Category Archives: 2013 Releases

Fired Up (Trouble in Texas #2) by Mary Connealy

Romance and charm in this fun novel!

Fired Up (Trouble in Texas #2) by Mary Connealy
Bethany House, September 2013
Review copy provided by the publisher
Burton Book Review Rating:Four and a Half Stars

Dare Riker is a doctor who saves lives, but someone seems determined to end his. It may have something to do with the traitors he dealt with during the Civil War, or it might be related to the recent incident with Flint Greer and the ranch. Whoever the culprit is, he or she seems really fired up, and Dare can’t let his guard down for a moment, which is a challenge, since right now he’s trying to win the heart of the recently widowed Glynna.
Glynna Greer came west as a mail-order bride and ended up in a bad situation. Now her husband, Flint, is dead, and she’s determined to care for her son and daughter on her own. She wants to believe Dare Riker is as decent as he seems, but she’s terrified to lock herself into another marriage. She plans to support her small family by opening a diner—never mind that cooking is not her greatest talent. The men in Broken Wheel, Texas, are so desperate for home cooking that they seem willing to overlook dried-out beef and blackened biscuits.
Glynna can’t help but notice that danger follows Dare wherever he goes. There’s the avalanche. And then the fire. But things really get out of hand when someone plunges a knife from Glynna’s diner into Dare’s back. Are Flint’s cronies still plotting revenge? Is Glynna’s son engaged in a misguided attempt to protect his mother? Is a shadowy outsider still enraged over past injustices? And can Dare survive long enough to convince Glynna to take another chance on love?

Dare Riker is a stubborn man who thinks he shouldn’t doctor anymore due to ethical reasons, yet he is the best doctor in town. Glynna Greer has a troubled past but if she and the doctor could find their ways into each other’s hearts there could be a happy ending. But her son had enough of dirty rotten men who do harm to his family, and he just might take matters into his own hands if the doc and his mom start to show signs of love. Things start heading south and there are a few suspects.. but could Glynna’s own son truly have a murderous streak? After their hard life, it wouldn’t be that hard to believe.

I really enjoyed the first book in the Trouble in Texas series (Swept Away), and it was no different with this new installment. It is a bit of a western romance but told with light hearted wit that is charming. While the storyline could have used a bit more oomph behind the ‘suspense’ factor, the rest of it seemed to flow well and is an enjoyable Christian based romance. Mary Connealy’s regular readers will enjoy this novel as well with its unique set of characters and story. Even though this is a series novel, this is one where I believe it could be a stand alone novel but the characters do carry through so if you read the series out of order you will be spoiling it for yourself.

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Filed under 2013 Releases, 2013 Review, Bethany House, Christian Fiction

Death and the Courtesan (Arabella Beaumont Mystery #1) by Pamela Christie

Unique light hearted bawdy entertainment


Death and the Courtesan (Arabella Beaumont Mystery #1) by Pamela Christie
Kensington Mystery, June 2013, $15.00
Paperback 229pp
Historical Romance/Somewhat inspirational
Review copy provided by the publisher for review in the August 2013 Historical Novel Society magazine
Burton Book Review Rating:


Pamela Christie’s sparkling historical mystery goes beyond the modest drawing rooms of Regency London in the company of the city’s most esteemed and scandalous courtesan…


Since the age of sixteen, Arabella Beaumont has been happily employed as a highly paid woman of pleasure. True, respectable ladies of the ton would never deign to call at Lustings, her delightful home. Then again, Arabella has no desire to make dreary small talk and sip tea when she could be enjoying the company of amusing, intelligent, and extremely generous gentlemen.


But while Arabella’s admirers are legion, she also has enemies. A paper knife stolen during one of her salons was discovered near the body of a former rival. Arabella was entertaining her wealthy benefactor on the night of the murder, but the engaged duke can’t provide the alibi she desperately needs. It falls to Arabella and her resourceful sister, Belinda, to clear her good—or at least innocent—name. Utilizing all the talents in her arsenal, the irrepressible Miss Beaumont will endeavor to catch the real culprit, before the hangman catches up to her…

It’s the flamboyant age of the Regency, where Miss Arabella Beaumont makes her living as a courtesan offering her physical wares to very rich fellows. With witty banter such as how size matters relating to ribbons for condoms, a story unfolds of how Arabella seeks to clear her name of murder. Her favorite Duke assures the authorities of her cooperation therefore she is free to roam and investigate at whim, thus introducing the reader to many characters.

