I LOVE this book…”More Than Words Can Say!”

More Than Words Can Say - TreeMore Than Words Can Say by Karen Witemeyer

“Choosing a husband was much like choosing a good baguette.  One looked for a strong outer shell, a tender interior, and most importantly, a tractability of dough to hold whatever shape the baker deemed appropriate.

Abigail needed a good baguette by the end of the week.”

Oh wow…this book is sooo good!  I love Karen Witemeyer’s books…all of them.  The title of this book sums up my feelings about it perfectly.

I love this book…“More Than Words Can Say.”

More Than Words Can Say is Karen Witemeyer’s second Patchwork Family Novel.  As the quote above suggests, this is a marriage of convenience story.  Zach’s story has been highly anticipated and meeting Abigail, a joy.  Zach was such a rough and broken, yet loyal and dependable character in More Than Meets the Eye, that I couldn’t wait to see his tale unfold in More Than Words Can Say.  I was not disappointed.  Witemeyer expertly crafted each thought and interaction, deepening our regard for Zach.  He is a man of few words, with a heart of gold.  Abigail’s determination and protectiveness were apparent from the beginning causing you to want her to succeed.  The warring confidence in her abilities in the shop versus her insecurities in her personal life were realistic and very relatable.  Zach and Abigail’s interactions are one of my favorite things about this book and they range from lighthearted and funny to deep and heartbreaking.

I love the way God speaks through Karen Witemeyer’s fictional characters to teach, us, His non-fictional children how to draw nearer to Him.  Witemeyer takes us to church without making us feel like we’ve been preached to.  In this book guilt holds Zach back from a true relationship with God.  It also causes Abigail to cower from her harasser.  A conversation Abigail remembers and shares with Zach allows us to learn along with them.  “Guilt leads us to confession and repentance, she told me, but after we take it to the cross, we’re supposed to leave it there, not carry it around with us.”

One of the things I enjoy most about Karen Witemeyer’s writing is her beautiful balance of humor and heartache.  She writes historical romance and life was hard in the late 1800s.  Just as in every period of time, God was good and good could be found in and through the difficulties of life.  Witemeyer’s writing handles these matters with grace and wit.  A perfect example of this is Zach’s realization that God might just have a sense of humor. “The Big Man must be elbowing the angels right now and guffawing with the heavenly host over the fool mortal who’d done the marrying part yet was still combusting over a pair of dimples.”

More Than Words Can Say is definitely a book for the keeper shelf…one I will be reading again.  And, I’m already looking forward to the next installment – which is a novella of Rosalind’s story…yay!!  If you enjoy historical romance, if you enjoy well developed characters in cute little towns, if you enjoy seeing God working in the lives of others, you will enjoy this book.  Whether you are like me and a stickler for reading your books in order if it doesn’t matter either way to you, you should order the first Patchwork Family Novel, More Than the Eye Can See.  This series is fantastic, and I can’t wait to see where we go from here.  Happy Reading!

*Thanks to the publisher and the author for the complimentary copy to review.  A good review was neither encouraged nor requested.  All thoughts expressed are my own.

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Now and Then and Always

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A rambling run-down bed and breakfast, some deeply broken people, a decades old mystery…when put together with God in the center, it makes for a powerfully moving story.

I’ve missed Maple Valley…the charming, quirky town and its amazingly loving and welcoming residents. Reading Now and Then and Always, set on the outskirts of Maple Valley, just felt like coming home – oh I wish this was a real place! As always when we visit Maple Valley, we get to meet some new characters, but we also get to “run into” some old favorites. It’s such an added joy to catch up with these “friends.”

The newest Maple Valley residents, Marshall, Mara and Lenora are flawed and broken people. In this story, we witness God meeting each of these characters right where they are. And although this is a fictional story, it mimics how God uses us, flawed and broken people, to do His work…to care for, to offer acceptance, to love one another. The deeply broken characters in this book serve as examples to us of people in our own lives who need to be offered that care, acceptance and love. God uses Melissa Tagg’s writing to teach us how to be His hands and feet. Her writing has a unique blend of humor and depth that grabs hold of our hearts and ministers to us as we read.

