Category Archives: Bethany House

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

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

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

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!

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  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

Swept Away (Trouble in Texas #1) by Mary Connealy

Wild West spitfire action

Swept Away by Mary Connealy
Bethany House March 1, 2013
Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for this review
Burton Book Review Rating:Enjoyed it, had minor quirks


Laughter, Romance, and Action Abound in This New Series from Mary Connealy 


Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing, Ruthy MacNeil isn’t all that upset at being separated from the family who raised her. All they’ve ever done is work her to the bone. She prayed for a chance to get away, and then came the raging flood. Alive but disoriented, she’s rescued by Luke Stone…so unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future.
Luke is heading home to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family. But the men who killed his father are working hard to ensure Luke doesn’t make it alive. He has no choice but to keep moving. Still, he can’t just abandon Ruthy, so she’ll have to come along.
His friends–a ragtag group of former Civil War soldiers–take a fast interest in the pretty gal. Luke thinks that’s rather rude–he’s the one who found her. And the more time he spends around the hard-working young woman who is a mighty good cook, the more he finds himself thinking beyond revenge and toward a different future. For the first time in a long time, Luke is tempted to turn from his destructive path and be swept away by love.

Swept Away is a western romance complete with the wild west flair of gun fights and dirty sheriffs. The fast paced action centers around Luke and Ruthy as they meet up to regain Luke’s land in Texas. But the story starts out with a splash as Ruthy is tossed from a flooding river and it’s Luke who rescues her. The romance immediately kindles, and the evil posse who stole Luke’s ranch has no idea what hit them once little Ruthy unleashes her skills.

These characters were fun to watch in action, although it was a bit of a predictable story, several of the side characters helped round out an intriguing plot line. Battered wife Glynna becomes someone that Luke and Ruthy have to save, and it turns out it is Glynna’s story that we will see in the next installment in the Trouble in Texas series. What I found interesting about this Christian novel was there was not a ton of the faith element here at all, but actually a bit more of the witty remarks. So even though the situation was dire amongst gunfire and violence, the slant towards a romantic comedy was evident, making this a fun and light read, indicative of author Mary Connealy.

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

A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund

 Aristocrat finds himself in love with a widowed farmer..

A Noble Groom by Jody Hedlund
Bethany House, April 2013
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:4.5 stars
Read my review of Jody’s previous novel, Unending Devotion

Recently widowed Annalisa Werner has the feeling her husband was murdered but can’t prove it. Alone with her young daughter in 1881 Michigan, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to toil by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.

This was another enjoyable story from Jody Hedlund that is perfect for Christian historical romance fans. It tells the story of Annalisa and her toils with her land, and on the flip side we are treated to Carl von Reichart, a German nobleman on the run who finds himself in rural Michigan. Annalisa’s extended German family take him in so that he can help Annalisa run the farm, but they really have no idea who he is. He is known as Carl Richards to them, and they all begin to appreciate him even though it is apparent he didn’t grow up farming!

Annalisa was a wonderful character who was easy to root for after she had gone through so much. She was not a timid person, but she was forced to let the men make her choices because that’s just the way things were with her German family. It was a way of life, and a bit of stark reality – until Carl Richards slowly begins to display traits that make Annalisa wonder if it would be possible to actually have a loving marriage full of mutual attraction. And could Carl be that man?

Carl has other places to be.. and there is another groom on the way for Annalisa! What odds does this pair have, especially being so many worlds apart? With a pleasantly evocative (and sometimes suspenseful) story line we watch their love story unfold through the author’s swiftly paced story telling. The history of the German immigrants was an intriguing theme along with the harsh differences between the noble and the working classes set in Michigan during the 1880’s. I loved how so much historical information, faith values and drama came together so easily in this story as Jody Hedlund is definitely proving to be a formidable name in her market. This was one of those reads that I had to force myself to put down in order to go to sleep at midnight!

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Filed under 19th century, 2013 Releases, 2013 Review, Bethany House, Christian Fiction, Historical Romance, Jody Hedlund, Uncategorized

Shattered by Dani Pettrey

Heart-pumping action with a strong faith theme

Shattered (Alaskan Courage #2) by Dani Pettrey

Bethany House, January 2013
Christian Fiction/Romantic Suspense
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:4 stars: Really liked it!
A Thrilling New Romantic Suspense from the Genre’s Newest Star
Piper McKenna couldn’t be more thrilled that her prodigal brother, Reef, has returned to Yancey, Alaska, after five years. But her happiness is short-lived when Reef appears at her house covered in blood. A fellow snowboarder has been killed–but despite the evidence, Reef swears he’s innocent. And Piper believes him.
Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he’s also sworn to find the truth. Piper is frustrated with his need for facts over faith, but he knows those closest to you have the power to deceive you the most. With his sheriff pushing for a quick conviction, some unexpected leads complicate the investigation, and pursuing the truth may mean risking Landon’s career.
With Piper waging her own search, the two head deep into Canada’s rugged backcountry–and unexpected complications. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step.
After attending a chat with a few authors last year, I was introduced to Dani Pettrey’s debut novel Submerged when I won the novel as a result of the virtual chat. I gave the novel a college try – I don’t normally read contemporary romantic suspense – and I loved it! I was so glad that I had then agreed to review Shattered because I really enjoy Dani Pettrey’s writing style. There is a huge element of the Christian theme, and because of that there are those who would not enjoy the series, but if you enjoy faith based novels this suspenseful novel was a lot of fun; it would be great for a Young Adult market as well.

