Review: Through the Storm

Through the Storm
Through the Storm by Rula Sinara
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

💚💚💚💚💚 Tessa Henning lives in a swanky villa in South Africa with her husband Brice and her 13-yr. old nephew, Nick. Tessa suspects that her husband is involved in the illegal ivory trade and desperately wants to expose him based on her suspicions. It’s a dangerous undertaking; Brice is not one to be messed with, and if she doesn’t handle it properly she could put not only her own life in peril, but her deceased sister’s son Nick’s life as well. Tessa decides that it’s necessary to flee to Kenya where Nick’s co-guardian and uncle, Mac Walker, lives and operates a small touring company, Air Walker Safaris. Tessa’s intent is to leave Nick with Mac in Kenya while she seeks to substantiate her husband’s guilt. Mac is unaware of this. Despite their dissimilar paths in life, as well as their opposing natures, Mac and Tessa will have to work in tandem to expose Brice while keeping themselves and Nick safe. Can they achieve it? Mac still feels the sting from Tessa’s irrationally blaming him for her sister’s death, and he views her as uppity and snooty, a gold digger of sorts, because of her decision to marry wealthy Brice. Tessa sees Mac as a thrill seeker and adventurer who didn’t step up and take responsibility for his role as co-guardian to Nick, and has feelings of doubt in the trust department where Mac is concerned. Could there possibly be love in their future?

Through the Storm is book 3 in the From Kenya, With Love series, and I really enjoyed it. I love how Rula Sinara captures the essence of the landscape so beautifully and presents it to the reader in such a way that you can close your eyes and feel as though you’ve been transported to the African wilderness. Descriptions of the animals in the wild and their behaviors was equally fascinating and enlightening. There was intrigue, a blossoming romance and the camaraderie of congenial friends and family members that brought warmth to the story. An enjoyable read. I hope there will be a book 4 to look forward to.

Thank you Rula Sinara for providing me with a free copy of this book. My opinions of it are honest and solely my own.

View all my reviews

Review: A Haven on Orchard Lane

A Haven on Orchard Lane
A Haven on Orchard Lane by Lawana Blackwell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This is my first book by Lawana Blackwell and she’s been added to my list of favorite authors. I was beaming with pleasure while reading A Haven on Orchard Lane. What a delightful historic tale it was, filled with characters of substance that I could envision so clearly; and beautiful, refreshing dialogue that made this book the epitome of comfort and warmth. To be honest, I had taken a break from historic novels because I was growing weary of the same plot lines and scenarios. This book has caused me to regain faith in the genre. The story was unique and unlike any other book I’ve read in this category, with writing that spoke to my heart and nourished my soul. I was always ready to pick up where I’d left off. Now a little of what it was about….
Mrs. Charlotte Fosberry was a highly respected actress in her former days. Now at 50, she’s no longer on stage, but married to Lord Fosberry who did not marry her for love. Presuming she possessed more wealth than was the case, he confessed his true motives for marrying her and has grown critical and mentally abusive to Charlotte; making off-color comments about her weight and such. She desperately needs a way out and it comes by way of a theater part that she is called upon to play. Knowing that Lord Fosberry won’t allow her to just walk away from their marriage, Charlotte must devise a scheme to make her exit. Things don’t turn out the way she expects regarding her big break on stage, and she finds herself at the mercy of her estranged daughter, Rosalind, who Charlotte did not raise. Forgiveness is the order of the day, and Rosalind will learn almost immediately that her mother isn’t the person she’s made her out to be. In fact, Charlotte has much to contribute to many secondary characters by way of wisdom, and even theatrical experience. There’s a little mystery and intrigue in the story, a love triangle and ultimately the most wonderfully fulfilling ending.
Ms. Blackwell does Christian Fiction right. There are a few brief scriptural references to bible passages and characters, and a mention here and there of the folks making their way to worship services. But happily it wasn’t a lesson in Christianity or didactic in any way (I attend my own worship services for that). Oftentimes when reading a Christian Fiction novel I find that the author’s views don’t align with my personal beliefs and ultimately upset my delicate sensibilities related to religion. Because of this I find it difficult to review these preachy books objectively. This was not so with A Haven on Orchard Lane. What little I didn’t agree with wasn’t enough to affect my enjoyment of the book. It was mainly just solid story-telling without profanity, violence or graphic sexual scenes. What I personally expect from a Christian Fiction novel. I loved it!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

Thank you Bethany House for a free copy of this book. I have not received any payment for my honest opinions about it.

View all my reviews

Review: Now and Then Friends

Now and Then Friends
Now and Then Friends by Kate Hewitt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Now and Then Friends can be summed up in one word:  BRILLIANT!!  Book 2 in the Hartley-by-The-Sea series, it has become my favorite book thus far in 2016.  It’s the first book this year to make me cry intermittently, and one in which I was sincerely disappointed to see end.  I have loved all of Kate Hewitt’s books, but she really outdid herself with this one. All of the characters, main and secondary, were so well developed and beautifully flawed with such admirable, redeeming qualities, that I was majorly interested in each of their stories.