This story deals with addiction, grief, hurtful family relationships, abandonment, abuse and scars. It deals with choices, perspectives hope and healing. It deals with all of this while sharing a beautiful story that draws you in and causes you to feel as if you are a part of it. Therefore, even though I have finished this story, I do not want to leave Maple Valley and these people yet. My real life is full of people who are dealing with these same things…the good and the bad. This story encourages me to be present in their lives and be the kind of friend and relative that I loved meeting and visiting with in this book.

If I’ve not made it clear enough in my review thus far, I love this book. It touched my heart and I am already anticipating another visit to Maple Valley.

Although set in a beloved fictional town full of stories already told, Now and Then and Always can be read as a stand-alone novel. If however you enjoy the added depth of reading stories in order, to enhance the overall enjoyment of the book, like I do, then I would recommend going back to the beginning of Maple Valley and starting with the prequel novella to the Walker Family Series, Three Little Words.

*Thanks to the publisher and the author for the complimentary copy to review. A good review was neither encouraged nor requested. All thoughts expressed are my own.

Sweet On You

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Becky Wade has outdone herself with the final installment of the Bradford Sisters Romance series.  After reading and adoring the first two books (and the novellas) in this series, I could not wait to get my copy of Sweet On You and read Britt and Zander’s story.  I absolutely adored the previous books, and already loved Britt and Zander from those stories, so I knew this one would be amazing.  It was better than I could even have hoped for.

Sweet On You is a friends to more story and it’s the first time Becky Wade has used this premise.  I hope she uses it much, much more because she wrote this one masterfully!  Although, obviously, not all male/female friendships are destined for more, Britt and Zander’s definitely is – the only two who can’t see it are Britt and Zander.  Truly, Zander is an absolute dream.  How Britt can be so oblivious, I’ll never know.  Zander, on the other hand, just can’t see a relationship with Britt going from wish to reality.  I am so thankful that Becky Wade is not blind to their plight and sets her pen to helping them realize (and bring to fruition) their love for one another.

Becky Wade’s characters are consistently well developed, real and relatable.  Britt and Zander are already beloved to those of us who’ve read the rest of this series and the feeling only grows as we read Sweet On You.  I love that we are treated to glimpses of them when they were younger through notes and journal entries shared at the end of each chapter.

The Bradford Sisters Romance series is set in the fictional town of Merryweather, Washington.  Merryweather is a place that you look forward to revisiting in each book and a place you really wish you could visit in person.  Both Britt and Zander grew up in this wonderful town.  Britt has realized her dream of becoming a chocolatier in her very own “Sweet Art” Chocolate shop and Zander has been traveling the world with the advance from his highly successful, best-selling novel.  Sweet On You begins with Zander having just returned to Merryweather and I so enjoyed his appreciation of this special place – as well as one special someone – in the opening scene.

In this story, just like the others in this series, Becky Wade has added a thread of mystery.  The purpose for Zander’s return to Merryweather is that his uncle, who raised him has died.  Upon arrival he learns that the circumstances surrounding his uncle’s death are suspicious.  He vows to get to the bottom of this mystery, and this leads him and Britt on a journey to find answers.  Although not a “suspense” book…there were a few times that I was almost on the edge of my seat waiting to learn what happens next.  I’m very much enjoying the mystery aspect Becky Wade is adding into her stories.

One of my favorite things about Becky Wade’s writing is that she shares the faith walk of her characters.  Just like in real life, we are all in different places in our relationship with God.  Her characters reflect that.  Britt is very independent and in Sweet On You she learns that it’s okay to need God and those He has put in her life.  Zander learns to truly trust God with what is most important to him.  I love seeing characters grow in their faith, because it causes me to grow in my faith too.