The writing is drenched with sexual innuendo as an attempt at humor or charm, but the intrusive narrator who occasionally addresses the reader lacks the charm intended. Sadly, the mystery takes a back burner as Arabella struts around town telling stories, until finally the point of the novel reemerges with the final scenes. The text includes some archaic words such as clew, shew and chuse but the tone might be right for those desiring unique and lighthearted entertainment.

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Filed under #histnov, 2013 Releases, 2013 Review, Mystery

Darke London by Coleen Kwan

Great cringe-worthy storytelling

Darke London by Coleen Kwan
Samhain Publishing, 2013
Review copy provided for free in exchange for this review
Burton Book Review Rating:Great fun! Four stars!


The only way to save her life is to resurrect the dead…
Julian Darke was only a newborn when he was abandoned on the doorstep of a gentleman doctor. Though raised with love, he is driven to discover his true origins.
Convinced Sir Thaddeus Ormond knows something, Julian shadows him one night and is shocked to see a young woman thrown from Ormond s carriage and accosted by a thug. Julian manages to save her life, but not her face and hands from horrific injuries.

Nellie Barchester doesn t recognize the scarred, disfigured stranger in the mirror. Though the gifted doctor and engineer has done his best to repair the damage, scars ravage her body, and chill her soul with the realization that her own husband may have plotted her death.

Julian s tenderness is a balm to her soul, and Nellie is drawn to the edge of passion by a man not repelled by her deformities. But as their pursuit of the truth draws them into London s underbelly, they cross the path of a ruthless enemy who will stop at nothing to fulfill his schemes.
Warning: Can a brilliant but troubled doctor find happiness with a woman scarred both inside and out? A hint of the supernatural plus a night of passion spice up this Uncanny Chronicle.

It is indeed the underbelly of London as the greedy rich folk collide with the poor of the darkest streets where a brute of a murderer is set loose on Nellie only to be rescued by handsome doctor Julian Darke. Scarred for life and presumed dead, Nellie doesn’t let that stop her from learning the truth behind her vicious attack. Julian is linked to Nellie during their search for justice and in spite of amazing odds and a path fraught with difficulties, their passion for each other is undeniable and overcomes all.

The limited cast of characters gives this short novel a sharp focus on the mysterious events occurring around Julian and Nellie allowing for a swiftly fast paced gothic-feel story to take its hold on the reader. A dash of steampunk with a taste of lust, this is an intriguing story perfect for historical romance readers. The romance is sexy but not overbearing or crude, making this novel a perfect weekend read for the thrill seeker.

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Filed under 2013 Releases, 2013 Review, Steampunk

Love At Any Cost by Julie Lessman

or at the cost of faith..

Love At Any Cost (The Heart of San Francisco #1) by Julie Lessman
Christian Historical Romance
Revell, April 1 2013
Review copy provided by the publisher for review in the August 2013 Historical Novel Society magazine
Burton Book Review Rating:


From the author: “My intent was actually to underscore the Scripture “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” —Matthew 6:20–21. 
The hero has to learn to “love at any cost,” which in his case, costs him his will, laying it down to do things God’s way. But there’s also a double Spiritual meaning which I hint at in the dedication of the book that reads as follows:
To the Lover of my Soul,
Who taught me about ‘love at any cost’
two thousand years ago on a hill outside of Jerusalem.
I will love You and worship You
all the days of my life.

*(the HNR review differs because I fail at reviewing books within a limited amount of words; I write better when I feel less restrained).

Favored Christian historical author Julie Lessman starts off her third series with Texas sized sass and spirit. Cassie is a cowgirl who knows what she wants and it ain’t no pretty boy! Yet, when she travels to San Francisco to get away from heartbreaking pretty boys, she bumps into one with Jamie McKenna. Turns out he is a close friend of her Aunt Cait, and Cassie is forced to put up with him during her stay in San Francisco with her McClare cousins.