In it we find two women, Rachel Campell and Claire West, best friends in primary school but who after four years drifted apart when Claire, the shy but financially privileged one, seemingly abandoned Rachel for the “in” crowd of girls that embraced her. It’s about 16 years later and Rachel stumbles upon Claire in her parent’s house, which Rachel cleans, presenting a very awkward reunion between the two.  Claire has been living and working in Portugal with her now ex-fiancé, Hugh, but has returned to her childhood home in Hartley-by-The-Sea to reclaim her life and start over on her own terms, without everyone else’s interference as to what’s the best course for her to take.  Rachel’s dreams of procuring a University education dissolved after a mere two weeks when her mother had an accident while on a cleaning job rendering her bedridden, and relegating Rachel to the tasks of caring for her, the cleaning business and her two younger sisters since her father took off shortly after their mum became incapacitated. These are the predicaments of the two women when they come face to face after 16 years. What ensues after that is stubborn pride, resentments, and misunderstandings that initially hinder a proper reconciliation.  However, as circumstances in life cause both women to converge and grow, there’s the hope that with some compromise everyone involved can see a brighter future.

The vivid setting, superb depth of characters, deeply emotional dialogue, complex relationships and wry humor kept me planted to my seat in eager expectation of each pursuant chapter. There are so many astonishing moments to relive in my mind’s eye that this book will have a lasting favorable impact on me for many days, weeks or even months to come. I await Book 3 in the series with eager anticipation.

Thank you Penguin Random House for a free copy of this amazing book in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

View all my reviews

Review: When I Found You

When I Found You
When I Found You by Kate James
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 When I Found You is suspense and intrigue from start to nail-biting finish….

When a succession of security breaches at the San Diego airport calls chief of security, Ariana Atkins, reputation as a capable, proficient, and adept security expert into question, K-9 unit captain Logan O’Connor and his explosives detection dog, Boomer, are on the scene to help with the investigations. There’s an instant chemistry between Logan and Ariana, one that cannot be ignored. Romance desperately tries to flourish while both are diligently trying to get to the bottom of a series of explosions at the airport that are risking innocent lives, including Ariana’s. Oddly, Ariana’s body language when in the presence of Boomer suggests fear or dislike for the incredibly obedient dog. Why is she afraid of dogs?  Logan cares enough to find out about that and any other secrets she’s willing to confide. But when evidence begins to point in the direction of Ariana as a suspect in the unusual occurrences at the airport since her nearly one year tenure there, raising questions as to her true intentions, can Logan put his doubts aside and continue to pursue a relationship?  Or will he have to walk away from the woman he’s come closest to falling in love with?

I really enjoyed this book. Kate James’s settings and scene descriptions are so visually stimulating.  I felt as though I was at the airport, in amongst the loud roaring of airplane engines and SDPD personnel bustling about in pursuit of a perpetrator.  I could picture Ariana’s self doubt and the resultant anxiety regarding the circumstances surrounding her, and the decisions she had to make. She could appear so outwardly strong in her position as chief of security, and yet vulnerable and uncertain in matters of the heart. She was a likeable character and easy to root for.  Logan and Boomer were the perfect pair: brave, capable and determined.  What’s not to love about a police dog and a handsome, rugged handler? These three were meant to be together, and I am hoping to hear more about their story in future books.

If you like to read about tense situations that raise your pulse, along with a bit of blossoming romance, you’re sure to love When I Found You.  Very, very detailed and well written.

I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

View all my reviews

Review: First Comes Marriage

First Comes Marriage
First Comes Marriage by Sophia Sasson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

💚💚💚💚💚 Sophia Sasson’s Heartwarming debut, First Comes Marriage, is a winner!!

Dr. Meera Malhotra’s upcoming marriage to childhood friend Raj Sharma has already been arranged.  Raj is Meera’s best friend and shares her goals, culture and financial status. By all accounts it seems like a perfect match. Then why is Meera trying to escape her family in London under the guise of completing her medical rotation in the States?  In truth she wants to get away from all of the prearranged plans for her life for just a month so she can breathe and taste a bit of freedom. While a brief respite from her stifling life is anticipated, meeting Jake Taylor, the rugged, handsome green-eyed cowboy who makes her heart leap, is not. Meera loves Raj, but this feeling she has when she’s in Jake’s company is different. In fact, Jake’s whole world is different.  She’s a vegetarian and he’s a cattle rancher. She was born in India and he’s American.  Her family is loaded and he’s struggling to keep his ranch afloat.  Meanwhile, Raj is so much better suited to her. They’re both doctors, they’re of the same culture and they’ve known each other for 20 years. Everyone expects the two of them to marry.  The pressure is on.  Will Meera return to London, marry Raj and live the life she was destined for?  Or can Jake convince her that theirs is the love that she was meant to have?

