Under Moonlit Skies by Cynthia Roemer

About the book: Her life was planned out ~ until he rode in ~ Illinois prairie ~ 1859

After four long years away, Esther Stanton returns to the prairie to care for her sister Charlotte’s family following the birth of her second child. The month-long stay seems much too short as Esther becomes acquainted with her brother-in-law’s new ranch hand, Stewart Brant. When obligations compel her to return to Cincinnati and to the man her overbearing mother intends her to wed, she loses hope of ever knowing true happiness.

Still reeling from a hurtful relationship, Stew is reluctant to open his heart to Esther. But when he faces a life-threatening injury with Esther tending him, their bond deepens. Heartbroken when she leaves, he sets out after her and inadvertently stumbles across an illegal slave-trade operation, the knowledge of which puts him, as well as Esther and her family, in jeopardy.

Publication Date: September 10, 2019

Publisher: Mantle Rock Publishing

Genre: Historical Fiction

Series: Prairie Sky #3

My thoughts: Sometimes reading a book isn’t about the ending but the journey to the end. What a journey this story was! From the prairie of Illinois to the bustling streets of Cincinnati this story grabbed my reader’s heart and didn’t let go!

First of all, I love the characters the author has created. Even though they are fictional I have come to care about them from the very first book in the series. The chemistry between Esther and Stew was palpable at times and made the book so fun to read. It was also great to see Charlotte and her growing family. Can’t say I was a fan of Lawrence Del Ray but this just goes to show how talented the author is in creating characters that readers can dislike as well as ones they can love.

The story was interesting and there were twists and turns that I didn’t expect. While it seemed very likely from the beginning that Esther and Stew would find their happily ever after it was all these twists and turns that made the story so good and kept my interest. The pace of the story is excellent and the author has a way of writing that made me feel part of the story. Her writing reminds me so much of that of Janette Oke

I highly recommend this book. While it can be read as a standalone I would read the series in order to get to know the characters better. This is a book for fans of historical fiction, especially American historical fiction. This book is not to be missed and is definitely one for the keeper shelf!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author: Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons.

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The Cottage by Michael Phillips

About the book:

 Michael Phillips Continues His Sweeping Shetland Islands Saga…
When Loni Ford is informed that she has inherited property in the Shetland Islands, she laughs. She wants nothing more than to sell it and be done with it. But when she arrives in the North Sea enclave, she is stunned to find that “the Cottage” is not at all what she expected, nor is David Tulloch, the man most of the islanders believe to be the rightful heir.
The locals could hardly be more surprised that the heir is a woman–and an American. Loni, in turn, finds the islanders quaint and a bit behind the times. Expecting David to be as provincial as the rest of his clan, she discovers that there is far more to the man than meets the eye. And there is something about the peaceful atmosphere of the place–and the character of its most prominent citizen–that soon gets under her skin.
Beneath the peaceful surface, however, change is threatening the island of Whale’s Reef. David’s cousin Hardy Tulloch, whose claim to the inheritance now in Loni’s hands was backed by oil investors, has not been deterred in his aim to control the island. But his co-conspirators have plans of their own, plans that put Loni’s very life in danger.

Publication Date:  October 4, 2016

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

Series: Secrets of the Shetlands #2

My review:

 I received this book through Bethany House Publisher’s reviewer program. I didn’t realize it was the second in a series but that didn’t seem to matter when I started reading the book. It does quite well as a standalone even though I felt like I should have known things that were talked about.

This book was an enjoyable read for me. I found the story interesting and unlike anything I have read before. The author did a great job with descriptions and historical facts. This made the story more believable and authentic. Even though it took a bit of time to get accustomed to the Scottish brogue used by the Shetlanders I found the author’s use of this made the story more genuine. It made me feel as if I were there on the island listening in to their conversations.

While this book is over 400 pages I didn’t find the story to lag at any time. The story unfolds at a steady pace and the author’s writing style is easy to read. The book flows easily from chapter to chapter making it easy to stay interested in.

This book was a nice escape and a nice visit to the Shetland Islands. If you like stories rich in personal history and family you will find this an interesting read.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions in this review are mine.

About the author:  

Michael Phillips has been writing in the Christian marketplace for 30 years. All told, he has written, co-written, and edited some 110 books. Phillips and his wife live in the U.S., and make their second home in Scotland.

The Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel

About the book: A year after the death of her abusive fiancé, domestic violence counselor Sophia Barrett finds returning to work too painful. She escapes to Cornwall, England–a place she’s learned to love through the words of her favorite author–and finds a place to stay with the requirement that she help out in the bookstore underneath the room she’s renting. Given her love of all things literary, it seems like the perfect place to find peace.