Sweet On You is the perfect conclusion to the Bradford Sisters Romance series.  Becky Wade did a fantastic job of weaving everything together and leaving her readers feeling on top of the world, while at the same time, feeling a bit sad that we’re at the end of this series and saying goodbye to the people of Merryweather.  Thankfully, we can visit anytime we want by just picking up one of the books in this series to re-read.

If you’ve read my previous reviews, you know that I am a stickler for reading my books in order…because I feel it’s a richer experience.  This is true of the Bradford Sisters Romance series too, but Sweet On You can be read as a stand-alone novel.  So, whether you choose to read in order or jump right in…head on down to your local bookstore (or online to your favorite bookseller) and get your copy now!!  You’ll be glad you did!

Beautiful Love Story + Up All Night Suspense = FANTASTIC Conclusion to the Chesapeake Valor Series!!!

Dead Drift

Dani Pettrey did a fantastic job of wrapping up the Chesapeake Valor series in Dead Drift.  Luke and Kate’s story is full of drama, suspense and love.  Dead Drift is a multi-layered story.  It is explosive.  It is romantic.  You will read of old hurts and current hopes.  You will witness the struggle to forgive and how difficult it can be to earn and give trust.  You find yourself on the edge of your seat one moment and needing a tissue the next.

One of my favorite aspects of Dani Pettrey’s writing is how her characters intertwine throughout the series.  Although each book in the series focuses on a different couple, all of the characters – in the Chesapeake Valor Series, the group of friends – are integral to each story.

Dani Pettrey’s books draw you in and cause you to feel as through the characters are real people and the world you’ve been invited into matters.  And that’s because it does.  The world in the story mimics our real world. As in the book, our world is broken and in need of redemption.  As in real life, we try to fix it all on our own.  Through the trials portrayed in the Chesapeake Valor Series we are reminded that redemption, not only individually, but of our world, comes only through God.

Dani Pettrey is a romantic suspense author.  All of her books are suspenseful.  Dead Drift takes that suspense up a notch.  As you follow the multiple storylines, you are drawn more fully into the lives of these characters and what they are going through.  The suspense continues to build, and you hold your breath in anticipation of the outcome.

If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you likely know that I’m a stickler for reading my books in order.  I feel that it provides a much richer reading experience.  I especially recommend that with the Chesapeake Valor Series.  You can certainly read Dead Drift as a stand-alone, but there’s so much more to the overall story…so, do yourself a favor and if you haven’t already read the others, start with Cold Shot and enjoy the adventure.

Fairy Tale meets Christian Historical Fiction – Perfect Combination!! – Aladdin Edition

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Hagenheim has become a place I look forward to visiting with each new Melanie Dickerson Fairy Tale Romance. I absolutely adore every one of these stories. The mix of fairy tale and historical fiction told from a Christian worldview is the most amazing combination ever! I truly cannot find the words to express how much I love them.

The Orphan’s Wish is the eighth Hagenheim Fairy Tale. In this novel we learn the story of Duke Wilhelm’s daughter, Kirstyn and her childhood friend, Aladdin. The Orphan’s Wish is Melanie Dickerson’s take on an Aladdin story. Although this is a loose retelling, the essential elements are all there ~ an orphan boy falling in love with a girl, far beyond his reach and an evil, power-seeking villain trying to ruin it all. This is a fairy tale, so you already know that good wins – God wins!

The characters are well developed, and you are drawn into caring what happens to them from the start. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Kirstyn and Aladdin’s unique friendship through their memories and then following that grown-up relationship through the course of this story. The Orphan’s Wish is full of difficult situations – as life often can be – but throughout we are reminded of the hope we find with God in all circumstances.

I cannot recommend this book enough. If you love fairy tales…if you love historical fiction…if you love stories where good overcomes evil and love wins, this book is for you.

Smokejumpers…Alaska…Susan May Warren – Fantastic Combination!

