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A Worthy Heart is the second in the historical fiction series, Courage to Dream by Susan Anne Mason.51kdxzdubel-_sx322_bo1204203200_

Quick story review: One reason Maggie Montgomery leaves Ireland for the United States is to avoid her former fiancé. She and her brother, Gabe, arrive in New York to stay with their brother and his wife, who run an orphanage.

During their stay, Maggie and Gabe each meet someone who affects their lives and their hearts. Meanwhile, Maggie’s nemesis turns up in New York, with progressively threatening plans that affect not only her, but also those dear to her.

Although Gabe’s love interest returns his affections, her family does not approve. There is much of social standing in this novel.

A Worthy Heart is primarily a double romance between these two couples, but it includes the backdrop of unrest, epidemic and rumblings of war in Europe. It is also a story of faith, forgiveness and the truth that social status does not affect God’s love for his people.

I think the characters are well developed, and fairly well managed. This cannot have been a simple task because of the number of family members and minor characters involved. The plot is interesting and not without unexpected conflicts to keep it moving. I did find the two romantic sub-plots fairly similar in development, but still interesting. And the book has a lovely cover.

The first book in this series, Irish Meadows, featured another member of the O’Leary family, who is briefly present in this second book as a secondary character. I’m sure the intertwining of families will keep this series attractive to readers.

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A Mystery Remains Unsolved for Seventy Years

51ldxpniytlA rundown estate, a child missing for seventy years, and a detective who refuses to give up. All these add up to another excellent demonstration of Kate Morton’s power to captivate, mystify, surprise and superbly entertain her readers.

The Lake House takes place in England in two distinct eras: the early 1930s (with earlier flashbacks), and 2003.

The first chapter opens in Cornwall, England in 1933, with a wealthy family that lives in a mansion beside a lake. While there, the mother, Eleanor, gives birth to three daughters and a son. All is bliss until one fateful day when the eighteen-month-old son disappears. The family leaves the house, unable to live there any longer.

We see much of this storyline through the eyes of the third daughter, Alice Edevane.

Next, we are introduced to Sadie Sparrow, a young detective with the London police force. She has come into some trouble at work for insubordination, specifically, not wanting to let an unsolved case go cold. Her boss suggests a vacation to distance herself from work and worries and to pull her life together.

Sadie goes to Cornwall to stay with her beloved grandfather, Bertie, and stumbles across the ruins of a neglected mansion beside a lake. Gradually, the story of the Edevanes emerges, and Sadie is hit by yet another cold case that she cannot release.

With many switches of scene and time period, author Kate Morton weaves a tapestry with many background knots and misplaced stitches. D.C. Sparrow continues to gather information about both cases, while retaining a low profile so she won’t lose her job. She eventually locates Alice Edevane, who has become a famous mystery author, and together, they untangle the secrets of the past. 

After much tension and stress, the story wraps up with a well-crafted and satisfying conclusion to the mysterious adventure. As with Mortons’ books other books, The Lake House is a uniquely structured and fascinating read.

This is the fifth Kate Morton book I have read, and I love them all. I recommend these stories, especially The Lake House, to anyone who adores well-crafted mystery, deeply developed characters, and settings that sing. Read and enjoy.

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“Dru controlled most of her waking hours, but she wouldn’t control Ella’s thoughts. You haven’t been the same size as your mother since you were ten.”         Ella

 

Alberta (Canada) inspirational novelist, Lisa J. Flickinger, just released a fun, summer novella based on the Cinderella story:

Ella Goodwin, abandoned by her father and abused by her stepsister, seeks to make sense of her new life as a prisoner in her own home. Squirreled away in the attic, she lets her imagination soar by designing and sewing a magnificent gown. However, all hopes of attending the masked ball are dashed when she’s discovered and her gown is stolen.

Thomas Bailey, withdrawn from active duty in the Foreign Service, struggles with a moral issue he must resolve if he wishes to keep his position. He arrives at his coworker’s home to deliver a parcel, a beautiful pair of red silk shoes, and unaware of any deception he agrees to escort the women of the house to the ball.

