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!!

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

Still Life

still-life-book-cover

Maybe I should preface this with the fact that I LOVE everything Dani Pettrey writes!  So, I can’t help but gush about her newest novel…Still Life, the second book in her new Chesapeake Valor series.

And, I must admit, I loved her Alaskan Courage series and characters so much, I was sad to see her moving on.  But, if there was ever any question (not by me, of course) as to whether or not her writing would be just as wonderful in her next series, it has been laid to rest.  The Chesapeake Valor series is full of captivating romance and suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat.  If you haven’t read Cold Shot yet, go get it and pick up Still Life while you’re there!!

This series is set near Chesapeake Bay; Still Life, specifically in Baltimore, Maryland.  I’m really enjoying learning more of this area since I’ve never been there and don’t remember reading much else set nearby.

Parker is a crime-scene analyst.  He previously hired Avery as his crime-scene photographer and her life has never been the same.  At the start of this book, they haven’t seen each other in six months.  Out of necessity she calls on Parker…and that’s where this fabulous story begins.  The relationship between Parker and Avery exhibits the true love of putting the best interest of someone else ahead of your own interests…even if it does prove to be a bit misguided.  I loved the depth of Parker and Avery’s characters.  I loved the spiritual threads of forgiveness and continual communication with God in this book.

The twists and turns in the story line of Still Life keeps you on your toes.  Suspenseful movies often have me hiding in the hallway or at least standing at the back of the room.  This book had me a little jumpy and I even had to put the book down at one point to prepare myself for what I thought was going to happen.

If you enjoy romantic suspense, this series is for you!  These books can be read as stand-alones, but why would you want to?  Haha…I’m a stickler for reading my books in order because I love the added layer of familiarity with the other characters and past experiences when you do.  Either way…in order or not, be sure to pick up Cold Shot and Still Life!  You won’t be disappointed!

To Have and to Hold

to-have-and-to-hold

To Have and to Hold

By Betsy St. Amant, Katie Ganshert and Becky Wade

To Have and to Hold was a joy to read.  Three sweet stories of finding love while planning (or spying on) a wedding.  The heroines were easy to identify with.  The men were swoon worthy (even the “other” guys in each story).  And I enjoyed the anticipation of how each author would bring about the happily-ever-after.  Speaking of authors, I read this book because I absolutely LOVE everything Becky Wade writes!  Besty St. Amant and Katie Ganshert were new to me though.  I love finding new authors and I think novellas are a great way to “meet” them.

Betsy St. Amant’s story, Love Takes the Cake was first up.  With a bakery and a friend’s wedding as a backdrop, how could you not be enchanted?  Charlotte tugged at my heart with her sweet countenance and great love for her daughter.  I love Will’s loyalty to his friend and how God uses a scary situation to help him realize the truth.  This story was a pleasure to read.   I’m looking forward to reading more by this author in the future.

Next up was The Perfect Arrangement by Katie Ganshert.  I must admit, I was a bit disappointed, after reading the first paragraph, to realize this story was written in first person narrative.  I generally struggle to engage in first person stories, so I tend to avoid them.  This is a short story, written by a writer friend of Becky Wade AND it has a flower shop in a small town as the setting, I decided I NEEDED to read it.  I am SO glad that I did.  It was a delightful story that gripped me from the get-go.  I was expecting to have to push my way through, but surprisingly found myself pulled along instead.  I couldn’t read it fast enough.  Amelia’s fun and quirky personality was so much fun to read and the email exchanges that launched the events of the story were perfect.  I was pleasantly surprised to get to the end and realize through most of the story I’d forgotten that I was reading first person narrative AND I didn’t want it to end!  Well done Katie Ganshert!  I loved it!!

Finally, the last story in this collection, Love in the Details by Becky Wade.  I knew I would love this story before I ever started reading it because, as I said above, I LOVE everything Becky Wade writes.  Josh and Holly’s story grips you by the heart from the very opening lines.  I love the way this story shows that God is in control always, in the good times and in the hard times.  I love that this story is real-to-life, following God isn’t easy.  He is there to walk with us through the difficult things, and we can have a peace that we are following His guidance, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t still be heartbreaking and painful, even in years to come.  I loved to see how this story was brought full circle.  I loved Josh’s devoition and Holly’s generous spirit.  Spring can’t get here soon enough for me!  I’m ready to read the new Becky Wade novel now!!

To sum it up, this is a great collection to purchase.  Whether you know and love all three authors or are going to be meeting them for the first time, you won’t be disappointed.  The stories are beautifully written and leave you wanting more.  Although I read this book via e-reader, it will definitely be one I’ll purchase in hard copy for my bookshelf!