Sunday, November 30, 2014

Historical Romance -- Surprised by Love

Julie Lessman's Surprised by Love is the third fun installment in her Heart of San Francisco series.  I haven't had the chance to go back and read the first book in the series but have enjoyed getting to know the McClare family and friends in books two and three.

Through these stories, set in San Francisco in the very early years of the 20th century, Julie allows us glimpses into both the highest and lowest of society of that time.  Megan, the former wallflower of the well-to-do McClare family, has returned from a year in Paris, with a confidence and determination leaving her barely recognizable even to those closest to her.  Her new tenacity is tested in heart-wrenching ways in her career aspirations . . . and in love.  At the same time, her mother continues to struggle with relationships complicated by trust issues.  The characters and the plot are well developed in ways that keep the reader's interest level high, leaving important questions unanswered until near the end of the story.  Faith plays an important role in several of the characters' lives, some starting with strong faith and others learning as they work through their struggles.

I would recommend Surprised by Love to fans of good historical fiction.  The book works fine as a stand alone, but I would suggest reading the other books in the series first to get the whole story.

Thanks to Revell Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book:

She can turn the head of the man who spurned her--but can she turn his heart?

When Megan McClare left San Francisco to study in Paris, no one would accuse her of being poised and pretty. But on the other side of the Atlantic, this wallflower blossomed into a beauty with big dreams. When she returns to California and accepts an internship at the district attorney's office, she's thrilled that her life is taking shape. But the exciting opportunity quickly loses its glow when she discovers she'll be working alongside Devin Caldwell, who mercilessly mocked her at school--and with whom she was hopelessly enamored.

Bram Hughes is the best friend to whom Megan has always turned for support and advice. But when she seeks his counsel about working with Devin Caldwell, Bram's vision is clouded by his sudden unwelcome attraction to a girl he had always thought of as a little sister. He advises forgiveness, but can he forgive himself for pushing the woman he loves into the arms of another man?

Author Julie Lessman draws a romantic triangle that will touch your heart in this glittering Gilded Age tale of transforming love.

About the Author:

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston series and the Winds of Change series The recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards, as well as many other accolades, Lessman was chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2011 and 2012 Readers' Choice Awards. She resides in Missouri with her family. You can contact Julie through her website at

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Christmas at war time -- Where Treetops Glisten

Tricia Goyer and Sarah Sundin have both been on my "favorite authors" list for some time now.  Both know their World War II facts and do a fantastic job of putting that information into great stories.  So when I saw their names on Where Treetops Glisten, an anthology of WWII Christmas stories, I knew I wanted to read the book.  I had never read anything by Cara Putman but had seen her name and was interested in trying something by her.  I was very glad to have the opportunity to read these stories.

Each of the stories focuses on one of the young adult siblings in the Turner family and their personal experiences over a range of years during World War II.  Abigail, Pete, and Merry each face their own challenges of life and love during the difficult time of war.  One of the main connecting threads of their stories is their Grandma Louise.  As Sarah Sundin writes about her in the book's prologue -- "They needed her faith.  They needed her wisdom.  And they needed her joy."  Those elements help the Turner family navigate successfully through this turbulent time in their lives.

Three great authors have crafted a wonderful collection of stories that fit together beautifully.  Fans of WWII fiction, Christmas stories, or just awesome writing in general should find this a great read.

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

See what others think about Where Treetops Glisten here. 

About the Book:

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime
Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories, filled with the wonder of Christmas 
Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America's involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana. 
In Cara Putman's White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements---until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.
Abigail's brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin's I'll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete's friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he's no longer the bully she once knew?
In Tricia Goyer's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, "Merry" to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that's precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.
The Turner family believes in God's providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ's birth and His plan for a future?

Purchase a copy:
About the Authors:

TRICIA GOYER is a prolific author of nearly forty books, including Chasing Mona Lisa, and a speaker and blogger. 

CARA PUTMAN is the author of twenty books including Shadowed by Grace. She is the winner of the 2008 Carol Award for historical fiction. 

