Category Archives: 2012 Releases

Submerged by Dani Pettrey

Submerged (book one Alaskan Courage) by Dani Pettrey
Christian Fiction/Romantic Suspense
Bethany House, April 2012
Book from my personal collection
Burton Book Review Rating:3.5 stars

A sabotaged plane. Two dead deep-water divers.Yancey, Alaska was a quiet town . . . until the truth of what was hidden in the depths off the coast began to appear. Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey again. She has a past, and a reputation–and Yancey’s a small town. She’s returned to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash and is determined not to stay even an hour more than necessary. But then dark evidence emerges and Bailey’s own expertise becomes invaluable for the case.Cole McKenna can handle the deep-sea dives and helping the police recover evidence. He can even handle the fact that a murderer has settled in his town and doesn’t appear to be moving on. But dealing with the reality of Bailey’s reappearance is a tougher challenge. She broke his heart, but she is not the same girl who left Yancey. He let her down, but he’s not the same guy she left behind. Can they move beyond the hurts of their pasts and find a future together?


Submerged
and its successors follows the path of the McKenna family, a tight-knit group of young adults who own a small diving store in Yancey. The story is very Christian in nature, as Submerged focuses on a return of Bailey (“as a new creation in Christ”) to Yancey following the death of her beloved aunt. Bailey is forced to confront the past that she ran away from, and Cole McKenna is the one man she was never able to get out of her mind. Turns out the feeling is mutual, and so the two battle their own insecurities as they work together to solve what turns out to be a huge murder mystery.

As I began Submerged, it was getting to the point that I was going to need a spreadsheet to keep up with who was who. There are the McKenna family members who all play a role as well as their various friends, and since it’s a mystery there are lots of other names dropping to keep your mind going in circles. Bodies start turning up in the small community, and the McKennas and Bailey help the sheriff  with the investigation since it focuses on a bit of treasure buried in the sea. There is an evil mastermind at work, climaxing with a  historical twist that I didn’t expect, and it ended up being an interesting story of faith, romance and mystery.

I definitely think this series should be favored by the young adult crowd; the romance is squeaky clean as well as its message of faith that is prevalent throughout. It kept me guessing, and I enjoyed the story which is a rarity as I normally do not care for contemporary characters because of contemporary themes as well as characters’ selfish outlooks. Since this novel focuses on a great group of folks who like to help others, it was a nice breath of fresh air. I’d say it was 80% mystery, 15% faith, 5% romance. One complaint was that I  had no real feel for how old the main characters were. I assumed early twenties. There is an older brother that is briefly mentioned, and turns out he will be featured in book two.

Submerged boils down to whether the folks of Yancey can solve the murders and get to the bottom of the mystery of lost diaries, orbs and forgotten heirs to the Russian throne coinciding with the theme of romance of Bailey and Cole finding love after so much heartache. Now I am ready for book two in the Alaskan Courage series, Shattered, which will focus on the younger McKenna sister Piper (who really tried to steal the show in Submerged!) and I can’t wait to see the romance between Landon and Piper blossom!

This just in from Bethany House:
Congrats Dani Pettrey on being an ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist for fiction! Way to write a rockin’ debut novel!

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Filed under 2012 Releases, 2013 Review, Bethany House, Christian Fiction, Dani Pettrey

Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge By Mark Batterson

Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge By Mark Batterson
Published by Zondervan, December 2012
240 pages Paperback, available on Kindle
Free Review copy provided via booksneeze
Burton Book Review Rating:Life and prayer lessons to remember!

Do you pray as often and as boldly as you want to? There is a way to experience a deeper, more passionate, persistent, and intimate prayer life.

Drawing from forty days of true stories, Mark Batterson applies the principles of his New York Times bestselling book The Circle Maker to teach us a new way to pray. As thousands of readers quickly became many tens of thousands, true stories of miraculous and inspiring answers to prayer began to pour in, and as those stories were shared, others were bolstered in their faith to pray with even more boldness.

In Draw the Circle, through forty true, faith-building stories of God’s answers to prayer, daily scriptures and prayer prompts, Batterson inspires you to pray and keep praying like never before. Begin a lifetime of watching God work. Believe in the God who can do all things. Experience the power of bold prayer and even bolder faith in Draw the Circle.

