KeturahAuthor: Lisa T. Bergen

Series: The Sugar Baron’s Daughters #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Historical fiction is a difficult genre for some of today’s authors but Bergren does it with ease giving an amazing setting and characters we can’t help but long to see succeed.

Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson has found herself in a difficult spot. The year is 1773 and she and her sisters are about to lose everything their family has worked so hard for. As the heiresses of their father’s estates in England and the West Indies, they know they must leave the comforts of their English home and sail to the West Indies in order to save all they have.  An unprecedented venture for women did at this time, but that doesn’t stop Keturah and her sisters from continuing their journey without a man. Keturah has been under the thumb of men all her life and refuses to let herself be put in a helpless position again. No matter how hard she tries to avoid it, every man on the island tries endlessly to win her hand, and with it the ownership of her family’s plantation.  The only person she can trust is a childhood friend that has journeyed to the island as well to gain his own wealth. She isn’t sure of his motives but she has no one else besides her sisters and without letting him help she risks losing everything.

It doesn’t seem to matter which genre Bergren writes in, she is always able to provide readers with a story they won’t soon forget and long for more. I loved her YA series and have been a fan of her work ever since. The setting of Keturah was beautifully described along with the characters and the struggles they faced.  The three sisters are forced to band together and work harder than they ever have in order to save the family plantation and secure their future.  I love the way they come together and work this out instead of looking to a man to give them the security they could have and so many others probably would. Keturah knows that she is in charge of her future and happiness and I love the way she lets her strength shine through even with the trials she has faced in her past. The relationship between Ket and Gray develops well and I enjoyed seeing him win her trust and how loyal they both were to the people around them.  With this being the first in a new series, I am curious to see how the next will play out with the other sisters most likely taking the lead.  I recommend this book to readers that enjoy historical romance with a beautiful setting and characters they can’t help but fall in love with.

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

The Family Gathering

The Family gatheringAuthor: Robyn Carr

Series: Sullivan’s Crossing #3

Publisher: Mira Books

Release Date: April 17, 2018

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

More second chances occur in Sullivan’s Crossing for more than just one new couple!

Dakota Jones spent several years of his life as an army ranger. But one decision to protect his men by defying a direct order left him discharged trying to figure out what to do with his life.  After a walkabout in Australia, he decides to head to Timberlake, Colorado to visit his brother Cal and meet his newborn niece.  His sister Sierra has also decided to stay in Timberlake with her fiancée Connie.  Shortly after arriving, he can understand why his family feels rooted her.  He also starts to meet the local women and has two prospects almost immediately.  Alyssa has a hair salon and Neely is a looker that comes on a little strong the first time he meets her.  In both cases, he is just not that interested.  He is interested in the bartender at a local bar and grille, but she is not interested in him.  Sidney has had a bad divorce and doesn’t know if she can ever trust men again, but Dakota is persistent.  However, the other women don’t like that they are not receiving his affection and he has picked up a stalker.  Can Dakota show this young woman that he is truly enraptured by her?  Or will someone beat him to the punch?

Of the Sullivan Crossing series, this book probably goes the deepest of any of the characters. Each main character is so real, flawed, and raw that they become alive instantly.  Dakota and Sid’s past romances were really tough to stomach based on the loss that each had.  Sierra and Connie’s predicament will likely make readers very emotional.  All this combined made the story fly off the page.  I couldn’t wait to get back to Sullivan’s Crossing after the last book as I was interested in what was going to happen to the final Jones sibling.  I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.  I would love to see this series continue with the family to see how the future plays out.

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

A Dangerous Game

A dangerous gameAuthor: Heather Graham

Series: New York Confidential #3

Publisher: Mira

Release Date: March 13, 2018

Rating 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

An intriguing plot with a fun, flirty crime-fighting pair that is better at solving crimes than most seasoned detectives.

Kieran Finnegan has just finished up what she thought was going to be a normal day at the office. Being a criminal psychologist, she sees and hears things on a daily basis that most don’t. However, upon leaving the office, she hears a lady yelling her name who then thrust a small infant into her arms, which is by no means an ordinary end to her day.  The woman runs off and is killed on the streets in front of Kieran moments later.  Kieran has never met this woman and has no idea why she would bring this child to her.  Kieran’s boyfriend, Craig Frasier works for the FBI and gets himself involved in the case to make sure Kieran stays safe.  Even though he tells her to stay out of the case, she can’t help but look into what is going on and find out what it has to do with her.

