Monday, February 24, 2014

Echoes of Mercy by Kim Vogel Sawyer

From the publisher:
When a suspicious accident occurs at the famous Dinsmore Chocolate Factory in Sinclair, Kansas, Caroline Lang goes undercover as a factory worker to investigate the circumstances surrounding the event and how the factory treats its youngest employees—the child workers. Caroline’s fervent faith, her difficult childhood, and compassionate heart drove her to her job as an investigator for the Labor Commission and she is compelled to see children freed from such heavy adult responsibilities, to allow them to pursue an education.   
Oliver Dinsmore, heir to the Dinsmore candy dynasty, has his own investigation to conduct. Posing as a common worker known as “Ollie Moore,” he aims to find out all he can about the family business before he takes over for his father. Caroline and Oliver become fast friends, but tension mounts when the two find themselves at odds about the roles of child workers. Hiding their identities becomes even more difficult when fate brings them together over three children in desperate need. When all is revealed, will the truth destroy the love starting to grow between them?

I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  Kim Vogel Sawyer writes a novel that will teach you and captivate you.  This book I was not able to read as quickly as I wanted to but each time I had to put down the book I was eager to come back--and that was from the very beginning.

The story changes points-of-view between four characters but mainly two and Sawyer weaves the story together in a way that this does not distract from the story but enhances it.  Readers will enjoy the insight that the different points-of-view give to the story and those specific characters.

Throughout the story God is shared in the character's own personal relationship and other times as they share their relationship with God with others.  To me some of the more touching aspects of this story had to do with Oliver's character.  He is very well written and developed so that you feel for him and his situation.

I also liked that the story wasn't purely based on romance but had depth to it, even the romantic part was developed in a way that didn't feel rushed.  Instead the romance was a sweet build up from friendship to more.  

I highly recommend this book.

I received this book free from WaterBrook in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Wildwood Creek by Lisa Wingate

From the publisher:
Allie Kirkland has always heard the call of her father's unfinished destiny. When she's offered a production assistant's job on a docudrama filming in the hills near Moses Lake, Texas, the dream of following in her director-father's footsteps suddenly seems within reach. The reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step into the film industry. A summer on set in the wilderness is a small price to pay for a dream. 

But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities. Town founder Harland Delavan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip. Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the region's folk songs. Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned.
When filming begins, strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, and everyone in Wildwood--including Blake Fulton, Allie's handsome neighbor on the film set--seems to be hiding secrets. Allie doesn't know whom she can trust. If she can't find the answers in time, history may repeat itself...with the most unthinkable results.


This novel is a mystery.  The reader will want to know what is going to happen from the very beginning.  Lisa Wingate captures your attention from the first pages of this novel.  Even without reading the back of the book the reader can easily tell that this book is going to be a mystery the needs the reader to keep reading to figure it out.

The book moves back and forth between Allie, in present day, and Bonnie Rose in 1861.  I found that I wanted more details about Bonnie Rose and her life.  Just the story of Bonnie Rose alone could have been a novel and I felt that the dark parts of Wildwood weren't really shown, but rather told.  I also felt that Allie's story was kind of a whirlwind near the end.  I wanted to really connect to both Allie and Bonnie Rose but felt that in splitting the story both characters came up lacking.  And not only Allie and Bonnie Rose but Blake, James, and the other important supporting characters.

This is a Christian novel but little was mentioned about God or any of the characters' relationship with Him.  I felt this could have been more developed.

I received this book from Bethany Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A February Bride by Betsy St. Amant