I had seen this book mentioned quite a few times so I was eager to snap up a copy of my own. There are times when I’m wanting to “be” or “feel” closer to God, and just reading the bible sometimes doesn’t cut it. I wanted to try out a devotional, and learn how to feel like I am accomplishing something when I am praying to God. The first sentence sold me on the book, and the other rave reviews helped seal the deal.

And so my first experience with a ‘Prayer Devotional’ shall begin with Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle. What I expect from the book is a bit of guidance on getting organized with my prayer requests, and to learn how to formulate a prayer request in my mind without stumbling over my words. Based on the synopsis, I should draw inspiration from 40 stories that will inspire me to be more bold in my prayers.

The book reads swiftly, with mini-anecdotes to illustrate the point of each chapter. Most memorable are when he writes of hitting his knees in the airport, something that I turned into an easy to remember ‘stop, drop and pray’ mantra. When is it okay to pray? Obviously, whenever, and however you can manage it. It’s a reminder that hey, God is everywhere, and He is listening.

Topics covered include persistence in prayer, and having the ability to act on your prayer. Sometimes just waiting for God to answer your prayers isn’t good enough, God wants to see you want to work for it, too. And what if you are very persistent, and you are praying, and yet there is nothing fulfilling? Maybe you are looking at it the wrong way. Maybe you need to do it differently.

Think of George Washington Carver, and peanuts, and then UNICEF and peanut based nutrients for the impoverished of the world, as not such a good idea as it is a God-idea. And a seed.. that single seed and how much life it holds in its tiny existence, yet so full of promise: Day 12: Sowing a Seed made me cry. Perhaps you will find a different chapter that will be your spark of recognition for God’s love for you, but this book will help you find some solace. And it will bring new meaning to your prayers, when you pray and how you feel about it.

 Thank you to Zondervan and Booksneeze for my free review copy, for which I am still reading and will use it as an inspirational tool in the future as well..
  I review for BookSneeze®

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Filed under 2012 Releases, 2013 Review, Inspirational

Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes

Is it lust or love, and does God approve anyway?

Flight of Fancy by Laurie Alice Eakes
Revell, October 2012
Christian historical fiction
Paperback 368 pages
Available on Kindle
Review copy provided by the publisher for review in the February 2013 Historical Novel Society magazine
Burton Book Review Rating:

Cassandra Bainbridge has twice set aside her scholarly pursuits–once for the London Season and once for her wedding preparations. Love seems a wonderful alternative to study, until disaster strikes. When an accident brings an end to her betrothal, she heads for the country to recover from both her injuries and her broken heart. There she pursues her love for ballooning and envisions a future for herself as a daring aeronaut. But when her former fiance slips back into her life, what course will she choose? Filled with the mystique of London society and the charming beauty of the English countryside, “A Flight of Fancy” explores what it means to find the true source of happiness and love amid the distractions of life. Readers will love the next installment in this rousing Regency series from accomplished author Laurie Alice Eakes.


Read my previous review here of A Necessary Deception, book one of the Daughters of Bainbridge House series.

A wickedly tantalizing first chapter brings disaster to the engagement of Whittaker and Cassandra, who we first met in the entertaining first novel (A Necessary Deception) of Eakes’ inspirational Regency era series. Now featured in book two, the couple is forced apart as they succumb to their fear that their forbidden pre-marital desire for one another is the reason that Cassandra is physically scarred for life. Cassandra finds comfort with her ballooning adventures, while Whittaker, a struggling mill owner, is blackmailed to be on both sides of rebellions headed by the dangerous Luddites.

Cassandra and her wild sister Honore visit Whittaker Hall only with the assurances that Whittaker would be absent, but small things begin to occur that make Whittaker fear for Cassandra’s safety and he is unable to stay away. To make matters worse, distant cousins arrive who cause suspense and hints of romance to collide, making for an exciting resolution to Cassandra’s doubts of her future.

The Daughters of Bainbridge House series focuses on romance and faith equally, with an enjoyable dose of mystery as each novel focuses on one of the sisters. Honore’s story, A Reluctant Courtship, will be released in the autumn of 2013.

Visit Laurie’s Goodreads profile and view the many titles she has available here.
Friend Laurie on Facebook!