Chaos and confusion ensue as Thomas attempts to extricate himself from the clutches of an obnoxious stepsister. Will he unravel the mystery and learn the true identity of the beautiful woman who has captured his heart? Join author Lisa Flickinger as she takes you on a fairytale journey though time when life was simpler … or was it?

This fun and familiar novella reached #1 Christian Historical Fiction on Amazon.ca. Congrats, Lisa.

Lisa Flickinger

Lisa Flickinger, author of historical novels Fool’s Notion, and All That Glitters, lives and writes from the cliff of a river along the majestic Rocky Mountains. When not writing or reading, you will find her scouring antique shops to add to her collection of old ladders, brooms, linens … or sipping a maple latte with friends and family.

To purchase Ella, click on the cover above, or to visit Lisa, go to www.lisajflickinger.com

 

BONUS BOOK REVIEW by Janice L. Dick

Think Ever After with an underpinning of morality and faith, and the perfect spark of humor. Lisa J. Flickinger’s redo of the Cinderella story is entertaining and fresh.

Ella’s father is away on an extended military posting abroad, and his new wife has brought her two daughters, formerly unknown to her new husband, to live in the household. As the story goes, they mistreat Ella at every opportunity.

Ella has no way of contacting her father, until an officer shows up who has worked for him. But how can she contrive a way to convince him that she is the real daughter, and that her father’s estate is in jeopardy if left in the clutches of his new family? And what is this feeling that has arisen toward the man who has the power to step in and save her?

Oh, and the red slippers, brought along by Ella’s father’s emissary for his “only daughter.” Perfect. The mean stepsister claims them, then fabricates a long list of excuses and postponements to trying on the slippers, which are half the length of her foot. And in the end, whom do they fit? This is one of those stories that’s fun to read even though you know the ending. Or do you?

The truth is, the cover grabbed me first. It’s gorgeous, a more accurate rendering of a historical character than many I’ve seen on other historical fiction covers. Definitely a winner in my opinion.

I found the Ella novella to be engaging, and although it is based on a premise that good will win out, there is enough tension to keep me reading. I recommend this short book to all those who love fairy tales, especially those with a romantic bent.

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Contemporary Romance: 

On Love’s Gentle Shore by Liz Johnson — When Natalie O’Ryan’s fiancé books their wedding in her hometown, Natalie didn’t know the only reception venue available would be an old barn belonging to Justin Kane–the best friend she left behind all those years ago after promising to stay. As they work together to get the dilapidated building ready for the party, Natalie and Justin discover the groundwork for forgiveness–and that there may be more than an old friendship between them. (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Their Ranch Reunion by Mindy Obenhaus — Single mom Carly Wagner is surprised to learn she’ll have to share ownership of the home she’s inherited with her first love—and first heartbreak—Andrew Stephens. The man who fled their tiny Western town is back and standing in the way of her dreams to expand her B and B. Now a successful businessman, Andrew has eight weeks to buy Carly out. But Carly’s too stubborn to persuade—and too beautiful to ignore. When fire ravages her inn and she and her daughter move in to their shared property, Andrew’s in over his head. Time is running out and Andrew must decide: leave and chase another deal…or stay and chase Carly’s heart. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Time and Tide by Kristen Terrette — Recovering from addiction and a near death experience, Chad moves to Moanna Island, a small island close to Savannah off the Atlantic coast, to begin a job with his family’s real estate empire, a job he was supposed to have taken years ago. Free-spirited Ryan Mason is a Moanna local girl from a blue-collar family. She’s dropped her own dreams to help her father care for her schizophrenic brother. When Chad and Ryan meet at the rehabilitation center where her brother lives, feelings develop between them. Can their crazy worlds ever fit together once he learns her secret and she finds out he is the sole heir to the Cusher Empire? (Contemporary from Hartwood Publishing Group)


