Enchanting the Heiress

Author: Kristi Ann Hunter

Series: Hearts of the Hearth #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: March 1, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Another historical romance from Kristi Ann Hunter that is sure to entertain and bring enjoyment to readers.

Harriet Hancock uses her status as an heiress to help others in Newmarket. This is not something she flaunts, instead she tries to go about anonymously and keeps her distance to protect a deep held secret. After a friend asks for her help on a personal project, Harriet has reservations but can’t help but want to be there for her friend. Harriet enlists the help of Jonas Fitzroy, a stable hand that only agrees to help to keep his twin sister safe. The more they work together, the closer Harriet and Jonas become, and it is hard to resist the attraction between them, but they both wonder if it is enough to risk their hearts for what might happen?

A lot of historical romances are the same but this one had a different vibe to it and I enjoyed that. The characters were not what I expected, but in the best way. Jonas was not the typical male protagonist of a story like this, he doesn’t want much, he isn’t trying to form a relationship, he just wants to keep his sister safe and is willing to do what he needs to make sure that happens. The romance here flowed freely and went with the pace of the story very well. I think the one thing that bothered me about this story was the slow start, once it was going it wasn’t bad at all, but the start was a bit slow for my liking. This is the kind of story that fans of Hunter, and historical romance novels will not want to miss out on.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

In Honor’s Defense

Author: Karen Witemeyer

Series: Hanger’s Horsemen #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: June 7, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A fun and whimsical historical romance that fans of the genre will greatly enjoy.

Luke Davenport thought the hardest thing he would ever have to live through was his time on the battlefield. He’s fought for those around him unable to fight for themselves and now he is the only one of his Horsemen brothers left to battle his demons within. Fighting and protecting others is in his blood; when a job comes up for him to track down bandits, he knows it is perfect for him. Damaris Baxter has moved to Texas to care for her nephew, Nathaniel, after her brother passes away. Having a family was never something she wanted until it was thrust upon her, now she craves to provide support and stability to Nathaniel. When Luke tries to help Nate and grows fond of Damaris, he also finds a family he never knew he needed and wants desperately to keep.

Karen Witemeyer tackled some very tough topics with this book but did so in a way that readers won’t be turned away be the hard issues. That is a hard task for any author to attempt, let alone do well, but this is a case of an author that knows what she is doing. The Characters of Luke and Damaris lead us through the story with grace and ease, readers will feel for the characters and be drawn into the story with all they are having to deal with. This is the third in the series and the continuation of characters and their stories makes for a great read. Historical fiction can sometimes be a slow read for me, but I felt like this story went quickly and kept my attention throughout. I would recommend reading this series in order to get the most out of it. Readers that enjoy historical romance will surely want to add this to their collection.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

To Tame a Cowboy

Author: Jody Hedlund

Series: Colorado Cowboys #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: May 3, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

An old west romance that shows how healing the heart can help in more ways than one.

Brody McQuaid may have survived the war, but he is not the same man as before he left, something inside of him died. He spends his days trying to save wild horses and time with his niece. The horses are being killed off by ranchers angry that the horses are feeding on the open grass and taking the land and food away from their cattle. Veterinarian Savannah Marshall ends up working with Brody to try and save the horses after running away from the man her father had chosen for her to marry. Now they both have the trouble of the ranchers and Savannah’s family coming after them.

When reading a historical romance, especially a western historical romance, you go in with a certain expectation as a reader. I am not usually entertained as much with these types of books but did find this one enjoyable. I don’t know if it was the horse aspect or what, but I did enjoy the story. This is the third in a series and I had not read the others but felt that this was still enjoyable on its own. Brody and Savannah had a great chemistry and even with all they were both dealing with they were able to work together and moved the story along at a great pace. If you enjoy western romantic suspense this will be a great one to add to your collection.

The Element of Love

Author: Mary Connealy

Series: Lumber Barons Daughters #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: March 1, 2022

Rating: 3 out of 5.

New historical, western series will be a fit for genre lovers.

Laura Stiles and her two sisters have learned to handle their mother’s new husband without much of a problem until they learn he is planning to marry them off to his friends. Their father had a lumber dynasty that is supposed to be theirs, but now they must run away to find their own man to marry and be able to have legal claim to what their father left them. In their rush to get away, Laura brings her and her sisters into a mission group heading to California. They find themselves a perfect fit for the group with a skillset needed to help. The mission parson, Caleb has secrets in his past that he does not want to come to light, but he could be just the person to help Laura get her inheritance.

Let me start this review by saying this book is written for a specific audience, if you are not that specific audience you will not enjoy reading this. There are some books you can pick up and even if it is not what you would normally read you can still enjoy reading the story. Not here, I am not normally a fan of historical romance, but I grabbed this one for a quick read, it was quick but not very engaging. Lots of characters with not much development over the course of the 300 pages, especially when it came to our hero/heroine in the story. The plot was nothing deep that required special attention; something simple to breeze through pretty much sums up what this story was. Again, if the historical, western romance is your genre this will probably be one you love, if not maybe move on to something else.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Where the Crawdads Sing

Author: Delia Owens

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Release Date: March 30, 2021

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A fantastic debut novel that has me kicking myself for not picking it up and reading it sooner! Storytelling at its very best!

