Book Review: The Hope of Azure Springs

The Hope of Azure Springs – Rachel Fordham – Revell – Published 3 July 2018

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Synopsis

Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.

My thoughts

I do enjoy a good historical romance and I’m always on the lookout for new titles and authors. The Hope of Azure Springs is Rachel Fordham’s debut novel and she does a superb job of piecing together this inspiring story. It was exactly the book I needed and I loved sinking into it. Comforting, uplifting, joyful and heartwarming, The Hope of Azure Springs was a delight to read.

Seven years ago Em traveled west on an orphan train. After seven years of barely surviving, Em’s only goal is to find her sister. But when her guardian is murdered and Em is injured, she is taken to the town of Azure Springs. There, for the first time in so many years, she is fed, cared for and loved. Taken in by a kind family and protected by the town’s sherif, Caleb Reynolds, Em learns to dream again. But her heart remains focused on reuniting with her sister.

What a stunning and delightful story. At first a little bumpy in places, the tone and flow of the story soon became clear and I was loath to tear myself away from the heartwarming characters and their story of strength, resilience and love. The Hope of Azure Spring feels a little like one of the fairytales so often mentioned within its pages. This book carries a little magic with it and has a style all its own.

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Book Review: The Accidental Guardian

The Accidental Guardian – Mary Connealy – Bethany House Publishers – Published 3 April 2018

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Synopsis

When Trace Riley finds the smoldering ruins of a small wagon train, he recognizes an attack by the same group who left him as sole survivor years ago. Living off the wilderness since then, he’s finally carved out a home and started a herd–while serving as a self-appointed guardian of the trail. He’d hoped the days of driving off dangerous men were over, but the latest attack shows otherwise.

Deborah Harkness saved her younger sister and two toddlers during the attack, and now finds herself at the mercy of her rescuer. Trace becomes an accidental guardian when he offers the only shelter for miles around and agrees to take them in until they can safely continue their journey. His simple bachelor existence never anticipated kids and women in the picture and their arrival is unsettling–yet enticing.

Trace and Deborah find themselves drawing ever closer as they work together to bring justice to the trail and help the group survive the winter–but every day closer to spring means a day closer to leaving the mountains forever.

My thoughts

I have previously steered away from Mary Connealy’s titles after starting a few titles and finding that her writing style wasn’t for me. I know that there are many, many readers who would disagree with my opinion. However, The Accidental Guardian sounded fantastic and I thought it was high time that I gave Mary Connealy’s writing another go. I’m glad I did. I really enjoy the first half of The Accidental Guardian. I enjoyed the setting and the story of lost souls facing much hardship and then finding a family together.

Deb and Gwen Harkness are traveling west in a wagon train. When their group is attacked at night, Deb, Gwen and the children they are minding are lucky to escape with their lives, while everyone else is murdered and the wagons destroyed. Alone in the middle of nowhere with winter settling in, Deb and Gwen are shocked when they are discovered and rescued by Trace Riley. Trace knows the devastation of being the sole survivor of just such an attack. He takes the Harkness women and the children in their care to his ranch, determined to track down the killers and bring them to justice.

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Book Review: More Than Meets The Eye

More Than Meets The Eye – Karen Witemeyer – Patchwork Family #1 – Bethany House Publishers – Published 5 June 2018

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Synopsis

Seeking justice against the man who destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront the person responsible. But his quest is derailed when, instead of a hardened criminal, he finds an ordinary man with a sister named Evangeline–an unusual beauty with mismatched eyes and a sweet spirit that he finds utterly captivating.

My thoughts

More Than Meets The Eye is a delightful historical Christian romance, with a touch of mystery, plenty of suspense, and a warm heart that celebrates family and belonging. From the gorgeous cover to the heartwarming story where family is the people you choose, More Than Meets The Eye was wonderful from start to finish.

Evangeline Hamilton knows the cost of heartbreak. Yet she chooses to remain optimistic, celebrating the family God gave her and the simply joys in life. When a stranger purchases the land adjoining her brothers’ land, she intends to discover his true intentions, and if she shows him a little happiness and kindness along the way, all the better. Logan never intended to entwine Evie in his quest for revenge on her brother, but the Hamilton family is not what he expected. Evie and Logan must face the truth of the past and the dangers and mystery of the present if they are to have a future together.

Karen Witemeyer writes such excellent romance, and More Than Meets The Eye was certainly no exception. Logan and Evie’s connection is undeniable, tangible and so much fun to revel in. But Logan’s secrets and his plan for justice threaten the foundation of their growing friendship and romance.

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Book Review: The Heart of An Agent

The Heart of an Agent – Tracey J. Lyons – The Adirondack Pinkertons #2 – Waterfall Press – Published 7 November 2017

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Synopsis

Former Pinkerton spy Lily Handland has always dreamed of a quiet, safe life, free from chasing criminals and putting herself at risk. So when the opportunity to invest in a failing Great Camp in the Adirondacks comes to her attention, she quickly jumps at the chance.

