A Stolen Heart By Amanda Cabot

A Christian, crime, mystery, romance, historical novel, who would think it could be done!? Author Amanda Cabot did and she has succeeded with this wonderful novel!
The author really showcased her writing skills with this new book!
Poor Lydia Crawford uproots herself from her New York home, quits her job as a school teacher, and heads to Texas to meet the love of her life, finance, Edgar. Upon arriving with engagement ring in hand, not only does she find that Mr. Right has disappeared but has also left behind a pregnant wife! In the face of the shock and pain of this betrayal, she also finds that even though the civil war has been over for 15 years, the hostility of the town people toward Yankees had not abated.
Little did she know the handsome and very helpful sheriff, Travis, who meets her at the stagecoach, was going to be her protector and new romance? As the story progresses you see how perfectly matched they were to each other, both, kind, giving and caring people. He senses her dilemma and immediately finds her a place to stay and work with his great Aunt Bertha. Aunt Bertha is rich, and has strong influence. Someone the residents dare not cross. This gives Lydia protection from the cruelty and acceptance in the community. An added blessing is the closeness the two quickly develop. Lydia is a strong woman of faith. She trusts God and believes she was brought her to here for His purpose, but she has no idea what that is.
Though the town is small it harbors many mysteries and Lydia aims to discover them. Soon after her arrival a string of minor crimes begin to occur. She teams up with Travis to get to the bottom of it. The characters were well fleshed out and delightful. You feel as if you knew them personally. The descriptions of the town and activities of the characters were vivid. I like feeling as if I am there and a part of the story. The plot was entertaining and intriguing. You will be kept guessing! A great book. I was very happy to see that this is a trilogy so more books are to come!
I was provided a copy of this book by Chosen books, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill By Julie Klassen

I know when I open one of Ms. Klassen’s books I can be sure I am in for a good read! This novel is proof again! The setting is Wiltshire, England, 1820. Jane was suddenly widowed a year ago when her husband was in an accident. He ran a family inn named, the Bell. She had no part in the business but thanks to the laws, suddenly finds herself proprietor and owner. She knows nothing about running such an establishment and has no desire to. The Inn means everything to her mother-in-law, Thora Bell, as it belonged to her parents. Thora moves back to the Bell in hopes of helping out. To make a sticky situation even worse, Thora has never really liked her daughter-in-law. Her brother-in-law, Patrick, also resides there and has his own agenda for the Bell. The inn is in great need of repairs and deep in debt. At first she feels she has no choice but to manage the inn has she has no other means of income. Later she realizes that is about more than just her, and the success of it affects many lives. I overwhelmed for Jane in all she had to learn and do. I found it very interesting the workings and running such a business in that era, it was hard! Definitely not like our Holiday Inns now!
She sets goals to bring new life to the business but not without opposition from some. Without finances this certainly seems impossible. I admired Jane’s perseverance even in the face of resistance and insurmountable odds. There are mysteries concerning her husband’s death she wants to solve in addition to her mounting responsibilities.
The book has a wonderful cast of complex characters that the author brings to life in detail and personality. This makes it a very in-depth story. There are many surprises, twists and turns on different levels and within each characters life. I enjoyed the book and look forward to the next sequel.
I was provided a review copy of this book by Bethany House Publishers, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Mark of the King By Jocelyn Green

History is among my favorite subjects; therefore historical fiction is at the top of my genre list. This book is exceptional! I never knew what a rich beginning Louisiana had. In fact, I knew very little about its beginning as a settlement. The deprivation, cruelty, and hardship of those first brave settlers shocked me. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I learned. Ms. Green weaves the historic facts and life in that era, seamlessly with her characters and their experiences.
The story begins in 1719 in Paris, France. Julianne Chevelier is a midwife and though young very skilled. An older midwife once her teacher is placed under her for the delivery of a wealthy patient which conjures up jealousy. When the mother and child die in childbirth the old midwife accuses her of murder and she is sent to prison. Julianne receives a tattoo of the Fleur de lis, which will brand her for life as a murderer. Instead of being imprisoned for life, she manages to be sent to the settlement of New Orleans. They are in great need of more people to work and establish the area. What she was hoping in the promise of new found freedom turned out to be difficulties, injustice and suffering beyond what she ever imagined.
She is forced to marry another convict and consummate their marriage in barn before leaving. She found her and the other prisoners were being sent simply to populate the colony. The details not only of their voyage to America but the beginning of their new life in Louisiana were graphic and dreadful. Lacking in supplies, food, building materials the new arrivals were expected to make a home with nothing. They lived more like animals than people, while the military was comfortable and lacked nothing. To make matters worse there were Indian wars not only with the French but also between tribes. It was a dangerous situation.
Marc-Paul Girard is a respected soldier of the King of France. Unlike the others he had character and a strong faith in God. After the death of Julianne’s husband, Marc-Paul tries to protect and help her. Romance very slowly blooms but the path it follows is not a flowery one. Instead of infatuation theirs is based on character, trust, courage and strong faith. This book will surprise, astonish, and entertain you in the very best of ways!
I was provided a review copy of this book by Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Treasures in Dark Places By Leanna Cinquanta