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Filed under #histnov, 2012 Releases, 2013 Review, Christian Fiction, Laurie Alice Eakes, Revell

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James

Like an undiscovered treasure just waiting to be unwrapped!

The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James
Berkley Trade, December 31, 2012
Historical Fiction/Regency Time Flip
Paperback 432 pages
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:4.5 stars

Samantha McDonough cannot believe her eyes–or her luck. Tucked in an uncut page of a two-hundred-year-old poetry book is a letter that she believes was written by Jane Austen, mentioning with regret a manuscript that “went missing at Greenbriar in Devonshire.”
Could there really be an undiscovered Jane Austen novel waiting to be found? Could anyone resist the temptation to go looking for it?
Making her way to the beautiful, centuries-old Greenbriar estate, Samantha finds it no easy task to sell its owner, the handsome yet uncompromising Anthony Whitaker, on her wild idea of searching for a lost Austen work–until she mentions its possible multi-million dollar value.

After discovering the unattributed manuscript, Samantha and Anthony are immediately absorbed in the story of Rebecca Stanhope, daughter of a small-town rector, who is about to encounter some bittersweet truths about life and love. As they continue to read the newly discovered tale from the past, a new one unfolds in the present–a story that just might change both of their lives forever.

I had not read any of Syrie James’ work before, but after reading her newest novel she has me sold on her writing skills. This novel comprises of a novel within a novel as we are treated to the contemporary story of Samantha who hunts down and discovers that there is an unpublished story written by Jane Austen. She then has to beg the sexy owner to do the right thing and allow the work to be published. (While fighting her attraction to him, she has to struggle to remember that she has a boyfriend, so it turns into an interesting romance story). But.. we are also treated to the (astutely imagined) unpublished work of the epic authoress herself, Jane Austen, called The Stanhopes.

All the prerequisites of an Austen novel are there.. from the whimsical heroine to the doting father, and misconceptions of characters and a quaint mix of everything we love about Austen. I was quite impressed with the Austenesque prose, and it has me wondering what I missed with a previous novel of Syrie James, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen.

The author has done her Austen homework, and I recognized a character from the novel immediately, as she named a friend in the story Laurel Ann in honor of Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose.com as she gave her expert advice to the author. I loved the plot line and how the present day plot sort of mirrored our own emotions as the characters read through the story the same time as we did. Very clever, and I can really imagine all of the story actually being true since the clues and facts (however imagined) seemed to really sell the mystery of the lost manuscript. Very well done!

Check Historical Fiction Connection on 1/9/2013 for a guest post and GIVEAWAY!

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Filed under 2012 Releases, 2013 Review, Austen Sequels, Syrie James

Against The Tide by Elizabeth Camden



Against The Tide by Elizabeth Camden
Christian Historical Fiction
Bethany House, October 2012
Paperback 362 pages
Review copy provided by publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:4.5 stars

Love and Lives are Threatened in Camden’s Latest Offering

As a child, Lydia Pallas became all too familiar with uncertainty when it came to the future. Now, she’s finally carved out a perfect life for herself–a life of stability and order with no changes, surprises, or chaos of any kind. She adores her apartment overlooking the bustling Boston Harbor, and her skill with languages has landed her a secure position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

However, it is her talent for translation that brings her into contact with Alexander Banebridge, or “Bane,” a man who equally attracts and aggravates her. When Bane hires Lydia to translate a seemingly innocuous collection of European documents, she hesitantly agrees, only to discover she is in over her head.

Just as Bane’s charm begins to win her over, Lydia learns he is driven by a secret campaign against some of the most dangerous criminals on the East Coast, compelled by his faith and his past. Bane forbids any involvement on Lydia’s part, but when the criminals gain the upper hand, it is Lydia on whom he must depend.

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden quickly draws you into its story of a young girl orphaned, abandoned, maltreated but still manages to hold her own in the busy town of Boston. Though described as quirks, Lydia’s insecurities are justifiably tangible, and her strong character is easily likable. What’s not to love about a young lady who can interpret many languages? It was a man’s world in the US Navy circa 1891, but Lydia’s strengths cannot be overlooked during crucial times of naval development. Her boss, Admiral Fontaine, has women keening for him left and right and luckily for Lydia he is willing to vouch for her. (I can see Darcy material in him).