Shattered involves the younger of the McKenna siblings, Piper. Piper and Landon’s romance was kindled in book one, and now we get to watch as these two as they try to clear Reef McKenna’s name. Most of Reef’s family and friends know that he is innocent from the murder of the athlete Karli, but some intense sleuthing had to take place before he could be cleared. A murderous villain was on the loose, and he was hot on Piper’s and Landon’s trail. Disaster after disaster struck, but the McKenna siblings are like energizer bunnies and able to get up and keep going. It was a bit similar to Bruce Willis walking away with explosions going off behind him. There was a lot of action going on, and many paths that we went down before we could decipher the mystery, so it kept me guessing.

Intriguing suspense took a front row, but the next story in the series had to be set up. We are introduced to the reporter Darcy St. James as she helps the group with the sleuthing, and the next book will focus on her and Gage McKenna. Those readers who enjoyed the first book of Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series will enjoy Shattered as well. It is fast paced and well written, and I love how the author makes her characters so likable. I would definitely recommend reading this series in order for those interested in reading from this fresh new voice in Christian fiction.

Thank you to Bethany House for my free review copy.

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

Love In The Balance by Regina Jennings

Love in The Balance
Faith, romance, intrigue blended into a terrific story!

Love In The Balance by Regina Jennings
Paperback, 360 pages
Bethany House Publishers, March 1st 2013
Review copy provided by LitFuse, thank you!
Burton Book Review Rating:4.5 Stars~ Highly recommend!

Molly Lovelace dreams of a life without cares in Lockhart, Texas. She also dreams of handsome wrangler Bailey Garner, her ardent but inconsistent beau. The problem is, with Bailey’s poor prospects, she just can’t fit the two dreams together.

Then mysterious stranger Edward Pierrepont sweeps into town–and her life–and for the first time Molly wonders if she’s met the man who can give her everything. But he won’t be in Lockhart long and while he talks about their glorious future together, she can’t quite get Bailey out of her mind.

What’s a girl to do with all these decisions when love is in the balance?


I really enjoyed Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings last year, so I knew I would want to read her second novel, Love in the Balance. I was surprised that the main characters from Sixty Acres could be found as side characters in this telling, which was a treat. Love in the Balance features Molly Lovelace and Bailey Weston (cousin to the Weston in the previous novel) who truly adore each other, but society and etiquette stand in their way of happiness. If I’m recalling correctly, Molly was the self-centered one in the last novel, and so now I want to go back and read Sixty Acres all over again!

With skillful storytelling, Jennings portrays these characters as warm-hearted sensitive individuals who only want to do what is right for their families. Molly’s family is struggling financially, and she feels a duty to help save her ailing father’s sawmill. When an opportunity presents itself with Edward Pierrepont, Molly rushes towards it without realizing its implications. Bailey watches the love of his life slip through his fingers, but will he do anything to stop it?

Intriguing side stories are included, from a thieving employee at the sawmill to another death at Anne Tillerton’s ranch. For some reason, it felt there was a lot more of a western feel to her previous novel, but this story was very much character and faith driven. One line from the book “How could she be godlier yet less accepted than before?” illustrates the turmoil that Molly was going through, with Bailey noticing her sweet virtues yet having to hold back; an example of how the novel was tenderhearted and introspective.

Another favorite quote, coming from a lonely widow regarding our main character, Bailey, “That Bailey Garner carries himself above the fray. People may betray him, they try to drag him down, but he’s got his eyes fixed on Jesus.”

I was able to see past Molly’s shortcomings, but Edward Pierrepont was easy to dislike, as well as the execution of the story line as far as the relationship between Edward and Molly goes. I can’t explain further without giving the plot away, but that was pretty much my only complaint and thus the half star deduction. I loved how Bailey and Molly’s on again and off again courtship was portrayed; Bailey was a fantastic character to root for. The previous novel had an obvious biblical correlation, but this story focuses on themes from redemption to grace to forgiveness. I would highly recommend Love in the Balance to most Christian historical fiction readers who enjoy great writing and storytelling – as long as you can get past Molly’s poor choices you should enjoy this story of renewal, and of love conquering all.

Purchase a copy here. Read an excerpt here. Thank you to LitFuse for providing me with a free review copy in exchange for my honest review of the book.

Regina Jennings is celebrating the release of Love in the Balance with a Kindle Fire Giveaway and a Facebook Author Chat Party on 4/4!

Love-in-the-Balance-giveaway-300


One “lovely” winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire 
  • A copy of Regina’s Sixty Acres and a Bride and Love in the Balance

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 3rd. Winner will be announced at the “Love in the Balance” Author Chat Party on April 4th. Connect with Regina, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at a trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be many fun giveaways — gift certificates, books, and more!


So grab your copy of Love in the Balance and join Regina on the evening of April 4th 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 today. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 4th!

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Filed under #histnov, 2013 Releases, 2013 Review, Bethany House, Christian Fiction, Regina Jennings

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

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