Category: Books

Book Review: A Home for the Cowboy

About the Book:

She’s a believer in lost causes.

He just hopes she can believe in him.

Morgan Westcott is watching her dream slip away. Burned in love and with no family left to lean on, she is trying to build an equine therapy program from scratch in her little hometown. But help is hard to come by, funding is running low, and the writing is on the wall.

Cody Haskins finally has his dream job. He’s risen to become one of the top cow horse trainers in the nation, and now he’s riding for the famous Walker Ranch Brand—the family that took him in when he was a kid. But he’s got a hole in his heart, a chip on his shoulder, and a hankering for the one thing that’s always slipped through his fingers.

When Cody and Morgan team up to save a lost cause, it’s more than horses that get a fresh start. Trust and respect begin to grow, but old wounds are slow to heal. Will the disappointments of their pasts keep repeating themselves? Or can two people who never belonged anywhere else find a home together?

My Thoughts:

This is the first time I’ve read a book by Tess Thornton.

The writing style was engaging and the character development was very well done. I could identify with both Cody and Morgan.

I picked up the book mainly because of the setting. (I still love cow horses!) So maybe it was that this book isn’t my normal genre, but I found the story itself a bit flat. It started by introducing the characters through their own personal traumatic experiences and then it walked through the development of their relationship to each other. Trauma and connection were the sole drivers of the story. This made for beautiful main-character development, but I have to admit I would have liked the narrative to have been a bit broader. I’m not going to read the rest of the series.

All in all it was a well told story. If you want a focused, character driven romance and don’t mind wading through some trauma in the midst of it, then this book might be just what you are looking for.

I received a free digital copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Worthy of Legend

About the Book:

1906

After a summer of successful pirate-treasure hunting, Lady Emily Scofield and her friends must hide the unprecedented discoveries they’ve made, thanks to the betrayal of her own family. Horrified by her brother, who will stop at nothing to prove himself to their greedy father, Emily is forced to take a stand against her family–even if it means being cut off entirely.

Bram Sinclair, Earl of Telford, is fascinated with tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table–an interest he’s kept mostly hidden for the last decade. But when a diary is unearthed on the islands that could lead to a secret artifact, Bram is the only one able to piece the legends together.

As Bram and Emily seek out the whereabouts of the hidden artifact, they must dodge her family and a team of archaeologists. In a race against time, it is up to them to decide what makes a hero worthy of legend. Is it fighting valiantly to claim the treasure . . . or sacrificing everything in the name of selfless love?

My Thoughts:

Worthy of Legend is the third book in the Secrets of the Isles series. You must read book one, The Nature of a Lady, and book two, To Treasure an Heiress, before you read this novel to really get follow the complete arc of the story.

I always enjoy Roseanna White’s novels, but this series was very much my favorite. The introduction of humorous characters like Sheridan and the addition of a treasure hunt were gems within the midst of beautiful writing, excellent character development, themes of growth, transformation, love and forgiveness set within the delightful community of the Isles of Scilly.

I highly recommend this series.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: The Heart of the Mountains

About the Book:

To escape a forced marriage, Cora Taylor travels from England to the Blue Ridge Mountains in search of her brother, who is working as a teacher in a mission school. She hopes to find a place where her nursing skills and independent ideas will be accepted and appreciated, but nothing prepares her for the wild mixture of isolation, community, brokenness, and hope within these mountains…or in the person of Jeb McAdams.
 
Returning from the devastation of World War 1 emotionally damaged, Jeb McAdams struggles against the rampant mountain alcoholism to soothe his nightmares. It’s easy to hide within the mountains, or it was, before Cora Taylor arrived. Now, she seems to show up at every turn, bringing her modern ideas, curiosity, and beautiful eyes with her.
 
Bound by their shared war history, the pair develop an unlikely friendship, which unexpectedly hints to something more. But when Cora’s desire to help the women of the mountains crosses an unspoken line, will Jeb be able to protect this feisty flatlander from the wrath of the mountain men or will he end up losing much more than his heart? 

