of her life, though, has a depth that is belied by the simplicity and beauty of the cover.  The message is far deeper than what is normally contained in your typical ‘romance’ – and could prompt serious soul searching to those in need of personal forgiveness.

Previews are included for Hodgson’s next two books at the end of this one (as well as a reader’s guide).  They sound as fun and dramatic as this one.  I can’t wait to read them!

I received a free copy of The Bride Wore Blue from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

“The Breath of Dawn” by Kristen Heitzmann


Corporate turnaround specialist Morgan Spencer, dubbed the “success guru,” has a Midas touch in business. But losing his wife sent him to the brink, and his two-year-old daughter, Livie, is all he’s living for-until they encounter a woman whose trouble just might draw him out of his own.

 
Four years ago Quinn Reilly did the right thing. Now the man her testimony put in jail is getting out. Though she has put up barriers to protect herself and those around her, she has come to care for the Spencer family, especially the winsome Livie and her mercurial father. Unwilling to put them at risk when the threats begin, she requests something she hopes the super-successful Morgan might be able to deliver.
Fixing problems is what Morgan does best, but his counterproposal takes them in a direction neither is equipped to handle. Determined to confront the past, will they survive to build a future?
 
I absolutely love Kristen Heitzmann’s books!  Always full of suspense and intrigue, this book is as fast-paced as the others.  Quinn Reilly makes a spunky and resourceful lead character as she struggles to do what’s right and avoid the trouble she senses ahead.  Morgan plays the wounded warrior coming to the rescue of his damsel -in-distress, and nobody does it better.  The pain each feels pulls you in and makes you want to cheer them on, and the issues coming at them keep the pages turning.  
 
Heitzmann masterfully mixes human crime and temptation with supernatural evil to keep the suspense level high and your emotions on edge throughout this book.  Little else could stop Spencer, whose money and connections could remove most obstacles.  The combination of Quinn’s determination and pure intentions coupled with Morgan’s power create worthy opponents for the evil lying in wait around every turn.
 
The Breath of Dawn is the third in a series, and while I’ve read many of Heitzmann’s books, I’ve apparently missed the previous two.  Heitzmann describes the turmoil of past stories well and keeps the reader informed of all pertinent information, so I didn’t feel as if I was missing anything while reading – except that I can’t wait to go back and read the others.  
 
I think I’ll go search for them now.
 
If this sounds like your cup of tea, you can order this book here.
 
 
Kristen Heitzmann is the bestselling author of over a dozen novels, including “Freefall”, “Halos”, “A Rush of Wings”, and the Christy Award winner “Secrets”. She and her husband, Jim, and their family live in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she serves as worship leader in their church. 
Find out more about Kristen at http://www.kristenheitzmannbooks.com/.
 
I received a free copy of The Breath of Dawn from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“Blue Moon Promise” by Colleen Coble

Laid off and about to be evicted, Lucy Marsh has nowhere to turn.  With her parents dead and her stepmother long gone, she is solely in charge of her twelve-year-old brother and three-year-old sister.  When a stranger claiming to be her father’s old friend shows up and offers his son in marriage by proxy, Lucy has no choice but to accept.  While Nate, Lucy’s new husband, is less than pleased with the new arrangement, that is not Lucy’s only problem.  Grafted onto a ranch full of men, Lucy faces the monumental task of making this dusty land a home for her family, facing Indians, wild animals, and stampedes.  With mysterious strangers breaking into their little cabin and their father’s murder still unresolved, who is behind the strange happenings that threaten their hope for a peaceful future – and a marriage based on love?

Colleen Coble has crafted a complete page-turner in Blue Moon Promise. The very best of historical fiction, this book has it all – romance, faith, personal struggle, real history, and lots of mystery.  Once started, I couldn’t put this story down.

Lucy Marsh makes a fabulous main character.  Beautiful, talented, and with a big heart, she’s like the cheerleader your high school self always longed to be, and yet she’s real, too.  With a quick wit and a controlling nature, Lucy struggles with letting God direct her steps.  She doesn’t get everything right the first time and faces the same control issues over and over before she learns from them, even when someone wiser calls her to the carpet. Her strong desire to be loved for herself only makes her a more lovable lead.

Not all books make it onto my bookshelf.  Many I thoroughly enjoy reading but when the story ends, the characters and I go our separate ways.  Not so with Blue Moon Promise.  It’s the kind of book I like to read over and over – when the characters become much-loved friends and each read another visit with them.  With enough action to keep the story speeding along and enough emotion and drama to keep it real, this is not only a must-read – it’s a must-keep.

If you’d like to add this book to your shelf, you can find it here.

This review is part of a blog tour by LitFuse Publicity.  If you’d like to read other reviews, you can find a complete listing here.

 

Kindle Giveaway and More! Save the Date – 3/13!

Colleen Coble's Blue Moon Promise Facebook Party

Blue Moon Promise is a story of hope, romance, and suspense . . . immersing the reader in a rich historical tale set under Texas stars.

