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review 2018-04-29 16:13
Catherine Finds Love (Ruby Springs Brides #1) by Karla Gracey
Catherine Finds Love - Karla Gracey

Catherine is working as a domestic in a rich Charleston household and is tired of that life, but without a family, she doesn't have any options. Her friend and fellow chamber maid Ellen is leaving to become a mail order bride and urges Catherine to do the same. Catherine finds an advertisement that seems up her alley. She writes to a widower and single father, Dylan. They strike up a correspondence for six months before Dylan makes the move to travel and meet Catherine in person.


I liked this story, but I think the ending was a little too sweet for me. I did like that the story took place over six months and that Catherine and Dylan decided to meet face to face before committing to marriage. 

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review 2016-10-15 02:04
Love Finds a Home - Janette Oke

This is a nice wrap-up to the series. Belinda's way too perfect, but it's a sweet book. It reminded me how difficult it was in the past for people to move away from their families. In recent years, telephones, email, Skype and more convenient transportation have made it a lot less painful.


*Review written on May 3, 2014.*

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text 2015-12-15 19:34
My 10 Worst Reads of 2015
Sisters In Love (Snow Sisters, Book One: Love in Bloom Series) (Volume 1) - Melissa Foster
Ms America and the Offing on Oahu - Diana Dempsey
The Real Mr. Right - Karen Templeton
Summer of Change - Elena Aitken
Family Ties - Kamy Chetty
Carpe DiEmily (Part 1) - Riley J. Ford
Out of Control - Mary Connealy
The Perfect Match - Kristan Higgins
Love Finds You in Carmel-By-The-Sea, California - Sandra D. Bricker
Silver Storm (The Raveneau Novels #1) - Cynthia Wright

The reading stuff that made me rage and gave me nightmares. The first nine are 0 stars and the last one was a DNF. I need to stay far away from contemporary romance.


1. Sisters In Love (Snow Sisters #1; Love in Bloom #1) by Melissa Foster (contemporary romance)

           This book featured a dude bro hero trying to figure out why he can't seem to keep a relationship going. Heroine is his therapist...and continues to be so even after they start sleeping together. Among other horrible things that go on in this book.


2. Ms. America and the Offing on Oahu by Diana Dempsey (American cozy mystery)

           Racist, classist, homophobic, women-hating, slut-shaming, fat-shaming are the highlights in this cozy mystery. The mystery ends in a whimper.


3. The Real Mr. Right (Jersey Boys #1) by Karen Templeton (contemporary romance)

           Insecure alpha-hole reunites with insecure horny Plain Jane in a new adult romance about people in their early to mid 30s. A complete let down.


4. Summer of Change by Elena Aitken (contemporary romance)

           Heroine is a crappy person and even worse business owner. Hero is pushy and horny. Basically a hot mess.


5. Family Ties by Kamy Chetty (contemporary romance)

           Heroine (a midwife) finds out she can't have kids, so spends her time fantasizing/scheming to use black market adoption companies or steal babies from the hospital until alpha-hole hero falls in love with her. Unprofessional making out sessions in front of patients' doors ensues.


6. Carpe diEmily (Part One) by Riley J. Ford (chick lit)

          Suicide and black market organ "donations" are the plot foundation to this whole series. Add in slut-shaming and women-hating and it has all the earmarks for a horrible read.


7. Out of Control (Kincaid Brothers #1) by Mary Connealy (inspirational historical romance)

            Just read my review: http://melissasteinman7.booklikes.com/post/1198586/review-out-of-control-kincaid-brothers-1-by-mary-connealy. Book lives up to the title.


8. The Perfect Match (Blue Heron Series #2) by Kristin Higgins (contemporary romance)

           The one where the heroine's eggs (the ones located in her ovaries) have running commentary and by the end of the book heroine begins talking back to her eggs. Among other horrible stuff, such as the heroine ranting about her sister's epilepsy and the women-hate. Backed by a cast of side characters that are obnoxious and not funny in any sense.


