Phoebe’s Light

phoebe lightAuthor: Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Reviewer: Jennifer S. Roman

The first book in the Nantucket Legacy series finds Quakeress Phoebe Starbuck overjoyed that the widowed and handsome Captain Phineas Foulger has returned with his ship, the Fortuna, overflowing with whale oil.  She has a crush on him even though he is old enough to be her father, and she is overwhelmed when he reciprocates his feelings for her.  Her former love interest, Matthew Macy, and her father, Barnabas Starbuck, wonder what ulterior motive the Captain has for his sudden interest in Phoebe, but all lovestruck Phoebe can think of is marrying the man of her dreams.  Despite their warnings, Phoebe marries the Captain and insists on joining him for a late-season whaling trip.  Matthew joins as the boat’s cooper, and because the regular crew is superstitious of a woman being on the boat, a rag-tag collection of boys and felons make up the new crew.  Phoebe immediately falls ill with a life-threatening case of seasickness, and spends her entire trip in the cabin.  It’s only when they finally encounter land and she is able to recover in a local’s home that she sees the captain’s true colors.  He leaves her on the island with Matthew and continues his search for whales, which gives Phoebe the time she needs to come to her senses.  She also discovers why he married her in the first place, so she and Matthew devise a plan to change their lives for the better once they arrive back on Nantucket.

This is a great book told in two different perspectives.  The reader keeps up with Phoebe’s daily life through narrative, and her history (and family secrets) are revealed through her great aunt’s journal entries.  As Phoebe reads the journal, readers are told the story of how Nantucket was settled and how Phoebe’s aunt became a wise and prominent citizen.  The history of Nantucket is told through this story, and while some names and places are fictional, many of them are true.  It’s a new history of America that has not been told often, and it’s told from a fascinating perspective.  I absolutely loved learning about the Quakers and settling of Nantucket through this compelling and fast-moving story.  I was never bored or left wondering why I picked up the book, and the characters, although good people, are flawed and therefore relatable.   Even Phoebe, the seemingly most pious character, has flaws that we all have experienced at some point of our lives, so she brings our sympathy instead of disinterest.  All in all, the book was interesting and fun without dwelling too much on any one thing.  I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy historical novels with a smattering of romance thrown in for entertainment.

There is some violence in the book that is mild by today’s standards, and there is also some drug abuse.  Overall, however, Phoebe’s Light does not have much objectionable in it.  Adults and mature teens should be fine reading it.

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

The Lost Castle

The Lost CastleAuthor: Kristy Cambron

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Three romances all woven together through time. If castles could talk!

Ellie Carver has been taking care of her aging grandmother, returning the favor after her grandmother took her in when her parents were killed in a car accident. She has loved to hear her grandmother’s past stories.  One day, her grandmother suddenly seems anxious and begins talking about a castle and a man that she needs Ellie to find to tell her that she has chosen him.  With only a photograph for reference, Ellie takes a leap of faith and boards a plane to France to help fulfill her grandmother’s dying wish without knowing of anything that awaits her.

In 1944, France’s Loire Valley is under German occupation, but the French Resistance is growing strong. Viola is a British implant who has escaped from Paris and is trying to find a way to get information she has learned back to Britain.  She stumbles upon a dilapidated church where she finds hidden food stores.  It is here she meets members of the French Resistance who already know who she is.  Hoping to make her way back to freedom, she finds herself falling for one of the members and hopes they can survive the way to see the Allied invasion.

The same location in the 1700s holds a country estate for members of the French Nobility. Lady Avaline is engaged to one of the sons of the estate holder, but on the eve of their engagement, the peasants attack the castle.  As they search for Lady Avaline to make an example of her, Robert, her soon to be brother-in-law, hides her and nurses her back to health after the attack while her fiancé and his father turn tail and run from trouble.  As they put the estate back in operation, the pair find themselves growing closer together, but can this romance actually happen?

As the first book in a trilogy, this was almost having a full trilogy. Following three stories from three different time periods gives everyone something to love.  Centered around the castle known as the sleeping beauty, each story tells of love, loss, and the willingness to change.  I found myself enraptured with all three stories, but I felt most in tune with the WWII setting as that is time period that I feel Cambron excels at telling.  However, each story was exciting and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all of the characters.