To celebrate Colleen is teaming up with her publisher Thomas Nelson for a “Blue Moon Promise” Facebook Chat party where she will giveaway a KINDLE Fire and a Texas-sized gift basket (fabulous Texas treats and fun Lucy-inspired housekeeping products)!

Click the banner, RSVP today for the Facebook Party and mark the date on your calendar!

Invite your friends and don’t miss Colleen’s evening of chat, trivia, prizes, and more.

About author Colleen Coble …

Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

I received a copy of Blue Moon Promise from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“Beloved” by Robin Lee Hatcher

  

Diana is ready to begin a new chapter in her life-until the husband she believed dead reappears at her engagement party.

Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her. At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took off for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Receiving no word from him in years, Diana’s infatuation with her dashing husband died an ugly death, and she is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.

But when Tyson returns, claiming to be a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate. While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom.

He agrees with one condition—she must give him a chance to change her mind about him.

 
Beloved is the perfect conclusion to Hatcher’s latest series.  Diana has the ultimate problem – she’s prepared to marry again and secure her future when her thought-to-be-dead husband reappears and ruins her plans.  Figuring out what to do next takes both Diana and Tyson on a faith journey that involves a sick dog, demanding parents, a kidnapper, thief, a senatorial election, and a few mysteries, besides.  I like the way that each of these obstacles were used not only to advance the plot in action but to allow the characters to grow in their faith, as well.
 
For while you simultaneously want to cheer on Diana and Tyson’s marriage while beating him up for being a selfish cad, ultimately you want them to grow.  To grow together and to grow up in maturity.  It becomes less about the love story and more about the faith, although the growing of the faith allows forgiveness to fall and love to bloom.
 
I was excited to read this third installment in the series as I’ve read the other two and enjoyed them.  I don’t think the ending would have been as clear if I hadn’t read them, however, for one very specific reason:  a character from one of the other books appears during the climax of this book, and as soon as a resolution is reached, the book jumps from the end of this book to a scene which closes out the series.  I think it suits the series well but is a bit abrupt for this book, so it might help smooth out that transition if you read the series in order.
 
All in all, Hatcher is a master of historical love stories.  This one is certainly no exception.
 
Read other reviews in this bloggy hop here or purchase your own copy here now.
 
 
Robin is the author of 65+ novels and novellas. Her home is in Idaho, where she spends her time writing stories of faith, courage, and love; pondering the things of God; and loving her family and friends.

Learn more at: http://www.robinleehatcher.com
 
I received a free copy of Beloved from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“Beauty for Ashes” by Dorothy Love

Carrie Daly feels alone.  Widowed in the Civil War and with her brother newly married, she finds herself living in a boarding house in town, missing her room on the farm and a place to belong.  Though nearly engaged to Nate Chastain, something is holding her back from setting the date, and when town newcomer Griff Rutledge saves her from a runaway horse, Carrie thinks she’s found the spark she’s been wanting.  Rutledge, though a society man from back east, has been on his own for a long time, and the townspeople aren’t ready to trust him.  Can Carrie find the love she’s been longing for, or has happy already passed her by?


Author Dorothy Love is an expert in the art of dramatic suspense.  While by no means a thriller, she keeps the reader on the edge of her seat through the longings of Carrie’s heart and the twisting, turning plot that plagues Carrie throughout the story.  The perfect pacing and the cries of Carrie’s heart draw the reader completely into the story.


I want to be Carrie Daly’s best friend.  Talented and generous, kind yet headstrong, she’s the kind of person I want to have on my side.  That she’s capable of seeking the truth in any situation and is patient enough to do so means that she has much to teach me.  Daly became so real during the reading of this book that I could see myself inviting her over for a baking marathon, and how often can you say that you’re friends with the characters?


Dorothy Love’s work is new to me, but it won’t be for much longer, for I’m heading off to find more.  If you want more out of your next read than an escape from your own kitchen, pick up a copy of Beauty for Ashes – it won’t disappoint.


Don’t take my word for it, though – if you’d like to read some other opinions of Beauty for Ashes, hop around the blog hop here.


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

“The Betrayal” by Robin Lee Hatcher

The latest historical romance from award-winning author Robin Lee Hatcher and the second book in the Where the Heart Lives series, Betrayal will take readers to the high desert of western Wyoming, through the crags of the Rocky Mountains, and into the hearts of two seekers learning to trust God’s love no matter the circumstances.

It’s the turn of the twentieth century and drifter Hugh Brennan is a man well acquainted with betrayal. Hugh finds himself drawn to the attractive widow, Julia, yet when he looks into her eyes, he recognizes the same hurt that haunts him.
Julia Grace has little reason to trust men, but she’s going to have to trust someone if she’s to keep her ranch from the clutches of her dead husband’s half-brother. Is it possible God had a hand in bringing Hugh to her door?
Robin Lee Hatcher’s latest romance is not just a fluffy read.  Julia Grace has a tough row to hoe, and none of her options look good: should she give in to the threats for her land and sell out, losing everything, or should she trust her new hand Hugh and risk her heart?
Most of us have been heart in some sort of relationship at one time or another, and it’s never easy to take a chance and reach out again.  Hatcher’s realistic look at the struggle to trust again can teach a lesson to all of us.  
Julia Grace isn’t the only honest person in Betrayal’s cast of characters.  Hugh hasn’t had it easy, either, and Julia Grace has some good neighbors.  This team worked together well and added a lighthearted edge to the story.  
Betrayal is a special book because at the root of it all, this story is about overcoming the odds.  Each character is written with kindness, love, and grace, for a seasoned story that’s full of heart.  
I received a free copy of Betrayal in exchange for an honest review.