Jamie McKenna has been working hard all of his life to provide for his impoverished family and has his mind made up that he wants to marry an heiress to provide a costly surgery for his invalid sister. He sees Cassie as his ticket to wealth and courts her as passionately as he can despite her resistance.

At the heart of this burning (slightly uncomfortable in a Christian novel) romance is the prerequisite of Aunt Cait for Cassie to only love a man who loves God first. These ladies aren’t taking no for an answer and the journey towards faith for Jamie is not an easy one, forcing Jamie to make difficult decisions which do little to endear the reader to him. Overall, if the reader can get past the multiple references to slanting, tipping or flat smiles, the interesting blend of romance with spiritual tones make up for the bumpy start. The supporting characters helped flesh out the story while also providing for a strong start to this faith based historical series.

I wanted to really love this book, a first Lessman read for me though I have already collected her previous six books based on other blogger’s recommendations. As a reader of inspirational historical fiction for the past few years, this novel blurred the lines a bit for me as it was somewhere between ‘clean’ and ‘jaw-dropping’ in the romance department. And the first few days of reading this I only managed to get about fifty pages in because I could not help but notice the thin lips, the flat lips, the tilted smile, the curving smile, the wilting smile, the crooked smile, the zagged smile, and my favorite: the rebounding smile. So when a lazy Saturday came along I made it my goal in life to get through the book, and once I dug in and got past the lips and smiles the novel did develop into a worthwhile story with intriguing plot lines which surprised even me. Taking these few warnings in mind, you would have to decide for yourself if this is a read for you, as the majority of the reviews on Goodreads are five stars.

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Filed under 2013 Releases, 2013 Review, Christian Fiction, Julie Lessman, Revell

Dark Road Home by Elizabeth Ludwig

Enchanting historical mystery 
Dark Road Home by Elizabeth Ludwig
Bethany House, 2013
Historical Romantic Suspense/Christian Fiction
Review copy via publisher
Burton Book Review Rating:Four and a Half Stars
Synopsis:


Ana 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 had really enjoyed this author’s previous title in the Edge of Freedom series and was excited to get the chance to review this next installment. While this novel introduces new characters, I personally would recommend reading the first book, No Safe Harbor, since that book sets up the relationships and includes important events that bring us to book two. Set in New York, it features Irish immigrants who are still not far enough away from the violent political factions that were wreaking havoc in Ireland, as well as a murderous uncle who threatens the heroine’s life.
Ana is the estranged niece who tried to find a new life in a new country but her uncle wants to make sure she stays out of his way. Ana meets up with Eoghan (from the previous book) and they form a sweet relationship with each other. They find themselves in danger and the story sets up a plausible and entertaining suspense story while the romance takes us on a slow stroll. The writing is fast paced and evocative of the turbulent 19th century era and will not disappoint Ludwig’s fans of the first book in the series. 
This is a novel from Christian fiction publisher Bethany House, and would not be for those who do not enjoy the genre as there are trials and tribulations of the main characters’ questions of faith that are a theme to the story along with their struggles to find the truth about who to trust.

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Filed under 2013 Releases, 2013 Review, Bethany House, Christian Fiction

The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick

Another amazing historical from my favorite medieval storyteller

The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick
Sphere, June 20, 2013
Hardcover 478 pages
Source: Bought from an Amazon seller after I scoured the internet for an hour looking for an available copy when it came out in the UK.. I read and devoured it immediately upon its arrival, but just lacked computer time to compose this review.
Burton Book Review Rating:  (Must you ask?) Fifty Stars, if I could

Eleanor of Aquitaine is a 12th century icon who has fascinated readers for 800 years. But the real Eleanor remains elusive.

This stunning novel introduces an Eleanor that all other writers have missed. Based on the most up-to-date research, it is the first novel to show Eleanor beginning her married life at 13. Barely out of childhood, this gives an entirely new slant to how Eleanor is treated bv those around her. She was often the victim and her first marriage was horribly abusive.

Overflowing with scandal, passion, triumph and tragedy, Eleanor’s legendary story begins when her beloved father dies in the summer of 1137, and she is made to marry the young prince Louis of France. A week after the marriage she becomes a queen and her life will change beyond recognition . . .

