Best Book I’ve Read This Year!!!

FORD

FORD (Montana Marshalls) by Susan May Warren

“I think hope is also about who you hope in.  Maybe you don’t trust the circumstances, but the source.”

Goodness!!  The third book in Susan May Warren’s Montana Marshalls series, FORD, is absolutely fantastic!!  In fact, it’s so good that I am having a really hard time putting into words just how much I love it.  I am not generally one to choose a single favorite book, because there are so many wonderful ones available.  But FORD, oh FORD!  This book shot straight to the top of my favorites list before I was even done reading it.

Susan May Warren is a fabulous author.  I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read of hers.  I knew the Montana Marshalls series was going to special when I read and fell in love with the first book, KNOX.  TATE came next and the story was just amazing.  And then FORD…FORD is riveting.

This series centers around the six Marshall siblings.  Reuben’s story was told in a previous series.  Knox and Tate’s stories were shared in the first two Montana Marshalls books.  And now, in book three, we learn the story of Ford Marshall…and some of his twin sister RJ’s story.  Wyatt’s story is yet to come.  Reminiscent of Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series and Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series, these books revolve around a very intertwined family.  This is my favorite kind of series because all of the family members show up in some fashion in every book.  As readers, we are drawn into the family and are actually made to feel a part of the family.

I loved everything about FORD.  As you can surmise from the title, this book is Ford’s story.  We met Ford and Scarlett and began to get to know them in TATE.  Ford is a Navy Seal and Scarlett is a communications expert turned Rescue Swimmer candidate.  This book takes us to Russia as Ford and Scarlett go on a crazy dangerous mission to try and save Ford’s twin sister, RJ…a CIA analyst who went into the field to try and save someone’s life but became a target herself.  Enter York, an ex-special ops soldier who is working independently and becomes RJ’s self-appointed protector.

The way Susan May Warren interwove the character development with the suspense, the spiritual elements and the romance is unparalleled.  She creates characters that are so exceptionally real that I had to remind myself, more than once, that they are fictional and that my “friends” would be okay…even when it seemed that they wouldn’t.  I was on the edge of my seat the whole way through.  Between Ford and York, the intensity and suspense was gripping.  Although I enjoy suspense, I am a bit jumpy and since hiding in the hall or behind the couch isn’t effective while reading a book, I had to put down the phone when it got really suspenseful.  Haha…up and down, and up and down, and up down my phone went.  I couldn’t leave it down for long though because I had to see what was going to happen next!

The spiritual elements sprinkled throughout Christian fiction books are one of the main reasons that I read Christian fiction.  In FORD, there is a stark difference between Ford’s belief in God, the way he leans on Him and calls out to Him for help, and Scarlett’s bitterness and unbelief.  This allows for some beautiful spiritual conversations to take place that we get to witness and be challenged by ourselves.

And, as we can always expect from Susan May Warren, the romance is woven throughout the story with just enough tension to be believable and to cause you to root for them to find a way past the hurdles and into a God-honoring relationship.

And as if all of that weren’t enough, the author’s use of humor throughout the story brings a breath of fresh air amidst the mad dash across Russia to keep RJ alive.

Wow…just wow!  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  Read it…you’ll be glad you did!  The books in this series are set up to overlap each other.  So if you have not read KNOX or TATE yet, start there because you really don’t want to miss any of this series!!

Montana Marshalls #2 – TATE

Tate cover

“We love, simply because we’re loved.  God’s love comes first and ours is just a response.  We didn’t trigger it – He did.”

I have always loved Susan May Warren’s writing.  Her contemporary, her historical, her suspense…it’s all fabulous!  She crafts characters that you connect with from the moment you meet them…and from then on you consider them friends.  She draws you into each story and you are not only entertained, but ministered to.

As soon as I heard about the Montana Marshalls series, I knew I wanted to read them.  I purchased the first book, KNOX, and it was sitting on my to-be-read pile when I heard that TATE was soon to hit shelves.  These books were coming out fast!  I devoured them both and oh my goodness!!! Ah-maz-ing!!!  So, so good.  I couldn’t put them down…KNOX or TATE and I really, really can’t wait for FORD to become available!

Until I started reading KNOX, I thought that the Montana Marshalls were marshals…as in law enforcement marshals.  Haha – nope!  This series is a family with the last name of Marshall.  This is my favorite kind of series because the siblings all play a part in each book.  We know them all, on some level, from the beginning of the series which makes the rest of the series that much better.  I am a stickler for reading my books in order.  With this series, I would recommend that even readers who aren’t sticklers read them in order, as the author has set this series up to overlap one another.

