Hearts Entwined By Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Melissa Jagears

Novella’s are such a wonderful change of pace in reading. While a good long book is really to get into is great, I love how novella’s allow you have a have a “snack” and the treat of moving on to the next story! Hearts Entwined is exceptional as are all the authors! This collection of historical romances is top notch!
The Love Knot by Karen Witemeyer, has an unusual plot which I thoroughly enjoyed. Misunderstanding drove Claire and Pieter apart years ago but a surprising event brings them back together. This is a beautiful story of forgiveness and what true love really is. It can overcome the strongest stubbornness and pride.
The Tangled Ties That Bind by Mary Connealy, was a delightful read, filled with so much humor. Conner has been gone from home for 5 years but returns with big plans for his future to marry his childhood love Maggie. After 5 years she has quit waiting and has moved on with her life. He definitely took her for granted. Both are equally set on pursuing their dreams and it doesn’t set well with each other. Conner is determined not to give up. Through his deep love and sacrifices for Maggie, God brings about amazing things.
Bound and Determined by Regina Jennings. Ms. Jennings books are hard to put down so this story was a page turner too! This novella had a lot of humor in it too. (Love that!) Bradley Willis is a private in the cavalry. His youthful impulsiveness though with good intent has him “punished” with a mission to carry out. To his surprise it is escorting a Captain and is very attractive daughter, Ambrosia, across the scorching Texas plain. Oh and the captain’s beloved camels! Bradley and Ambrosia’s feisty personalities were fun to watch play out. Learning about the camels was fascinating and their usefulness to the Texas Calvary in the mid 1800’s.
Tied and True by Melissa Jagears kept me turning pages. It is the story of poor boy falls in love with rich girl but with a twist to it. Marianne’s parents had her life planned out for her up to the detail of whom she would marry, an equally wealthy childhood friend, David. Her heart though had made other plans as she fell in love with his poor secretary, Calvin. He returned her feelings but strongly believed it would not work. The things she did to prove her love were incredible! I liked her compassion and true servant’s heart in the Lord. Not only her family’s bank account stood in the way of convincing Calvin but memories of a difficult childhood. Marianne truly displayed the motto, “Actions speak louder than words” to show him that her love was what was important, not rich lifestyle was all she wanted. My what spunk she had! A sweet love story.
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I hav


The Sound of Rain By Sarah Loudin Thomas

The Appalachian Mountains are as much a part of Judd Markley as the blood that flows through his veins. They were his beloved home but, that all changed when the mine collapsed where he and his brother, Joe, worked, badly injuring him and taking the life of his little brother. The grief and the memories are to strong and he can’t bear to stay. He flees to South Carolina and is hired by a timber company. There he throws himself it to work and tries to make sense of his scattered future without Joe.
When he first meets the boss’s beautiful daughter Larkin, all he sees is a superficial bratty rich girl. But as they say you can’t judge a book by its cover, even a pretty, wealthy one. Always running into each other, they begin to develop a friendship and Larkin is not what she had judged her to be. Joe was running from the past and Larkin wanted to run into the future she felt God had for her. That is to serve with her disowned brother, Ben, who was a pastor in the woodlands of Kentucky, helping the poverty stricken. Both find themselves in need of God’s strength. Ben needs His strength to turn back to Him and trust Him again. Larkin needs His strength to go against her father and his worldly plans for her even if it means hurting him. Larkin pulls some real doozeys to have her way, catching Judd in the middle. In spite of all the internal and external conflicts they find themselves falling in love.
I can understand Judd’s grief and wanting to run from it. I admired his fortitude and gumption to put all he had into a new and very unfamiliar job. His work ethic was amazing. I loved Larkin’s faith and determination to follow God’s plan no matter what obstacles stood in her way. Even when faced with the reality of her naivety she wasn’t deterred.
The Appalachian people and their lifestyle has long been great interest to me. The community and people that Ben worked with were wonderful! Their personalities, behavior and customs were intriguing. The contrast between their lives and Larkins were startling especially as she tried to integrate herself into their mountain home. I think my favorite character of all was Granny Jane. She was such fun and her patience Larkin and wisdom were refreshing. I was caught up in her way of thinking and sayings! An excellent book that truly drops you into the time and place right along with the characters. Another terrific book by Ms. Thomas.
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