But even he is not perfect, and that’s where Bane steps in. With the Adonis as his moniker, he sweeps Lydia off her feet as she throws caution to the wind to help Bane’s attempts at thwarting a vicious opium dealer known as The Professor. Very ominous tones illuminate this suspenseful plot as we still hope that somehow Lydia can find a knight in shining armor and finally care for her. I loved the plot lines, and the faith questions as they meandered through the intense journey of love, hope, betrayal and vindication. I can only imagine that I would have enjoyed the story even more (hardly possible) if I had the time to read the previous book by Elizabeth Camden (The Lady of Bolton Hill) which also included Bane, but it is certainly going on my to be read pile!

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Filed under #histnov, 2012 Releases, 2012 Review, Christian Fiction, Elizabeth Camden

Double Review and Double Giveaway! Belonging by Robin Lee Hatcher | Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher

Belonging by Robin Lee Hatcher

Synopsis:
“Leaving behind her bitter past, Felicia Kristoffersen seeks to make a brighter future for herself as a teacher in Frenchman’s Bluff, Idaho. But in this tiny high desert town, she can’t afford to fail. And not everyone is happy she’s here to begin with. Award-winning novelist Robin Lee Hatcher weaves a historical romance that asks the question: Can faith triumph over life’s harshest storms?”

Betrayal by Robin Lee Hatcher

Synopsis:
“The latest historical romance from award-winning author Robin Lee Hatcher, Betrayal will take you to the high desert of western Wyoming, through the crags of the Rocky Mountains, and into the hearts of two people learning to trust God’s love no matter the circumstances.” 

See the the end of my double review for your Exclusive Email Subscribers Only giveaway of these two titles to one lucky winner!

These two books in the Where the Heart Lives series feature siblings who were put on orphan trains in the late 1800’s and ultimately separated. The first novel Belonging features Felicia, a young lady who was finally offered a chance of freedom while becoming a teacher, and she is finally away from the foster family that think she is a piece of property.

Still tugging at her heartstrings is the question of what happened to her younger sister and her older brother once they were separated as children. However, before she can settle into the safe schoolmarm life and make queries about her siblings, a mean-spirited old woman becomes Felicia’s worst enemy. Where Felicia has excelled with her school children and making new friends for herself, Mrs. Summerville snatches all the happiness away and threatens Felicia’s way of life. Single dad Colin will desperately try to save her, but Felicia has to stop running away first.

I enjoyed the novel and the writing, and was especially pleased to see that the next in the series will focus on Felicia’s brother, Hugh. The novel is somewhat brief at 277 pages, and as such it seems we are just falling in love with the characters when the novel is actually over. There are some intriguing side stories and supporting characters that rounds out what happens to be a well written Christian romance with a fabulous western historical setting.

~

The second novel in the series, Betrayal, features Hugh Brennan running from his past and grasping for a future. He has his faith by his side and in his heart, and that is all he has. When he happens upon Julia Grace’s small ranch, he gets himself a job till he can move on safely with his lame horse. Of course, this being a romance, we know that Hugh and Julia will find a way into each other’s hearts. Along the way, there are threats and doubts to cast aspersions on the best of plans, but staying strong and true to one’s heart can bring wonders. I loved this story with the bit of suspense threaded throughout as the villain Charlie Prescott is determined to get Julia’s land, and the icing on the cake was the promising ending that brings us back to the story of the siblings. I am looking forward to book three which focuses on the younger sister Diana, and we are even treated to an excerpt of Diana’s story!

Are you ready for your own chance to win these first two novels in the Where The Heart Lives series? If you love a sweet mix of romance, God and that whimsical western touch, this is the series for you!

I’ve got two brand new paperbacks ready to mail to one lucky email subscriber in the USA! It’s a quickie giveaway, and  it’s open until Thursday the 13th when I’ll pick a winner around lunchtime. Make sure you are an email subscriber, and leave me a comment with the email address you subscribe with so I can double check. I’ll email the winner on Thursday afternoon, and I’ll need the winner’s mailing address by Friday morning so I can mail your books out. Good luck!

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Filed under #histnov, 2012 Releases, 2012 Review, Christian Fiction, Robin Lee Hatcher

Two Destinies by Elizabeth Musser

Compelling tear jerker conclusion to a fantastic story!