Just Look Up by Courtney Walsh — When a workaholic interior designer returns to her hometown to check on her brother’s welfare, she reconnects with a soldier, secretly in love with her, over a renovation project that will help the struggling town. (Contemporary Romance from Tyndale House)

Cozy Mystery: 

A Tempting Taste of Mystery by Elizabeth Ludwig — Judging a pie contest leads Cheryl Cooper and friends into mayhem and mystery after someone begins methodically sabotaging the entries. (Cozy Mystery from Guideposts Publications)

Over Maya Dead Body by Sandra Orchard — FBI Special Agent Serena Jones arrives on Martha’s Vineyard with her family, ready for a little bit of R&R and a whole lot of reminiscing as they celebrate the engagement of an old family friend. But crime doesn’t take a vacation, and she’s soon entangled in an investigation of a suspicious death tied to an antiquities smuggling ring.When her investigation propels her into danger, Serena must stay the course and solve this case before anyone else dies. But just how is she supposed to do that when the two men in her life arrive on the scene, bringing with them plenty of romantic complications–and even a secret or two? (Cozy Mystery from Revell [Baker])

Historical Romance:

The American Conquest (Window to the Heart Sage, Book 3) by Jenna Brandt — Margaret must leave behind her title and wealth in Europe in order to escape and start a new life in the Colorado Territory. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)


Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection by Susanne Dietze, Michelle Griep, Anne Love, Gabrielle Meyer, Natalie Monk, Jennifer Uhlarik, Erica Vetsch, Jaime Jo Wright, and Kathleen Y’Barbo — Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Rebel in My House by Sandra Merville Hart — Promises can be impossible to keep–especially when a Confederate soldier trapped behind enemy lines looks to a Gettysburg seamstress for help. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Match for Melissa by Susan Karsten — Wanting a godly husband, Melissa’s only choice is to follow her father’s wishes, even when doing so may not achieve the desires of her heart. (Historical Romance from Prism Book Group [Pelican]).

My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels — Moor your heart on Mackinac Island along with resident sweetheart Maude Welling, an heiress trying to prove her worth by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel. Meet Ben Steffans, a journalist posing as a wealthy industrialist who has come to the island to uncover a story about impoverished men pursuing heiresses at the famed hotel. Will a growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed in this Gilded Age romance? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Salvation by the Sea by Kristen Reed — Life has been anything but easy for Muirigan thanks to a series of life-altering calamities, but she’s found peace with her new, understated life by the sea. However, the maid’s past comes back to haunt her when she saves the shipwrecked Prince Halvard one morning. Failing to recognize one of his dearest childhood friends, the prince invites Muirigan to live at court as a reward for her valiant heroism. As the two reconnect, something deeper than friendship blossoms, but will their newfound affection survive when Muirigan’s lies are revealed and Halvard learns the truth about what has befallen since their tragic separation? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:

Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble — As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful. But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted. (Romantic Suspense from HarperCollins Christian Publishing [Thomas Nelson and Zondervan])

Speculative:

The Genesis Tree by Heather L.L. FitzGerald — Deception is rampant, the enemy is subtle, and love dares to tug at Sadie’s heart amid the turmoil that forces her and her family back to the Tethered World below. (Speculative/Contemporary Fantasy from Mountain Brook Ink)

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41iyrgl-shl-_sx322_bo1204203200_The Reluctant Caregiver is a realistic but inspiring non-fiction book by Canadian author, Bobbi Junior.

In the midst of work, family, and church and community involvement, Bobbi tells of her journey with her mother through the onset of dementia. This is difficult enough, but since theirs has never been a close relationship, the tension and stress can be exhausting. How do you help someone who doesn’t want your help?

This book is easy to read because it’s a story. But more than that, it is a chronicle of Bobbi’s determination to let go of her own agenda for her mom, and turn it all over to the Lord Jesus. Her recorded prayers and thoughts offer gentle encouragement to the weary soul.

At times, the story of Bobbi’s journey with her mom is very sad. When her mother becomes confused, she is difficult to understand. What does she mean when she says, “I just don’t know. Anyway, here too. I just don’t.” Or when she declares that there are people living in her house at night. Or when “the people” are going to come for the rent. She has forgotten that she owns her home.