In the mid-1900s, a young girl is abandoned by everyone in her family and left to fend for herself in the Marshes of Barkley Cover in North Carolina. Kya Clark watched her mother walk away followed by her siblings and finally her drunken father. She keeps to herself and finds ways to make enough money to survive and avoid the authorities looking to get her in school. She is referred to as the “Marsh Girl” by everyone in town and does her best to avoid everyone she can until she meets a boy who captures her heart. Tate helps Kya feel like she is not such an outcast and they grow close until he leaves for college and she is once again alone. She also grows close to Chase Andrews until he betrays her. When Chase is found dead, Kya is immediately the first suspect. Kya has always been different but is she a murderer?

This book is many different things: it is intense, it is fun, it is intriguing and stunning as a debut novel. I’ve seen a few different reviews get nitpicky about certain aspects of the novel dealing with setting and some of the dialect but honestly that will not be a problem for most readers. I picked this up on a whim after hearing many people talk about it and zipped through it in two days. I was immediately drawn into the story and the way the characters were written. There is so much depth to Kya and growth as a character, this story works because of her. Following her through every traumatic event starting with her mom leaving her followed by the rest of her family until she is all alone and learning how to survive will leave the readers full of empathy for her and rooting for her to not only survive but find a way to thrive. My heart ached for her with each new tragedy she faced and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough in order to find out what was going to happen. I will say the ending had me smiling with how the story was wrapped up. This book has been out for a while and I’m a little late in the game reading this one but can’t wait to see how the story plays out in the movie. Readers that enjoy a great historical novel will not want to miss this one. I usually don’t enjoy historical type books but this one was so much better than I ever expected it to be.

Beyond the Desert Sands

Author: Tracie Peterson

Series: Love on the Santa Fe #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: July 5, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Great redemption story set along the New Mexico rail lines!

Isabella Garcia has hated her life since she was ten years old when her parents tore her away from the family and estate that she loved in California and moved to New Mexico to start up the town of Silver Veil.  She has gone back to stay with her aunt many times, but always loathes to return.  Now at twenty-five, she feels that she is entitled to remain in California and marry her childhood crush Diego, who can manage her inheritance from her grandparents.  But once again, she must make the trip to Silver Veil to spend time with her parents for Christmas.  The only thing worse is that she must be accompanied by Aaron Bailey, who she has been at odds with for five years when he called her out for her selfish behavior.

Upon arriving in Silver Veil, she sees that the town has grown and learns that her father’s true reasons to leaving California were due to his health.  Several days later, she also learns that her beloved aunt has died, and the estate was sold over a year ago.  Now she must truly look at herself and behavior and decide if what she has really wanted all those years mean anything or if there is something more on the horizon.

I didn’t think that Peterson could write a character that would be more self-centered and annoying than she had in the first book in this series, but oh did she prove me wrong.  Isabella is the most entitled, selfish character I have ever encountered in a book.  She rubbed me the wrong way from the beginning and just kept on rubbing.  Maybe it’s because I’m a parent of a preteen, but I was ready to lay down the law to her.  But everyone is truly entitled to redemption, and I must say that her character’s turnaround was astonishing.  How is it possible that a character you just love to hate can become one that you want to love?  Truly a showing of how God’s love can impact people. 

There is plenty of suspense, intrigue, and deception throughout these pages, so don’t think this is going to be some sappy historical romance.  It’s exciting and will keep you on the edge of your seat while you enjoy learning part of the history of New Mexico.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

Unfailing Love

Authors: Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

Series: When Hope Calls #3

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: June 7, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A wonderful companion for anyone that enjoys the Hallmark Channel’s When Hope Calls.

It is a hard job, but someone must care for the children in distress and Lillian Walsh and Grace Bennett have it placed upon their hearts to be there and help the children. When they hear of three children that have run away and need help, they do all they can to find them before it is too late. They have worked at creating a safe place for children and now Lillian must choose between her commitment to her sister and the life she has wanted to build with her fiancé. With all the trouble they encounter, it is hard to know who to trust and if they can’t trust their family and those they love, it makes their lives so much more difficult.

Unfailing Love is the third book in the When Hope Calls series and unlike some, I would say this is a series that needs to be read in order for the readers to get the most out of each book and follow the story. There is a lot to unbox within this story and the plethora of characters brings a dynamic to the story that can be hard to follow if readers aren’t careful. The writing is well done even if the pacing of the story is a tad on the slow side. I found the characters of Lillian and Grace to be good leads for this book but wished for a little more character development on a deeper level. The setting of the story really drew me in and kept the story what I wanted from it. I recommend this book to fans of historical fiction and those that love the Hallmark type movies of this nature.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Blue Diamond

Author: Leonard Goldberg

Series: The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes #6

Publisher: Minotaur

Release Date: June 14, 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes is back with her toughest case yet! 