A Breath of Hope By Lauraine Snelling

This is one of those book series that you wish the author could write faster; like maybe a book every few months! I read the Promise of Dawn and could not wait for this book to come out! You can read it as a standalone but you will want to read the first one so you won’t miss anything!
After a great many struggles, Rune and his family are still working for his cantankerous (and that’s putting it nicely) Uncle Einar, and finishing building their new home. With them moving soon, Uncle Eniar will need more help. He offers to pay Nilda, Rune’s sister, passage to America. She is beyond ecstatic! Her family insists her brother Ivar come with her, but he choose to earn money for his own trip. America the land of promise to so many immigrants! Just as with her brother and his family she has no clue of what she will be facing in the way of her uncle’s mean and hateful ways. He does not care for his family just his land and obsession of logging the vast trees.
Just as in the previous book the author has a talent for vividly painting not only the characters experiences and daily life, but also their thoughts and emotions. I felt as if I was right there seeing and being a part of everything, but also stepping inside of each character and perceiving the situations thorough their eyes.
Once again I was greatly inspired by the family’s deep faith in God and how they lived it. Uncle Einar reminds me of people that are so embittered and mean spirited that nothing seems break through their hard shell. God is the only one that can. Seeing the Carlson’s love, patience and forgiveness is overwhelming. You can’t help but wonder how they do it after being consistently mistreated. A lesson for all to learn. I was once more shocked at the extremely hard work and challenge simply to exist in this era. I am afraid I might have given up. Another amazing book in this series! I cannot wait to read the next one!
I received this book from Bethany Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Heart’s Appeal By Jennifer Delamere

This is my first book to read of Ms. Delamere’s and I must say I was very impressed! Since this is the 2nd in a series I definitely want to read the first one, “The Captain’s Daughter”.
Julia is a strong woman, in determination and faith. She is going to need both to achieve her goal of becoming a doctor in 1881. Women’s doctors were frowned upon and faced great opposition. There were few places they could go to medical school and be trained. Already a competent midwife/nurse (both of which were acceptable according to society) Julia had a master plan. She was going to get into medical school then head to Africa as a missionary to heal souls and bodies. This is her passion. With little in the way of money but lots in the way of motivation she forges ahead.
Her master plan is in place until one faithful day when involved in a subway accident she saves the life of Michael, a handsome, wealthy lawyer with plans of his own that do not include God. He desires to marry well and be a huge success. Julia is intrigued by him and after the accident persuades him to give her lessons in Latin (which she sorely needs for her upcoming exam). It turns out he is the very attorney on the case to close down the women’s medical school she is working so hard to enter! They find themselves falling in love but their path is scattered with many complications greater than the conflict of interests.
There are so many things I liked about this book! Foremost, how faith and dependence on God was key throughout the book. I found it ironic that Julia was a woman of prayer and sought the Lord in all matters, yet she had left Him out of HER life plan. A trap I feel many of us fall into at one time her another. I loved the fact that she was raised in George Mueller’s orphanage; no wonder she had such a strong walk with God! It was inspirational to see her commitment to the Lord with all people no matter how they ridiculed or rejected her. She truly lived Christ. Michael to me represented the standards of the world even today: money, fame, achievement, all without God. In both their lives I saw how we can make all the plans we want, but will step in and change them to His. Sometimes His intervention may come in the form of problems and difficulties.
This was much more than a wonderfully written historical romance! There was danger, mystery, and a totally unpredictable plot! I loved it!
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Keturah By Lisa T. Bergren

“Keturah” what an unusual name! This is the first thing that drew my attention to the book. The story is as unique as its name. Being the oldest of three girls, responsibility falls heavily on Keturah’s shoulders when they receive word their Father has died. Their mother has already passed on and their Dad was absent much of their lives making his fortune with a plantation on the island in the West Indies. Unfortunately the estate is not doing well and the girls could lose everything. Unable to provide for them Keturah makes the decision to leave their beloved home in England and try to restore the plantation. Also traveling there is her childhood friend Gary Covington with whom her friendship was severed due to his unscrupulous youth. He too hopes to salvage his family plantation and protect the girls.
At a young age she is already a widow and carries the emotional scars of an abusive husband. Not only has this led her vow to never marry but has also made her stubborn, headstrong woman, determined to do everything on her own.
Even for the wealthy sea travel was no piece of cake. I was fascinated by the author’s vivid description of a long sea voyage during that period. It was dangerous, miserable, boring and exhausting. Single women were certainly not safe traveling alone with the sailors and other men on the ship. I have no clue how they survived in the tight space they were given!
Getting there was only a small part of the battle. That era was a “man’s world” and the cruelty, rejection and prejudice against the women was more than I could have imagined. The abusiveness, with which the slaves were treated, broke my heart! Seemingly insurmountable obstacles, loneliness, exhausting work and painful secrets didn’t stop her. Her headstrongness served her well. I admired her strong faith in God and choosing to look at her blessings when all seemed to be falling apart. I learned a many new details about that era. A beautiful story!
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I stated are my own.

