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Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Before I read A Woman’s Guide to Fasting by Lisa E Nelson (Bethany House), I had never partaken in a fast.  Truthfully, the reasons and benefits of fasting were a little lost on me.  I had a hazy understanding of denying my physical needs to strengthen my spirit, communing with God during normal meal times, etc.  but no true understanding of the process, reasons, or benefits were clear until I got a hold of this gem of a book.

Lisa begins with a thorough explanation of exactly what fasting is – “a spiritual tool for spiritual growth.” (p.12)  She then goes deeper and explains five reasons why God commands us to fast: 1) Spiritual growth and overcoming sin.  2) Empower intercession.  3) Preparation for spiritual warfare.  4) Obedience to God’s call.  5) Response to a crisis.  In addition to fleshing out these reasons, in the next chapter, Lisa confronts some reasons why not to fast.  In a nutshell, fasting is not a magic trick to make God love you, but it can be a tool to put you in a place of obedience to Him.  The rest of the book is made up of quality advice on how to begin, follow through, and break a fast.

I really appreciate the depth of analysis, thought, and tangible guidance presented in this conversational book.  I definitely give A Woman’s Guide to Fasting five stars.  It is a must read for any woman who is interested in this spiritual discipline.

Disclaimer: I received A Woman’s Guide to Fasting by Lisa E. Nelson at no cost from Bethany House in return for an honest review.  My opinion is my own.

Throughout my post are Amazon affiliate links.  By clicking to Amazon from these links to make your purchases, you can help me to buy supplies to home educate my family.

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Susanna Smith was raised to be obedient and merciful.  Unfortunately, her personality doesn’t lend itself to proper obedience and acceptable mercy.  When she finds herself needing to choose between obedience to not only her parents, but her king, and helping a runaway abused indentured servant, Susanna chooses to follow mercy.

In the process of sheltering Dotty, Susanna seeks the legal aid of Benjamin Ross, a local lawyer of poor beginnings.  Ben is a passionate man who seeks freedom and justice for even the most down-trodden in society.  Having been judged his whole life because of his family’s social standing, rather than their achievements and faith, Ben carries a chip on his shoulder toward the wealthy Susanna.  Much to his chagrin, he also carries a great attraction to not only her physical beauty, but also her quick mind and generous heart.

Tough decisions and tougher consequences are faced in Jody Hedlund‘s newest book, Rebellious Heart, published by Bethany House.  Once again, Jody has pulled from the pages of history and fictionalized a great couple from our past.  In this case, John and Abigail Adams.

One of the things I most appreciate about Jody’s writings, and Rebellious Heart is no exception, is her ability to explore deep subjects while weaving a beautiful, romantic tale with fully developed characters.  I always find myself thinking of the issues brought up in her stories as I close the last page, but I never feel preached at.

Of course, I can’t let this review go by without mentioning the innocent sensuality found in Rebellious Heart.  From foot measurements to stolen moments in a closet, the physical attraction between Ben and Susanna parallels and augments their growing emotional relationship.  I appreciate that more than a passing nod is given to the physical side of the developing love and the fact that the two stay innocent within that deepening attraction.

I give Rebellious Heart five stars.

I received Rebellious Heart from Bethany House Publishers at no cost in return for an honest review.  My opinions are my own.

Throughout my post are scattered Amazon Affiliate links.  By clicking to Amazon from my site and making your purchases, you are helping me to buy supplies to home educate my children.  Thank you!

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Courtesy David C. Cook Publisher

Courtesy David C. Cook Publisher

Cora Deihl-Kensington has changed so much – and she’s not exactly certain she likes it.  Her father, Copper King Wallace Kensington, has grudgingly settled in allowing her the fortune due to her mama and the man who raised Cora.  But what does this mean to her future?  To Will’s future with her?

Glittering Promises, published by David C. Cook, wraps up Lisa Tawn Bergren‘s Grand Tour Series.  Just as full of breath-taking history as the first two books, Glittering Promises doesn’t shy away from either surprise or discomfort.

I give Glittering Promises five stars, but I will say that this book was more difficult, emotionally, for me to read.  Cora and Will, so happy and hopeful at the end of Grave Consequences, seemed to fall apart in Glittering Promises.  During several scenes, I simply had to close the book, because I was angry, disappointed, or heartbroken over the behavior of these characters.  Because these people on the page had become my friends, I had no choice but to open the book back up and deal with their emotions and impulsive choices.

I would say that is good writing, eh?  Don’t worry, without giving too much away, I can tell you that Cora comes to her senses in the end and all ends well.  Of course!  It is a romance novel, after all.

You can read my review of Grave Consequences here.  I do recommend that you read all three books in the series in order, to get the full effect of The Grand Tour series.

Do you like a book to entrench you so emotionally that you have a hard time dealing with the characters’ decisions?  What about endings?  Do you prefer neatly wrapped endings or ones that leave you wondering just a little?

I received Glittering Promises by Lisa T. Bergren free from David C. Cook, via Net Galley, in return for an honest review.  My opinions are my own.

Amazon links on most of my blog posts are affiliate links.  You can help me purchase supplies to home educate my children by purchasing items from Amazon after clicking there from my blog.  Thank you!

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