Light My Fire

So, if you’ve read my “Favorite Authors” section of my blog, you will know that Susan May Warren is one of my top favorite authors.  I realized I went to post this review that I this is the first review of one of her books on my blog!  Yikes!!  As I thought about it, I realized that I started this blog during a time when I had read most of her books.  And then I got behind.  And if you read my blog much at all, you know I’m a stickler for reading my books in order.  Well…I made an exception for this new novella.  I really enjoy smokejumper stories and an opportunity presented itself to be an early reader on this one…so I took it.  I’ll be honest and tell you, I really, really, really wish that I had read the others first.  I can tell, from the story and the comments of other readers, that I there is more background to some of these characters in other stories.  With that said, I’m very glad I read this one.

Light My Fire, is the first of Susan May Warren’s new novella collection, Summer of the Burning Sky. It is quick paced and keeps you on the edge of your seat as the suspense zigzags through the story – and the Alaska wilderness.  The descriptions in this book had me feeling as if I were right there on that mountain in Alaska with them.  Weaved amidst the suspense is a blossoming romance and some very real conversations that reveal the struggles of the characters with trusting God completely.  Through a series of events the characters find themselves in unexpected places, facing unexpected danger.  The characters, and readers, are reminded that we are never alone.

The Summer of the Burning Sky Trilogy is loosely connected to the Montana Fire Series.  If you’re a stickler for reading your books in order – as I am – I recommend starting with Where There’s Smoke, the first Montana Fire book. If you’ve read any of Susan May Warren’s books, you already know you’re going to love this one.  If you haven’t read any of hers yet, this is a great example of her consistently fantastic work.  I’m very much looking forward to the next installment already…hurry up July!!

 

Karen Witemeyer’s best book yet! FANTASTIC!!

More Than Meets the Eye

Karen Witemeyer’s books are an absolute delight to read.  I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of them.  Her characters are authentic; her plot lines well thought out and presented.  Her settings are described in ways that transport you into the story yourself.  Her writing engages your emotions – all of them – and leaves you constantly wanting more.

More Than Meets the Eye is the perfect title for the first book in this new Patchwork Family series.  In the pages, beyond the beautiful cover, you will find a treasure of a story.  I love this patchwork family and the stories each member represent.  The characters are vividly real.  Each one bringing their own set of struggles and peculiarities.  The personalities found in More Than Meets the Eye are so diverse that you are sure to relate to at least one aspect of one of their characters.  In the stories of this patchwork family, there is something for everyone.

The emotions portrayed in More Than Meets the Eye run the gamut, from heartache, grief and anger to love, joy and laughter.  I started and ended this book in tears and rode the roller coaster of emotions in between right along with the characters.

Many themes can be found in the pages of More Than Meets the Eye; orphans, family, sacrifice, physical traits, physical limitations and more. This story deals with the heart of man and forgiveness – both God’s and man’s.  It demonstrates sin in the lives of the characters, a variety of motivations for that sin and God’s amazing offer of redemption from sin.  I found the overall theme to be unconditional love – how we can give it to one another and, most importantly, how God offers it to us.

I love reading Christian fiction because it always draws me nearer to God by teaching me new things, reminding me of things I already know and demonstrating how to live for God.  God has used every one of Karen Witemeyer’s books to teach me something.  There are too many of these teachable moments in More Than Meets the Eye for me to mention them all here, but I will share one of my favorites.

“‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.’

The words of Jesus echoed in his mind, a pointed reminder that it was Logan’s job to live for God, and God’s job to take care of the rest.”

 

I am already eagerly anticipating the next Patchwork Family novel.

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I cannot ever recall having a favorite Becky Wade book.  Of course, if you’ve read my previous reviews on her books you’ll know that I just adore them all!  Falling for You, however, the second full-length Bradford Sisters Romance, changed that.  I absolutely fell in love with Willow and Corbin and their story.