Ginny Rose is an American living in Cornwall, sure that if she saves the bookstore she co-owns with her husband then she can save her marriage as well. Fighting to keep the first place she feels like she belongs, she brainstorms with her brother-in-law, William, and Sophia to try to keep the charming bookstore afloat.

Two hundred years before, governess Emily Fairfax knew two things for certain: she wanted to be a published author, and she was in love with her childhood best friend. But he was a wealthy heir and well out of her league. Sophia discovers Emily’s journals, and she and William embark on a mission to find out more about this mysterious and determined woman, all the while getting closer to each other as they get closer to the truth.

The lives of the three women intertwine as each learns the power she has over the story of her life.

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Timeslip

My thoughts: After reading The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel I knew I had to read whatever she released next. That just so happened to be The Secrets of Paper and Ink. I didn’t even read the description of what the book was about. I just knew that I loved her writing and wanted to read whatever she wrote. I wasn’t disappointed.

This book was everything I was expecting it to be and more. The story centers on two modern-day women who meet when Sophia decides to get away and go to England. She has just faced the death of her fiance but readers soon learn that there’s more to her story than just the grief she is going through. In England, she meets Ginny, who has been left by her husband with a bookstore that is on the verge of closing. Sophia rents a room from Ginny and works in the bookstore. There she comes across a notebook in which there is a fascinating story about Emily Fairfax. Sophia isn’t sure if Emily is real or just a character but she is drawn to her story and it was a story that I was drawn to as well. It was so easy to like and relate to each of these three women. The author does an excellent job of writing three original characters that worked well in the same story.

The chapters in the book jump from character to character but that was something that I really enjoyed. I liked learning Emily’s story in bits and pieces and slowly over the course of the book. I (correctly!) guessed some of the events in Emily’s story and how she would be connected to the main story fairly early into the book but that didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I found that I enjoyed learning that my guesses were correct as the story unfolded.

Whether reading about modern-day Cornwall or the 1860s Cornwall the author does an excellent job of describing the scenes and transporting readers to England and letting them go on a journey with three very unique women who are facing difficult times in their lives. The author does an excellent job of writing a timeslip novel that gives readers two complete stories to enjoy as they combine into one fantastic read!

With her YA-leaning The Heart Between Us and now The Secrets of Paper and Ink this author has earned a spot on my must-read list. It doesn’t matter what genre or era she is writing, I will be reading it. I highly recommend this book which is quite possibly my favorite read of the year.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author: Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and—of course—writing novels.

When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way.

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Underestimating Miss Cecilia by Carolyn Miller

About the book:

Will a shrinking violet and a prodigal son come together to better their world?

Cecilia Hatherleigh has many secrets in her shy, sweet heart–but none bigger than her unrequited love for Edward Amherst, the earl’s son next door. Her love has persevered over many years, even when he grows to be a bit of a rake. Yet despite his fondness for females, he never seems to see her as anything more than the quiet younger sister, and nothing Cecy does has changed that. Rather than pining after his perhaps unworthy love, she decides to turn her focus toward living out her newfound faith. Now she’s determined to follow God’s leading to make a better world for the poor and dispossessed around her.

A London riot awakens Edward to the responsibilities due his family name. It’s time to turn his life around to please his noble father–and that means restoring his abandoned legal career and making a marriage of convenience. Neither will be easy, given his past and the prejudices of the upper echelons of society to which he belongs.

When misadventure strikes at a house party, these two are thrown together even as their lives are upended. If Cecy can’t trust God, overcome her shyness, and find her inner strength, the good work they’ve both done may be for naught-and neither will ever find true love . . .

Well known for her authentic Regency romances set against less-explored, true historical backgrounds, best-selling author Carolyn Miller continues her newest series with a clean, wholesome tale sure to please her many fans.

Publication Date: July 23, 2019

Publisher: Kregel Publications

Genre: Regency, Historical Romance

Series: Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley, #2

My thoughts: Not really loving the first book in this series I was anxious to read this one. I was hoping to get all those wonderful feelings back that I normally have when reading a Carolyn Miller novel. I’m excited to say that those feelings were back and I enjoyed this story immensely.

The premise of the story sounded interesting and the author didn’t disappoint. The story moves along at a respectable pace and the buildup to the climax is perfect. I have to admit that some of my favorite parts are between Cecilia and her mother towards the end of the story. The author made me laugh at some of the dialogue between the two and it was such a bright spot in the story and added to Cecilia’s likability.