First Comes Marriage was such an entertaining and enjoyable read. I loved the characters, both primary and secondary, and I’m always thrilled when my reading experience gives me a glimpse into other cultures. Sophia Sasson crafted a story that kept my interest and heightened it as I proceeded reading. By the time I was 3/4 of the way through the book I was flipping pages so fast that before I knew it I had finished.  I highly recommend this book to those who love sweet romance with a bit of family drama and lovable, small-town community characters that will make you spit out your beverage from unexpected laughter.

View all my reviews

Review: Back to McGuffey’s

Back to McGuffey's
Back to McGuffey’s by Liz Flaherty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

💚💚💚💚💚 Back to McGuffey’s isn’t your typical romance novel.  There’s a maturity about it that greatly appealed to me. The main characters, Kate Rafael and Ben McGuffey are 37 and 39 respectively, and by this time in their lives they’ve already experienced many of life’s major challenges, including divorce, loss of a beloved home and long-held job, a terminally ill parent, and the painstaking realization that with the ticking of the proverbial biological clock, the dream of starting a family may not become a reality for Kate. The characters are dealing with real adult situations, and I like how the author undertook to have them handle life’s difficulties in a dignified and civilized way.  For instance, Ben McGuffey was married to a very beautiful woman, Nerissa, who is by this time happily remarried with children. She’s present off and on throughout the book with her husband and kids, but there’s no jealousy or bitterness when she’s in the presence of the woman that Ben truly loves, Kate. Nerissa honestly admits that what she had with Ben could never compare to what he could have with the true love of his life, the one he let get away, Katy. No cat-fights or petty jealousies. The two women can co-exist amicably without the childish caterwauling that could have ensued. This was refreshing.  Ben and Kate had broken up 13 years prior when Ben left to pursue his career in medicine.   Now he’s back to spend time with his ailing father during his final days and realizes he made a mistake when he let Katy go.  The love is there, but it’s not the giddy, young, silly kind. It’s a love of substance that’s achieved by people who have endured in life, and I appreciated how the two came together in a gradual way.

There are so many beautiful facets to Back to McGuffeys, but you’ll have to read it to find out more about Ben and Kate, Dirty Sally the cat and her best friend Lucy, an old dog; Jayson, the lovable young man with Down’s Syndrome and Maggie Hylton-Wise, a presumed curmudgeon with her own story to tell.  These and so many others will make you want to invest time in this book.

With chatacters you’ll want to applaud and root for, Back to McGuffeys is a highly enjoyable story that will warm your heart long after you’ve read it. Highly recommended.
View all my reviews

Review: A Noble Masquerade

A Noble Masquerade
A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Lady Miranda Hawthorne, sister of Griffith Hawthorne, Duke of Riverton, fears that she will never secure a suitable marriage mate and as a consequence will be relegated to a life of spinsterhood. Her younger and decidedly prettier sister, Georgina, is about to embark on her first Season, while Miranda is heading to her fourth. Miranda has survived her mother’s harrowing “lady lessons” over the years by writing letters which she never intends to mail to her brother’s friend the Duke of Marshington, who Griffith always spoke of when corresponding with Miranda while he was away at school. Affectionately known as Marsh, the Duke was more than a friend, he was Griffith’s protector, and his character appealed to Miranda. The letters she wrote and kept hidden away provided an escape. She could pour out her heart and release the anguish, discouragement and discontent she endured to a man who she had come to know and respect through Griffith’s missives; ever careful not to mail the letters, which would be committing the ultimate breach in the rules of etiquette, that of writing to a man of whom she has no family relation. Her brother Griffith is home now and he has brought a most interesting new valet, Marlow, to replace old Herbert. While Miranda has practically accepted her fate as a future doting aunt, and not wife and mother, she begins to admit to herself that Marlow is quite captivating indeed. But there’s a niggling feeling that something is amiss, and when she finds out the truth about this mysterious man all of the lady lessons involving rules of gentility, propriety and decorum will be tossed to the wind.

Smart, witty, suspenseful, intriguing, illustrative, endearing and inspiring are all words that readily come to mind when describing A Noble Masquerade, a delightfully charming read. There was sufficient historical knowledge and verbiage to keep me stimulated and informed about the time period, but not to the point where a dictionary was constantly needed. And although this book is labeled inspirational fiction, it is not at all preachy or oversaturated with scriptural texts. I prefer this sort of mild christian fiction because I don’t have to be concerned about gratuitous violence, sex or foul language. I can safely enjoy the story without those distasteful elements. Also, I become highly perturbed when scriptures are misapplied or spiritual anecdotes seem to be thrown in for good measure, without any real basis for them. This was not the case with A Noble Masquerade. In fact I was only subtly reminded of its Christian aspects throughout reading, which was a plus for me.

In conclusion, Kristi Ann Hunter’s prose was a welcoming diversion to the pressures of everyday life and consumed me until forced to abandon it until the next opportune reading time. A great book that’s highly recommended. In fact, I was so pleased by it I immediately visited her website and then downloaded a novella that she’s written based on a couple who were secondary characters in A Noble Masquerade.

Thank you Bethany House Publishers for a copy of this lovely book in exchange for an honest review which I have given.

View all my reviews