We have a good feeling for who the main characters, Tate and Glo, are when we start TATE because they were such an integral part of KNOX.  We are already invested in their relationship even though there are some huge obstacles to conquer to make it work.   I loved seeing them grow and learn to overcome these obstacles.  I also loved seeing them learn to truly rely on God and His leading.  I can’t say enough good about this book – or this series.  If you don’t already have them in your to-be-read pile…order them now!!

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!

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!!

 

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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.

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!

All This Time

All This Time - Melissa Tagg

Wow…honestly, I’m not even sure where to start.  All This Time is the final book in Melissa Tagg’s Walker Series.  I both eagerly anticipated and horribly dreaded receiving this book.  It was eagerly anticipated because every one of Melissa Tagg’s previous books, set in the idyllic Maple Valley, have been incredible.  There was no doubt in my mind that this book would transport me back to one of my favorite places, it would welcome me back among this remarkable family and I would be told a story that would touch my heart, encourage me to walk closer with my Lord and teach me some amazing truths.  That was all a given.  Every one of Tagg’s Walker Series has been all that I’ve described above, beginning with the prequel, Three Little Words, which is still one of my favorites!  (Who am I kidding…they’re all my favorite!)  The arrival of All This Time was horribly dreaded for only one reason – it was the last one and once I finished reading it, there would be no more.  Of course, the eagerly anticipated won out over the horrible dreading and I devoured the book.

If you’ve read any of Melissa Tagg’s Walker Series, you know of Bear McKinley and Reagan Walker.  They appear in all of the previous stories and have been waiting patiently (most of the time) for their story to be told.  If you have not read any of Melissa Tagg’s Walker Series, I promise not to give any spoilers…but I highly recommend that you begin as soon as possible.  All of her books can be read as stand-alone books, but, in my opinion, you receive a much richer experience by reading them in order.

Both Bear and Reagan have some very difficult situations that they must come to terms with and figure out how to live with.  I’m thankful the author doesn’t sugar coat these issues.  Instead, her characters must learn to trust God, and each other as they walk through situations and make sometimes very difficult decisions.  I really enjoyed witnessing their long-time friendship blossomed into God’s perfect plan.  As much as I don’t want this series to end, Bear and Reagan’s story is the perfect conclusion.

Melissa Tagg writes in a way that causes you to feel as if you are right there in the middle of the book with the characters.  Her characters come to life and take you along on the journey of their story.  I hope that your heart is touched and that you enjoy the journey of this story as much as I did.

Right Where We Belong

Right Where We Belong

Right Where We Belong is a collection of three delightful novellas written by Courtney Walsh, Melissa Tagg and Deborah Raney.

First up we have A Sweethaven Romance by Courtney Walsh. I always enjoy her books. She has a unique storytelling voice that draws you into her characters’ lives. The story lines are interesting. She goes just deep enough to tug at your heartstrings and yet remain lighthearted and fun.  This is a classic tale of romance brewing between two people from the “opposite side of the tracks,” with a twist. I very much enjoyed getting to know the characters in Sweethaven. I didn’t realize there were others in this series. I very much look forward to reading the rest of this series.

Next is A Maple Valley Romance by Melissa Tagg. You can’t go wrong with a Melissa Tagg book.  Maple Valley, the town in her Walker series, is the town you want to live in. Whether you’ve read any of her Walker series books yet or not, you will love this one. Megan has been patiently awaiting her happily-ever-after and at last Tagg indulged her (and us)!  Melissa Tagg’s characters grab your heart from the get-go and make you forget that they are fictional characters. Their struggles are real, their dependence on God, essential and their love for one another, magical. This is a sweet story of healing, forgiveness and redemption.

And, last but not least is A Langhorne Romance by Deborah Raney.  Raney is a popular author, that I’m a little embarrassed to say that I had not read until now. The setting was welcoming, the characters a joy to get to know and the story line, unique and fun. This was a story of God’s perfect timing and dependence on Him. I look forward to reading more books by this author.

Walsh, Tagg and Raney bring three wonderful stories together in Right Where We Belong. Three great authors encouraging one another and, through their characters and stories, encouraging their readers. You don’t want to miss this collection.

True to You by Becky Wade

Becky Wade pens contemporary Christian romance books that touch the hearts of her readers.  I have loved every single one of her stories.  I learn along with her characters to trust God more in a variety of areas of life … Continue reading