This book tells the story of two exceedingly successful people who share a hurtful past together and who also have very painful pasts apart from one another.  The combined pain has caused trust issues and placed them both in a very vulnerable place where they learn to truly trust God with everything.

Becky Wade’s characters walk right off the page and into your heart.  They are genuine, believable, flawed and scarred…as we all are.  Although I cannot relate to their wealthy lifestyles or their glamorous jobs, I can relate to some of the struggles and concerns that Willow and Corbin have.  Their struggles are real and don’t come with easy answers.

I very much enjoyed the new mystery element in Falling for You.  It was a fantastic addition to Becky Wade’s writing.  The mystery itself and the way it worked into the story were well done and left me wanting more.

The love of Christ is consistently and eloquently shared in each of Becky Wade’s books.  In this book I especially love the raw conversations between Corbin, a new believer, and his unbelieving dad.  Whether a new believer or a mature believer, we can feel ill equipped and scared to share our faith.  These conversations are approached in this book in a way that encourage believers to share and trust God with the outcome.

It’s always such a joy to see how God works in and through Becky Wade’s books.  I always come away having learned something about God and what He wants of me.  The end of this book drew me right into conversation with my Savior.  When that is your response after reading a fictional book, you know you’ve found a new favorite.

I highly recommend Falling for You.  And if you haven’t read the previous books in this series, I recommend that you begin with the prequel novella, Then Came You.

Holding the Fort – Laugh Out Loud Funny!

Holding the Fort

Holding the Fort by Regina Jennings is the first book in her new The Fort Reno Series.  This book is set in the late 1800s.  Although it starts in Witchita, Kansas, most of the book is set in Indian territory – what is today, Fort Reno, Oklahoma.  This is a fictional story set amidst real life history.

From page one, Jennings’ characters arrest your attention and your heart.  In the 1880s world of this story, Louisa (Lovely Lola) Bell, is a character that proper ladies and gentlemen would steer clear of.   However, we can’t help but hope that she will become one of those favored few who are able to rise above her situation and succeed.  Major Daniel Adams balances military structure with love of God and family in a way that encourages us to strive for a good balance of the same in our lives.  The antics of the major’s daughters stir a desire to share their energy, as well as their awe and desire to learn of the world around them.    Jennings does a wonderful job of introducing us to other characters in her story so that we are ready to learn more in the books that follow in this series.

I love the humor (it had me laughing out loud so much that I was getting funny looks from my family).  There are also wonderful sweet and tender moments, instances that catch you off guard and occasions that exasperate you.  This book is full of emotion and fun.  And in my opinion, a book is not complete without an element of faith.  Jennings lightly weaves God (and the fear of Him) through the story in a way that leaves you wanting more.

I highly recommend this book to lovers of fiction, history, comedy and romance…to those who enjoy military books, books of second chances, books with families and books about beating all odds.  Pick it up.  I’m sure you’ll be glad you did!

Fantastic story by Courtney Walsh!

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I absolutely love Courtney Walsh’s new book, Hometown Girl.  I did not want the story to end.  The author has a distinctive way of dealing with very difficult topics in loving ways.  She does not sugar coat the issue, try to hide it or gloss over it.  Her characters deal with the situations head on and learn about themselves and their Creator in the process.

The characters in Hometown Girl are easy to relate to and you quickly come to care about them and what happens to them in the story.  There is a depth to them that makes them feel real.  When they are happy, you are happy too; when they are sad, you are sad.  These are the kinds of characters that you find yourself praying for and then laughing when you realize what you’re doing.

Ms. Walsh tackles some really difficult topics in this story…topics that not only cause you to feel for the characters, but also cause you to stop and evaluate your life and where God is calling you to have courage and make some changes.  She does an amazing job of weaving in some lighthearted, funny scenes that have you laughing out loud and enjoying the characters.

If you enjoy contemporary romance stories that are authentic and real, this story is for you.  I’m already looking forward to her next book.  And I’m really hoping that this heroine’s sister and brother get stories of their own in the future!

Enjoy!