Friday, May 13, 2016

THE STRONGHOLD by Lisa Carter


 FBI Agent Alex Torres and Apache tribal police officer Pilar To-Clanny have a long history together of ups and downs.  After being gone for years, Alex returns to Arizona when young girls come up missing from New Mexico and the reservation in Arizona.  Alex wants to help find them but, because of his faith, he also wants to make things right with Pilar.  When Manny (a boy they both love) goes missing, Pilar and Alex reluctantly work together risking their lives to rescue the boy.  What they discover along the way is not only more sinister than they ever imagined but it will also change their lives forever.

I have read several Lisa Carter books and really like her stories and The Stronghold is no exception. I will say though that this was not an easy read because of the nature of the story.  It deals with some dark subject matters.  Some scenes are pretty intense and graphic which is why it’s difficult to read.  Aside from that, I thought the story was very good.  The dynamics between Alex and Pilar were interesting, complex and edgy.  Their history together was about great love and deep hurt which you learn about through a series of flashbacks.  Pilar felt unclean and unloveable because of what happened to her so she holds everyone at arms length. I appreciated seeing Alex’s faith in action and the ways he expressed it especially to Pilar.  But I also saw the way he still struggled with certain things.  To me, that’s real life.   God never promised we would never have trouble, pain or heartache but He did promise to walk through all of it with us.  For me, the beginning of the book seemed a bit confusing but when you get to the end of the story it all makes sense and the author brings everything together in a very cohesive way.


*This complimentary copy was provided by Abingdon Press through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

A favorite quote:
“The only thing I’ve managed to cling to, Pia, is the great love of God for his children.  A love that desires a real relationship.  The kind of relationship that offers a choice.  To love or not to love.”  Alex’s chest heaved.  “And not to love Him, I realized, was the first step on the path toward evil.  Because real love, like His, loves enough to let us choose Him or the darkness.  To make our own mistakes.  But He’s also there to pick up the pieces of our brokenness when we cry out to Him.”

For more information about this book or other books by Lisa Carter, I encourage you to visit her website at http://www.lisacarterauthor.com


Thursday, May 5, 2016

CLOSE TO YOU by Kara Isaac


Allison Shire thought she had found her happily ever after, that is until she finds out her husband already had a wife she knew nothing about.  In an effort to escape the whole ugly situation, she travels to New Zealand to work as a tour guide, guiding Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans to the well know sites from the movies.  Jackson Gregory was at the top of his game.  He was about to make it big in business and had the girl of his dreams, that is until she left him to be with his biggest competitor, taking with her all his business secrets.  Left with nothing and feeling responsible for losing his investors money and wanting to someday return it to them, his only chance seems to be with his great uncle who has money enough to invest in another of his ideas.  In order to do that he volunteers to be his uncle’s assistant spending three weeks trying to convince him he’s a total Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fan.  The problem? He doesn’t have a clue about any of it.  When Allison and Jackson first meet sparks fly.   She pegs him for a fake right away but as they continue to get thrown together on various outings, they begin to see a different side of each other.  The attraction between them is strong but both have things they have to get past.  Will they be able to work through those things and perhaps find something neither of them expected?

This was such a great story and I enjoyed every minute I was involved in it.  There was lots of great humor (which I love) but there was also a seriousness about it that dealt with real-life issues like love, loss, guilt, anger and family relationships, just to name a few.  There were a lot of things relating to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit which I was not familiar with because I’ve never read the books or seen the movies (I know, I know).  However, I didn’t feel like that was a distraction at all from the story itself.  I loved getting to know Allison and Jackson and seeing how they each grew and changed throughout the book.  I appreciated Jackson’s great uncle and how he handled Jackson and the whole trip with wisdom and love.  One thing I really wished was that there would have been an epilogue.  I longed for just a little more but that’s partly because I hated to see it end.  This is the author’s debut novel but it sure didn’t read that way.  If you enjoy books by Jenny B. Jones then I definitely think you should give Kara Isaac a try and keep this “Close to You” until you finish.  Loved the cover, loved the story, highly recommended

*This complimentary copy was provided by Howard Book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

A couple memorable quotes:

Allie pressed the phone against her ear, leaning her head against the leather seat.  “What if I’m not supposed to be doing this?  What if I’m messing up God’s plan?” Kat laughed. “You can’t mess up God’s plan.  He’s a whole lot bigger than that…”

But you changed me.  You helped me understand that God doesn’t want me to live a life that’s defined by my mistakes.  And I’m so grateful for that.”

For more information about this book or other books by Kara Isaac I encourage you to visit her website at http://www.karaisaac.com.