9. Love Finds You in Carmel-by-the-Sea by Sandra D. Bricker (inspirational contemporary romance)

                  Loved the California setting. HATED the Heroine.


10. Silver Storm (The Raveneau series #1) (historical romance)

          DNF at 10% because I just could not see myself reading 720 pages more of this old skool romance. Some romances from the 70s and 80s hold up to present day reading. This most definitely wasn't the case with this book.


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text 2015-08-04 15:51
Conductor: The Underground Railroad in Romance
Honor (Quaker Brides Book 1) - Lyn Cote
Indigo - Beverly Jenkins
Sweeter Than Birdsong - Rosslyn Elliott
The Sugar Camp Quilt: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel - Jennifer Chiaverini
Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana - Melanie Dobson
The Impetuous Bride: Once Upon a Wedding (Zebra Ballad Romance) - Kelly McClymer
Secrets and Sacrifices - Diane M. Wylie
The Quaker and the Rebel - Mary Ellis
Path of Freedom: Quilts of Love Series - Jennifer Hudson Taylor
Love's Awakening - Laura Frantz

Everyone should check out this amazing film: The Underground Railroad: The William Still Story.  You can watch in online. 


Here is the blurb: 


The compelling story of one of the most important heroes of the Underground Railroad comes to life in Underground Railroad: The William Still Story. The first generation of his family born free, abolitionist and historian William Still was determined to get as many runaways as he could across the U.S. border to Canada.


The Underground Railroad remains the most immense humanitarian enterprise of the 19th century--perhaps ever. Underground Railroad: The William Still Story blends stories, characters and context with evocative reenactments, new historical perspectives and sometimes shocking, often touching, accounts from the day. The predominant "voices" in the documentary are those of William Still and a selection of freedom seekers whose stories help define the era. Their actual words are often used, taken from letters and memoirs.


Here are some wonderful Historical Romance Novels that explore the same movement for freedom. 


My lists are never in particular order. Enjoy!


1. Honor by Lyn Cote


When unexpected circumstances leave Honor Penworthy destitute after the death of her grandfather, she is forced to leave her Maryland plantation—and the slaves she hoped to free—and seek refuge with a distant relative. With no marketable skills, her survival hinges on a marriage arranged through the Quaker community to local glass artisan Samuel Cathwell. Samuel is drawn to Honor, but he has been unwilling to open his heart to anyone since scarlet fever took his hearing as a child.

A move west brings the promise of a fresh start, but nothing in Honor’s genteel upbringing has prepared her for the rigors of frontier life with Samuel. Nevertheless, her tenacity and passion sweep her into important winds of change, and she becomes increasingly—though secretly—involved in the Underground Railroad. Samuel suspects Honor is hiding something, but will uncovering the truth confirm his worst fears or truly bring them together as man and wife?


2. Indigo by Beverly Jenkins


As a child Hester Wyatt escaped slavery, but now the dark skinned beauty is a dedicated member of Michigan's Underground railroad, offering other runaways a chance at the freedom she has learned to love. When one of her fellow conductors brings her an injured man to hide, Hester doesn't hesitate…even after she is told about the price on his head. 

The man in question is the great conductor known as the "Black Daniel" a vital member of the North's Underground railroad network. But Hester finds him so rude and arrogant, she begins to question her vow to hide him. 

When the injured and beaten Galen Vachon, aka, the Black Daniel awakens in Hester's cellar, he is unprepared for the feisty young conductor providing his care. As a member of one of the wealthiest free Black families in New Orleans, Galen has turned his back on the lavish living he is accustomed to in order to provide freedom to those enslaved in the South. 

However, as he heals he cannot turn his back on Hester Wyatt. Her innocence fills him like a breath of fresh air and he is determined to make this gorgeous and intelligent woman his own… 

Yet…there are traitors to be discovered, slave catchers to be evaded and Hester's heart to be won before she and Galen can find the freedom that only true love can bring. 