Once upon a time there lived an amazing woman who was destined to be ruler of Aquitaine. Her heart and soul was with Aquitaine and the heritage that she was born with. In a time where women were considered frail or used as chattel, Eleanor of Aquitaine rises up and becomes Queen of France, then dumps her husband and that title only to soon become Queen of England.

After many reads based on Eleanor’s life, one would think I’ve had enough. But then here comes Elizabeth Chadwick writing a novel that she has wanted to write for a very long time. Her previous historicals on William Marshal were based during Eleanor’s time, and Eleanor would beckon to the author to write Eleanor’s story.

And that she did. With typical Chadwick flair, we have a start to what will prove to be an amazing trilogy on Eleanor, except our main protagonist is now called Alienor. My first inclination was to shy from this twist on the anglicized name of Eleanor, but Chadwick’s skillful writing set me at ease with this proper spelling of Eleanor right away. Among other things, I loved how she portrayed Louis; my feelings about him changed as his character changed.. and she made him more interesting than he probably was! What a sack of uselessness he seemed to be.

Alienor’s story is familiar to most of us medieval fiction lovers, but as always Chadwick tells it beautifully and with deft writing skill. She does not inundate us with endless facts and names, she simply draws us into Alienor’s world from the time she was a child to the time she finally meets Henry, her second husband. It is a poignant tale as we ache for Alienor during her loveless marriage to the weak and overly pious King of France even though we know eventually she will break free. But Chadwick gives us the full story, the full measure of Alienor so that we live and breathe in Alienor’s world unlike any other novel on the woman.

We root for Alienor as she faces obstacle after obstacle (and goes on a crusade!) and we still manage to learn a bit more of the story behind the well-known history of the era. Her sister Petronella shows us a new side of a scandalous story, and Alienor herself proves she is not all ice as one would believe. The supporting characters all add to the nuances of the drama, and there were some characters who get to stay around longer than others as the author saw fit. Fans of both Chadwick and the love and hate story between Eleanor and Henry will love this telling, but will be sad when the novel is over because there is still so much left to be told. I am impatiently waiting for the author to write the next installment, The Winter Crown, which we hope will be available by the fall of 2014.

As I stated in my final reading status update on Goodreads, “Chadwick writes so well I am annoyed I’ve finished the book.” There is no need for me to repeat how awesome and vivid of a story that Elizabeth Chadwick writes, she is the ultimate contemporary expert of medieval historical fiction in my humble opinion. Yet I will never get tired of complimenting Elizabeth Chadwick’s writing as long as she promises to write more, more, more, more, and more!!! Come on, 2014!

A problem that I’ll have to debate during my wait for her next novel is trying to decide which is my favorite Chadwick novel of the eight that I’ve read. I’ve read three Chadwick’s this year but 2011’s Lady of the English still sticks in my mind. Perhaps I’ll have to have a Chadwick Re-Read Marathon to see which is the cream that rises to the top. Of those that I’ve read, Shadows and Strongholds, Lady of the English, and now The Summer Queen will be battling for that position. Which novel was your favorite Chadwick thus far?

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Filed under 2013 Releases, 2013 Review, Best of 2013, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Elizabeth Chadwick

Trouble In Store by Carol Cox

Wild West Rogues In Disguise

Trouble In Store by Carol Cox
Christian Historical Fiction
Bethany House, June 1 2013
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:3 stars

Fired from her most recent governess position, Melanie Ross must embrace her last resort: the Arizona mercantile she inherited from her cousin. But Caleb Nelson is positive he inherited the mercantile, and he’s not about to let some obstinate woman with newfangled ideas mess up all he’s worked for. He’s determined to get Melanie married off as soon as possible, and luckily there are plenty of single men in town quite interested in taking her off his hands. The problem is, Caleb soon realizes he doesn’t want her to marry up with any of them. He’s drawn to Melanie more every day, and he has to admit some of her ideas for the store unexpectedly offer positive results.
But someone doesn’t want the store to succeed, and what used to be just threatening words has escalated into deliberate destruction and lurkers in the night. When a body shows up on the mercantile steps–and the man obviously didn’t die from natural causes–things really get dangerous. Can Melanie and Caleb’s business–and romance–survive the trouble that’s about to come their way?