Saturday, April 23, 2016

PROTECTING HER DAUGHTER by Lynette Eason


After losing her husband, Zoe Collier and her daughter, Sophia, have lived a nice quiet life in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Then the unthinkable happens; someone tries to kidnap her daughter.  Wanting to keep her safe, a friend sends her to house sit for a ranch in Wrangler’s Corner, Tennessee.  It’s an out-of-the-way place so she should be safe.  Unfortunately, it appears the kidnappers have followed her.  Aaron Starke, Zoe’s handsome neighbor and town veterinarian, wants to get to know Zoe better but finds himself in midst of danger trying to protect her and her daughter.  Whose behind the attacks and why?  Will they figure it out before it’s too late?

This is definitely one you want to read when you have some extra time because it was a hard one to put down.  Lots of action and suspense combined with a sweet romance will keep you turning pages until the very end.  There are several twists and turns and just when I thought I had things figured out, I found I was wrong.  I loved returning to Wrangler’s Corner again (except for the fact that someone was try to kill Zoe and kidnap her daughter) because folks are so friendly and caring toward one another.  Zoe was someone you couldn’t help but like and even admire.  Aaron was a great hero and one you would want in your corner.  The faith element of the story seemed very natural and didn’t feel like an after thought, which I like.  This is the third book in the series and could be read as a stand alone but reading them in order is really a plus.  (The Lawman Returns, Rodeo Rescue & Protecting Her Daughter) If you enjoy a good edge-of-your-seat type story that keeps you turning pages, then head on over to Wrangler’s Corner and see just how difficult Protecting Her Daughter turns out to be.

*This complimentary copy was provided by Harlequin through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Some memorable moments:

“She met his gaze, thinking how kind his eyes were.  Deep blue and filled with an ocean of compassion, caring…and strength.  To match the rest of his well-muscled physique.  He really was a handsome man.”

“How could I not trust you?  You’ve put your own life ahead of mine.”  “Just like you did with Sophia.”  “Of course.”  “So if you would do that for your child, then don’t you think God would do that for you?”  She paused.  Then nodded.  “Yes, he would.  He did.  He sent his only son to die for me.”  “Exactly.  So don’t bash yourself.  You are made in His image, and He felt you were worth dying for.  That makes you amazing.”

For more information about this book or other books by Lynette Eason, I encourage you to visit her website at http://www.lynetteeason.com

Monday, April 18, 2016

THE GOODBYE BRIDE by Denise Hunter


Zac Callahan fell in love with Lucy Lovett from the moment he saw her.  She felt the same way, or so Zac thought.  Three weeks before their wedding Lucy took off without a word about why she left or where she was going.  Seven months later, Zac is starting to live with the new normal; a life without Lucy.  Then he gets a phone call from her saying she hit her head and could he come and get her.  A brain injury has left her with no memory of the last seven months, of leaving Zac before their wedding or even being engaged to another man where she was currently living.  Lucy can only remember loving Zac with ever fiber of her being.  Zac helps her out by bringing her home where he can look after her while she recovers and hopefully gets her memory back.  Zac hopes that’ll be soon because he’s vulnerable where Lucy is concerned.  Could  this be the second chance he’s so desperately prayed for?  What will happen if he does take a chance and her memory returns, will she leave him again like before?

The Goodbye Bride is one of those stories that just compels you to keep turning pages to see how everything works out.  We met Zac in ‘Falling Like Snowflakes’ and hear about Lucy leaving him so I was anxious to find out what happened. The whole amnesia thing was an interesting twist because Lucy didn’t lose all her memory only the last 7 months.  You sympathize with her knowing how difficult it must have been.  I mean everyone in town, including Zac, are giving her the cold shoulder because she left Zac, but she doesn’t remember why.  I wasn’t sure I liked Lucy at first but must admit I changed my mind as I kept reading.  She really was a  nice person.  Zac is a great guy.  A guy you could easily fall for.  I enjoyed learning a little more about Aunt Trudy and the Sheriff as well as catching up a little with Riley.  Beau and Eden are very much a part of this story, which I loved!  Trusting God with the unknown and forgiveness of things past were both encouraging messages woven throughout the story.  Denise Hunter is a master at writing romantic fiction.  She evokes such emotion with her wording that you just feel it, like it’s happening to you. To me that’s great writing and the reason why her books are always on my ‘must read’ list!  This is the second book in A Summer Harbor Series.  You could probably read it as a stand alone but I highly recommend starting with “Falling Like Snowflakes” to get the whole family background.  Now I will anxiously await Riley’s story.

