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Lucy Benson knew it was time for something drastic when she found herself seriously considering Walter Harris’s proposal.  Raised to be a lady but left a pauper by the bad investments of her late papa, Lucy isn’t sure what that something could be. When her pastor delivers an invitation to be a companion to Andrew Simms’ elderly aunt Martha, Lucy sees it as answer to prayer and soon finds herself on a train to a distant ranch, far, far away from the persistent and pesky Walter.

When Andrew Simms hatched the idea of finding a caretaker for his beloved aunt, he never imagined the refined Lucy stepping off the train.  Aunt Martha has been seeing things and Andrew is concerned that the loss of her husband and advancing age have combined to drive her past sanity.

Unfortunately, Aunt Martha’s visions take on a real and potentially dangerous form and Lucy can verify the facts.  As the truth unfolds, Lucy finds herself wishing for a marriage proposal from the handsome, cleft-chinned Andrew.  But does he return her feelings? And what or who is causing trouble for Aunt Martha?

Carol Cox has woven together a lovely little mystery in No Match for Love, the third book in the A Match Made in Texas novella collection.  I really enjoyed the interplay between feisty Aunt Martha and refined Lucy.  As humor gives way to a deep friendship, Martha and Lucy’s relationship take a large role in this story.

I also enjoyed seeing Lucy grow from a clueless princess to a capable and gutsy young woman capable of taking care of herself, even in the midst of danger.

The romantic relationship between Andrew and Lucy moves rather quickly, although a few months do pass in the course of the story.  I would have liked to have seen a little more about their developing relationship instead of so much about Lucy’s worry about her future.

That was my only disappointment in the story and I give No Match for Love four stars.

In An Unforeseen Match by Regina Jennings, the second of four stories in the novella, A Match Made in Texas (Bethany House Publishers), we meet former schoolteacher Grace O’Malley and prospective land-runner, Clayton Weber. After suffering a disease that slowly blinds her, Grace is given a small, broken-down homestead by the Dry Gulch school board.  Unfortunately, the intelligent, stubborn woman has no idea how to take care of herself in her newly-blinded state and her friends offer her much help and sympathy, but no training in how to get through each lonely day.

When Clayton’s horse breaks her leg and has to be put down on the way to the Cherokee Strip Land Run, all he wants is a way to make a quick few dollars to buy a new horse to compete for his land. When he enters Dry Gulch, a newspaper with an ad for a handyman mysteriously appears in his saddlebag and he soon finds himself being cross-examined by the beautiful and independent Grace. It would appear someone has taken it upon themselves to help Grace get her homestead spruced up for sale – or to attract a husband.

Clayton and Grace form a fast working friendship that alleviates both of their loneliness. Clayton sees Grace’s need for independence and gives her the one thing no one else thought of – respect and the knowledge of how to navigate in her dark world. As love blooms, will Clayton put enough faith in Grace’s affection to get over the past that not only scarred his face, but also his very soul?

Regina Jennings has managed to fill this novella with all the things I love most in a novel.  Humor, heartache, grace, compassion, and a  solid dose of Texas flavor turn this little story into a great read.  I have to admit: I cried the first time I read the barn scene.  I cried the second time I read the barn scene. Regina just really knows how to set a girl up for heartbreak! Thankfully, she also knows that we need a good “happily ever after” too and provides for that in spades.

An Unforeseen Match is my favorite of the stories in A Match Made in Texas, which is no small accomplishment, considering how much I loved the other novellas.  I give it five stars and my Enraptured Award.  For my review of A Cowboy Unmatched by Karen Witemeyer, the first novella in this collection, please go here.

Enraptured Award Image

An award given to an author whose book was so captivating, I didn’t read the end before its time.

My first blog series!  Woohoo.  Anyway, on to the matter at hand.  Ahem.

This and the next three reviews will be from the novella collection, A Match Made in Texas, with four different stories written by Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Carol Cox, and Mary Connealy.  Each of these authors has her own unique style of telling a great story, which makes this collection a very good read.

In A Cowboy Unmatched by Karen Witemeyer, we finally get to see the youngest Archer brother, Neill, apply his Archer-brother charm and gallantly rescue the beautiful, young Clara Danvers. Left widowed by her gambler husband, Clara is struggling to hold her broken-down farm together and keep her scheming father-in-law at bay.

While A Cowboy Unmatched is a novella because of its abbreviated length, Karen has proven that a good story doesn’t need 300 pages. This novella has everything a romantic could ask for – a heroine in crisis, a cowboy looking to prove something to himself, a threat, a few swoon-worthy moments of tender emotion and modest passion, and of course, a declaration of love and proposal that more than makes up for the brevity of the story.  Toss in a few comedic moments and some bromance (brotherly friendship), and Karen has written the perfect ending to the Archer brothers’ series.

Stay tuned for my review of the next novella in A Match Made in Texas, An Unforeseen Match, by Regina Jennings.