Two premier hotels in London had valuable items stolen out of one of the guest rooms over the past two nights, prompting hotel owners to request for added protection from Scotland Yard.  But it is not until a third hotel has an item stolen that Joanna Watson, her husband, and father-in-law are solicited for their assistance.  The Governor-General of South Africa is in London to visit the crown and has brought with him the famous Blue Diamond that was discovered as a gift.  But even with the entire penthouse suite provided to the security entourage, the thief has somehow managed to break-in and make out with the diamond without anyone being aware. 

As the Watsons go about observing to discover all the facts, another break in is committed at the same hotel.  This time to a French Diplomat whose wife’s necklace and bracelet were stolen as well as his briefcase which contained a most important document that could be used to turn the war into England’s favor against Germany.  With national secrets on the line, the Watsons must act quickly before the Germans can discover the military’s plans, but someone is willing to kill the Watsons to move the plan forward.  Will they be able to stop them?  Or is it the end of the line to the daughter of Sherlock Holmes?

This is one of those series that I can’t wait for the next installment every year!  It always winds up on my “best of” list and the “looking forward to” list!  The mysteries are always so intertwined that my brain keeps turning throughout the whole book trying to keep with Joanna and figure out who is the culprit.  Just when I think I have it figured out, Goldberg throws in a curveball to keep me guessing right up till the end with Joanna reveals it all.  I’ve read all the Daughter of Sherlock Holmes series and have enjoyed each one.  They can be read as a standalone or you can enjoy them one at a time throughout the series.  There is some character growth throughout each book and I love seeing several repeat characters throughout each story and how they grow as well.  Just a great mystery that all will love!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

The Resistance Girl

Author: Mandy Robotham

Publisher: Avon

Release Date: May 31, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Very interesting story concerning the effect of the German occupation of Norway during World War II.

Rumi has had her fill of this war as the Germans have taken the one thing that mattered to her: her husband.  After the Germans occupied Norway to “liberate” them, the Norwegians started plotting ways to get their country back.  Now a vital member of the Norwegian Resistance, Rumi works as a smuggler to get agents and supplies across the North Sea.  One night she is sent out to pick up two scouts and finds one dangling from a tree and the other badly injured.  She learns the man in the tree is her neighbor’s nephew and part Norwegian.  He is a radio transmitter and the Germans have been closing in on their broadcasting stations.  As the two work together, then find they have more in common than anyone could imagine and work towards a common goal of freeing Norway even if they die trying.

I’ve always thought one of the best aspects of a historical fiction novel is when you get to learn something you knew little to nothing about.  Such was the case with The Resistance Girl.  While I knew that Germany had occupied Norway, I didn’t realize the extent that they did nor what the primary mission was for.  I’m not going to reveal what it was, because they would take away the premise of the book, but I did have to go back and do my own bit of research for validation, and it all lined up.  Terrific job!

The characters have a great story arc in this book and it is just fun to read about.  There is a bit of Norwegian thrown in here and there, but nothing that context clues won’t help readers understand.  There is a bit of language as well, but nothing that takes away from the story.  If you love historical fiction concerning little known events during World War II, this is the book for you!

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

When the Meadows Bloom

Author: Ann H. Gabhart

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: May 3, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When the Meadows Bloom can fit into several categories: historical, romance, inspirational and contemporary. It’s hard to limit to just one, which makes it a great read for many to enjoy!

In the early 1900s, Rose Meadows is trying to recover from an illness that has put her in the hospital and away from her girls who have to be in an orphanage while she recovers. Her husband passed away during the influenza epidemic and she was never close with his brother, Dirk. It has been years since Dirk was badly burned in a fire and has since kept to himself for the most part. After hearing of the trouble his sister-in-law is in with being ill and away from her children, he comes to help and brings them back to his land in Kentucky. Having to navigate being at a new place and around family they have never spent much time around, Rose and her girls, along with Dirk, will have to learn new routines and find a way to bring light back into all their lives while healing.

Historical novels are not my normal go to reads but this one was on my shelf and I decided to give it a try. There isn’t much tension or fast paced moments in the book, but there are lots of sweet moments and great bonding moments between the family. Rose and her daughters have gone through a lot and are in need of a break, which they hope to get by moving to Meadowland with Dirk. The interactions between Dirk and Calla were probably the best for me, it showed a softer side of him which helped move the story along. This is the perfect book for those that love historical romances with inspirational moments that can be read in a quick few days. Ann H. Gabhart has become an expert in the historical romance department and readers will not want to miss this one.

I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher.  The views and opinions expressed within are my own.