*This complimentary copy was provided by Thomas Nelson through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Some favorite quotes:

“I guess we just do the best we can and trust God with the rest.  Life will always have troubles.  It’s what shapes and molds us and makes us into the people He wants us to be.”

“All she knew was she wanted him to keep looking at her that way.  She wanted his mouth on hers more than she wanted her next breath.  She wanted his arms around hers, his ring on her finger.  The plain gold one she’d never gotten to wear.  The one she’d never wear.”

“He was confident, comfortable with himself, but he didn’t wear it with arrogance like so many other handsome men.”

For more information about this book or other books by Denise Hunter, I encourage you to visit her website at www.denisehunterbooks.com/

Friday, April 15, 2016

THE RANCHER'S FIRST LOVE by Brenda Minton


Samantha Martin and Remington Jenkins have a history together.  A summer romance as teenagers that was serious enough for her brothers to send Remington packing and Sam off to her aunts.  Now she’s all grown up and working as a Nurse back in Martin’s Crossing and fixing up a place of her own, she thinks life is pretty good.  That is until Remington walks back into her life.  He now runs the ranch with his grandfather and is also a part-time preacher at their local church.  Rem loved Samantha and wanted to marry her until her brothers sent her away.  Now he has a second chance with her and nothing is going to stop him, especially not her overprotective brothers.  Sam still feels a connection with Rem but is afraid to open her heart again and what will happen when she shares the secret she’s kept from him all these years?

This was a good addition to the Martin’s Crossing series.  I enjoyed seeing all the familiar folks and catching up with how they’re doing.  I liked Samantha but I didn’t really connect with her as a character.  You could understand why she felt the way she did but I kinda felt like she blamed Remington for something that wasn’t really his fault.  Remington was a sweetheart of a guy.  Someone you could easily lose your heart to.  The connection between Remington and Sam was definitely there but I just felt something was lacking.  I appreciated Rem’s strong faith and the difference it made in those around him.  It seemed like there was still tension between him and Sam’s brothers which I didn’t really understand.  Overall this was a good story of putting your past where it belongs; in the past.  It’s part of what shapes who you are but it doesn’t define your future.  That’s a great thing to remember.  You could read this as a stand alone although it does have family from previous books, but I don’t think you’d feel lost.  I’m now looking forward to Kayla’s story.

*This complimentary copy was provided by Harlequin through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Some favorite parts:

“I know who I am, Rem.  I’m broken.  I’m flawed.  I couldn’t stand next to you and pretend I’m anything more than a person who has made mistakes.  “We’re all broken and flawed, Sam.  That’s the beauty of it.  We don’t have to be perfect.”

“Church is hard, isn’t it?”  Grace said in sympathy.  “It’s the place where we should be loved, forgiven, nurtured.  It’s a place of mercy.  But sometimes it isn’t.  We just have to remember that people are human and they bring all of their human frailties with them to church.”

“I’d like to not live in the past,” he ventured with some caution.  “The past is always with us.  It shapes us.”  “Yes, it shapes us.  It’s doesn’t have to hold us prisoner.” 

Monday, April 4, 2016

RECLAIMING HIS PAST by Karen Kirst


When Jessica O’Malley finds a badly wounded stranger on her property, she and her mom nurse him back to health.  The trouble is, he doesn’t remember who he is or anything about his life.  Is he a good guy or bad?  Jessica knows better then to trust a stranger.  She did that once and found he was a criminal and she won’t make that mistake again.  Not knowing what to call him, they settle on the name Grant.  Grant is very drawn to Jessica but until he knows for sure who he is he can’t think of getting involved.  As Jessica gets to know Grant her heart begins to soften toward him.  He’s so kind and helpful, how can he possibly be a bad guy?  They both try to keep their distance but as hard as they try their feelings become deeper and deeper.  Although Grant’s frustrated that he can’t remember his past, he’s very happy in Gatlinburg. But what will happen when the truth of who he really is comes to light?  Will he stay or will he go?

This is the third book I’ve read by Karen Kirst and I have really come to love her stories.  The O’Malley’s are such an endearing family and very close knit.  They fiercely love and protect each other and live by a high standard. You can’t help but enjoy being with them.  This author writes romantic tension really well, which I think makes a great story even better.  The pull you feel between Jessica and Grant was tangible.  I love how they interacted together.  Jessica seemed kinda stiff at times but I also understood why she would be that way.  I enjoyed the whole mystery surrounding Grant and getting to know him right along with Jessica.  I thought it was neat how all the folks had a strong faith as their foundation and yet they struggled with issues just like we do, which makes them easy to relate to.  I also appreciated the reminder that hiding God’s word in your heart never returns void.  You see that in Grant.  Although he’s lost his memory, the verses that he learned as a child surfaced easily.  This is the last book in the O’Malley’s series (mentioned in the author’s note at the end) which makes me sad.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the ones I’ve read and look forward to reading the ones I’ve missed.  That said, the epilogue seemed to bring reader up to date on everyone, which was a nice touch and once again made me want to go back and read them in order.  I would definitely recommend making ‘Reclaiming His Past’ one of your future reads!