My Thoughts:

This is book two in the My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge series. Book One is called Laurel’s Dream and you do need to read it first. Laurel’s Dream introduces you to the setting and all the characters, which The Heart of the Mountains builds upon.

I enjoyed both books, but I especially enjoyed this book. The shared desire to overcome, to live a life worth living and the aspect of creating something beautiful in a broken world were themes that I could relate to. I loved Cora’s sense of adventure and determination. I appreciated her willingness to jump right in and her humility to learn. I also appreciated Jeb’s heart of sacrifice and gentleness of character. The setting was described so that you could feel the realities of the culture of the Blueridge mountains.

Though there were some very serious themes and heartbreaking situations the book never felt too heavy. I hope there will be more to the series.

I received a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: To Tame A Cowboy

About the Book:

Brody McQuaid is a broken man, and he knows it. While his body survived the war, his soul did not. Besides loving his little niece, his only sense of purpose comes from saving the wild horses that roam South Park. Ranchers in the area have taken to killing the horses, which are competing with their cattle to feed on the open grass.

Savannah Marshall is a veterinarian on her family’s Colorado ranch. She longs to keep her father happy following the tragic death of her older brother, including marrying a man of his choosing. But days before her wedding, she gets cold feet and disappears to South Park. As she learns more about the destruction of the horses, she joins Brody in an attempt to save the wild creatures. But when Savannah’s family and the resentments of the area cattlemen catch up with them both, Brody and Savannah will have to tame their fears if they’ve any hope to let love run free.

My Thoughts:

This is the third book in the Colorado Cowboys series and it would help if you read the first two books before this one, though you could probably jump in here if you want to.

Stories of redemption and self discovery are always some of my favorites so I enjoyed Brody and Savannah’s story as Brody began to find a reason to live after the war and Savannah discovered more and more of her own heart and desires. (I’d recommend anyone with war/battle/prison PTSD skip this book, because though the war descriptions were carefully written they were there and the loss and trauma Brody experienced is described).

Also, I have to say that there was a lot of flaunting of propriety that I’m not sure was true to the time period, even in Colorado, and physical attraction and desire played heavily in the story, even if the author kept it PG.

Since the author ended the book with a final chapter about another character entirely, I assume there is another book to come. And I’ll likely read it too.

This series is fairly easy reading with a moderate amount of tension and a bit of happily ever after.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: In Honor’s Defense

About the Book:

Luke Davenport has been fighting all his life–for respect, for country, and for those unable to fight for themselves. But now that his Horsemen brothers are domesticated, he’s left alone to battle the wildness within. When an opportunity arises to take a job on his own, tracking down a group of rustlers, he jumps at the chance.

Damaris Baxter has mastered the art of invisibility. Plain and quiet, she hides in books and needlework, content to be overlooked. Until her brother dies suddenly, leaving her custody of her nephew. She moves to Texas to care for Nathaniel, determined to create the family for herself that she never thought she’d have and to give him the family he desperately needs.

When Nate finds himself knee-deep in trouble, Luke’s attempt to protect him leaves Damaris feeling indebted to the Horseman. But suspicions grow regarding the mysterious death of Damaris’s brother. And the more questions they ask, the more danger appears, threatening the family Luke may be unable to live without.

My Thoughts:

In this third book in the Hanger’s Horsemen series Witemeyer again draws us into a story of justice and belonging. While the Horsemen will always be brothers, life had moved on and the belonging that Luke found on the road with his brothers is now a thing of the past. In contrast, Damaris has never really been seen, never really belonged.

Both characters jump at a chance to pursue something that might bring some meaning and new direction to their lives, but they find that maybe God has something even greater in store for them then what they dreamed.

The mystery elements of this novel were well developed and the motivations of the villain were believable. The characters were engaging and the overall pace of the novel was well done. I enjoyed “In Honor’s Defense” and would recommend it.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Fyrian’s Fire

About the Book:

When Tess commits a grievous error, siege befalls her land—a siege only Tess’s magic can end.

