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review 2016-09-12 21:08
No Way Up (The Cimarron Legacy #1) by Mary Connealy
No Way Up (The Cimarron Legacy) - Mary Connealy

No Way Up starts with a bang (well, more of a rumble) as an avalanche sets up the circumstances that drive much of the plot for the story that follows.


Heath Kincaid is a very likable character, as he saves the Boden patriarch and investigates the cause of the avalanche. Sadie, a gratifyingly spunky heroine, is grateful to him for saving her father and is quick to join him in his attempts to reach Skull Mesa. As Heath calls on skills he learned growing up near caves in Colorado (reading Connealy’s Kincaid Brides trilogy is not necessary to read this novel, but you sure might want to after), he and Sadie both go through a time of personal and spiritual growth as they come to terms with the bossiness of older brothers and their attraction to each other.


It is in little moments that are part of the forming of Sadie and Heath's relationship that I found a majority of the humor in this particular novel. This was most notable in the utterly charming moments of Heath's embarrassment.


I enjoyed the return of characters from the prequel novella as well as new characters. In particular, I appreciated the way native characters were portrayed in a manner that seemed, to my limited knowledge, authentic and respectful.


I would easily classify the Mary Connealy books I've previously read as Christian Historical Fiction and, as the author herself describes them, "comedies with cowboys." In this novel, however, I saw less of the comedy. Instead, the thought that struck me quite quickly is that this is a Western. Not just historical fiction set in the Old West, but a Western with a capital W, so...


Recommended for those who enjoy Westerns set in the 1800's, with clean romance and a bit of humor included. I also recommend that you read the novella, The Boden Birthright, prior to reading this novel. It is currently available as a free ebook.


This (edited, full version at bookworlder.wordpress.com) review refers to a free review copy, courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

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review 2016-09-01 02:03
Her One and Only by Becky Wade (Porter Family #4)
Her One and Only - Becky Wade Her One and Only - Becky Wade

This is the fourth book in Becky Wade’s Porter Family series and there may be some spoilers if read first, including one particularly touching secondary storyline. But not reading the other books (and not being a football fan) did not stop me from thoroughly enjoying this story of a former bad girl turned Marine turned bodyguard and the football player (emphasis on player) she is assigned to protect.


If I had read the prior books, which seem to have taken place years before this one, I probably would have been a bit less confused in some of the scenes that included Dru’s family (though what’s not to love about a big fictional family that includes some overprotective, bossy older brothers who are all Cowboys fans and dislike Gray's team). I felt I was missing a lot of background and could not always keep the characters and their relationships to Dru straight.


One of the aspects that I really appreciated about this book was the faith journeys of the main characters. While the interplay between Gray and Dru (just thinking of the nicknames they give each other – especially “Big Football Hero” – makes me want to chuckle) is great fun to read, where their story really shines is in the ways they help each other face their pasts and heal. Dru’s conversion story and the message that “sin to a lesser degree is still sin” gave me a bit of a pause. Introspection is not something I expect to come from a contemporary romance, but it is a pleasant surprise when it does.


Recommended. Becky Wade infused this story with a mix of action, romance, humor and heartache that has me wanting to read the rest of the Porter Family series.


This review refers to a review copy provided by the publisher, Bethany House.  It is a slightly edited version of the original from my blog, where it includes some fun little quotes.

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review 2016-07-27 08:22
No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer
No Other Will Do - Karen Witemeyer

Karen Witemeyer never disappoints and this latest novel is her at top form - I could feel the confidence and skill of the writer. One of the things that stood out to me are the fantastic chapter endings that kept me wanting to read more. I adored this book - the plot, the pacing, the characters. The heroine is relatable, the hero is crush-worthy, the mystery is well paced and had me guessing a bit.


This was one of my most anticipated reads of 2016 and is a new favorite. A wonderful blend of action, romance and faith. I only hate that I have to wait to read the next Ladies of Harper's Station book.


This review refers to a copy given to me by the publisher, in return for an honest review.

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review 2016-06-06 00:36
Review: Playing the Part by Jen Turano
Playing the Part - Jen Turano

This was my first Jen Turano and, oh my word, it will not be my last!  Featuring some of my favorite things about historical christian romance, including the trifecta of faith/romance/humor, with unexpected twists on the hero and heroine.  Two people wary of being pursued for the wrong reasons, Lucetta Plum is a popular stage actress trying to avoid an overzealous fan and Bram Haverstein is the son of a wealthy family (with a few secrets hidden away on his gothic estate, Ravenswood) trying to avoid overzealous mamas.


I did not expect to like Lucetta, but she quickly won me over by being quite up front with two things: first, she has no interest in being fawned over and second, she is not the weepy, delicate creature that those fawning fans expect her to be.  Bram, in contrast, has a tendency to play the knight in shining armor, wanting to rush to the rescue.  This partly expresses itself in his employment of a group of riffraff, former petty thieves, and assorted lower class people.