Transitions By Becky Hawkins

I have had the privilege of hearing the author speak at funeral services. Her words always touched by heart and inspired me, so when I heard she had written a book, I wanted to read it! Her sincerity, compassion and beautiful way of expressing herself is reflected in every page of this book.
The book is a written reflection of Ms. Hawkins heart and love for others and desire to care for those passing from this world into eternity. Her patients were so blessed to have her! Hospice nurses go beyond just physical care as they know there will be no healing for their patients. The family knows their loved one is going to be taken from them. I was moved by how Ms. Hawkins simultaneously gave concern and help not only for the dying but also for the family members.
In this book she shares short stories of different patients throughout her career. All are very personal and moving. The detail in which the author shows her empathy and depth of caring was very inspirational for me. There is humor as well as grief. Each one is a testimony that Becky has a special gift that comes from a deep faith in God that she brings into the lives of those she serves.
My husband died 5 years ago and I found this book very comforting. While it does deal with sadness and grief, it is filled with hope! Becky gave the greatest medicine a nurse can give to a patient: a part of herself. A unique and inspiring book, one everyone will want to read!

Breaking the Fear Cycle By Maria Furlough

I related to this book as soon as I read the title. The fear cycle, yes I know it well for many years. The picture pops in my head of a bicycle wheel going around and around. There are times that my fears would fade only to be brought back full force by thoughts or circumstances. I know from experience it is a vicious “cycle”.
I know God in His Word says “do not fear” but I have been caught in its endless circle.
Ms. Furlough’s book is light shining on this dark problem all believers face. She openly and honestly shares her journey in overcoming this debilitating stronghold Satan builds in our lives. The lessons she learned are the reader’s blessings. She asks questions I knew the answer to but was afraid (yes fear again) to face. The gentle way she nudged me into facing my fears, some I had not even named.
I like that she didn’t just talk about the problem but through scripture and reflection guided me with workable solutions defeat this foe in my life. She doesn’t sugar coat the fact that it will be a battle I have to fight with the Lord beside me, reminding me that my weapon is scripture. The 14 promises in scripture that God will protect me will be something I will use from now on.
Sharing her personal fears and struggles with them not only were uplifting but made me feel she truly understands! With God we have nothing fear and the old saying popped into my head, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”. Yes! I want “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” in Philippians 4:7
It is not a read it once book. You will want to read it, highlight in it, and make notes. I feel now I have a scriptural battle plan and the mindset truly have victory. It is going to be a process and a journey but so worth it!
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Rescue By Jim Cymbala, Contributor Ann Spangler

Seven different, people, seven different messed up lives, and one loving God. Anyone looking from the outside would say they have no chance of ever changing but thank goodness God doesn’t look on the outside! It might also appear that their situations were so dire and far gone that they had no hope. But with God all things are possible! To society these people would seem to be broken beyond repair but enter the Lord and His miraculous healing and love.
I have read inspirational stories about God redeeming people deep in, but I found this one to be a bit different. The people tell their own stories in a very detailed and personal way. I could feel their despair and misery through their words. I also felt their amazement and joy when they met the Lord and he changed their lives forever. Some of them were victims of the wrongs of others, and some put themselves where they were at by their own choices.
I was reminded of the quote by R. Zaccharias “ Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.” The stories brought to light how a transgression will multiply into many as time goes on, and continues to grow worse until one surrenders to God’s intervention. I was blessed at reading the many different ways the Lord reached out and spoke to each person. It shows what a personal God He is. There is no cookie cutter pattern for God to touch a life. Thank goodness! They did not even know they needed Him, but He came to them and met them where they were at. No matter how far the individuals had fallen, when they accepted Christ the changes were permanent. How wonderful to read about their lives before Christ and after. I was amazed.
One the biggest ways this book spoke to me was that although my problems may not be of the same magnitude, He will do miraculous things for me too! His power is limitless in all areas! I knew this already but the book brought it home even closer. Jeremiah 33:3 came to my mind, “ Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” This book was so encouraging and hope filled! What testimonies of God’s love and power today!
I received this book from Chosen Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Ladies of Ivy Cottage By Julie Klassen