The hardest parts for me to read were the mother’s outbursts, suspicions and accusations flung at Bobbi and her brother, when they were sacrificing time, energy and money to help her.

I found this book moving in its honesty about life. Sometimes we face obstacles that keep piling up, seemingly insurmountable. However, I also found it immensely encouraging that Jesus knows every step, and His timing is impeccable. If we allow Him to lead in our lives, He will work everything out for the best.

I highly recommend this book to anyone struggling to help a parent or elder who suffers with dementia or Alzheimers, and especially to those of the sandwich generation who already have more than enough challenges with children and jobs.

If only for Bobbi’s heartfelt prayers and talks with God, this book is a blessing. Add the story of her relationship with her mother and it’s also an invaluable resource.

Take a look at Bobbi’s website for more.

Bobbi Junior

Bobbi Junior

 

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51yrkeijldlThe Reluctant Duchess is the second book in the Ladies of the Manor series by Roseanna M. White. I thought the first one — The Lost Heiress — was a great read, and wondered if the sequel would be as good. It did not disappoint.

In this second story, we meet Rowena Kinnaird, the daughter of the proud and harsh Earl of Lochaber, also chief of the Scottish clan Kinnaird. In order to retain both titles, he offers Rowena, his heir, to Malcolm Kinnaird, who is heir to the chiefdom of the clan. However, when Malcolm treats Rowena shamefully, she tries to disappear inside herself.

Rowena’s maid, Lilias Cowan, a distant relative and loyal friend, conspires with Rowena’s father to protect Rowena from Malcolm.

Rowena is terrified of men, including her new husband. He, however, is committed to the Lord Jesus, and does his upmost to calm her fears and give her time to come out of her shell. It’s a long and bumpy journey, fraught by intrigue, pride, jealousy and greed from several quarters.

This novel is written in a manner fitting the time and place: Scotland and England in 1912. Rowena’s speech, clothing and manners are contrasted with that of the proper English aristocracy, in which she finds herself.

The reader is treated to a strong sense of place, whether in the wild wind and slashing rain of the Scottish Highlands or the staid English gardens and homes.

I enjoyed these contrasts, as well as the intensity of the plot as it progressed with several unexpected twists. But most of all, I was drawn into the beautiful love story between two strangers: the fear and anger on one side, the patience and unconditional love on the other.

Book Three, A Lady Unrivaled is now also available on Amazon.

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51spno9f2klIt’s September, 1871. Tessa Taylor has braved the journey from Detroit to Eagle Harbor in northern Michigan to escape her past, but also to lay hold of the future as a schoolteacher for the children in this rough mining community.

However, Tessa is not welcomed by the people of Eagle Harbor. She learns quickly that the mine superintendent, Percival Updegraff, runs the town in every way, and he does not appreciate a female teacher, nor someone who stands up to him. Apparently, he will stop at nothing to control her as he does every other person and aspect of life in this harsh town. Except the Bjorklund brothers.

Tessa is impressed with Alex and Michael Bjorklund and their independence from Updegraff, until she learns that they run the lighthouse. Memories of her family’s involvement with another lighthouse and the resulting loss and heartache, have made her swear never to set foot in one again.

The more Tessa learns about the sinister life of Eagle Harbor, the more determined she is to stay and change things for the better. But how will she manage to avoid her worst fears when people come to count on her? And how will she choose between two men who both desperately need her?

Author Jody Hedlund has crafted a fine novel in Undaunted Hope. It is a story of determination, faith and unexpected love. The characters are realistic and flawed, which makes them believable. I love the variety of secondary characters that inhabit Eagle Harbor. The plot is layered with tension, conflict and romance, as well as the hope that the title promises. The setting aptly describes mining life and the running of a lighthouse, and the author paces the story with mishaps and lighthearted humor in the midst of impending disaster. An altogether pleasing read.

Check out Jody’s website for other award-winning titles.

 

 

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