Archive for April, 2013



We first met the ambitious Molly Lovelace in Regina Jennings‘ debut novel, Sixty Acres and a Bride as she attempted to romance the hero of that novel, Weston Garner.  Fortunately for both Weston and Molly, the lovely and sweet Rosa entered his life and stole his heart.  However, Molly’s story wasn’t complete, as readers received a bit of a teaser in Sixty Acres and a Bride regarding Molly’s future romance with a sweet talking cowboy, Weston’s cousin Bailey.  In Jennings’ newest novel, Love in the Balance (published by Bethany House Publishers), readers are given to understand the driving forces behind Molly’s behavior in Sixty Acres, as well as learn to love her as she discovers, in many ways the hard way, the path God wants her on and how that path reconciles with her ambitions.

Bailey, finally released from his duties on his family farm, is desperate to gain employment and finally be in position to court and marry the lovely Molly.  Molly, while desperately hoping Bailey can make good on his promises and desires, is continually pestered by her social-climbing parents who raised Molly to only accept a marriage proposal from someone wealthy and powerful.  With Bailey scoring a zero on both of those descriptions, Molly is left with the decision to allow Bailey’s pursuit or accept another man’s invitation.

Edward Pierrepont stopped in the small Lockhart, Texas on his travels across America and his eyes immediately found Molly.  Determined in his pursuit of her, he wooed her and more importantly, wooed her parents.  With his fine manners, wealthy family, and handsome countenance, Edward is everything the Lovelaces hoped for their daughter.  Molly, too, enjoyed Edward’s company, although her heart still called for Bailey.  Who will she choose and where will that decision lead her?

Love in the Balance is a powerful story on so many levels.  The overarching story of following one’s heart over one’s head is, of course, a standard among romantic fiction.  But Regina Jennings has gone deeper.  In this second novel, the reader confronts the ideas of grace and forgiveness, wisdom in physical relationships and the effects those relationships have in the future, splinters and logs in Christian circles, and of course, making one’s own decision instead of allowing others full control.

For readers who’ve read Sixty Acres and a Bride, I fully recommend that you give Molly a chance in Love in the Balance.  Not only do I think you’ll come away with a greater understanding of this young woman, but also a deeper love for those around you.  I give Love in the Balance 5 stars.

**I received a copy of Love in the Balance from Bethany House Publishers for free in return for an honest review.  My thoughts are my own.**


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ImageI’m a terrible reader.  I’ve confessed this before and I’ll confess it again.  I am that reader your mothers warned you about. I read the end of the story of most books long before I should.  Usually, I wait until the characters have hooked me.  By the third or fourth chapter of a decent book (mysteries included!), I’ve turned to the end to discover how it all turns out.  Of course, I then go back and finish the story through.  I love to know the end and watch how the author brings his or her characters through. The better written the book, the longer it takes me to turn to the back, because I am enraptured by the story itself.  There are a few books that slip by me and I am at the end before I even realize it, so well-written is the story.

Karen Witemeyer‘s Stealing the Preacher wins such a distinction. Published by Bethany House Publishers, Stealing the Preacher is a companion to Short-Straw Bride, where we first meet the steadfast Archer brothers.  In Stealing the Preacher, Crockett Archer is finally fulfilling his calling to preach to his own congregation, or at least one made up of more than just his brothers.  While on the train headed for a possible job at a Texas church, Crockett is pulled from the train by a group of middle-aged bandits looking for a preacher.  The leader’s daughter, Joanna, has asked her father, tongue-in-cheek, for a preacher for her birthday.  Joanna promised her departed mother that she would continue to sow seeds of the gospel within her father’s life and feels she needs the support of a nearby man of God to help her follow through.  Of course, she never intended for her father to kidnap the man!

What follows is a gentle romance that lacks for nothing in its telling.  Witemeyer’s skilled pen weaves a tale of a compassionate young man and a gracious young woman who fall head-over-heels in love with one another, all the while fighting off unwanted advances from the local single women, handling emergency medical situations, and dodging a snooping sheriff with a grudge.

For me, well-developed, entirely human characters whose actions in the story reflect who they are make a great story.  Karen Witemeyer achieves this ideal over and over in her books and Stealing the Preacher is no exception.  Both Crockett and Joanna are devoted Christians, yet they struggle with inner tumults that add conflict to the story.  I love how Witemeyer treats the ideas of forgiveness, steadfastness, and love in action throughout the story and causes the already “good” characters to grow even more.

Karen Witemeyer‘s balance of meaningful characters and flowing action in Stealing the Preacher earn not only 5 stars, but also my Enraptured Award.

Image** I received Stealing the Preacher free from Bethany House Publishers (via Net Galley) in exchange for an honest review.  My thoughts are my own. **

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Beautiful Blend of History and Faith


Grave Consequences, the second book in Lisa T. Bergren‘s The Grand Tour series, published by David C. Cook, brilliantly continues the rags-to-riches story of Cora Deihl Kensington.  As readers discovered in the first book of the series, Glamorous Illusions, Cora was the daughter of a hard-working Montana farm family – or at least, she’d thought so all her life.  After her papa had a stroke, Cora was confronted with the fact that she is actually the illegitimate daughter of her mama and one of the richest copper kings in the US, Wallace Kensington.  Wallace arrives to finally claim Cora as his own and offers to not only pay for Cora’s papa’s medical treatment, but also to send her along with her three half-siblings on a Grand European Tour.  Cora agrees to go and so begins an unforgettable adventure.

In Grave Consequences, a tentative alliance has formed between Cora, her siblings, and the three family friends also accompanying the Kensington heirs.  Cora is also faced with unexpected and unacceptable romantic entanglements.  Throughout the story, amidst the glittering facades of European high society and the dangerous villains threatening the party’s safety, Cora’s journey reveals her strength of character and a gradual acceptance of this new hybrid woman – the dirt farmer’s daughter who is now wealthy beyond her imaginings.  Cora must decide who she wants to be and whether following that path is worth the possible struggles and sacrifices inherent to that decision.

Lisa T Bergren blends beautifully the rich European history and faith with the intimate details of Cora’s journey.  The characters are richly developed and true to themselves in both word and deed.  Their actions are so in keeping with their characters, the reader is effortlessly pulled along through France, Vienna, and into Italy, just as if she were on the Grand Tour herself.

One of the things I most appreciate about this series, and this middle book especially, is the tug and pull of the characters.  We, the readers, see Cora grow and change, some in ways neither she nor we like, and we are entrenched eyewitnesses to that struggle.  And so it is with the other characters in the book whom we are privy to their thoughts.

Because Grave Consequences is the middle book in a series, we are left once again wondering where our heroine will end up, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  I am eagerly looking forward to Lisa T. Bergren’s next book in the series, Glittering Promises.  I give Grave Consequences five stars.

**I received this book free from David C. Cook (via Net Galley) in return for an honest review.  My thoughts are my own.**

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