A Match Made in Texas, as a whole collection, receives 5 stars for not only its interesting plot of an unwitting matchmaker, but also the collection of the very different styles of writing that really make this book stand out.

A Cowboy Unmatched receives 5 stars and my ever-so-coveted ;) Enraptured Award.

Enraptured Award Image

An award given to an author whose book was so captivating, I didn’t read the end before its time.

**I received this novel free in exchange for an honest review. **

Word for 2014

Word for 2014

Connie Prince’s “Star of Wonder” digital scrapbooking kit, available at Scrapbook-bytes.

My Word for 2014 is grace. And my verse is Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. May I focus this year on God’s grace, manifested in so many ways in my life and the lives of those around me. It is sufficient.

The past few months, I’ve been on a bit of a quest – a quest for myself. When Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge became available for review, I thought the timing was perfect! Of course, isn’t it always with God?

Becoming Myself is trademark Stasi Eldredge – Biblical, conversational, emotional. Stasi speaks directly to women out of her own experience as a female and as a child of God. While explaining mother wounds and encouraging her readers to take heart and follow through on the journey of a lifetime, Stasi writes of God’s grace and love for us.

My favorite section is chapters 11-13: Becoming a woman of Faith, Becoming a Woman of Worship, and Becoming our True Name. I loved seeing the trio of  Marys with new eyes – Mary, Mother of Jesus; Mary of Bethany, and Mary Magdalene. The thought that struck me hardest – Jesus wants my love. My love. My love. Not that He doesn’t desire my obedience, but it is as a form of love to Him, not just because He commands it. He wants me to love Him with all my heart (what is the greatest commandment – love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, with all your strength). And He loves me , so much so that He knew me before I was formed in the womb. He named me. He sees me as I truly am, as I am becoming , and as I am now. And He loves me.

I give Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge, published by David C Cook, 5 stars. Readers may want to read Captivating by Stasi Eldredge first, but that isn’t strictly necessary.

Disclosure: I received Becoming Myself by Stasi Eldredge free from David C Cook Publishing free (via Net Galley) in return for an honest review.  My opinions are my own.

Julie’s book, A Light in the Window, is the beautiful story of Patrick and Marcy O’Connor.  Watch this trailer and then click over to Julie’s blog to enter her fun contest.  You could win:

1st Prize (person with the most points) — gets a character named after them or a loved one in my next book, a signed copy of that book, and a $50 gift card.

 

2nd Prize (random drawing where every point  earned is an extra chance to win, but even one point can win) — gets a character named after them or a loved one in my next book and a signed copy.

 

3rd Prize (random drawing based on 1 point per name entered) — gets a signed copy of any of my books.

 

Right now, A Light in the Window is $.99 at Amazon, and the paperback is discounted.  If you watch the video, buy the book, or just want to chat . . . let me know.  I’ll get more points in the contest!  :)

Oh, and there will be a book review coming of this beauty.  I can’t wait to dive into this story!

A Bride for Keeps, Melissa Jagears’ freshman novel and published by Bethany House, is the story of two people whose fears nearly keep them from a most precious love.

On the unforgiving Kansas prairie, we meet Everett Cline, confirmed bachelor and overwhelmed farmer.  Having been rejected by four fiances, three of them mail-order brides, Everett is finished with romance.  Fortunately for him, his best friend’s wife and neighbor, Rachel, has one more trick up her sleeve.

After corresponding with the beautiful, fragile Julia, Rachel determines she would be the perfect helpmate for Everett.  Bringing her to the small Kansas town of Salt Flatts was easy.  Convincing Everett and Julia to make their partnership into a marriage – not so much.  Julia’s past has left her dreadfully afraid of men, particularly tall, handsome, blond men who resemble her abusive ex-fiance.  Can Everett’s gentle, godly personality eclipse his resemblance to Julia’s abuser?  Will Julia’s rejection of Everett cause his already guarded heart to fully harden?

A Bride for Keeps is a gentle exploration of a blossoming love between two injured people facing not only the hardships of farming on a  desolate land, but also falling in love in a desolate world.  Melissa Jagears has cast an innocence over the entire novel, which may be enticing to many readers, particularly in the inspirational fiction category.  I prefer a grittier treatment of these subjects myself.  I also felt  as though the author brought us to the edge of emotion and sort of left us there as she switched scenes.  I never really became fully invested in Everett and Julia, and emotional investment in the characters is of utmost importance to me as a reader.

I give  A Bride for Keeps 3 stars.  Readers who like Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly should find this book thoroughly engaging.

I received A Bride for Keeps by Melissa Jagears at no cost from Bethany House Publishers in return for an honest review.  My opinions are my own.

Amazon links on many of my posts are affiliate links.  When you purchase from Amazon after clicking there from my page, you are helping me to purchase goods to home educate my children.  Thank you!

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