Along with this rag-tag group of questionably reformed individuals, we are treated to another group of secondary characters led by Lucetta's bodyguard and Bram's grandmother, Abigail, who has a diabolical need to match-make and to outfit Lucetta (and the heroine's from the two previous books) in Worth gowns.  Rounding out this cast of secondary characters is a plethora of rescued animals, and one skirt-chasing, irascible goat.


I was a bit hesitant to give Jen Turano's books a try, but I was sucked in when the opening page made me think of one of the episodes of The Walton's that had the most impact on me as a child.  The first line of the book instantly brought to mind the scene where Mary Ellen and Erin, sharing a room in a boarding house, are told that their father has come to visit. When they open the door, it is actually Erin's boss paying a visit with lecherous intentions, unaware that she shares the room with her sister.

While some of Bram's secrets are no secret to the reader, it was great fun waiting for them to be revealed - and picturing the efforts to keep them concealed.  Two sweet romances add amusing secondary story-lines and the "ghosts" of Bram's castle help with the dramatic tension of the main story.


A light, fun read.  I would recommend it for those who enjoy historical and/or inspirational romance with a dash of danger, a dash of humor, and a lively cast of characters.  3.5/5 stars with potential for the author to become a favorite.


This review was originally published on my blog, with a few quotes, at http://wp.me/p5Tcfi-15F  and is based on a review copy received for free from the publisher, Bethany House, in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2016-03-07 20:31
Review: With This Ring? A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry
With This Ring?: A Novella Collection of Proposals Gone Awry - Melissa Jagears,Regina Jennings,Karen Witemeyer,Mary Connealy

As you might expect from the title of this collection, there are (at least) four proposals, some misunderstandings, unexpected developments, and humorous situations to be found in the pages of these four novellas:

The Husband Maneuver by Karen Witemeyer

Etta has loved Dan for years. When she hears he is leaving her father's ranch she uses the dime novels he hates (the hero is based on him) as inspiration and hatches a plan to get him to propose, risking her reputation in the process. Of course, not all goes according to plan, especially when you have a man who plans for the worst and a woman who hopes for rainbows.

Marietta (Etta) Hawkins and Daniel Barrett were secondary characters in Witemeyer's most recent full length novel, A Worthy Pursuit. These were characters that called out for their story to be told, and having an excerpt of a Dead-Eye Dan dime store novel start each chapter was so much fun. I particularly liked how a Dead-Eye Dan novel is used at the end, and that the ending is so satisfying.

Her Dearly Unintended by Regina Jennings

Katie Ellen is alone and in charge while her parents are away. A storm and a swollen, raging river strand her and her neighbor Josiah alone. The arrival of an unexpected visitor forces Katie Ellen to play along when Josiah tells the man that they are husband and wife. While this is something Josiah would like to be true, he has a lot of work to do if Katie Ellen is ever going to be convinced. If, that is, their visitor doesn't become violent first.

Ellen Watson and Josiah Huckabee were childhood friends when they were introduced in the second Ozark Mountain Romance novel, At Love's Bidding. Here they are grown up, and their characters have developed to reflect that growing up. Katie Ellen is the most changed, in that she likes to be in complete control of her environment. This seemed a bit of an extreme reaction to the events that caused it, but it does add an interesting element to the story. A very fun story with a bit of action, a bit of romance and a bit of Benedict & Beatrice.

Runaway Bride by Mary Connealy

Carrie Halsey and her 16 year old brother Isaac are fleeing Houston the night before their father marries her off to pay a gambling debt. Big John Conroy, a Texas Ranger and former Andersonville Prison Regulator, is determined to get them to Rawhide, Colorado and their older sister Audra Kincaid. But things go wrong and they find themselves in Broken Wheel, Texas, fighting a small army of hired guns.

Incorporating characters from two earlier series, this story was a bit confusing at one point (even for Carrie) unless you are already familiar with how these characters are related to each other. Mary Connealy's usual blend of comedy and cowboys is present here, and it is a very enjoyable story whether you have read the related books or not.

Engaging the Competition by Melissa Jagears

Harrison Gray, local schoolteacher, is nearly blind without his glasses. When they are accidentally ruined in her barn, Charlotte "Charlie" Andrews helps him out in the classroom until a new pair arrives, taking time away from her ranch and preparing for her upcoming marriage of convenience. A marriage with the brother of the man that had been a classmate, and schoolyard bully, of Harrison and Charlie.

This was the one story that I put off reading, partly because the first full length novel in this new Teaville Moral Society series will not be released until early August, and partly because I was a little afraid that I would not love it as much as I did Melissa Jagears' Unexpected Brides series. No need to worry, though, as this was the one novella that actually made me laugh aloud. While some elements of this story did bring to mind the novella from that series, these are definitely different characters in very different circumstances. I'm looking forward to more of this series.

I was so excited when I found out there was going to be a collection of novellas by two of my go-to Christian Historical Romance authors, Karen Witemeyer and Melissa Jagears, and two more that are quickly becoming go-to authors of that genre, Mary Connealy and Regina Jennings. My expectations were high, for the stories themselves as well as my personal level of enjoyment. Happily, those expectations were met and I can count this as one of the books I would highly recommend to those who enjoy novellas that combine faith, romance, adventure, and a dash of humor. 4.5/5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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