As far as the characters go in addition to liking Cecilia I found Ned to be a likable character. He was very believable in his feelings and the fact that he struggled in overcoming the actions of his past made him that much more realistic. I also liked Verity and can’t wait to read her story. She is a fun character and adds mischief and lightness to the story.

Regency romance fans won’t want to miss out on this book. It’s an easy read and one that will stay with readers long after the last page is read. Definitely one for the keeper shelf. Happy reading!!!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author: Carolyn Miller lives in New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn’s previous novels have won several contests, including the 2014 RWA “Touched by Love” and 2014 ACFW Genesis contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy.

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The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

About the book: The New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Wives and A Certain Age creates a dazzling epic of World War II-era Nassau—a hotbed of spies, traitors, and the most infamous couple of the age, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

The Bahamas, 1941. Newly-widowed Leonora “Lulu” Randolph arrives in Nassau to investigate the Governor and his wife for a New York society magazine. After all, American readers have an insatiable appetite for news of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, that glamorous couple whose love affair nearly brought the British monarchy to its knees five years earlier. What more intriguing backdrop for their romance than a wartime Caribbean paradise, a colonial playground for kingpins of ill-gotten empires?

Or so Lulu imagines. But as she infiltrates the Duke and Duchess’s social circle, and the powerful cabal that controls the islands’ political and financial affairs, she uncovers evidence that beneath the glister of Wallis and Edward’s marriage lies an ugly—and even treasonous—reality. In fact, Windsor-era Nassau seethes with spies, financial swindles, and racial tension, and in the middle of it all stands Benedict Thorpe: a scientist of tremendous charm and murky national loyalties. Inevitably, the willful and wounded Lulu falls in love.

Then Nassau’s wealthiest man is murdered in one of the most notorious cases of the century, and the resulting coverup reeks of royal privilege. Benedict Thorpe disappears without a trace, and Lulu embarks on a journey to London and beyond to unpick Thorpe’s complicated family history: a fateful love affair, a wartime tragedy, and a mother from whom all joy is stolen.

The stories of two unforgettable women thread together in this extraordinary epic of espionage, sacrifice, human love, and human courage, set against a shocking true crime . . . and the rise and fall of a legendary royal couple.

Publication Date: July 9, 2019

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII

My thoughts: I’ve been hanging on to a Book of the Month credit for a while now and when I saw The Golden Hour as a June selection I immediately knew that credit was going to be used. The description immediately piqued my interest and I’ve been wanting to read a Williams novel for what seems like forever. Then came the horrible act of having to wait for the book to show up so I could actually read it. Eventually it arrived and I dived right into it.

I immediately liked the author’s writing style. She made me feel as if I had been transported to the settings of the story whether it be the tropical Nassau or the more damp and dreary Switzerland. The pictures she painted with words made the story come alive in the pages of the story. I also liked the characters and was intrigued by them. They were dimensional and I liked the fact that some of them were real-life people and not just fictional characters.

However, with all that being said, as I kept reading the book I found that the story moved slowly and at times I felt it was bogged down with all the descriptions of the setting. Then there’s the fact that the story is a dual timeline. Now, I like dual timeline stories but what I found frustrating with this one was some of the characters had very similar names and I found myself confused at times trying to keep the Thorpes straight in my mind. At times it also seemed like the two storylines were too much of the same thing.

Also, a bit confusing to me was the use of the “f” word. Now I’m no prude and don’t really mind the word at all but it seemed out of place in this story. Why was it even in there? For shock value? I’m not sure but it wasn’t really needed at all and I feel like the story would have been just as good without it.

All in all, I enjoyed the story enough. It kept my interest well enough. Even though I wouldn’t rate this a four or five star read I liked it enough to give the author another try.

About the author: Beatriz Williams is the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of The Summer Wives, The Secret Life of Violet Grant, A Hundred Summers, A Certain Age, and several other works of historical fiction. A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA in Finance from Columbia University, Beatriz worked as a communications and corporate strategy consultant in New York and London before she turned her attention to writing novels that combine her passion for history with an obsessive devotion to voice and characterization. Beatriz’s books have won numerous awards, have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and appear regularly in bestseller lists around the world.

Born in Seattle, Washington, Beatriz now lives near the Connecticut shore with her husband and four children, where she divides her time between writing and laundry.

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The Pink Bonnet: True Colors: Historical Stories of American Crime by Liz Tolsma

About the book:

A Desperate Mother Searches for Her Child
Step into True Colors — a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

Widowed in Memphis during 1932, Cecile Dowd is struggling to provide for her three-year-old daughter. Unwittingly trusting a neighbor puts little Millie Mae into the clutches of Georgia Tann, corrupt Memphis Tennessee Children’s Home Society director suspected of the disappearance of hundreds of children. With the help of a sympathetic lawyer, the search for Millie uncovers a deep level of corruption that threatens their very lives.