3. Sweeter than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott


In Westerville, Ohio, 1855, Kate Winter’s dreams are almost within reach. As the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College, she’ll be guaranteed her deepest wish: escape from the dark secret haunting her family. But with her mother determined to marry her off to a wealthy man, Kate must face reality. She has to run. Now. And she has the perfect plan. Join the upcoming musical performance—and use it to mask her flight.


Ben Hanby, Otterbein College’s musical genius, sees Kate Winter as an enigmatic creature, notable for her beauty, yet painfully shy. Then he hears her sing—and the glory of her voice moves him as never before. He determines to cast her in his musical and uncover the mystery that is Kate. Still, he must keep his own secret to himself. Not even this intriguing woman can know that his passionate faith is driving him to aid fugitives on the Underground Railroad.


A terrifying accident brings Kate and Ben together, but threatens to shatter both their secrets and their dreams. Kate can no longer deny the need to find her courage—and her voice—if she is to sing a new song for their future.


4. The Sugar Camp Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini


Set in Creek's Crossing, Pennsylvania, in the years leading up to the Civil War, the story begins with friends and neighbors taking sides in the abolitionist debate, and as events unfold, an ex-traordinary young heroine passes from innocence to wisdom against the harrowing backdrop of the American struggle over slavery. 

A dutiful daughter and niece, Dorothea Granger finds her dreams of furthering her education thwarted by the needs of home. A gifted quilter, she tragically loses her hope chest in a flood. A superior student, she is promoted from pupil to teacher -- only to lose her position to the privileged son of a town benefactor. But the ultimate test of her courage and convictions comes with the death of her stern uncle Jacob, who inexplicably had asked Dorothea to stitch him a quilt with four unusual patterns of his own design.


After he meets with a violent end, Dorothea discovers that the quilt contains hidden clues to guide runaway slaves along the Underground Railroad. Emboldened by the revelations about her uncle's bravery, Dorothea resolves to continue his dangerous work. Armed with the Sugar Camp Quilt and its mysterious symbols, she must evade slavecatchers and outwit unscrupulous neighbors, embarking upon a heroic journey that allows her to discover her own courage and resourcefulness -- unsuspected qualities that may win her the heart of the best man she has ever known. 

Told with Jennifer Chiaverini's trademark historical suspense, The Sugar Camp Quilt blends danger, moral courage, romance, and hope into a novel of antebellum America whose lessons resonate with timeless honesty.


5. Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana by Melanie Dobson


In a divided town durng a dangerous era, who can be trusted? Anna Brent risks everything for the runaway slaves hidden in her home, but is she willin gto risk her heart to the newcomer who is fighting for their freedom?


6. The Impetuous Bride by Kelly McClymer


Rosaline Fenster has always been the black sheep of her proper Victorian family. Ros prefers to chart her own path, even if she must dress as a man on occasion to do what must be done. Escaping her life as an English lady by emigrating to America, Ros has found adventure helping runaway slaves find freedom. But now her path west has set her on a collision course with Wagonmaster Rob Lewis. Rob doesn't want anything to disrupt his wagon train's journey west. Not escaped slaves. Not his own daughter. And especially not his late wife's cousin -- a woman who dares to do what she thinks right, and damn the consequences.


7. Secrets and Sacrifices by Diane Wylie


The slowly starving South, lack of medical supplies, and desperate runaway slaves motivate Charlie and Daniel to take risks beyond their wildest imaginations. How could they possibly know that their paths would cross during the worst time in their lives and where that path would lead?