“Be Still My Soul” by Joanne Bischoff

Be Still My Soul, Cadence of Grace Series #1   -     
        By: Joanne Bischof

 
 
Lonnie Sawyer couldn’t wait to leave home, but she didn’t plan a shotgun wedding to Gideon O’Reilly, either – even if he was handsome.  Following Gideon to the city to look for work, their plans soon change when Lonnie can’t make the journey – and Gideon’s patience turns disappears.  Will Lonnie ever experience the joy of true love?
 
I love the simple narrative of Lonnie’s story.  Bischoff’s word choice and gift of storytelling adds to Lonnie’s mountain environment, creating a simple yet compelling story of faith.  The plot is not action-packed but is heart-full; the drama exists mainly in the heart and soul of Lonnie and Gideon, working to mature their faith and open their hearts to each other.  Yet not for a moment does this story feel slow-moving; instead, Bischoff gives glimpses into each character’s past and their current growth that keeps the reader yearning for more.
 
It is evident that this plot lies in a time and place different from our own; several actions taken by major characters leave you reeling, wanting to reach through the pages to change their course.  Frustrating as these are, they blend the characters’ experiences with the setting and further cement these in the reader’s mind.

I must admit, I did find certain parts of the story easy to predict; I rather liked these pieces, however, as each one made me feel as if the story was turning out exactly as it should.  Many elements caught me by surprise, but the sweetness of the ones I thought I knew added a familiar comfort to the book.  I thoroughly enjoyed the ending, both the parts I thought I knew and those I didn’t!

I will definitely be on the watch for Bischoff’s next book.  I don’t want to miss it!

I received a free copy of Be Still My Soul from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.

“An Amish Love” by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller, and Kelly Long

An Amish Love is actually three novellas in on book – and since all take place in one town with overlapping characters, it’s easy to transition from one to the next.  Each story is about someone who has left and how they find their way home again.  Each story includes faith, love, and forgiveness as themes.  Naaman Lapp left his wife at home while he went to visit relatives, only to return nearly one year later, facing distrust and confusion from his family.  Abby Kauffman wants a way out of her father’s silent household so badly that she tricks a newcomer into marriage – realizing too late what she’s done.  Ellie Chupp was jilted after an accident left her blind – can she forgive those involved and learn to love again?

The writing styles of each author make the stories flow smoothly.  Set within the same Amish community, with the same peripheral characters and locations mentioned, this set feels more like one work.

I enjoyed the writing style of these authors and the questions that each story raised in my mind.  If blinded, could I easily forgive?  If my husband left, could I welcome him home with open arms?  Am I careful and thoughtful in my dealings with others?

I definitely enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an impartial review.

“The Bargain” by Stephanie Reed


It’s 1971, and Betsie Troyer’s peaceful and predictable life is about to become anything but.

When their parents flee the Amish, nineteen-year-old Betsie and her seventeen-year-old sister Sadie are distraught. Under the dubious guidance of a doting aunt, the girls struggle to keep the secret, praying their parents will return before anyone learns the truth-a truth that may end all hopes of Betsie’s marriage to Charley Yoder.


This is, hands-down, the most unique Amish book I have ever met.  I’ve heard of historical-fiction Amish books, but this one certainly takes the cake.  Author Stephanie Reed paints the 70s era with a vivid brush while portraying the uncertainty and confusion of Betsie Troyer clearly.  

Each Amish sect is different, but Reed describes Betsie’s family as ultra-conservative – even more so than the White Top Amish I grew up near.  This makes the contrast between the radical English during this rebellious time stand out even more.  The drama creates lots of tension between Betsie and her Amish friends and family, but even more within herself.  There’s not a single dull moment in this story!

At times this story felt almost outlandish, but having not grown up during the 70s, I thought maybe I was exaggerating a bit.  Once I even thought that it was so crazy that it could be true – so I wasn’t a bit surprised when I turned the final page to learn that it is based on the experiences of a real woman!  They say that life is crazier than fiction and all of that …..

I thoroughly enjoyed The Bargain.  I’m more certain than ever that this is not a time period in which I’d belong, but it makes a fascinating setting.
Read other reviews on this bloggy hop here or purchase a copy here.

 
Stephanie Reed lives on the outskirts of Plain City, Ohio, site of a once-thriving Amish community. She gleans ideas for her novels from signs glimpsed along the byways of Ohio, as she did for her previous books, “Across the Wide River” and “The Light Across the River.”

Learn more at Stephanie’s website:http://www.stephanielreed.com/
 
I received a free copy of The Bargain from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.