A Reason to Stay by Kellie Coates Gilbert

imageWhat is is about:
From the publisher:
“As an investigative reporter and the host of her own TV talk show, Faith Marin works to expose the truth for her viewers. But in her personal life, she’s anchored her world with firm boundaries in order to hide a family history she’d like to forget. By contrast, her husband Geary’s life is an open book. An easygoing pro bass fisherman, Geary is the ultimate family man–and his overbearing relatives don’t know the meaning of boundaries.

Faith and Geary haven’t been married long when their differences start to derail their tender relationship. Surely love shouldn’t be this hard. While Faith considers whether divorce is the only answer to their issues, tragedy strikes. With her life in the balance, she finds that the one she has been shutting out may be the very one she cannot bear to lose.

Kellie Coates Gilbert takes you on an emotional roller coaster as she weaves together unexpected trial, self-discovery, and forgiveness in this profoundly honest portrait of the tensions that can break a marriage–and the ultimate healing power of love.”

My thoughts:

The first chapter had me so shocked, I was delighted and so excited for A Reason to Stay, to see how it would unfold. I am not a big fan of books that flip from present day to the past. I don’t mind some if they are about separate characters, but this one was the flashbacks of the main character, Faith. The author had some good points with doing that, but it isn’t something I really enjoy a lot and it did make me enjoy this book less than if it had developed naturally rather than being partially flashbacks. The last 25% of the book was awesome and really had a lot for people to think about. I don’t want to say too much and give away anything, so I will keep this pretty vague. Kellie Coates Gilbert always makes you think with her books, and I was not disappointed in that. She takes real society issues and breaks them down into things her characters experience and makes you more aware of these issues and the impact they have on people, both the direct impact to those directly affected, and the secondary impact on those who care for those affected. I love that Kellie Coates Gilbert’s books are not your typical contemporary read. I feel she goes outside the box, and I love that. So, while this wasn’t my favorite book of hers, I still think it’s definitely worth a read and I very much look forward to what she writes in the future.

I give A Reason to Stay 3.5 stars, since I do not personally like the flashback style of writing and I got frustrated with that, but I still enjoyed the story and really loved the first chapter and last 25% or so of the book.

I received this book in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.
About the author:
As a former legal professional, Kellie Coates Gilbert spent nearly twenty-five years working in courtrooms and behind the scenes of some of the largest and most well-known cases in America. She was one of the lead paralegals in the Jack-in-the-Box litigation, where uncooked hamburger resulted in the deaths of several toddlers and made many more critically ill, which is now the subplot of her recently released WHERE RIVERS PART, the second novel in a collection of contemporary women’s fiction stories all set in Texas. Her books not only explore the heart issues that matter most to women, but often allow readers an inside peek into her former legal world.

Kellie currently makes her home in Dallas, Texas with her husband and a very spoiled 2.7 lb. Yorkie named Emmie Sweetpea.

Please visit her online at http://www.kelliecoatesgilbert.com

An Endless Christmas By Cynthia Ruchti

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Minnesota winters are not for the faint at heart. I should know, I call it home. A Minnesota Christmas is even better. Well, it would have been if Katie had said “yes” when her boyfriend, Micah, asked her to marry him, right? Now Katie has to spend an entire week with him and his family in a tiny house/cottage after saying no to his proposal. If you live in a mostly warm area and can’t imagine being couped up in a tiny house when it’s cold and snowy, I find there are two kinds of people in that situation. Those that hate it and those that love it. Close quarters to elderly grandparents to young children make this situation a trying one for Katie. Wouldn’t it be for anyone? Katie comes from a long line of short-tempers and disasterous marriages where she cannot understand Micah’s family and doesn’t want to taint it. Christmas is a time of celebration of our Savior’s birth and spending time with loved ones. Cynthia Ruchti captures Christ’s love and an imperfect wonderful family’s love in this Christmas story. The characters are real and funny, strong yet vulnerable. I think most anyone can pick up this book and relate to at least character and learn from them. If you are new to Cynthia Ruchti, you always come away from her books learning more about Jesus, yourself and grace. This book is no exception, and it’s so beautiful with the snowy Minnestoa Christmas setting. I laughed, I cried and I highly recommend this beautiful Christmas story!

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White

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What it’s about:
From the publisher:
“Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. When her friend Justin uncovers the fact that she is possibly a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea and the estate of her supposed family.