8. The Quaker and the Rebel by Mary Ellis


 Emily Harrison’s life has been turned upside down. At the beginning of the Civil War, she bravely attempted to continue her parents’ work as conductors in the Underground Railroad until their Ohio farm was sold in foreclosure. Now alone, she accepts a position as a governess with a doctor’s family in slave-holding Virginia. Perhaps she can continue her rescue efforts from there. Alexander Hunt is the doctor’s handsome nephew. While he does not deny a growing attraction to his uncle’s newest employee, he cannot take time to pursue Emily. Alex is not at all what he seems—rich, spoiled, and indolent. He is the elusive Gray Wraith, a Quaker leader of Rebel partisans. A man of the shadows, he carries no firearm and wholeheartedly believes in Emily’s antislavery convictions. The path before Alex and Emily is complicated and sometimes life threatening. The war brings betrayal, entrapment, and danger to both of them. Amid their growing feelings for each other, can they find faith in God amid the challenges they face and trust in the possibility for a bright future together?


9. Path of Freedom by Jennifer Hudson Taylor


When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple. With only her mother's quilt as a secret guide, the foursome follows the stitches through unknown treachery.


10. Love's Awakening by Laura Frantz


n the spring of 1822, Ellie Ballantyne leaves finishing school and returns to the family home in Pittsburgh only to find that her parents are away on a long journey and her siblings don't seem to want her to stay. Determined to stand her ground and find her place in the world, Ellie fills her time by opening a day school for young ladies.

But when one of her students turns out to be an incorrigible young member of the Turlock family, Ellie knows she must walk a fine line. Slaveholders and whiskey magnates, the Turlocks are envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly entangled with the rival clan--particularly the handsome Jack Turlock--she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future. Will she betray her family and side with the enemy?


Did  I miss your favorite? Let me know!


Vote on my Goodreads list: Conductor: The Underground Railroad in Romance

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review 2015-02-24 13:29
Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio - Serena B. Miller


A mysterious outsider casts a long shadow on Ohio’s Amish country. Policewoman Rachel Troyer has always looked after her three elderly Amish aunts, proprietors of a farmhouse inn near Sugarcreek, Ohio. The idyllic town is popular with tourists, who come to sample its famous Amish goods. But one thing is clear to Rachel—Joe Matthews is no tourist. When the bearded stranger lands on her aunts' doorstep, begging shelter for himself and his young son, Rachel is suspicious. Will she be able to uncover Joe’s secrets despite her aunts'—and her own—growing affection for him?   




This is a hard book to review, as I was on a rollercoaster of feelings toward and about the story and the characters. The Amish characters were well drawn people, and I honestly want a book about one of Rachel's Amish aunt - Bertha sounds like she has such stories to share about her time working as a nurse in an orphanage in Haiti! Anna, another of Rachel aunts, has Down Syndrome, but she is treated with respect and dignity by her community as well as close outsiders. Finally, the third aunt, Lydia, was widowed but without children; her relationship with Rachel was the most fragile.


Rachel's father grew up Amish, but chose not to join the church and instead, became a police officer and married an English woman. Rachel followed in his footsteps, but her upbringing in both worlds help move the plot along. Rachel was a complicated character - I loved her protectiveness and love for elderly aunts, then I was very turned off by her over-the-top bitchiness and paranoia over what Joe was hiding. Then she got her act together (courtesy in small part due to a conversation with her boss telling her she gets control over herself or she will be fired), opened herself and her mind up to Joe and his son - seems like the Rachel from beginning of the story. Then Rachel finds out Joe's secret, and defends him and his son like the most awesome warrior. Seriously, half the rollercoaster ride was my dis/connection with Rachel.


Joe and his son were great. I like that Joe was smart about him and Bobby going underground - it was not over the top at all. There was a point though that the heavy handed religious tone came from Joe, a preacher/missionary kid. In fact, for me the religious tone got to uncomfortable levels at a few points in the book; some of those levels came from Joe's opinion about his recently murdered wife in comparison with Rachel. I also didn't like that Joe could fall that easily in love with Rachel with his dead wife's murder case open investigation. I would have preferred a strong happy for now ending between two friends than the happy ever after found in the epilogue. Bobby was four and suffered traumatically with the loss of his mom. His regression and progress was realistic.


I would recommend this book if you like Amish stories or if you are a strong believer in Christianity (Protestant evangical specifically). 4 stars.

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