SARAH SUNDIN is the critically-acclaimed author of the Wings of the Nightingale series, the Wings of Glory series, and the forthcoming Waves of Freedom novels.


Christmas in Amish Country -- Christmas at Rose Hill Farm

What can be better at this time of year than a Christmas story with an Amish setting? Suzanne Woods Fisher delivers a great one in her Christmas at Rose Hill Farm.

This story is a little different from many of the typical Amish fiction books I've read.  The tone of the story is fairly serious -- maybe even nearing melancholy at times -- but still with a very hopeful spirit about it.  Bess and Billy both have old hurts hanging over present decisions -- and they both learn important things about themselves and others as they piece together events and lessons from the past.  And then there is George -- what a delightful and surprising character to find intermingled in important details of the story.

I always enjoy finding characters from previous books in new stories.  If you have read Suzanne's earlier series -- Lancaster County Secrets and Stoney Ridge Seasons -- you will recognize several old "friends," but at different stages of life than where you first met them.

I would strongly recommend this great story from Suzanne Woods Fisher to fans of Amish fiction and even to those who may not normally read in the genre.  I think a wide range of readers can relate to the characters' lives and relationships.

Thanks to Revell Publishing for providing a copy of Christmas at Rose Hill Farm in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book

Billy Lapp is far away from his Amish roots working as a rose rustler for Penn State and wants nothing to do with Stoney Ridge. And that suits Bess Riehl just fine. Why should she think twice about a man who left without a word of explanation? It's time she moved on with her life, and that meant saying yes when Billy's cousin Amos proposed--for the third time--and beginning to plan for her Christmas wedding.

When a "lost" rose is discovered in a forgotten corner of the greenhouse at Rose Hill Farm, Billy is sent to track down its origins. His plan is to get in, identify the rose, and get out. The only catch is that he's having a hard time narrowing down the identity of the lost rose--and he can't get Bess Riehl out of his mind.

As the history of the lost rose is pieced together, it reminds Bess and Billy--and Amos too--that Christmas truly is the season of miracles.

About the Author

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series, the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of an Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner for The Search, a Carol Award finalist for The Choice, and a Christy Award finalist for The Waiting. She is also a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. Learn more at and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A deep story of guilt and forgiveness -- An Amish Buggy Ride

A short time ago, I finally tried a Sarah Price Amish story (you can see my review of First Impressions here) and was very pleased that I did.  But as good as that one was, I was not prepared for my next Sarah Price read.  An Amish Buggy Ride topped all my expectations!

While the setting is one of my favorite genres (I love almost anything Amish), the theme of the story transcends the setting to meet readers with any area of interest.  Kate Zook is so burdened by self-imposed guilt that she is convinced leaves her among the greatest of sinners, that she can't imagine ever deserving to be forgiven and able to really enjoy life.  Without giving away any of the story, I must say that the way Sarah has the characters come to grips with sin, guilt and forgiveness left me in tears and touched me deeply.  The worst part of the whole book was that it had to come to an end!

I highly recommend An Amish Buggy Ride to fans of great Amish fiction and to those who might think they don't even like Amish fiction!  Thanks to Sarah for providing an advance digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

About the Book:

Quiet and soft-spoken, Kate Zook is the responsible eldest daughter in an Amish family and prides herself on fulfilling her role. Then, one fateful snowy night, she uncharacteristically speaks her mind—and unwittingly plays a part in a horrible accident.

Wracked by guilt over her role in the tragedy that left her brother David injured, Kate devotes herself to his care, going so far as to take on his chores in the fields. Even so, her brother’s resentment toward her grows, and David torments Kate, making her increasingly isolated life even more difficult.

Though Kate’s parents have emotionally withdrawn, someone outside the home takes an interest in Kate and notes her clear grief. Samuel, a local boy, has recently returned from a wild rumschpringe—the Amish term for exploring the wider world—and recommitted to his community. Intrigued by Kate’s gentle yet loyal ways, he begins to fall in love with her. But tensions rise as he refuses to put up with David’s rage. As Kate’s heart begins to stir and cry out for happiness, she must rely on faith to find forgiveness or risk losing out on love.