Two Destinies by Elizabeth Musser (Secrets of the Cross Book #3)
David C Cook September 2012
Inspirational Fiction/romance
Review copy from several publisher sources 😉 Thank you
Burton Book Review Rating:Favorite of Epic Favorites!


The Secrets of the Cross Trilogy by acclaimed author Elizabeth Musser, already a European bestseller, concludes with the American debut of Two Destinies, a story of forbidden love, passionate faith, danger, and intrigue. 
Now 1994, France faces unrest and rising poverty while neighbor Algeria is in the midst of a blood civil war. Risléne Namani, a French woman born to Algerian parents, converts to Christianity and falls in love with Eric Hoffmann, a Christian, committing the unpardonable sin in the eyes of her Muslim family. Eric must find a way to rescue her—from a forced marriage in Algeria, or even death. A powerful, relevant tale of social struggle, heartache, cultural conflict, and faith put to the ultimate test.

Read my previous review of books one and two

What a fabulous series (dabs eyes that it’s over). There is so much packed into this, from multiple religious issues and faith questions, to the bonds of family through love, loss, grief, the promise of hope. And as this is book three in the trilogy, you absolutely MUST read the first two books in the series. The story flows fluidly from one novel to the next, there will not be an explanation of the character’s or Algerian histories as it is assumed you have read the first two novels.

As expected with the descriptive names of previous titles of Two Crosses and Two Testaments in this Secrets of the Cross series, it is heavily centered around God and Allah and how the author’s characters perceive Him. There is an abundance of tension that leads to warfare, and the next generation is still dealing with this in Two Destinies. Risléne is from a strict Muslim family, but has secretly converted to the Protestant faith and finds herself in love with Eric. Eric is the grown son of the previous characters of the prior books; there is quite a jump in the time line, but it still flows effortlessly as the story continues to enthrall Musser’s fans. When Risléne’s family discovers her ultimate deception and her family betrayal, they lead her through the dangerous areas of France just to keep her away from the Protestants. And now Eric MUST find her, or she will be married off to a Muslim and gone forever. Ophélie is back, and Samuel Cebrian, and even though there was a jump in time from book two to book three, we easily slide back into the frame of minds of all of these wonderful characters. But the story focuses on Ophélie and Sam, and Risléne and Eric as they try and discover their destinies.

Concurrent stories bleed through, some snippets from earlier unresolved story lines, and some new ones that keep us hoping there has to be something better for all of these many unforgettable characters. I would love to add some gushy mushy professional sounding critical statement about why you should read these books, but then again, given the religion-related content which includes terrorism, extremists, Islam and Christianity, I know that these novels may not be the first choice for you. If you are at all interested in learning of religious conflict while being captivated by a powerful web of characters who are fighting on multiple fronts, this is the trilogy for you.

I admit when I was offered the first two for review I was dismayed at the hugeness of the ugly galley things I had received, but once I dug in I was hooked by the theme of  love for God and the brutality of opposing terrorist forces. Book one, book two, and now book three which takes us generations through the sixties and nineties relays a story that should be heard. The author has opened up a whole new world for me which includes harkis, pied-noirs, and the turmoil of these characters – life and death – and the fact that this is based on the reality for these people…it’s just heavy stuff that I am so glad to have learned about in this compelling fictional telling. Powerful stuff, and a passionate story that I will never forget and will re-read when I get my own hard copies of the series. I’ve already added several other titles from Elizabeth Musser’s work to my personal library based on the fantasticness of this Secrets of the Cross trilogy. Thank you to Mrs. Musser for  providing me with such an amazing reading experience.

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Filed under 2012 Releases, 2012 Review, Best of 2012, Christian Fiction, Elizabeth Musser

At Every Turn by Anne Mateer

At Every Turn
Impetuous, naive Ally races to redemption…


At Every Turn by Anne Mateer
Bethany House, September 2012
Paperback 320 pages
Christian Historical Fiction
Review copy provided via the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:three stars

She’s off to the races!
Caught up in a whirlwind of religious enthusiasm, Alyce Benson impetuously pledges three thousand dollars to mission work in Africa. Now she just has to find a way to get the money. Alyce harbors a secret passion for speed and automobiles, and she’s spent many an afternoon driving around the rustic track in the field behind her home. When she discovers that her father’s company has sponsored a racing car that will compete in several upcoming events–races in which the driver will be paid and could win as much as five thousand dollars in prize money–she conspires with her father’s mechanic, Webster, to train and compete. But when her friends cast aspersions on Webster’s past, she realizes she may have trusted the wrong person with her secret. Will Alyce come up with the money in time, or will she have to choose between her hasty promise and the man who holds a piece of her heart?