The mystery of her mother’s death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook’s life is threatened do they draw close–but will their loyalty come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother?

As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that their friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?

And then for a second time, the heiress of Whitby Park is stolen away because of the very rare treasure in her possession–and those who can save her still aren’t sure whom to trust.”

My thoughts:
I loved when I was introduced to Brook. If we were both real people, I am real, she isn’t, unfortunately, I am pretty sure we would get along. I love finding new “book friends” so this book was fun for me. I really love when characters who have a true, meaningful friendship and relationship are attracted to each other, rather than strangers meeting and just being physically attracted to each other. Besides the romance and strong characters, there is mystery to keep you guessing. I love how my emotions got so involved with these characters and their journey and if you know me, you know that is my favorite part of reading!

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
About the author:
Roseanna M. White pens her novels beneath her Betsy Ross flag, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When not writing fiction, she’s homeschooling her two children, editing and designing, and pretending her house will clean itself. Roseanna has a slew of historical novels available, ranging from biblical fiction to American-set romances to her new British series. She lives with her family in West Virginia. Learn more at http://www.RoseannaMWhite.com

Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong

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What it’s about:
From the publisher:

“Whether chosen or unexpected, all change brings stress. Kristen Strong knows about change–especially the kind you didn’t choose. Over the years, she’s fought hard to learn an important truth: change is not something to be feared but something to be received as a blessing from a God who works through it, not in spite of it.

In this hope-filled book, Kristen invites you to see all the ways you are loved and cared for in the midst of change. She walks alongside you as a friend, gently ushering you toward a new view of change, one that meets you at the crossroads of your own sense of anxiety and God’s sense of purpose. With practical advice for coping in every part of life, she draws from her own experiences, the stories of others, and stories from Scripture to help you find contentment, purpose, and renewed strength.”

My thoughts:
Change is hard. Really hard. I am a creature of habit and really have trouble with change. So this book called out to me as a good practical book to help with my stubbornness on change. Kristen Strong has an easy-to-follow style that I enjoyed. I loved the topic of this book and I am sure many will find practical advice in it. It didn’t hit me emotionally like I had hoped, but the advice and God-truths are still there. I still think it is a good book and many have and will really relate to it and it will have them through times of tough change.

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
About the author:
Kristen Strong is a popular blogger at Chasing Blue Skies (chasingblueskies.net) and DaySpring’s (in)courage. Her work has appeared in MOMSense and Family Fun magazines. She and her husband, David, have three children. Together this military family has zigzagged across the country (and one ocean) several times. They currently live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The Mistress of Tall Acre by Laura Frantz

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What it’s about:
From the publisher:

“The American Revolution is finally over and Sophie Menzies is starved for good news. When her closest neighbor, General Seamus Ogilvy finally comes home to Tall Acre, she hopes it is a sign of better days to come. But the general is now a widower with a small daughter in desperate need of a mother. Nearly destitute, Sophie agrees to marry Seamus and become the mistress of Tall Acre in what seems a safe and sensible arrangement. But when a woman from the general’s past returns without warning, the ties that bind this fledgling family together will be strained to the point of breaking. When all is said and done, who will be the rightful mistress of Tall Acre?”

My thoughts:

I’ve read Laura Frantz’s last series and enjoyed it. I have seen many call Laura Frantz, Laura “Frantastic” or something along those lines, I am not sure of the correct spelling. While I really enjoyed her last series, I am now on the “Frantastic” bandwagon with is book. My heart pounded with emotions and I found myself thinking of these characters after the fact like they are dear friends. I love the history woven in, and how the characters are deeply affected by the war. It is nice to see an author show how things are not just great after a war, but how people are so deeply scared, both emotionally and physically. My favorite thing in books is when it makes me feel, and Ms. Frantz did that wonderfully! Lily Cate stole me heart from the moment I met” her! I highly recommend this book to historical romance lovers.

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
About the author:
Award-winning author Laura Frantz is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Frantz lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky. You can find Laura Frantz at http://www.laurafrantz.net

Through Waters Deep by Sarah Sundin

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What it’s about:
From the publisher:
“It is 1941 and America teeters on the brink of war. Outgoing naval officer Ensign Jim Avery escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic in a brand-new destroyer, the USS Atwood. Back on shore, Boston Navy Yard secretary Mary Stirling does her work quietly and efficiently, happy to be out of the limelight. Yet, despite her reserved nature, she never could back down from a challenge. When evidence of sabotage on the Atwood is found, Jim and Mary must work together to uncover the culprit. A bewildering maze of suspects emerges, and Mary is dismayed to find that even someone close to her is under suspicion. With the increasing pressure, Jim and Mary find that many new challenges–and dangers–await them.”