About the Author:

The author of over 25 novels, Sarah Price brings her Anabaptist roots and over 25 years experience with the Amish to her books, many of which have been Amazon Top 100 Bestsellers (Plain Fame, Plain Change, Amish Faith, & others).

The Preiss family emigrated from Europe in 1705, settling in Pennsylvania as the area's first wave of Mennonite families. The name later changed to Price. Sarah Price has always respected and honored her ancestors through exploration and research about her family history and their religion. At nineteen, she befriended an Amish family and lived on their farm throughout the years.

Twenty-five years later, she now splits her time between her husband and children in the NYC Metro area and a home that she shares with an Amish woman in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where she retreats to reflect and write. As a masterful storyteller, Sarah Price prides herself on presenting an authentic Amish experience for her readers. Many of her stories are based on actual people she has met and her own experiences living among the Amish over the years.

Visit the author's website and blog at
Like her Facebook page at
Follow her on Twitter @SarahPriceAmish and Instagram @SarahPriceAuthor.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

R-I-V-A-L-R-Y or R-O-M-A-N-C-E -- Becoming Bea

Leslie Gould continues her series of Amish stories based on Shakespeare's plays in Becoming Bea, Book Four in her Courtships of Lancaster County series.  Her inspiration for this story comes from Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

Becoming Bea brings together familiar characters from the previous books in the series and provides updates on their lives.  Bea and Ben are highlighted as they try to work their way through past rivalries and determine whether they have feelings deeper than the conflicts they have experienced throughout most of their lives.

Because of decisions Bea has to make when her family takes a trip she is not interested in joining, she finds herself in a situation where she is able to learn more about herself and find out where her true passions lie. 
My favorite element of the story was watching her as she truly became the Bea she was intended to be.

In this story Leslie develops an interesting cast of characters with a wide range of personalities.  From time to time, I had a little trouble keeping up with all of them and how they fit together, but each one played an important part in the story.  The challenges involved in this Amish setting of caring for so many babies and other details of a busy household certainly kept the story moving.  

Fans of Amish fiction should find Becoming Bea an enjoyable read.  Thanks to Litfuse Publicity Group for providing a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Read what others have to say about Becoming Bea here.

About the Book:

Can Bea and Ben Turn Rivalry Into Romance?

Beatrice Zook knows God wants her to learn patience toward others. When assisting a family overwhelmed by triplets proves surprisingly successful, her confidence in dealing with others, both young and old, grows.

One person she’ll never be able to find peace with though is Ben Rupp. They’ve known each other forever, and Ben understands precisely how to antagonize her. What neither she nor Ben will admit is that beneath all their bickering, attraction awaits. When friends decide to try and bring the couple together, will the pair be able to find true love? Or will they damage their relationship beyond repair?

Purchase a copy: 

About the Author:

LGouldLeslie Gould is the coauthor, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 CBA bestseller "The Amish Midwife," a 2012 Christy Award winner; ECPA bestseller "Courting Cate," first in the Courtships of Lancaster County series; and "Beyond the Blue," winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for Best Inspirational Novel, 2006. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor. She and her familyl live in Portland, Oregon.

Find Leslie online: website, Facebook, Twitter

Leslie Gould is back with the latest book, Becoming Bea, in her Shakespeare-inspired series, The Courtships of Lancaster County. Don't miss the other books in the series, Courting Cate (retelling of The Taming of the Shrew), Adoring Addie (inspired by Romeo and Juliet), and Minding Molly (inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

Leslie is celebrating the series with a Kindle giveaway and a Facebook party on November 11th.


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire

  • One copy each of the entire The Courtships of Lancaster County series: Courting CateAdoring Addie, Minding Molly, and Becoming Bea.

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 11/11. Winner will be announced at Leslie's 11/11 Becoming Bea Facebook author chat party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Leslie and Amish fiction fans, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 11th!