*This complimentary copy was provided by Harlequin through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

A favorite moment:

His sure hands slowly skimmed her bare arms, creating chilled bumps in their wake, curving around her shoulders until finding her nape.  He gave a gentle tug.  Anchoring her against his chest, the railing and inconvenient barrier between them, Grant brought his mouth down on hers.  Branding her as his.  She slid her hands up the muscles of his back, reveling in his strength, the broadness of his chest cradling her, the taut security of his arms enfolding her.

For more information about this book or other books by Karen Kirst, I recommend you visit her website at http://www.karenkirst.com.



Monday, March 14, 2016

KEEPER OF THE STARS by Robin Lee Hatcher



Penny Cartwright and her brother, Brad, were very close and that’s why she was angry with him when he announced that he wanted to be the drummer for country singer Trevor Reynolds. That would take him away from the Ranch. Brad and Trevor soon became close friends. Trevor envied Brad as he’d listen to stories about his dad, sister and the folks of Kings Meadow. Then the unthinkable happened. A car accident that takes Brad’s life. Not only does Trevor blame himself, even though he wasn’t driving, but Penny blames him as well. In keeping a promise to Brad, Trevor shows up in Kings Meadow. Penny’s not happy about him being there and wants him gone as quickly as possible. Her dad, however, understands that God had a purpose in Trevor being there. Will Trevor and Penny work through their pain and discover the true meaning of forgiveness?

 The cover as well as the title made me want to read this book, but I must say, the story inside was a real treasure. I love how the author shows the emotions of the characters so authentically. I appreciated the things that Trevor and Penny learned along the way, that the reader can learn too. You’ll see how the influence of Brad affected Trevor’s life, yet I’m sure Brad was unaware. That’s so true in real life; you never know the impact you have on someone, whether good or bad. Throughout the story, you learn more about Brad, little bits at a time, which I liked. Trevor was a wonderful kind of hero; he had an inner strength yet was vulnerable. His kind and gentle ways will suck you in like a vacuum. Penny was someone you could relate to. She dealt with anger, guilt and worried about carrying her share of ranch responsibilities with her father. We’ve all, I’m sure, dealt with at least one of those things. I thoroughly enjoyed the chemistry between Trevor and Penny, it definitely kept me turning pages. Although this is part of a series, you can easily read it as a stand alone. You won’t find danger, suspense or intrigue but what you will find is a beautiful story of two hurting people who learn what it means to trust the Keeper of the Stars.

*This complimentary copy was provided by Thomas Nelson through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

A few favorite quotes: 

His son had had the gift of discernment. He’d cared about and accepted people wherever he found them, then had drawn them closer to God by being a loving friend. Brad had sent Trevor to Kings Meadow out of love Rodney understood that much. 

He [Trevor] remembered Brad, the way the young man’s faith had seemed to shine through him, like sunlight through a stained-glass window. 

“It isn’t New Year’s yet. I can make us some decaf while we wait for midnight.” “Sure. I’ll come in.” He didn’t take a seat at the table, as expected. Instead, he stood only a few feet away from the coffeemaker, observing her every movement. She felt nervous and clumsy. “You know,” he said, his voice low, “maybe coffee isn’t what I want.”

 For more information about this book or other books by Robin Lee Hatcher, I encourage you to visit her website at www.robinleehatcher.com

Saturday, February 20, 2016

COLD SHOT by Dani Pettrey


Griffen McCray and his close friends in college, Declan Grey, Parker Mitchell and Luke Gallagher, had high hopes for the future, all working together in some area of law enforcement, that is until Luke disappeared leaving a gaping hole in the friends circle.  After years of working as a SWAT team sniper and trying to forget a case gone wrong, Griffen appreciates his non-stressful job of park ranger at Gettysburg.  Then he catches a couple of grave vandals and realizes that they have uncovered a modern grave.  Finley Scott is a forensic anthropologist currently working a dig at Little Round Top in Gettysburg.  Griffen calls her to the scene to get her take on the situation.  He also calls Declan (now FBI) and Parker (now a crime scene analyst) to help with the case.  After Finley examines the body, she finds evidence that point to the work of a sniper and Griffen's experience will definitely be called upon.  But working with Finley has stirred up feelings inside Griffen that he's not sure he wants deal with.  Finley has some fears where men are concerned because of a past experience, but for some reason Griffen makes her feel safe. When the case takes a dangerous turn, Griffen finds that his feelings for Finely are more than protectiveness.  The case also brings to the surface some long suppressed tension between Griffen and Parker that has never been resolved.  Will the team be able to put the pieces together and solve the mystery before it's too late?  Can a strained friendship be restored and whatever happened to Luke?