From the publisher:
Allie left the love of her life at the altar - to save him from a lifetime of heartbreak. When a Valentine's Day wedding brings them back together, she struggles against her family's destructive history. Can Allie ever realize that a marriage is so much more than a wedding dress?
History repeats itself when Allie Andrews escapes the church on her wedding day - in the same dress passed down for generations and worn by all the women in her family - women with a long history of failed marriages. Allie loves Marcus but fears she's destined to repeat her family's mistakes. She can't bear to hurt Marcus worse.
Marcus Hall never stopped loving Allie and can only think of one reason she left him at the altar - him. When the two are thrown together for his sister's Valentine's Day wedding, he discovers the truth and realizes their story might be far from over. Can Allie shuck expectation and discover who she is as a bride and in the Bride of Christ? And if she ever walks down the aisle, what dress will she wear?
I really enjoyed this novella.  This was the shortest one from the year of wedding novellas that I have read so far but I felt it was very well done.
Betsy St. Amant tackles a tough issue of dealing with family history in this short novella beautifully.  A real issue of fighting a family history of failed marriages or trouble marriages effect many people.  To move beyond family history and find a way to make ones own life thrive is not always easy.  This novella takes Allie and Marcus and has them deal with past hurts and current love.
I enjoyed Allie and Marcus' characters.  Both were charming and fun to read and at the same time it was easy to sympathize with them.  Amant does a great job at quickly creating a connection between the reader and her characters. This is especially important in a novella since it is so short.  
After reading this novella I am eager to read more by Betsy St. Amant and I'm sure others will feel the same way too.
I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

A January Bride by Deborah Ryney

From the publisher:
What will happen when novelist Madeleine Houser's 'pen pal' friendship with a lonely widower takes an unexpected turn?
Who can work in a house that's overrun by contractors and carpenters? Not Madeleine Houser, a successful novelist who gladly accepts the help of her octogenarian friend, Ginny, to arrange for a temporary office in the charming bed and breakfast owned by Ginny's friend, Arthur. Maddie's never met the innkeeper - but a friendship grows between them as Maddie and Arthur leave messages for each other each day. To Maddie's alternate delight and chagrin, she seems to be falling for the inn's owner - a man who's likely many years her senior - and who she's never even met.
Arthur Tyler is a college professor who lost his young wife to cancer. Together they ran the bed and breakfast where Art lives, but without his wife, the house is missing warmth and cheer. He jumps at the chance to have author Madeleine Houser use the space that was once filled with guests. He, too, begins to enjoy the daily exchanges with Maddie, but a series of misunderstandings lead him to believe she's far from being a prospective date---even if he were ready to date again, which he's not.
When Maddie and Art finally meet and discover one another's identity, sparks fly. Even so, they each have obstacles to overcome in order for this winter romance to blossom.
This is a sweet novella that begins with letters being exchanged between Maddie and Art.   As any good story there has to be some misunderstanding and so it is with Maddie and Art.  Both think that they are older than they are.  However, as they have small run-ins with each other, without knowing it, feelings begin to come.  Readers will enjoy watching these two characters figure things out. 
This novella is part of a wedding series and readers will find a sweet enjoyable read with this novella.  While I have not read anything by Deborah Ryney before this gives a taste for her writing.  It is delightful and fun to read.  
While a predictable ending coming I still think it was a fun read that others will enjoy.
I received this ebook free from BookLook Blogger in exchange for my honest review.

Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck

From the publisher:
Regina Beswick was born to be a princess.
But she’s content to be a small-town girl, running a classic auto restoration shop, unaware a secret destiny awaits her. One that will leap from the pages of her grandmother’s hand-painted book of fairytales.
Tanner Burkhardt is the stoic Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg. When he is tasked to retrieve the long-lost princess, he must overcome his fear of failure in order to secure his nation’s future - and his own. Yet lurking in the political shadows is a fierce opponent with sinister plans to abolish the throne forever.
Overwhelmed with opposition, Regina must decide if she’s destined to restore old cars or an ancient nation. Together---with a little divine intervention---Regina and Tanner discover the truth of her heritage and the healing power of true love.
If you enjoy romance and princesses and happily ever afters, I recommend this book to you.  The ending won't have a surprise but most readers will enjoy reading the plot unfold.
Rachel Hauck does a fun job of creating a country and characters to interact with it.  She interweaves real history (World War II) with fictitious events to make a believable fairy-tale.  This is a Christian novel so there were elements of Christianity in the book, but I think that is what many readers are looking for--a fun, romantic, Christian love story.
Tanner's character had more past secrets than Regina's but both had to work  through issues of belonging and being to find peace.  I did feel that Regina's character came to her final decision quickly, I had a hard time following her final decision based on her previous feels and actions.  However, I can see how Hauck did try to lead you to her decision by Regina going back and forth about what was right.
If you enjoy fairy-tale stories you will enjoy this and should pick it up.
I received this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.