The synopsis for this second novel by Anne Mateer uses the word ‘impetuous’ to describe our main protagonist, and that is exactly how I pictured her throughout the novel. She was so impetuous that I never really got to empathize with her at all, and it wasn’t until the last third of the novel that I began to feel comfortable with the story.

The entire plot line follows Ally as she is trying to raise $3,000 in 1916 to do offer to missionaries for their use in the Gold Coast of Africa. That was a huge sum that she pledged at a church meeting, but she thought her wealthy daddy would give her the money. Turns out Daddy doesn’t have the same faith that Ally does so she is forced to do some fund raising by herself. She decides to race cars for the prize money (under disguise), and along the way she finds it difficult to hang on to her funds to begin with. The two romance angles are just waiting to collide, and throughout the novel the reader can guess what will happen with each new turn.. and it always felt like there was another predictable shoe to drop which simply made for uncomfortable reading.

The first novel by Anne Mateer, Wings of A Dream, also featured a strong-willed protagonist, but she didn’t seem as naive as Ally did. I just could not condone some of the silly actions of Ally, and anticipating each twist in the story dulled the adventure for me. The first person narration didn’t help endear me to Ally either, but the secondary characters helped round out the otherwise predictable story. I loved Webster Little, and Ally’s grandmother, and the faith theme was very evident and sends a very good message about letting God lead the way instead of always doing it your own way. I am one of those readers that has to relate to the hero/heroine in order to fully appreciate the story, but this time I really just wanted to throttle Ally! The author’s writing style in itself holds merit, but I would love to see her next story being told in third person.

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Filed under #histnov, 2012 Releases, 2012 Review, Bethany House, Christian Fiction

(Giveaway!) No Safe Harbor (Edge of Freedom #1) by Elizabeth Ludwig

Naive Irish lass goes to New York and lands right in the middle of Irish political fanatics!

No Safe Harbor (Edge of Freedom #1) by Elizabeth Ludwig
Bethany House, October 2012
Paperback 352 pages
Review copy provided for Free from LitFuse, in exchange for this review
Burton Book Review Rating:

The Thrill of Romantic Suspense Meets the Romance of 1800s America
Lured by a handful of scribbled words across a faded letter, Cara Hamilton sets off from 1896 Ireland on a quest to find the brother she’d thought dead. Her search lands her in America, amidst a houseful of strangers and one man who claims to be a friend–Rourke Walsh.

Despite her brother’s warning, Cara decides to trust Rourke and reveals the truth about her purpose in America. But he is not who he claims to be, and as rumors begin to circulate about an underground group of dangerous revolutionaries, Cara’s desperation grows. Her questions lead her ever closer to her brother, but they also bring her closer to destruction as Rourke’s true intentions come to light.

Read an Excerpt
Purchase the book

The setting of an Irish girl leaving for New York in l896 is full of promise and adventure in this historical romantic suspense, and did not disappoint. The political maneuverings of Ireland was always behind the scenes as Cara was trying to discover the fate of her twin brother, Eoghan. One thing that struck me as ‘convenient’ was how each and every person that Cara bumped into during her first trip in New York were all somehow related to the disappearance of her brother or those seeking revenge, but pushing that nagging thought aside I really did enjoy this story.

Cara meets Rourke, who is the sexy heroic love interest, but he turns out to be on the bad guys’ side. Rourke and Cara do not trust each other, yet of course they still fall in love, so the romance comes in as they discover each other and develop their trust in each other; and the suspense comes in as we try to figure our where Cara’s brother is and when is he going to be able to come out of hiding. There is a fabulous climatic scene as it all comes to a head, and I was perched on the edge of my seat throughout.