Filled with grief, widower Owen Murphy wants to run away from it all. Though he’s worked hard to forge a future for himself, his guilt has kept him mired in the past. But all that changes when a headstrong, mysterious woman shows up at Owen’s door. Together, as Lily and Owen restore the beauty of the Great Camp, he begins to finally see a future. But will learning about Lily’s past destroy it all?

My thoughts

The Heart of an Agent is a winsome historical romance that aptly captures the beauty and relaxing nature of the historic Great Camps of the Adirondack Mountains. The Heart of an Agent sounded delicious, and I was delighted to find it very enjoyable.

Lily Handland is ready to move on from her life as a Pinkerton agent. Determined to stay in the small town of Heartston, she begins looking for a project. The run-down Murphy Great Camp is the perfect fit for Lily. But the owner, Owen Murphy, still grieving his wife and their lost dream, fights Lily on every new idea and expense. But just as Lily finds hope of finally having somewhere to belong, someone to love, the shadow of her past threatens everything for which she has worked so hard.

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Book Review: These Healing Hills

These Healing Hills – Ann H. Gabhart – Revell – Published 5 September 2017

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Synopsis

Francine Howard has her life all mapped out until the soldier she planned to marry at WWII’s end writes to tell her he’s in love with a woman in England. Devastated, Francine seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Service.

Deeply affected by the horrors he witnessed at war, Ben Locke has never thought further ahead than making it home to Kentucky. His future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he’s at a loss when it comes to envisioning what’s next for his life.

When Francine’s and Ben’s paths intersect, it’s immediately clear that they are from different worlds and value different things. But love has a way of healing old wounds . . . and revealing tantalizing new possibilities.

My thoughts

These Healing Hills is a delightful historical romance novel. The descriptive writing firmly places the reader in the gorgeous scenery and amongst the friendly people of the Appalachian Mountains. It was wonderful to sink into this story and journey with Fran and Ben as they overcome the obstacles before them, each find a place to call home, and find peace.

Francine Howard didn’t start her life looking for adventure, but when her fiancé writes home from the war to tell her he has found someone else, she knows home in Cincinnati is no longer where she wants to stay. Instead, she takes up the offer to travel to the Appalachian Mountains and put her training as a nurse to use as one of the Frontier Nurses. It is a vast change in culture, but Fran soon feels at home there. Ben Locke has spent many years away at war and wants nothing more than to return to his home in the mountains. He isn’t sure what his future holds, but the kind nurse with the amazing smile draws him like no one has before.

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Book Review: Heart on the Line

Heart on the Line – Karen Witemeyer – Ladies of Harper Station #2 – Bethany House – Published 6 June 2017

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Synopsis

Grace Mallory is tired of running, of hiding. But when an old friend sends an after-hours telegraph transmission warning Grace that the man who has hunted her for nearly a year has discovered her location, she fears she has no choice. She can’t let the villain she believes responsible for her father’s death release his wrath in Harper’s Station, the town that has sheltered her and blessed her with the dearest friends she’s ever known. 

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His telegraph companion, the mysterious Miss G, listens eagerly to his ramblings every night and delights him with tales all her own. For months, their friendship–dare he believe, courtship?–has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intended for him. Yet when he takes the next step to meet her in person, he discovers her life is in peril, and Amos must decide if he can shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

My thoughts

Heart on the Line features a long-distance, technology-assisted romance. Yes, this is still a historical romance, with a touch of drama and excitement, set in the charming women’s colony of Harper’s Station.

Grace Mallory has found refuge at Harper’s Station. The murder of her father sent her into hiding, running from the man who wishes to silence her and retrieve the documents Grace’s father secreted away. When Grace is warned by a friend over the telegraph wires that danger is heading her way she knows she must prepare. Amos Bledsoe has long been intrigued by the telegraph operator Miss G. When he overhears her issued a dire warning he races to her aid. The time together might give him a chance to propose a courtship, if they can outwit Grace’s pursuer.

It was an absolute pleasure to return to the wonderful world Karen Witemeyer has created. Harper’s Station and it’s colourful inhabitants are quickly become fondly familiar. There is never a dull moment.

Karen Witemeyer is wonderfully gifted at writing charming romance – heart-pounding and perfectly suited to the historical setting. Even before meeting Grace, Amos is quite smitten. And then, when he does meet her, he promptly falls head over heels. Grace is a little more reserved with her ardour (hard not to be), and takes the time to assess Amos, his character and motivation. He is not what she first expected, but he slowly proves himself to her.

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Book Review: No Other Will Do

No Other Will Do

No Other Will Do – Karen Witemeyer – Bethany House – Published 7 June 2016

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Synopsis

Men are optional. That’s the credo Emma Chandler’s suffragette aunts preached and why she started a successful women’s colony in Harper’s Station, Texas. But when an unknown assailant tries repeatedly to drive them out, Emma admits they might need a man after all. A man who can fight–and she knows just the one.