I was well into this book before I realized it was a continuation of the previous one, The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill. To me this shows it can absolutely be read as a standalone! I had trouble getting into the story, it was a slow start, but I am so glad I continued! It was a rewarding read!
There are a lot of characters but Ms. Klassen did a stellar job of making it easy to keep them straight by her detailed personalization of their individual emotions, thoughts, and characteristics. She flawlessly wove in and out of each one’s experiences giving the story depth.
The 1800’s was not an easy time for a single woman, especially in providing for themselves. The book shares the lives of three such women. Jane is a widow who has the blessing of being proprietor deceased husband’s family. Rachel is alone due to the death of her father, but lost her inheritance and her only source of income. Mercy has given up finding love and resigned herself to spinsterhood. While each lady faces difficult challenges they have the strong support of one another. Romance blooms for each, but not without difficulty and heartache.
Even though Jane had a source of income, handling the stress and responsibility alone was challenging to say the least. It was no walk in the park! Though she was cheerful and caring, she carried a heavy load of grief in the loss of many children by miscarriage.
Of the three, Rachel had the least and solely relied on the kindness of her friends. Her story saddened me. She had lived in wealth and comfort before she lost her father. I feel her situation was the hardest to go from having everything to being homeless and penniless. I admired her spunk and determination to provide for herself and earn a living with what meager means there were.
Mercy, poor homely Mercy. She had such a sweet and loving spirit. Though her outside was plain her inside was beautiful. She ran a girl’s school and lived with her Aunt Matilda. I loved Aunt Matilda, she was such a hoot. Not only did she make me laugh but I enjoyed the spirit in which she shared her wisdom with the girls. Mercy was so dedicated to her students. Her home actually belonged to her brother who was living overseas. After he marries her meddling (and irritating) parents give her an ultimatum to marry a suitor they have introduced her to or lose everything. Her situation reminded me of how few choices women, especially from wealthy families, had during this time. Mercy wants to marry for love. But with her looks her parents feel she will be lucky if ANYONE will have her.
Each of the characters were inspiring in their faith, growth, and in spiritual lessons
Their lives taught. A wonderful read!
I received this book from Bethany House Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

A Borrowed Dream By Amanda Cabot

Catherine Whitfield is a school teacher in the Texas town of Cimarron City, in the late 1800’s. She cared deeply for all her students and was concerned about their welfare as well as their education. A new student, Hannah Goddard comes to school with her strikingly handsome widowed father. They had recently purchased a ranch and moved from Pennsylvania. His daughter is very unhappy and struggling to adjust. Unbeknownst to the town, he is not a rancher, but a doctor, attempting to hide and protect his daughter from a criminal. Catherine having just lost her mother due to the local doctor’s primitive medical treatment, has more on her mind that the attractive new man. Hilariously he is all the mothers in town with single daughters of a marriageable can think of. Although I laughed, I felt sorry for poor Austin trying to politely dodge all of them.
I found the story very entertaining and suspenseful but there were also some surprising parts. The first being Austin wasn’t just any doctor but a plastic surgeon! I didn’t even know there were any back then! My first thoughts were, “There weren’t face lifts, breast plants or liposuction, and so what did they do?” After some research I found they did reconstructive surgery on severe injuries. Many of their patients were soldiers injured in battle. Conniving and hardened criminals were just as much present then as now. Just such a one was in pursuit of Austin to force him to use his skills evil plans.
I naively have pictured the era that this was written in as far simpler than our society today. It surprised me that the same problems and corruptions existed in this era too! One of Catherine’s students’ is severely abused and neglected by his father. A young girl is raped and becomes pregnant. There were no government agencies or special law enforcements to help the victims or bring their perpetrators to justice. The care and protection of the innocent came from loving, kindhearted and caring people. It was a reminder that individuals were much more personally involved in the lives of their neighbors, especially in times of need. Ms. Cabot beautifully illustrates true forgiveness and godly character in the face of horrible circumstances and offenses. A wonderful book!
I received this book from Revell Publications in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.