Publication Date: June 1, 2019

Publisher: Barbour Books

Genre: Historical fiction, American Crime

Series: True Colors: Historical Stories of American Crime #2

My thoughts:

Before I began this novel I had never heard of Georgia Tann or the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. I quickly learned though that this was not a nice woman and the things that she and her cohorts did were absolutely appalling. This story is one I won’t soon forget.

This story takes place during the early 1930s when times were hard due to the recent depression. Although the story centers on the real-life Tann and there is mention of two other real-life people, the rest of the characters are fictional. Yet they are so well-written and developed that it is easy to believe they were real and the entire story laid out in the pages of this book was real. The author does a fantastic job of capturing the personalities of the characters and making them totally believable. It was easy to visualize Tann as a monster with her orthopedic shoes and odd odor. It was equally as easy to imagine the fear the children faced as they were torn from their homes and placed with strangers, some nice and some not nice.

It was hard for me to believe that this was a debut novel. The author’s writing style is wonderful and she has a way of telling a story that kept my interest. I do admit I had to set the book down from time to time because this isn’t a light read. Sometimes the subject matter got to be just a bit much. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book where I’ve despised so many of the characters.

If you like true crime stories I believe you will enjoy this book. Although it falls in the genre of Christian fiction there isn’t too much of a religious tone to the story. It’s just a really well-written fictional story set around real events and people.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author:

Liz Tolsma has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband, their son, and their two daughters. All of their children have been adopted internationally and one has special needs. Her novella, Under His Wings, appeared in the New York Times bestselling collection, A Log Cabin Christmas. Her debut novel, Snow on the Tulips, released in August of 2013. Daisies Are Forever released in May 2014. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family.

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More Than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer

About the book:

After being railroaded by the city council, Abby needs a mans name on her bakery’s deed, and a man she can control, not the stoic lumberman Zacharias who always seems to exude silent confidence. She cant even control her pulse when shes around him. But as trust grows between them, she finds she wants more than his rescue. She wants his heart.

Publication Date: June 4, 2019

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Genre: Historical fiction, Romance

Series: Patchwork Family #2

My thoughts:

Delightful, witty, charming, these are just a few words that come to mind while reading this book. This book was so fun to read and made me feel good while reading it. Karen Witemeyer has penned a marriage of convenience story that will have you swooning from beginning to end.

Right off the bat, I liked Abigail. She’s strong-willed and independent. She doesn’t need a man but yet she does. All due to an old law that a woman can’t own her own business. Enter the perfect man for her: Zach Hamilton. Now, Zach is a bit rough around the edges but he’s just the type of guy that Abigail needs. He’s strong-willed, independent, and will look out for those he needs to. This is proven time and again throughout the story and made me like the character more and more. I loved the chemistry between Abby and Zach and I was thrilled that there was a bit more in the spark department between these two than what one normally finds in a Christian fiction novel. Personally, I don’t think the story would have been as entertaining if the attraction between these two characters was written in a more tame manner.

As always the author swept me away to another place and time and made me feel as if I were there right along with Abby as she tried to save the bakery her father left her. I love the descriptions that she writes that can make me feel part of the story and I love the word choices she uses. Adding to the story is the wit and charm she gives to the characters. I would love to believe (so I will) that this is part of the author’s personality that we readers are getting a glimpse of and I absolutely adore it!

I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy a good, fun romance story. There is plenty to laugh and smile about while reading this book. This book is definitely going on the keeper shelf and being filed under books with my favorite characters. I dare you not to fall in love with Abby and Zach! Happy reading!!!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author:

After growing up in California, Karen moved to Texas to attend Abilene Christian University where she earned bachelor and master’s degrees in Psychology. It was also there that she met and married her own Texas hero. He roped her in good, for she has lived in Texas ever since. In fact, she fell so in love with this rugged land of sweeping sunsets and enduring pioneer spirit, that she incorporates it into the pages of her novels, setting her stories in the small towns of a state that burgeoned into greatness in the mid- to late1800s.

A life-long bookworm, Karen is living her dream by writing novels. Her books have consistently hit bestseller lists and have garnered awards such as the ACFW Carol Award, the Holt Medallion, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. In addition, she is a multiple RITA and National Reader’s Choice finalist. Karen is also a sought-after speaker for national writing conferences and regional workshops.

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