The setting is of a boardinghouse with a few intriguing women, and one in particular turns out to be another bad guy (Cara has really bad luck in NYC!) and things get dicey when it hits the fan. All in all, a well done story of intrigue that has me wondering what’s next in the Edge of Freedom series. Although the book is from a Christian fiction publisher, the Christian theme is very light in the main scheme of things, allowing No Safe Harbor to be easily recommended to those who would enjoy an entertaining romance infused with intrigue.

And, I am super thrilled to read about what’s next for Elizabeth Ludwig’s Edge of Freedom series, coming August 2013, Dark Road Home by Elizabeth Ludwig:

August 2013Ana Kavanagh’s only memories of home are of fire and pain. As a girl she was the only survivor of a terrible blaze, and years later she still struggles with her anger at God for letting it happen.
At a nearby parish she meets and finds a kindred spirit in Eoghan Hamilton, who is struggling with his own anger–his sister, Cara, betrayed him by falling in love with one of his enemies. Cast aside by everyone, Eoghan longs to rejoin the Fenians, a shadowy organization pushing for change back in Ireland. But gaining their trust requires doing some favors–all of which seem to lead back to Ana. Who is she and who is searching for her? As dark secrets from Ana’s past begin to come to light, Eoghan must choose which road to follow–and where to finally place his trust.

I scored an extra copy of NO SAFE HARBOR somehow.. so who wants it?
I warned you in October I’d have a subscriber-only giveaway so here it is!!
A quickie giveaway open to my MailChimp Subscribers in the USA, and I’ll choose a random winner from the most awesome comments you leave me.. must be a follower, and an email subscriber and you must leave me your Email Address. And I’d probably give preferential treatment to those who brag about this awesome review on Facebook, twitter etc. =) Thanks!!

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Filed under #histnov, 19th century, 2012 Releases, 2012 Review, Bethany House, Christian Fiction, Elizabeth Ludwig, New York

The Ride of Her Life by Lorna Seilstad

The Ride of Her Life
A sweet romance with a roller coaster setting!
The Ride of Her Life (Manawa Summers #3) by Lorna Seilstad
Historical Inspirational Romance
Revell, May 1, 2012 
ISBN 9780800734473

Review copy provided by the publisher via HNR, thank you!
Review originally posted in Historical Novels Review Magazine, November 2012
Burton Book Review Rating:3.5 Stars

The only man pragmatic Lilly Hart needs in her life is a six year old. Widowed two years ago, Lilly leaves the shelter of her intrusive in-laws’ home to stand on her own and provide for her young son by working for the summer as a cook at Lake Manawa. However, her in-laws find that life utterly unsuitable for their grandson, and when a row ensues, a handsome stranger–who designs roller coasters, of all things–intercedes on her behalf. Still, Lilly is not about to get involved with any man, especially this cocky (though charismatic) gentleman. Little does she know she is about to begin the ride of her life. Filled with delightful characters and the romance of summer, The Ride of Her Life is another supremely entertaining story from the witty Lorna Seilstad. Readers will laugh out loud and sigh contentedly as they spend the summer of 1906 in Lake Manawa.

It’s early 1900’s and Lilly Hart is struggling as a widowed mother in a small town of Iowa. Her in-laws are resorting to treachery to gain custody of her young son Levi, but thankfully Lilly has a friend in roller coaster builder Nick if only she would stop being too stubborn to accept his help. Lilly is determined to save enough money from her waitressing job to buy a house in Lake Manawa so that she can provide a stable home for Levi, but at what cost?
Her powerful father-in-law applies pressure from all angles against Lilly which includes harming Nick’s upcoming roller coaster debut, putting lives in danger as well as Nick’s livelihood. Throughout the story the reader knows what Lilly must do, and who she should and should not trust, which makes Lilly’s stubbornness tougher to tolerate as it slows the story down. The light hearted and fun spirited romance is rounded out with the suspense from the father-in-law’s shady dealings, and both Nick and Levi make extremely lovable characters.
The inspirational theme is quietly laced throughout as both Nick and Lilly work through the questions of their faith and how God fits in their lives, making this a breezy-sweet romance novel. Even though this is book three in the Lake Manawa series, it can be read as a stand alone; however to attain the best reading experience the series should be read in order since there are recurring characters throughout the novels.

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Filed under 2012 Releases, 2012 Review, Christian Fiction, Historical Romance, Revell