My thoughts:

This book was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it was awesome! It was different than I was expecting, and actually, I wasn’t sure what to expect after being used to Sarah Sundin’s other books with the army, planes and nurses. I learned so much about the Navy in this book. I also didn’t expect such a strong mystery, and I was changing my mind constantly of who was doing the sabotaging.

I love the realistic romance Sundin delivers. The characters are truly friends and build a believable relationship, which can be hard to do in the space of pages in a book.

I love books that make me feel and laugh and I laughed out loud at one spot near the end… a lot! I can’t give any more than that away, or it might ruin the moment for you, but I laughed and re-read that part and am giggling even now as I write this and think about that part.

I may as well stick with my “I love” theme here, I love how I feel like I am with friends while reading Sarah Sundin’s books. This is probably my favorite part of her books. When I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about the choices each character had to make and was stressing and weighing the pros and cons for them, like I could give them real advice… I do realize that Jim, Mary, Quintessa and Arch are not real people, but I look forward to following them in the rest of this series and I can’t wait to meet Lillian!

I give Through Waters Deep 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to WWII fiction lovers!

I received this book for my honest opinion, which I have given.

About the author: you can find out more about Sarah Sundin and her other amazing WWII novels at

http://www.sarahsundin.com

Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason

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What it’s about:
From the publisher:

“Brianna and Colleen O’Leary know their Irish immigrant father expects them to marry well. Recently he’s put even more pressure on them, insinuating that the very future of their Long Island horse farm, Irish Meadows, rests in their ability to land prosperous husbands. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna, a quiet girl with a quick mind, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry–as long as her father’s choice meets her exacting standards of the ideal groom. When former stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from business school and distant relative Rylan Montgomery visits Long Island during his seminary training, the two men quickly complicate everyone’s plans.

As the farm slips ever closer to ruin, James O’Leary grows more desperate. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to avoid being pawns in their father’s machinations and instead follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?”
My thoughts:

It’s always fun, and a little scary to try a new author. You never know what you might find. I found a gem! I found Irish Meadows to be compulsively readable. Every time I picked it up, I had a hard time setting it down. It was fast paced in my opinion, with something new happening all the time. I love that! It seems many historical novels being written today get bogged down and drag for most the story and end up with the last 40 pages being all the excitement and everything coming to a conclusion way too fast. Irish Meadows had constant new issues popping up where I never knew what was going to happen next or how each issue would be resolved and kept resolving in a much more realistic and natural way than waiting for the very end for each and every problem. I really like Susan Masons style and look forward to whatever she writes next!

I give Irish Meadows 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to historical lovers!

I relieved this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

About the author:

Susan Anne Mason’s debut historical novel, Irish Meadows, won the Fiction from the Heartland contest from the Mid-American Romance Authors Chapter of RWA. A member of ACFW, as well, she lives outside of Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and two children. She can be found online at http://www.susanannemason.com.

Gone Without A Trace by Patricia Bradley

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What it’s about:
From the publisher:

“It’s been more than two years since homicide detective Livy Reynolds’s cousin disappeared from Logan Point. Unlike most people in her hometown, Livy has never believed that Robyn left voluntarily. When Dallas private investigator Alex Jennings contacts Livy concerning a missing senator’s daughter who was last seen in Logan Point, she notices eerie similarities between the two disappearances. But with self-doubt plaguing her and an almost instant dislike of Jennings, Livy is finding this investigation an uphill battle. With her future in law enforcement on the line, can she find a way to work with a man who is her polar opposite?

Award-winning author Patricia Bradley keeps readers on the edge of their seats as they anticipate the outcome of the case–and the relationship between Livy and Alex–which is anything but certain.”

My thoughts:

I have enjoyed the first two books in this series and I think I enjoyed this one the most. It’s been a while since I read the other two, so it took a while at times for my memory to pick up what it needed to, to follow this series. I do think this is a series that is best to read them in order to follow the stories best. I think this book flowed better than the previous two for me. I felt more connected to the characters in Gone Without A Trace than the others. I wasn’t left on the edge of my seat like some mysteries. I think this is more of a gentle mystery. I was surprised with events throughout the book and things changed when I didn’t expect them to. I enjoyed Gone Without A Trace a lot and definitely plan on reading what Ms. Bradley comes out with in the future. Each books has flowed a bit better than each one in the past and I think her writing will continue to get better and better.