The week of her wedding, Lady Tessamine Canyon is jilted by her betrothed, Prince Linden. Left utterly humiliated, Tess betrays a tightly guarded secret to an enemy spy—a decision that throws the Dione of Glademont into chaos. Hunted by bloodthirsty mercenaries, Tess flees into the Hinge Forest. There, with the help of a wild owl and a two-hundred-year-old bear, Tess begins to unlock the forgotten mysteries of her people.

Deep in the woods, the spirit of a long-dead dryad awaits the next thane of a fierce weapon. To Tess’s amazement, it is she who is called to master the weapon’s power and save Glademont from an impending war.

When a surprising turn of events reunites Tess with Linden—the prince who called off their engagement—Tess must swallow her pride and join forces with him. But even if Tess can rescue her people, will that be enough to forgive her treason? Armed with a fiery magic, Tess is forced to make an impossible choice, one that might seal her fate as the next thane—but forever extinguish any chance at following her heart.

My Thoughts:

First, some things you should know.

This book was listed in the category of “Christian” when I received it for review, though Amazon hasn’t labeled it as such. It is a clean book, but it is definitely not Christian in theme. They pray to the stars and the magic/mythological elements of the story do not reflect the arc of the Biblical narrative. Like C.S. Lewis, I love how fantasy can take the reader “past watchful dragons,” but this story didn’t contain any hint of that element. That’s not to say that I didn’t like the book, just that it wasn’t, as advertised, a Christian book.

Second, this book was compared to Narnia. It was nothing like Narnia except for the talking animals. Narnia is absolutely dripping with Biblical truth and the narrative arc of the series grows entirely from a gospel framework. This story has none of that foundation. Again, that’s not to say that I didn’t like the book, but the comparison is completely misleading.

Now, I will say that though the book wasn’t what it was advertised to be, I did like the book for what it was. The book was clean and the characters grew to see beyond their own understandings and self-centeredness. There were elements of loyalty, honor and self-sacrifice. If your kids are reading it I think it would be well worth having a conversation about the difference between the gospel and the world view of this novel, but as far as a good story goes I think this one is well written and engaging. I expect I’ll read the rest of the series when it comes out and see where the author takes it.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: The Lady of Galway Manor

About the Book:

In 1920, Annabeth De Lacy’s father is appointed landlord of Galway Parish in Ireland. Bored without all the trappings of the British Court, Annabeth convinces her father to arrange an apprenticeship for her with the Jennings family–descendants of the creator of the famed Claddagh Ring.

Stephen Jennings longs to do anything other than run his family’s jewelry shop. Having had his heart broken, he no longer believes in love and is weary of peddling the “lies” the Claddagh Ring promises.

Meanwhile, as the war for Irish independence gains strength, many locals resent the De Lacys and decide to take things into their own hands to display their displeasure. As events take a dangerous turn for Annabeth and her family, she and Stephen begin to see that perhaps the “other side” isn’t quite as barbaric and uncultured as they’d been led to believe–and that the bonds of friendship, love, and loyalty are only made stronger when put through the refiner’s fire.

Travel to the Emerald Isle for another poignant and romantic story from the enchanted pen of Jennifer Deibel.

My Thoughts:

The history of Ireland is so heartbreaking. This story brings the struggle to life reminding us that we can’t just lump everyone together and make broad statements about entire people groups. By bringing curiosity and compasion to the foreground Deibel tells a story of wounds, of love, of priorities rearranged and of hope. Beautiful and difficult the relationship between Stephen and Anna, the Irish and the English, challenges us to open our hearts and see past the hurt to the person standing right in front of us.

I received a free digital galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Enchanting the Heiress

About the Book:

Miss Harriet Hancock enjoys playing the role of eccentric heiress, using her wealth and influence to cleverly and anonymously better the lives of those in Newmarket. Though she keeps people at a distance to protect a years-old secret, when her friend pleads for help on a personal project, Harriet can’t resist. Stable hand Jonas Fitzroy would do anything for his twin sister, even if it means seeking out the woman whose meddling ways have made him wary and suspicious. The last thing he expects is for Miss Hancock to request his help in writing a book. Intent on revealing her underlying plan, Jonas agrees.