Trouble In Store is a story of a young woman forced to make her own future when she finds herself without an income and without friends. The last place she had any family was many miles away, yet she decides to take her chances and seek them out as a last resort. Her welcome to Arizona is not as expected, but since she has nowhere else to go she is determined to make the best of her situation. Melanie decides to help Caleb run a mercantile store and strange events occurring around them spell danger for them both.

This novel was a quick read and based on other reviews I was expecting a little more power behind the story   but instead it seemed to be a bit too cookie cutter for me. The faith feature that I expect from this publisher also seemed to be toned down; there were no characters that were struggling with their faith and I didn’t grasp an underlying Christian theme other than an occasional meeting with the preacher in public.

One of the main difficulties I had with trying to immerse myself in the story were the characters themselves. The author forgot to describe these two main protagonists and so we only got to learn about them through their conversations and mannerisms. If the author portrayed Caleb as a handsome merchant using her eloquent and descriptive prose, perhaps I would have cared a little more instead of imagining the blank faces of Melanie and Caleb. Instead, it was 66% of the way through that I finally learned that Caleb had ‘soft, sand-colored waves’ of hair. And that’s it.

Otherwise, the plot read well: dilemma, quaint romance, mystery, murder, lynch mobs and then a happy romance in the middle of a small western town in 1885. Dusty, wide open spaces and simple living was an easy setting to portray for the author which she did well. Running the mercantile store was a theme to the story and a helpful tool for the author to introduce several interesting characters along with details of the items for sale from days gone by. I have to mention that there were a few instances where I was guilty of  ‘smack of my head’ moments due to the implausible actions of our protagonists which didn’t help endear me to the story, but since this was a fairly standard Christian historical, if you imagine a young Brad Pitt going in perhaps you’ll love this one as much as some of the other reviewers did.

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Filed under 19th century, 2013 Releases, 2013 Review, Bethany House, Christian Fiction

Venus In Winter (A Novel of Bess of Hardwick) by Gillian Bagwell

Venus In Winter (A Novel of Bess of Hardwick) by Gillian Bagwell
Historical Fiction/Tudor
Penguin July 2013
Paperback 435 pages
Review copy provided by the author, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:Four and a Half Stars


My previous review of Gillian’s novel The Darling Strumpet

The author of The September Queen explores Tudor England with the tale of Bess of Hardwick—the formidable four-time widowed Tudor dynast who became one of the most powerful women in the history of England. 

On her twelfth birthday, Bess of Hardwick receives the news that she is to be a waiting gentlewoman in the household of Lady Zouche. Armed with nothing but her razor-sharp wit and fetching looks, Bess is terrified of leaving home. But as her family has neither the money nor the connections to find her a good husband, she must go to facilitate her rise in society. 

When Bess arrives at the glamorous court of King Henry VIII, she is thrust into a treacherous world of politics and intrigue, a world she must quickly learn to navigate. The gruesome fates of Henry’s wives convince Bess that marrying is a dangerous business. Even so, she finds the courage to wed not once, but four times. Bess outlives one husband, then another, securing her status as a woman of property. But it is when she is widowed a third time that she is left with a large fortune and even larger decisions—discovering that, for a woman of substance, the power and the possibilities are endless. 

Bess of Hardwick has always been my absolutely favorite Tudor figure, and close behind her is Lettice Knollys. I was overjoyed when I heard that there was a novel in the works about her, though I was nervous about how her character would come through after I was totally disappointed with Philippa Gregory’s portrayal of her shrewish Bess in The Other Queen.

Bagwell does a phenomenal job of portraying the qualities of Bess that made me fall in love with her: strong, sensitive, intelligent, loving, and an accounting whiz. Well, she may not have been that last one but from previous reads and knowing that she seemingly was a phoenix rising from the ashes as far as her real estate properties go, she was a skilled business woman. Her marriages helped her in that regard, but she worked hard to keep what she could, and Bagwell portrays this diligent aspect of Bess perfectly. Her story begins as a child amongst those proverbial ashes and she goes to the noble houses to better secure her place in the Tudor courts. We watch Bess grow up and marry all along that glittery evil backdrop of Henry VIII’s wives and then the reigns of Henry’s children. Supporting characters include fellow courtiers and her family members, and of course eventually Elizabeth I and the ever changing political backdrop of rising and falling factions.