Cambron also did a great job with scenery for each time period including how the landscape had changed at each juncture. From the French Revolution, to WWII into a war with Alzheimer’s, each story faced it’s set of challenges.  I recommend this book to both historical fiction and romance fans.  I challenge readers to find their favorite of the three stories.

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

Out of the Ashes

Out of the AshesAuthor: Tracie Peterson & Kimberley Woodhouse

Series: Heart of Alaska #2

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: January 29, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another great historical romance set along the Alaskan frontier at the Curry Hotel!

Katherine Demarchis has recently been windowed (and released) from her abusive husband, who was also a US senator. Now a shell of her former self, her grandmother Maria Harrison is bound and determined to get her to find her happiness again.  The last time that she was actually happy was with a young man that she truly loved when she lived in France.  Her grandmother suggest a summer spent in Alaska with a sightseeing trip along the way.  Knowing that she will be constantly badgered by her grandmother if she doesn’t agree, she relents and hopes that just maybe she will be released from the blackness along the way.

Jean-Michel lives with the torments of war in Syria from the Druze revolt. He returned home in France to his sister Colette and their father, but their father took ill rather quickly and passed away.  With his share of the business bought out, Jean-Michel and Collette do not have to worry for money and father wrote them letters before he died suggesting that they take a trip after he is gone.  Shortly thereafter, Jean-Michel receives a letter from Maria Harrison telling him part of the horrors of his lost love Katherine and sends tickets to join them in Alaska this summer.  Might this be what Jean-Michel needs to let go of the past?

Traveling back to Curry again was an absolute treat, especially getting to see so many of the central characters from the first book. The storyline intertwined between that of Jean-Michel and Katherine, Colette, and Allan and Cassidy.  As with the first book, the main characters do not have a central relationship with God which would allow them to release the baggage that they carry throughout much of the book.  As they progress, they find they cannot do this alone.  The suspense is also kicked up a notch when the influenza virus hits the curry hotel and some of the characters take ill, possibly never to be heard from again.

The book is filled with history, suspense, humor, and a resounding theme of forgiveness. I recommend this book to all ages that love a great story about the history of Alaska.

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

High Treason

High TreasonAuthor: DiAnn Mills

Series: FBI Task Force #3

Publisher: Tyndale House

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The FBI Task Force faces its toughest case yet trying to protect a Saudi Prince from assassination and keep feelings professional at all times.

When FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson is assigned to the protection detail of his friend, Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal, he hopes to enjoy some time with his friend and also help strengthen relationships between the two countries. He doesn’t expect to be chasing an assassin and finding treasonous members of the prince’s staff out to see him eliminated.  CIA agent Monica Alden is called in to help Kord. Their first impressions of each other are not favorable making it difficult for them to work together. After showing her skills, Kord decides that maybe Monica could be an asset to their team and the two work tirelessly to protect the prince.  Finding the assassin and those working with him prove to be more difficult than either imagined as they always seem to be one step behind.  As the danger increases and more lives are put on the line, Kord and Monica have to dig deep to keep all alive.

Over the years I have come to really enjoy the writing of DiAnn Mills. She writes strong characters, male and female alike, that have to deal with seemingly impossible situations gracefully.  Throughout the course of her novels, readers see characters put aside their differences and work together to solve their cases. High Treason has all the makings for a great romantic suspense novel, but it didn’t pull me in like the previous in the series.  I think the problem for me was having such a diverse group of characters, not that I’m against diversity in any way, I just had a hard time connecting with these characters.  I did enjoy Monica as she was a great character and I think her strengths were played too well, especially towards the latter half of the novel. Kord and Prince Omar were harder for me to connect with.  Mills did a great job of portraying the cultural differences the characters had to be aware and respectful of. While it was hard for me to connect with the prince, I still feel he was written well, along with his sisters and the men working for him.

I would recommend this novel to those that like romantic suspense novels with a sprinkling of faith and characters that, even though not always easily relatable, are written well and will give you something to think about. While this wasn’t my favorite DiAnn Mills novel, I still enjoy her writing and will be looking forward to her next work.

