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review 2016-10-04 03:09
The California Gold Rush Collection (review)
The California Gold Rush Romance Collection: 9 Stories of Finding Treasures Worth More than Gold - Linda Farmer Harris,Jaime Jo Wright,Amanda Barratt,Pam Hillman,Jennifer Rogers Spinola,Anne-Marie Greene,Cynthia Hickey,Angela Bell,Dianne Christner

It is no secret that I love these Bride Collections from Barbour. I pick which ones I want to read based on the theme and, usually, a single author that I already know and enjoy. In this case, it was solely an author that had me requesting an ebook through NetGalley. Having previously enjoyed Angela Bell's contribution to the Lassoed By Marriage Romance Collection, I was excited to see what she would do for the Gold Rush theme and how she would take it to England and add her signature twist with well-researched steam based technology. Her story, The Best Man in Brookside, was definitely a favorite as Irishman Donovan returns to England with his fortune in gold, determined to care for his sister and exact revenge on Sophia, the Englishwoman who blackened his name in the village of Brookside. I especially enjoyed how his accent bled into the third person narrative whenever it was focused on his point of view.

 

As with this story, my two other favorites also took us away from the actual mining. Jamie Joe Wright gives us a wounded soiled dove and a rich man on a mission to transform the ghost town she inhabits. Dianne Christner treats the reader to a rough and tumble Clementine whose father hires the Last Resort Traveling Etiquette School to refine her after a potential suitor’s rejection. The other stories continue to entertain with a variety of settings and characters. Amanda Barratt's story tells of two newspaper editors unwittingly in competition for the same promotion. Anne Greene sets her story of a marriage broker determined not to wed and a mortician in Eureka, California. Linda Farmer Harris features a banker and a fugitive, Cynthia Hickey a newspaperman/artist/preacher and a woman forced to masquerade as a boy, and Jennifer Rogers Spinola adds a bit of diversity with her story of Chinese immigrants. In the one story that actually had me saying “Awww,” Pam Hillman takes us into the wilds of California Territory with a surveyor and a cartographer.

 

Overall, another solid collection from Barbour that is entertaining and a satisfying romance read with nine Happily Ever Afters. Definitely would make my top 10, if not top 5 of the Bride Collections I’ve read so far.

 

This review refers to a review ebook copy I read for free, courtesy of the publisher, through NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own. My original, unedited review can be read at http://wp.me/p5Tcfi-1CK

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review 2016-04-24 08:25
The Cowboy's Bride Collection, 9 Historical Romances Form on Old West Ranches
The Cowboy's Bride Collection: 9 Historical Romances Form on Old West Ranches - Jaime Jo Wright,Becca Whitham,Davalynn Spencer,Darlene Franklin,Miralee Ferrell,Nancy J. Farrier,Susanne von Dietze,Susan Page Davis,Vickie McDonough

This is now officially one of my favorite novella collections (so far) from Barbour Publishing.  When choosing whether or not to read each collection, there is generally one author's name that draws me in.  For this collection that name is Susan Page Davis, and her story did not disappoint.  Bat Wilson, ranch hand, is inspired by the boss's daughter, Rilla Lane, to write poetry - much to the amusement of the other ranch hands.  A sweet, fun story that sets the tone for the collection.

 

In the second story, Jackson Bridge asks his Aunt Martha to send two songbirds for his "saloon."  While Lily Kimball and her sister Delia delight his daughter Georgie, they were not quite what he had in mind. 

Cait Sullivan excels at working with horses.  Much to her chagrin, her father hires Jonas Hall to train them.  Having her sister's ex-fiance working on the ranch is difficult for her pride, and her heart.  Addie Patrick, raised like a son, is an orphan with no place to go. After a few letters, she leaves Iowa to be the bride of a Colorado store owner.  Being trapped in a line shack with an injured rancher during a snow storm was not in her plans. For Grant Hollister, however, it is a good thing that he felt God nudging him to keep going until he could be. 

 

Millie Cain has co-founded the Ladies Society for the Betterment of Culture, intent on bringing Boston manners to the cowboys of Wichita, Kansas.  Little does she know that Wes, the man she has been corresponding with for a year, has joined her Learn To Be A Gentleman class to see if she can accept him as a cowboy.  Everything they hope for hinges on a song.

 

When Trey Carpenter's ma comes to visit his ranch, he is unprepared for the surprise she brings with her.  He is even less prepared for how he feels when neighbors come courting Sadie Hunter, the penniless young widow with two daughters.

 

With the threat his deceased wife's sister coming to take his daughter, Josiah Hanacker hires a spinster, Corra Jameson, to turn her into a lady.  Petunia (Nia) Lindley learned not to trust her judgement about men, but there is something about Toby Lane, one of the men competing to become foreman of her family ranch.  Jonah Spark has come a long way from being a titled Englishman to a New Mexico rancher, but he is still a bit too proper to accept a woman as his foreman.  CJ Matheson is ready to fight to win this power struggle.  It isn't her fault the ranch's owner thought she would be a man.

 

In a collection like this, there are often stories that you wish would be developed into full length novels.  Miralee Ferrell provided a prime example with her story.  It felt a bit of a jumble, which might have been partly due to the length, but it was so very sweet that I would gladly read a longer version.

 

I try to take time between each story so that my reaction to one doesn't affect my thoughts and feelings about the next.  Sometimes, however, the stories are strong and distinct enough that this isn't necessary.  For example, Becca Whitham's story was a little touch and go for me at first, but had such an "awwww" ending that I was won over. Jaime Jo Wright, on the other hand, had me from the first page with her descriptions and humor.