While this Tudoresque story is familiar to most, Gillian Bagwell offers a plausible sense of the world of Bess of Hardwick. The novel flows well because it is so character driven and focused on Bess’s life which humanizes the woman behind the house of glass that she is known for. While I was pleasantly enjoying the story throughout, the final scene tugged at my heart and I really loved the way it ended. And I was probably relieved that I did not have to repeat the events of her marriage to George Talbot, since it seems to be that particular marriage that had gotten the most coverage in the books I’d read before. This time, we get to experience Bess’s coming of age and how she got to where she was, giving us a truly empathetic portrait that will make you love her as much as I do.

One of the threads woven through this story was the fact the Bess would pray to God during the hard times or when her loved ones were facing the fierce royal ire of Kings and Queens. As a Christian fiction reader, this was very well done and I appreciated the additional tone this added, but of course this is subject to preference. As I told the author, I had high hopes for this novel on my favorite Tudor heroine, Bess of Hardwick. Thank you for surpassing my expectations, Ms. Bagwell! I loved the novel and recommend it to others interested in Bess of Hardwick.

~~~~

Other reads on Bess that I recommend are two non-fiction works where I read before my ‘professional’ reviewing days, here are links to my amateur thoughts on these three titles:
Arbella by Sarah Gristwood
Bess of Hardwick Empire Builder by Mary Lovell

Bess was also featured in Philippa Gregory’s novel of Mary Queen of Scots, The Other Queen, but I disliked that portrayal very much and would not recommend it.

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Filed under 2013 Releases, 2013 Review, Bess of Hardwick, Gillian Bagwell, Tudor

Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer

Ready for a gush fest? LOVED LOVED LOVED!

Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer
Bethany House; June 1, 2013
Christian Historical Fiction
Review copy provided for free from Litfuse in exchange for this honest review
Burton Book Review Rating:Totally Awesome!

Purchase a copy here

On his way to interview for a position at a church in the Piney Woods of Texas, Crockett Archer can scarcely believe it when he’s forced off the train by a retired outlaw and presented to the man’s daughter as the minister she requested for her birthday. Worried this unfortunate detour will ruin his chances of finally serving a congregation of his own, Crockett is determined to escape. But when he finally gets away, he’s haunted by the memory of the young woman he left behind–a woman whose dreams now hinge on him.

For months, Joanna Robbins prayed for a preacher. A man to breathe life back into the abandoned church at the heart of her community. A man to assist her in fulfilling a promise to her dying mother. A man to help her discover answers to the questions that have been on her heart for so long. But just when it seems God has answered her prayers, it turns out the person is there against his will and has dreams of his own calling him elsewhere. Is there any way she can convince Crockett to stay in her little backwoods community? And does the attraction between them have any chance of blossoming when Joanna’s outlaw father is dead set against his daughter courting a preacher?

Stealing the Preacher is book two in Karen Witemeyer’s Archer brothers series, the previous novel being Short-Straw Bride (review) which I loved and gave 4.5 stars. This one gets 5 stars! I absolutely LOVE Bethany House Publishers allowing the faith theme to be so majorly prevalent in their Christian historicals, and it was so strong in this novel that I spiritually latched on to Brother Archer very quickly, but I knew I would since I loved him in Short-Straw Bride. And he sure wasn’t that hard to read about either, the way Joanna gets all pink in the face around him -whew- throw that girl a towel!!

Crockett Archer had no idea he was about to meet Joanna, the love of his life, when her father abducted him from a train. Crockett had other places to be and other people to meet, but God had other things in mind and that was Joanna and her goal for restoring faith for her father.

From rebuilding a church and nursing an injured man, Crockett Archer has all the right moves, and he has moved right into Joanna’s path who cannot get enough of the man. Turns out the socialite Holly wants Crockett too, so there’s a little not so nice competition going on. Luckily, Crockett sees through Holly’s ways but can he reform her before someone gets hurt? A dash of intrigue, a great bit of romance and full on unabashed faith keeps this story going in page turning fashion from start to finish. I absolutely loved this story -perhaps I was in the need of a preacher man – but those who don’t revel in God’s glory probably would feel too consumed by the verses being recited throughout. I cannot wait to see what is next from Karen Witemeyer and I am definitely going to get to reading her previous novels sooner rather than later. Stealing the Preacher was just what this reader wanted: a sexy Christian cowboy and a fantastic romance that offers unforgettable characters rewarded with redemption, it’s going on my Best of 2013 list without a doubt.