As they work together, an unexpected friendship forms. But when things don’t go according to Harriet’s plan, she’s left wondering if good intentions might not be enough. Is there a way to mend the broken pieces of her life? And will Jonas give her another chance at his heart?

My Thoughts:

This is the third book in the series and I think you need to at least have read the previous book (Winning the Gentleman), about Jonas’ twin sister, to fully understand the context of this story.

Kristi Ann Hunter writes books that both entertain and challenge. I found this book both delightful and difficult. In today’s culture, as in the book, it is easy to justify a slight shifting of facts to allow someone to save face or to avoid conflict. This book explores where subtlety, manipulation and lying meet and the dangers of crossing those lines. Another aspect of the story that I found compelling was the challenge to live life rather than to just observe it. The author explored the difference between contentment and detachment as she explored Jonas’ relationship with the world. Enchanting the Heiress was a compelling and enjoyable story, but it also gave me much to consider. I’d recommend it to you.

I received a free digital galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: To Treasure an Heiress

About the Book

1906

Beth Tremayne has always been drawn to adventure. During her childhood, she fed that desire by exploring every inch of the Isles of Scilly. Now, after stumbling across an old collection of letters and a map buried on her family’s property, she’s found more adventure than she ever anticipated in the hunt for pirate treasure. But in order to discover where the clues lead, she must search alongside Lord Sheridan, a man she finds insufferable.

Sheridan has spent years pursuing whatever archaeological interests pique his imagination. And when he discovers that Beth’s search connects with one of his far-removed pirate ancestors, he can’t help getting involved. Plus, he finds her irresistible, even though she insists he stole a prized possession of hers.

As they work together following different clues and drawing closer to danger, they start to piece together a story of tragic love and piratical adventure. But which treasure will bring the greatest surprise–the one they find in each other or the one just out of their reach?

My Thoughts:

While still full of depth this book contained more humor than the other books that I have read by Roseanna White. I found it delightful.

This is the second book in the series and you will need to read The Nature of a Lady first. I loved how the first book in the series was all about finding your place by settling in and this book was about finding your place by letting your roots give you wings. Both books reflect on the power of community, connection and how we are not meant to live a self-sufficent life.

I kept turning the pages and throughly enjoyed Beth and Sheridan’s story. I recommend this book to you and am looking forward to the next book in the series. (But you’ll be glad to know that this book doesn’t end in a cliff-hanger).

I received a free digital galley of this book to read in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Review: Aging Faithfully

About the Book:

Would you like to grow in life-giving ways as you age? Do you have the courage to let go of former ways of thinking to receive God’s love and life in new ways?

As we age, we experience the loss of physical stamina, independence, and career fulfillment. Yet within each of these losses is a holy invitation to grow. God calls us to let go of our need for accomplishment and embrace the gift of fruitfulness so that we might be transformed in this final season of our lives. In Aging Faithfully, spiritual director Alice Fryling explores how to navigate the journey of retirement, lifestyle changes, and new limitations. In this season of life, we are invited to hold both grief and hope, to acknowledge ways of thinking that no longer represent who we are, and to receive peace in the midst of our fears.

We all age differently, and God calls each of us to new spiritual birth as we mature. When we embrace the aging process, we grow closer to God and experience his grace as he renews us from within. Whether you are approaching the beginning, middle, or end of your senior years, you are invited. Come and be transformed.

Aging Faithfully includes questions for group discussion and suggestions for personal meditation.

My Thoughts:

I am definitly not the demographic for this book with the target audience being in their 60s, 70s and 80s. However, with the impact of long-Covid and watching those I love in older generations age I found myself curious to see what Alice would say about aging faithfully.

With a focus on transformation there was a lot that was applicable to my own life. I find I’ve been reflecting a great deal on her question of what it looks like to let go of what we are losing.

If you are curious about how to receive the reality of aging as a gift rather than a curse, this book might be for you. Even at 48 it gave me plenty to think about.

I received a free digital galley of this book to read in exchange for my honest opinion.