I give Gone Without A Trace 4.5 stars and recommend this suspense novel to those that like more gentle suspense.

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

A Bride at Last by Melissa Jagears

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What it’s about:

From the publisher:
“Abandoned by his mail-order bride, Silas Jonesey has fought an uphill battle to recover from a pattern of poor choices. Now his prayers for reconciliation have finally come true and his estranged wife has contacted him with her whereabouts.

Kate Dawson was supposed to be a mail-order bride, but upon realizing she’d been deceived about her intended groom, she’s now settled into life as a schoolteacher. When the mother of a student passes away, Kate assumes she’ll take on care of nine-year-old Anthony–until two men suddenly show up in town, claiming to be the boy’s father.

Silas can see Anthony loves Kate, so he enlists her help in reaching out to the boy and attempting to prove his paternity to the court. When a common interest in Anthony leads to an interest in each other and Silas and Kate begin to think they can overcome their rocky start, neither is prepared for the secrets and past hurts that have yet to come to light. Can Silas, Kate, and Anthony’s wounded souls bind them together or will all that stands between them leave them lonely forever?”

My thoughts:

A Bride at last captured my attention at the very beginning and my heart soon after. I predicted with my last review of Melissa Jagears last book that I thought she would get better and better, and I am so glad I think she truly did! A Bride at Last is her best book yet and I can’t wait to see what else Melissa Jagears writes! I thought the cast of characters were mostly; endearing, flawed, and lovable. I loved going on their emotional journey through this book. As those of you who have read my other reviews know, one thing I absolutely love in a book is when I fall in love with the main character. A Bride for Keeps had me on page 70 when I fell in love with Silas! So, Melissa Jagears is now in the ranks with Dawn Crandall and Becky Wade, in my opinion. There were so many surprising events that kept me guessing what was coming next that I couldn’t wait to pick it up when I had to set it down. I was transported to the dusty streets and beautiful river, cold boardinghouse and everywhere else the book brought me. A Bride for Keeps made me laugh and cry, which means it made me feel and I love that!

I give A Bride at Last 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to historical, prairie story lovers!

I received this book in exchange for my honest opinion, which I have given.

About the author:
Melissa Jagears can be found at http://melissajagears.com to learn more about her.

The Sound of Diamonds by Rachelle Rea

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What it’s about:

From the publisher:
“Her only chance of getting home is trusting the man she hates.

With the protestant Elizabeth on the throne of England and her family in shambles, Catholic maiden Gwyneth seeks refuge in the Low Countries of Holland, hoping to soothe her aching soul. But when the Iconoclastic Fury descends and bloodshed overtakes her haven, she has no choice but to trust the rogue who arrives, promising to see her safely home to her uncle’s castle. She doesn’t dare to trust him…and yet doesn’t dare to refuse her one chance to preserve her own life and those of the nuns she rescues from the burning convent.

Dirk Godfrey is determined to restore his honor at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk knows he has only one chance at redemption, and it lies with the lovely Gwyneth, who hates him for the crimes she thinks he committed. He must see her to safety, prove to the world that he is innocent, prove that her poor eyesight is not the only thing that has blinded her—but what is he to do when those goals clash?

The home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, the saint and the sinner must either dare to hold to hope…or be overcome.”

My thoughts:

The Sound of Diamonds starts with heart-pumping, breath-holding action. I quickly fell in love with the descriptive, poetry-like writing. I easily imagined the settings and people with Ms. Rea’s descriptive writing. I loved Dirk’s sense of humor and he made me laugh with his thoughts. The Sound of Diamonds is a dramatic historical tale that Christian romance fans should check out. I loved the Catholic and Protestant history and story in this book, I found it really interesting and fascinating. It was a wonderful background to the love stories taking place!

I give The Sound of Diamonds 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to historical lovers!

I received a digital copy in exchange for my honest review.

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About the author: Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. An Oreo addict, she is also a homeschool graduate and retired gymnast. Rachelle wrote her first historical romance novel the summer after her sophomore year of college. Two years later, only a few short months after graduation, she signed a three-book deal to release that novel–and its sequels. Times gone by snatch Rachelle close. So she reads and writes about years long ago. Find out more about her at http://rachellerea.com.