I couldn’t wait to read this book! I hate child trafficking and love to read about rescues and the new lives they receive. The first chapter started off with a bang! I devoured it as my interest was strong and couldn’t wait to read more. Then that was it. I was so disappointed. It wasn’t until the end of the book once again a part was told of one girl’s story that ended in suicide.
Very little of the book is about these precious little souls. The majority of it is about the author’s childhood, and life leading her to her ministry. Not what I was hoping to read. I could understand her sharing her testimony, but to make it the focus of the book made for me, the title misleading.
She also jumped around a lot about visions and dreams she had as she was being led into her life service. I am a Christian but this type of supernatural events made me feel uncomfortable. This book is definitely not what I was expecting.
I was provided a review copy of this book by Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Elusive Miss Ellison By Carolyn Miller

Ms. Miller is one of my new “want to read and look forward to new books” authors.
If you like the writings of Jane Austin, you will love this book! It is 1843, the Victorian Era but the setting is in small village in England instead of a big city.
Lavinia Ellsion is the minister’s daughter. She lives with her father and her Aunt Patience who came to live with them after her mother’s tragic death. She steps to the beat of a different drummer than her friends. She casts aside the fluff of dress and stuffy conduct that her peers dote on. She thinks nothing of working in the garden without a hat or taking walks alone in the country. Both are big social faux pas for a young woman of that era. Her concerns are more with helping the needy and the poor.
The village is all a twitter with the coming of the new Earl of Hawkesbury, Nicholas. All the mothers are preening their daughters in hopes of making him their new son-in-law. Lavinia has no interest in finding a husband. Her concerns are more that the new earl does more to care for the poor and alleviate their suffering, one of his duties that came with the position. Nicholas is prideful, arrogant and selfish. He loathes the new job forced upon him by his social position.
No two people could be more opposites!
Lavinia is disgusted by his smugness and haughtiness. I found it amusing that she had the same attitude but hers came from her religious and strong sense of duty to the destitute, whereas his came from his sense of entitlement and no sense of duty to the people.
You can imagine the strong personality clashes as they are thrown together in many situations. We never know what circumstances life might throw our way or who will enter in that will challenge and change us. Such was the case with Lavinia and Nicholas. Tragedy opens the doors to their hearts and minds that would have otherwise stayed closed. Even as love blossoms, their Lavinia’s strong personality and stubbornness consistently sprouts misunderstandings and hurt.
A beautiful love story filled with surprises. I had no idea that earls had any more to do than have their titles and be rich. It was fascinating to learn about the operations and expectations in a small village during that era. I so enjoyed the book and look forward to the next one.
I was provided a review copy of this book set by Kregel Publications, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Amazing Animal Facts Postcards By Maja Säfström

These post cards are such a clever idea!! I enjoyed all the very interesting facts about the different animals. I love science, animals, and studying about them so I was surprised at how many facts on the cards that I knew nothing about!!!
I was somewhat disappointed that there was not more coloring and the pictures were super simple. None the less it is a great set. They would be wonderful to send notes to friends and definitely an unusual surprise. The cards come in a very sturdy box and are have dividers to section the cards in groups of Sea, Forest, Field, Jungle, and Sky.
I had the idea of using them for children and in classes to learn these lesser known animal facts. That would be such fun, and kids love animals. A super gift for adults, children, or just yourself!
I was provided a review set of these post cards through Blogging for Book, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Would You Like to Know? Collection By Tim Dowley and Graham Jefferson

I really like small book collections for children. There’s just something special about them. This one I found extraordinary. This group includes 6 books:
Would you like to know about God?
Would you like to know Jesus?
Would you like to know the Bible?
Would you like to know how to Pray?
Would you like to know the story of Christmas?
Would you like to know the story of Easter?
This collection covers the basic doctrinal foundations of Christianity. It is hard to express how impressed I was with how the authors very simply and clearly stated the most important truths. In the books about prayer and the Bible, they did a beautiful job of introducing how to apply and practice spiritual disciplines. All were written where a child could easily understand the concepts. The illustrations are colorful and not busy. Through them a little one could understand what was written even more plainly.
Each book is just the size for little hands, sturdy, and printed on glossy paper. The come in nice strong slip cover.
I only found one item concerning. In the book Would you like to know Jesus, the plan of salvation is shared. That was fine. It was the way the prayer to accept Christ was presented. This is a serious step and must be fully understood. I felt the idea was conveyed that you just pray a prayer and you are saved. This is misleading, as they need to know why they are praying this prayer. Children are easily led and must be dealt with delicately in this area.
Other than that I found the books to be exceptional in every way. These would make a great gift.
I was provided a review copy of this book set by Kregel Publications, with no expectation of a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.