 

Darlene Franklin and Vickie McDonough are two authors I have been wanting to try, as they wrote a series with Susan Page Davis.  I was quite pleased to see that they had contributed the fifth and sixth stories in the collection, and I've lost any trepidation I may have felt about reading the rest of that series.

 

If you enjoy, as I do, Historical Romance set in the Old West with faith integrated into the story, engaging main characters, and touches of humor then this is a great choice.  I plan on adding a physical copy to my bookshelves in the near future.  French flaps, deckled edges, and nine enjoyable romances that are just the right length to read one (or two, if you start early) in an evening.   Whether you prefer ebooks or physical books, I recommend it.  

 

This review refers to a review ebook read for free courtesy of the publisher through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.  This review, with a few short quotes added, was originally published on my WordPress blog: http://wp.me/p5Tcfi-Uo

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review 2016-04-24 05:13
Reclaiming His past (Smoky Mountain Matches) by Karen Kirst
Reclaiming His Past (Smoky Mountain Matc... Reclaiming His Past (Smoky Mountain Matches) - Karen K. Kirst-Ashman

It is 1885 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, when Jessica O'Malley finds a man on her farm, beaten and with no memory.  As he recuperates, choosing the name of Grant Parker, she finds herself caring for him but unable to trust due to a past betrayal.  Grant, in turn, finds himself caring for Jessica but, not knowing his past, unwilling to pursue a relationship.

 

The idea of amnesia has long fascinated me and since reading a nonfiction memoir of amnesia, fiction that incorporates it in the storyline really appeals to me.  Combine it with historical fiction, and I am halfway to being hooked before the story even starts.  That said, I had some issues with the believability of Grant's amnesia.  His amnesia seemed to play out a bit too coincidentally or conveniently at times, though I did appreciate when it was not.  Having an event occur that a Grant hopes will spark memories, but does not, was a great choice.

 

While Grant's situation and Julia's slowly unfurling history of a past relationship that turned bad and clouded her life are interesting, it was when, on more than one occasion, Jessica and Grant volley theories back and forth over who he might be that I really fell for this story and these characters.  The exchanges are humorous and I found them to be endearing.  I also appreciated the little moments, like a one on one conversation when she finds him strumming a guitar on the porch, and how they both seek God almost from the very beginning of the story.

 

Events like the chestnut picking trip are wonderful details that incorporate aspects of life in the appalachians during that era, but these aspect were a bit hard to picture.  It is likely that the length of the book, though it is part of the appeal these Harlequin Love Inspired Historicals have for me, hampered the author's ability to include more detailed descriptions.  

 

An honorable hero, a traumatized heroine, her protective family, and a suspicious sheriff all come together for a pleasant, quick read.  Though not without issues, the faith of the main characters and the slow building of trust and relationship are part of what makes this an enjoyable story.

 

This review refers to a review ebook copy read for free courtesy of the publisher through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.  This is a slightly shortened version of the review on my Wordpress blog: http://wp.me/p5Tcfi-OV

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review 2016-02-22 03:50
Review: The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection, various authors
The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection: 9 Historical Romances Begin After Saying "I Do" - Rebecca Jepson,Gina Welborn,Amy Lillard,Angela Breidenbach,Rose Ross Zediker,Angela Bell,Kathleen Y'Barbo,Mary Connealy,Lisa Carter

With a subtitle like '9 Historical Romances Begin After Saying "I Do"' you know you are in for some surprises.  The biggest surprise?  That this might be my favorite collection from Barbour so far.

 

The first story surprised me partly by being set in London and a country estate.  I enjoyed the story so much that I almost didn't want to continue with the collection, fearing that the rest would not live up to it.  All Elliott wants to do is continue to work with clockwork automata figures (bestill my Steampunk loving heart).  He marries because it is time and his duty as Lord Carlyle, but he is not expecting the bookish Gwen, who is coerced into replacing his vibrant bride at the altar.  This story actually had me tearing up because of Gwen's childhood Ugly Duckling book.

 

What follows are eight more thoroughly enjoyable stories, set in the 1860's-1900 American West, any of which I would gladly read as full novels.  Maila marries her deceased cousin's husband, Burton, to stop the appearance of wrong-doing.  Brax and Hattie are former childhood friends reunited when, as sheriff, he is forced to arrest her.  Tanner ties Debba up and drags her home to meet his ma.  Henry marries Katie, the mother of his brother's son, for the sake of his family (the one story which needed a little editing as it seems to jump a bit and George's age seemed a bit inconsistent).  Coral and Jackson are from feuding families, Mack marries Glory in a case of mistaken identity, and railroad missionary Noah must marry Molly or she has nowhere to go but back to the saloon.

 

4/5 stars.  If you enjoy shorter fiction, and Historical Christian Romance in particular, then this is a highly recommended read.  

 

This review refers to an ebook read courtesy of the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. It was originally published on my WordPress blog at http://wp.me/p5Tcfi-Ab

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review 2016-01-04 21:26
Review: Calico Spy (Undercover Ladies #3) by Margaret Brownley
Calico Spy (Undercover Ladies Book 3) - Margaret Brownley

I thought the last story I read by her might be my favorite Margaret Brownley so far, but now I'm pretty sure this is it! Calico Spy has such a great premise, includes wonderful historical elements (Pinkerton agents and Harvey Girls), a heartwarming (or heart wrenching, depending on how you look at it) custody issue, an interesting murder mystery involving two Harvey Girls, and 19th century style sleuthing. On top of all that, a good dose of humor, action, and a hero and heroine to root for along with a fantastic and colorful cast of secondary characters.

This review refers to a review ebook read courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. My full review can be read at: http://wp.me/p5Tcfi-mQ

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