/end gush fest.

Even though this could be a stand-alone, I highly recommend you read Short-Straw Bride first in order to understand the dynamic behind Crockett’s character.

Karen Witemeyer is “kindling” the excitement for Stealing the Preacher (Bethany House) with a Kindle Fire Giveaway and connecting with readers at her June 18th Facebook Author Chat Party!

StealingPreacher300

  One winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire
  • Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer 

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at 4pm on June 18th. Winner will be announced at the Stealing the Preacher” Facebook Author Chat Party on June 18th. Connect with Karen for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Karen will also share an exclusive look at her next book and give away books and other fun prizes throughout the evening.


So grab your copy of Stealing the Preacher and join Karen on the evening of June 18th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)

Don’t miss a moment of the fun; RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 18th!

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Filed under #histnov, 2013 Releases, 2013 Review, Best of 2013, Bethany House, Christian Fiction, Karen Witemeyer

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

Effortless storytelling

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley (a sort of sequel to The Shadowy Horses)
Historical Timeslip
Sourcebooks Landmark, June 4 2013
Paperback 544 pages
Review Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for this review, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:Four and a Half Stars

Nicola Marter was born with a gift: when she touches an object, she sometimes glimpses those who have owned it before. When the gallery she works in receives a wooden carving she can see the object’s history and knows that it was named after the Firebird, the mythical bird that inspires an old Russian fairytale and was once owned by Russia’s famed Empress Catherine.

Nicola’s investigation into the Firebird’s origin draws her into the 1715 world of Anna Logan and leads her on a quest through Scotland, France and Russia, unearthing a tale of love and sacrifice, of courage and redemption.

After reading of young Robbie in The Shadowy Horses, I had been eagerly anticipating The Firebird as Rob is now a grown man but still happily using his sight to peek into the history that he stumbles upon. The story follows Rob and Nicola as they both search for a woman during the 1700’s which would help give answers to a woman they would like to help. Their search for Anna consists of Nicola and Rob traveling to the places they believe Anna Moray to be, and using their paranormal gifts they are able to ‘watch’ Anna’s life unfold during her childhood and adulthood. The Scots talk that was so endearing in The Shadowy Horses comes alive again with Rob’s voice, only this time he exudes a powerful but sensitive masculinity that keeps us wanting more of his story and his voice.

It becomes a timeslip novel as we are sucked into Anna’s historical world, with Captain Graeme, Captain Jamieson and Vice Admiral Gordon during the tumultuous era of Jacobite uprisings and exiles and traitors. There are quite a few historical threads and settings, from a convent at Ypres to St. Petersburg as we – along with Rob and Nicola – trace Anna’s intriguing path which is full of intrigue, suspense, romance and sorrows. Anna is the star of the show, yet the contemporary relationship between Rob and Nicola doesn’t detract from the story, which is different from other timeslips that we read where we would prefer to get back to one storyline over the other. Each of the characters all had something to like and something to give, and we wanted to learn as much as we could within these pages. Some of the actual history bits were like a cat’s string – baiting me to learn more but the book itself didn’t uncover overly much of the historical facts that were actually occurring. I am very intrigued with Russia, St. Petersburg, Peter The Great and will now seek to learn more because of the glimpses I’ve had through this book.

Kearsley’s writing is so fluid and descriptive that every word was a pleasure and after reading the author’s note I see that some of the historical characters were also in The Winter Sea which I have yet to read but definitely have very good reason to now. This was a wonderful story that will create new Kearsley fans, but I do hope that readers get to read The Shadowy Horses (& maybe even The Winter Sea) first so that they can better appreciate the background to the story. Let the record show that I am not a reader of paranormal, or timeslip novels, but if it’s a Kearsley novel I’m all over it. Once I read a few more of her works I am sure I will be listing Susanna Kearsley as one of my favorite storytellers.

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Filed under 2013 Releases, 2013 Review, Susanna Kearsley