The first thing to note is that this is the third in a series. The second thing to say is for me that didn’t seem to be a problem. I really enjoyed the story and the characters and didn’t feel that having not read the first two in the series deterred from that in any way.  With many elements to the complicated plot, it takes careful attention by the reader to make sure they follow along until the very end to see how things wrap up, which they do quite nicely.  Even though it can be classified as a romantic suspense, the romance didn’t over shadow the suspense.  The story can be a little intense with the content included, between the stolen baby and other aspects it isn’t recommended for a young audience at all.  I thought the story flowed at a very enjoyable pace and the characters meshed well with each other.  Graham did a great job showing the different aspects between Craig being with the FBI and Kieran not but also wanting to help solve the case.  Overall I really enjoyed this book and would recommend this to fans of Graham’s writing and readers that enjoy a good suspense thriller with twists and turns throughout.

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

Night Music

Night MusicAuthor: Deanna Lynn Sletten

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: March 13, 2018

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

When you can hear the night music, you know everything is safe. It’s when it stops that you know the storm is about to hit!

In 1968, Joe Russo has been shipped off to Vietnam. He has done well to keep himself and his fellow soldiers alive.  He doesn’t have any family and didn’t leave any friends behind, so when he gets offered a letter from a volunteer, he jumps at the chance.  His pen pal is a young girl named Charlotte (Char) Parsons, whose older brother died earlier in the war.  She writes to Joe of life in small college town that gives Joe hope after war.  If he can make it back stateside, maybe he will find a small town like that to settle down.

Fast-forward to 1970, Char is just starting her freshman year of college. Her friends are envious because she has a boyfriend that is a senior, who is very outspoken about ending the so called “Vietnam War.”  Char never really thought much about his opinions until she meets the new student Joe, who is a vet that was wounded in the war.  Joe brings a new perspective to Char and she starts to question her relationship with her boyfriend.  As the anti-war movement grows more intense, so do the emotions within Char who must decide the direction her life will go once and for all.

As usual, Sletten has crafted an emotional story centered with conflict that brings the characters to life. It happened so fast in this book, that the Joe, Char, and Deke had faces in no time.  I could picture them with ease and I’m pretty sure that Deke looked like Geoffrey Blake from Forrest Gump. The conflict within Char was raw and made it feel very real throughout the whole story.  I couldn’t help but root for her and Joe to be together and cringed when Joe kept Tony’s box because I knew what was going to happen and sure enough it did!  Why Joe?  Seriously, I can’t take things like that when I’ve fallen in love with someone’s relationship!

All that to say, if you enjoy romances written around the Vietnam war (or if you’ve ever read another Deanna Lynn Sletten book), I recommend this one as you will not be disappointed.

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

The Sea Before Us

The sea before usAuthor: Sarah Sundin

Series: Sunrise at Normandy #1

Publisher: Revell

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

This new historical fiction romance series has definitely gotten my attention and I’m looking forward to the next installment!

American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton is stationed in England in 1944 getting ready for the invasion of Normandy. Wyatt has been running away from his past when a tragic accident spit him and his family apart, so he joined the Navy to get away.  While in England, he meets a  young 2nd Office in the Women’s Royal Navy Service (Wren) named Dorothy Fairfax.  Dorothy lost her family to the London Blitz and is now estranged with her father even though they live together.  She and Wyatt find themselves thrown together in an unusual circumstance that leads to a friendship.  As each finds strength in their friendship to face their past troubles, Dorothy believes that romance can never be as she is smitten with a British naval officer.  But she may never get the chance to find out as Wyatt is sent to sea duty for the invasion.

This new series is very promising. As a huge fan of World War II, it plays right into my interest.  The excitement of Normandy also piqued my interest throughout the book and how the exercises were used to finalize the details.  I also really enjoyed the romance between Wyatt and Dorothy through all the surprises that occurred.  Both characters matured through the story as they were hardened and had to put their trust in God.

If you are not hooked to this story in the prologue, I’m not sure what else could have been done to trap you! I recommend this new series to history lovers and those that love a natural romance.

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

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.