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

The View from Rainshadow Bay

Rainshadow bayAuthor: Colleen Coble

Series: Lavender Tides #1

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Release Date: January 23, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

The start to this new series is a page-turner from start to finish that left me aching for more.

Being a single mom and raising her five-year-old son alone is not something Shauna ever expected to happen to her. After her husband Jack dies in a climbing accident, she is left to provide for herself and her son while always fearing she will lose the little she has left.  When another loved one close to her dies mysteriously, Shauna is convinced her life is in danger.  She thinks she has no one to turn to when her late husband’s best friend, Zach Bannister, comes to help. She hasn’t forgiven him for always pushing Jack to the next big risk, which she blames for his death.  Zach wants to do anything he can to prove to Shauna that he feels horrible about what happened to Jack and wants to be in her and her son’s lives. The more they uncover the more someone wants things to stay hidden and the more danger they all end up in.

Colleen Coble is one of the best Christian romantic suspense writers out there. The start of this new series is a perfect set up for what I expect to be a great series. Shauna and Zach have an obvious connection that both try to avoid and fight for as much of the novel as possible. It’s not something they take lightly after what happened to Jack; the appropriate emotion is displayed by both and at the right times. The protagonist’s identity is reveled at the end but enough clues are given throughout that it doesn’t come as a surprise or seem out of place. One of the best aspects of the novel was the emotional connection with the characters. When any of the characters ended up in a dangerous situation, the emotional connection drove the story more than any other tension would have. I can’t wait to see how this series continues. I recommend this to readers that like a strong emotional connection to their characters that will drive the story to the last page and leave them aching for more.

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

The Lacemaker

The LacemakerAuthor: Laura Frantz

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Another great work of historical fiction! Lovers of the American Revolution era will enjoy this romance.

Young Lady Elisabeth “Liberty” Lawson is set to be engaged to Miles Roth, who appears to be a well-respected member of the town in the Tory party. However, when he disappears on the eve of the American Revolution, several accuse him of being a British spy and have no sympathy for young Liberty.  With no one to help her, the skilled lace maker is on her own until she receives help of a patriot named Noble Rynalt, who is known for his generosity but is very cautious of his political dealings.  Liberty must decide between what her family desires and what she knows is right in her heart.

As always, Frantz brings her settings to life with descriptive scenery, language, and notable characters. Within moments of beginning this book, I was quickly transported to Colonial Williamsburg and began walking the streets, hearing the distinct sounds, and smelling what must have been at the time.  Granted, it helps having been to the reenactment colony, but even without that it is easy to get lost in the setting.  As with her previous novels, Frantz has a knack for setting characters up in perilous situations that will keep you engaged through the entire book as you quickly turn the pages to find out what is going to happen next.  Readers will also find themselves pondering Liberty’s situation as she finds her feelings changing from one man to another and hoping that she makes the right decisions in her life.

If you love historical fiction, especially set in the American colonies, you need to start your year off with this book.

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

Oath of Honor

oath of honorAuthor: Lynette Eason

Series: Blue Justice #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

A hard hitting, nail-biting, good as they get thrill ride!

Isabelle (Izzy) St. John has joined several others in her family to pursue a career in law enforcement. Her mother is the chief of police and with three brothers and two sisters, they make for a loud and interesting bunch. During a stake out with her partner that goes south, Izzy barely escapes with her own life; unfortunately, her partner does not get out so lucky. She begins to pursue what happened with a determination like never before. She teams up with Ryan, her late partner’s brother, and together they chase lead after lead to get justice and hopefully put away the bad guys. Her family worries for her safety while she worries her heart won’t be able to handle the road she is going down with Ryan.

It is so nice to start the year out with such a fun thrilling read. Oath of Honor is by far the best I have read from Lynette Eason. It is fast paced, witty, and filled with edge-of-your-seat action until the very last page. This is also one of the most realistic works I have read from an author in a long time. The timing of events along with the motivation behind each action made for a thrilling story that I was unable to put down. As the beginning of a new series, I see such potential for where these characters can go for the next books.  Ryan and Izzy sizzle together and it is an easy romance to happen; its natural, just like each step they take to solve the case feels natural instead of forced. With so many in the St. John family, it will be fun to see how the others stories unfold.  I recommend this to readers that enjoy a fast paced, action filled story that they will be unable to put down.

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