Malachi Shaw finally earned the respect he craved by becoming an explosives expert for the railroad. Yet when Emma’s plea arrives, he bolts to Harper’s Station to repay the girl who once saved his life. Only she’s not a girl any longer. She’s a woman with a mind of her own and a smile that makes a man imagine a future he doesn’t deserve.

As the danger intensifies, old feelings grow and deepen, but Emma and Mal will need more than love to survive.

My thoughts

No Other Will Do has plenty of action, shoot outs, dangerous masked bandits and brave women unafraid to stand up for themselves, but the standout in this novel has to be the romance. The spine tingling, escalating just when you think they will never get together, swoon worthy romance. And all this set in a charming little western town, where women have banded together to ensure their own safety and freedom. It is fun, inspiring and leaves one a little starry-eyed.

Malachi and Emma were childhood friends. Malachi has always been in awe of Emma and Emma has always felt a strong connection to Malachi. They were friends, study mates, protectors and champions. When life separated them in their teenage years they stayed in contact via letters. When Emma needs help protecting her women’s colony, she knows there is no man other than Malachi who is worthy of the task. Malachi feels that he owes everything to Emma and rushes to her aid. But will the danger finally bring them together or will they let fear push them apart? Continue reading

Book Review: Mail-Order Marriage

Mail-Order Marriage

Mail-Order Marriage: 5 Historical Stories of Marriage Arranged by Letters Between Strangers – Mary Davis, Denise Hunter, Judith McCoy Miller, DiAnn Mills, Tracie Peterson – Barbour Books – Published 1 December 2015

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Synopsis

Escape into the history of the American West along with five of today’s leading inspirational fiction authors who deliver exciting historical romances begun from advertisements for mail-order marriages. Placing their dreams for new beginnings in the hands of a stranger, will Cinda, Emily, Maura, Gabe, and Daughtry each be disappointed, or will some find true love?

My thoughts

Five delightful stories of mail-order marriage bring five couples together. They will face the challenges of beginning life as a couple against the dangers and harsh reality of life farming or ranching in the west.

Cinda’s Surprise – Mary Davis

Cinda is more than a little surprised when she discovers that her friends have organised a mail-order marriage in her name. Deciding to go ahead with the marriage, there are plenty more surprises awaiting Cinda when she and her new husband travel to his Montana farm. While it took me a little while to connect to this story initially, I warmed up to the characters and plot as it developed. At the start everything seemed a little ridiculous, too much deceit and a few nasty characters, but this all works together in the end, raising issues of forgiveness and truthfulness. There is also a host of colourful characters, and a sweet romance. Simple but sweet.

His Brother’s Bride – Denise Hunter  Continue reading

Book Review: Hearts Made Whole

Hearts Made Whole

Hearts Made Whole – Jody Hedlund – Beacons of Hope #2 – Bethany House Publishers – Published 2 June 2015

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Synopsis

After her father’s death, Caroline Taylor has grown confident running the Windmill Point Lighthouse. But in 1865 Michigan, women aren’t supposed to have such roles, so it’s only a matter of time before the lighthouse inspector appoints a new keeper–even though Caroline has nowhere else to go and no other job available to her.

Ryan Chambers is a Civil War veteran still haunted by the horrors of battle. He’s been given the post as lighthouse keeper, and the isolation where he can drown in drink and hide from his past is appealing. He’s not expecting the current keeper to be a feisty and beautiful woman who’s none-too-pleased to be giving up her position. They both quickly realize he’s in no shape to run the lighthouse, but Ryan’s unwilling to let anyone close, ravaged by memories and guilt. Caroline’s drawn to this wounded soul, but with both of them relying on that single position, can they look past their loss to a future filled with hope…and possibly love?

My thoughts

It is 1865. Caroline Taylor has dutifully tended the Windmill Point Lighthouse, both before and after her father’s tragic death. Determined to provide for her siblings and continue to man the light each night, she is shocked to find that she and her family will soon have to leave. Told that lighthouse keeping is no work for a woman she is to be replaced by a returning Civil War veteran, Ryan Chambers.

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Book Review: A Worthy Pursuit

A Worthy Pursuit

A Worthy Pursuit – Karen Witemeyer – Bethany House Publishers – Published 2 June 2015

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Synopsis

Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.

Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan’s Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the little girl entrusted to her care after her mother’s death. Charlotte promised Lily’s mother she’d keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.

When the teacher he’s after produces documentation that shows she’s the little girl’s legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he’s been led to believe. Is Miss Atherton villain or victim? She acts more like a loving mother than an abductress, and the children in her care clearly adore her. Should Stone break his perfect record?

Then a new danger threatens, and Charlotte is forced to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone becomes determined to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he’s ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte’s heart.

My thoughts

Find a comfy chair and a cozy spot, clear your calendar, and prepare to become fully ensconced in the romantic adventure that is A Worthy Pursuit.

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