Blind Spot – Chesapeake Valor #3

Oh my goodness!!  Dani Pettrey has done it again.  The third book in her Chesapeake Valor series, Blind Spot, is fantastic!  I don’t know how she does it, but each new book is better than the last – and since … Continue reading

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

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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!

Like Never Before by Melissa Tagg

Like Never Before

Like Never Before – Walker Family Series by Melissa Tagg

Have you been to Maple Valley, Iowa??  It’s one of my favorite towns to visit. You too can visit this amazing town and get to know the wonderful people who live there by reading Melissa Tagg’s Walker Family Series.

Okay, okay…so it’s a fictional town and we can’t really go there for a visit.  But I sure wish we could.  I fell in love with this little town and its heartwarming and relatable characters in the prequel novella, Three Little Words (which you can get FREE on Amazon).  My heart was touched by the first book in the series, From the Start.  I loved the story and did not want to leave Maple Valley.  Thankfully, Melissa seemed to know that we were going to miss Maple Valley and would have to wait for book two in the Walker Family Series, so she surprised us with a fabulous novella, One Enchanted Christmas to tie us over.  Although not a Walker Family book, it was set in Maple Valley and it was such a joy to read.

I have liked Melissa’s author page on Facebook and I LOVE how she shares about her writing and her characters and what God is teaching her through them.  Logan’s book, Like Never Before – the second in the Walker Family Series – has been highly anticipated both by her and by all of us who love the Walkers and Maple Valley!  I was so excited to get my influencer copy in the mail.  I wanted to devour it and yet, I didn’t.  I really wanted to read it nonstop until I finished, but I also wanted to savor it.  It almost sounds silly to me, but I wanted to be able to focus solely on the book, not having anything else around to distract me when I was reading.  So, I forced myself to read it slowly and I’m so glad I did.

There was a lot of hype about Logan Walker before the book even came out.  Melissa just couldn’t say enough good stuff about him…she practically fell in love with him (ask her…she’ll tell you).  And I must say, after reading the book I can see why…Logan makes falling for him easy and from what I’ve seen in other reviews, she’s not the only one!   Logan has some tough issues to deal with in this book.  I love his heart, his true desire to do what is right, his devotion to his family and his romantic nature.

Amelia Bentley is a fun quirky character that we met in From the Start and she is the perfect match for Logan.  I love her passion and determination.  Her heart for seemingly unlovable people challenges me to love people where they are, knowing there’s more to the story than meets the eye.

This book allowed us to walk through a lot of hard memories and difficult decisions, determination and life altering situations, gentle reminders and soul-searching moments as Logan and Amelia face life together as their paths cross in Maple Valley.

We are also privileged to witness the great love between father and daughter, estranged sisters, caring siblings, father to grown son, two souls finding each other and most importantly God and His children.  This book speaks to the importance of the relationships in our lives and reminds us not to take them for granted.

This book is one for the re-read shelf.  It is heartwarming and challenging at the same time.  And there’s a fun mystery woven in too!

Are you ready to visit Maple Valley and meet these wonderful people?  Don’t delay.  I’m certain they will make you feel right at home.

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey (And…My 1st Giveaway)

It has been too long since I’ve reviewed a book on my blog, but with the final book in Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage Series out, I had to come out of hibernation to tell you all about it.  (Well, not … Continue reading

A Passion Most-Pure by Julie Lessman

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This is the first book that I’ve read by Julie Lessman – in fact I was very excited to have won it in a contest!

 A Passion Most-Pure is a book full of drama.  To be honest, almost more drama than I wanted to deal with.  I couldn’t stop reading it though, because it’s kind of like your own family…even when there’s drama that you don’t want to deal with, you’re invested in making sure it works out okay in the end.

Julie created characters that are so real that you feel as if they are your family or at least, close friends.  That fosters a genuine care for each of them, their situations and decisions – even when they are making hurtful decisions.  You hurt when they hurt, you laugh when they laugh, you love the people they love, even if sometimes you don’t want to.

Probably my favorite thing about this book is the very natural way that God is a part of their lives.  From the beginning you have a cast of characters that is very diverse in their beliefs.  From everyday Christians to Sunday Christians to those who want nothing to do with God and live lives fully on their own terms.  In that, Julie writes in a way that makes God in our everyday lives so natural.  It’s a working example of how we can practically have Him in our everyday lives.  She shows the very real necessity of knowing God’s Word and how it truly is a source of help and comfort in our lowest points as well as a beacon of guidance always.  She also shows how vital it is to have a Godly mentor, someone that we share our hurts, beliefs, doubts, sins and love with.  And I love the way she shows the importance of family, even when it’s less than perfect (aren’t they all?) and full of hurt – even so, God puts us together to support one another and see each other through.

So, parts I struggled with:

  • The drama – it was almost soap opera like and more than I truly wanted to deal with.  With that said, life is messy and full of drama and this book shows how God is in the midst guiding us through.
  • The focus on the physical in this book was difficult for me.  One reason I read Christian fiction is to not deal with this aspect.  Never did I feel that she stepped over any bounds in explanation or anything, she is very adept at letting you know where it was headed without the details.  Again however, life is messy.  We are not perfect.  God gives boundaries to live with in – which is a main point of contention in this book – and when we’re not walking closely with God (and even when we are, if not being accountable) we can find ourselves in these very real situations.  As much as I didn’t like it, it’s a reality in our world and needed to be addressed.

Parts that I love:

  • The well-developed characters that you just can’t help loving, even though sometimes you don’t want to deal with them.  I’m so grateful that God sees the potential and doesn’t give up on us as in my humanness I am more apt to do.
  • The variety of settings, from Boston to Ireland to the war-ravaged France.
  • The positive portrayal of a Christian marriage and what it looks like.  God honoring marriages are not the norm these days, so it is very nice to see an example to emulate.
  • The aspect of forgiveness, shown in various ways throughout the book.  I love the way Julie went straight to the scriptures to help one of the characters see the need for this and exactly how to do so when she thought it impossible.
  • The everyday aspect of living with Jesus – not just the knowledge of Jesus, but how knowing His Holy Scripture can make such a difference in how we perceive and react to things.  Although never mentioned or suggested, it leads one to want to memorize Scripture, have it hidden in one’s heart so that it can make a difference in our lives the way it did for the characters in this book.
  • The believability of it.  Life is messy, but some of the issues in this book could have felt forced or not real.  As much as I didn’t like the sin and the outcomes, Julie told this very twisted tale in a very plausible way.  And the grace and faith she wove into it was just as convincing.

In summation, obviously there were more parts of the book that I loved than parts that I struggled with.  This book touched a chord with me.  At one point the heart-wrenching pain I witnessed caused me to leave the book and spend time worshiping God.  At another point I was so thankful that of all the ways my sister and I have struggled, we didn’t have to deal with what these sisters were dealing with, that I stopped reading to let my sister know.  As I finished the book, even though it was 3:30am in the morning, I couldn’t help myself, I had to write down my feelings about it.  This book may deal with things that my heart doesn’t want to see, but this book literally drew me into the arms of Jesus for comfort and guided me in ways and reasons to incorporate my love for Him even more into my everyday life.  I highly recommend this book.  I don’t believe you can read it without being touched by God.  I so look forward to what God has in store for me when I read the next two books in this series, A Passion Redeemed and A Passion Denied.