WOW!  I absolutely loved this first book in Dani Pettrey's new Chesapeake Valor series.  Cold Shot is the perfect title for this hard to put down thriller.  Not only will you find lots of twists and turns but you'll be on the edge of your seat and anxious to solve the mystery.  The characters were so true to life that you're just sure if you went to the Gettysburg area you would find them.  The interaction and dynamics between all the friends was very realistic.  I appreciated not only the strong bond between them but also their faith; a faith that sustained them through difficult issues.  Griffen was my kind of hero; tough yet tender and protective of those he loves.  Finley was someone I truly admired.  She was such an endearing person, one I would love to have as a friend.  Parker and Declan (along with Kate and Avery) were such well drawn characters that it makes me anxious to know more about them.  There is a part of the story that's left unsolved but main part of the story has a very satisfying conclusion and I must say I can't wait to read the next book in the series.  This author just keeps getting better and better.  If you enjoy a romantic suspense that keeps you guessing, has some great romantic tension and has you reading way past your bed time, then I highly recommend Cold Shot.

*This complimentary copy was provided by Bethany House through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

For more information about this book or other books by Dani Pettrey I encourage you to visit her website at www.danipettrey.com/

A few favorite quotes:

"She loved sun catchers. I didn't understand it.  Her love for them.  I mean it's colored glass, but she said when the sun flooded in and the colorful rays bounced off the dim interior, it reminded her how God brings beauty and light to the darkest places.  And that all the broken pieces of different and uniquely shaped glass making up one beautiful image reminded her how God brings beauty out of brokenness and uses the smallest of pieces to make up a whole."

"Whenever the panic surged, she reminded herself that God was with her in the darkest places and that she would pass through.”

“Cupping her face, he swooped in.  Her lips parted, and he pressed his to hers - tender at first, then growing passionate in intensity."



Monday, February 8, 2016

MERMAID MOON by Colleen Coble


Mallory Davis's mother died 15 years ago.  Feeling like she was the cause, Mallory left behind the home she loved as well as the man she loved and was going to marry, Kevin O'Connor, and has never returned.  Out of the blue, Mallory receives a distressing phone call from her father and with his last breath, tells her he loves her and instructs her to 'find mother'.  Believing that her father's death was no accident, Kevin (who is now a game warden and the local law in Downeast Maine) believes she's right and begins to look into it.   Things heat up when Mallory and her daughter Haylie are threatened.  As they begin putting the pieces together, both Kevin and Mallory are surprised by what they find and begin to realize there's a whole lot more to this situation than they ever anticipated.  Will they figure it out before it's too late.

Once again Colleen Coble delivers a well thought out, tightly written, and at times nail-biting, romantic suspense.  Right away you're pulled into the story and you don't want to put it down until you find out how it all turns out.  I was trying to unravel the mystery right along with Mallory and Kevin as it was most certainly a tangled web.  For those who have read The Inn at Ocean's Edge, you'll find Luke, Claire and Kate a part of this story which I thoroughly enjoyed.  You don't need to read that book for this book to make sense but it does give you the background of those characters.  The main theme of the story was second chances.  Sometimes we get stuck because of a mistake or mistakes we've made in the past when instead we should be growing through them and not allowing them to define our future.  That was a great reminder.  Kevin's father was a good example of what unforgiveness can turn into.  You'll understand when you read the story.  There was a little something at the end that I felt was unresolved but it wasn't anything that detracted from my reading experience.  I loved that this is also loosely connected with Denise Hunter's Summer Harbor series. That was great fun!  If you've never visited Maine, or even if you have, I would highly recommend taking a trip there via Mermaid Moon.  You'll enjoy the beautiful landscape, ride a boat, meet some great friends and, oh yea, solve a murder.

*This complimentary copy was provided by Thomas Nelson through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

A couple favorite quotes:
"Moonlight filtered through the bedroom curtains.  Mallory had tried to read awhile, but even the latest Denise Hunter romance couldn't keep her attention from wandering upstairs to where Kevin slept."

"The more we're hurt, the harder it is to get past it.  And it's even worse when that person has hurt someone you love."

For more information about this book or other books by Colleen Coble I encourage you to visit her website at colleencoble.com/ 



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