Monday, March 30, 2015

Review, Excerpt & Giveaway! A Hope Remembered by Stacy Henrie




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My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

As the war ends, love begins . . .
Nora Lewis just wants an escape after losing her fiancé in the Great War. When she inherits property in England, she boldly packs up and leaves America for a fresh start. But if not for her dashing new neighbor, Colin Ashby, she'd be lost. Even as their friendship deepens, Nora knows a British aristocrat would never be free to love an American orphan, no matter how much the war has changed the world . . . After his brother's death in the war and his own experiences as a pilot at the front, Colin returns home broken, only to discover his family's estate is also in ruin. The pressure is now on him to save his home and the Ashbys' place in society with a well-bred match to a wealthy heiress. Too bad he finds more of a kindred spirit in Nora, the beautiful American next door. She, too, has faced the rigors of war and survived. Now the ex-soldier will have one more battle to fight-this time for love.


My Review

This is such a sweet romance- I loved how Nora and Colin's friendship developed in a genuine way. I admired her courage to leave everything behind and start fresh in an entirely different country. There are a couple of mysteries Nora encounters in her new neighborhood which provides some additional storylines to the main plot. I also enjoyed reading about Colin's experiences as a pilot in the first world war and later as he continues to fly his aeroplane over the English countryside. The bond he had with his brother was evident in how intensely he grieved his loss. Even though they had completely different life purposes and personalities, the brotherly love was touching, and made it even harder for Colin to try to fill his shoes. Nora helps him put things in perspective and come to terms with God and death, even as she grieves the loss of her fiancé. My favorite quote from the book deals with this theme:
"I don't believe it was God's will for any of those soldiers to die in the war... War is not something God condones, Colin, but men must be allowed to choose what they will make of their lives- good or evil. He cannot rob them of that... While I don't believe God wanted Tom or Christian to die, I do believe He has a greater perspective than I do. Just like a pilot in his plane, who sees a much different picture that what we can from the ground... When we go through heartache and loss, it's our right and challenge to discover what God wants us to do and become from those experiences... That is his will. To help us catch a glimpse of the wider, bigger perspective. To recognize and rejoice in those moments when He reaches down and compensates our losses."
(Thank you to Forever Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Of Love and War series
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 About the Author

Stacy Henrie has always had an avid appetite for history, fiction and chocolate. She earned her B.A. in public relations and worked in communications before turning her attentions to raising a family and writing inspirational historical romances. Wife of an entrepreneur husband and a stay-at-home mom to three, Stacy loves the chance to live out history through her fictional characters, while enjoying the modern conveniences of life in the 21st century. In addition to author, she is a reader, a road trip enthusiast and a novice interior decorator. Her first novel, Lady Outlaw, released from Harlequin Love Inspired Historical in 2012. 


Connect with Stacy




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Excerpt from A Hope Remembered by Stacy Henrie

With a glare at both of them, Jack smashed his cap on his head and stalked from the room. He proceeded to slam the door behind him, but it hit the doorframe and bounced open instead.

Nora pushed out a sigh. “You didn’t have to be rude. Jack’s been very helpful to me this past week.” Maybe a bit too much. But she didn’t voice that thought. Colin needed no further ammunition against Jack.

“I’m sure he has,” Colin muttered, his expression as dark as his eyes.
Nora pinned him with a piercing look.
“You’re right.” He finished buttoning his cuffs and slipped on his vest. “That was ungentlemanly of me.”
She ignored his reference to her joke at their first meeting as she put away the corn starch and closed the cupboard. It was easier to keep her heart firmly locked if she held onto her disapproval of Colin’s behavior. Plus it would also stop her from wondering what he’d been about to say before Jack’s arrival.
“How may I redeem myself?” he asked as he pulled on his jacket. The amusement tugging at his mouth contradicted his contrite tone. 
Nora folded her arms, contemplating a suitable penance. “I think your punishment needs to be two-fold.”
“Very well.” He nodded. “What is your sentence?”
“First, you must join me for choir rehearsal at the church tomorrow morning.”
The mirth drained from his face. “Nora.” His voice held a note of warning. “That is entirely—”
“Second, you and Perseus can give me a tour around the lake. I’ve already been here a week and haven’t even seen all of it.”
Colin scowled. “A walk around the lake would be acceptable. But the choir rehearsal . . .”
“Please, Colin.” She hazarded a step toward him, hoping he’d relent. “I sang with them last Sunday and they need more male voices.”
She had another reason for wanting him there. Everyone had been kind at rehearsal and at church the following day, but Nora still felt uncomfortable with the continued references to her likeness to Eleanor. Apparently their similarities also included their singing voices. With Colin at the rehearsals, she wouldn’t feel as awkward. She was beginning to think he was the only person in Larksbeck who hadn’t known Eleanor.
Colin’s brow knit in obvious annoyance, while Nora held her breath. Would he accept her proposal? Finally resignation settled over his countenance. “I’ll go, but only once.” He held up a single finger. “Once,” he repeated. “I make no promises after that.”
Grateful, she breached the remaining space between them and put her hand on his sleeve. “I agree to those terms.” She couldn’t hide her smile as she added, “Be careful, though, we might make a regular choir member out of you yet.”
Instead of the light laugh she expected, Colin solemnly watched her. Though he didn’t touch her, she felt as powerless to release his sleeve as if he’d detained her hand. She couldn’t step away—his nearness drew her in like the promising warmth of a fire after being out in a storm.
“You know,” he murmured, his voice low, “you are rather charming when you jest like that.”
Nora’s pulse stuttered to a stop, then sped up again like a train gaining speed. She tried to remember why she’d been angry with him, tried to remember why she couldn’t allow anything more than friendship to blossom between them. But she couldn’t concentrate on any one thought, except for the growing desire to touch the hint of dark bristles covering his jaw.
Colin studied her lips as Jack had done last week, but this moment couldn’t be more different. A part of her, one growing more insistent by the second, actually wanted Colin to kiss her. How long had it been since she’d last felt the press of masculine lips against hers?
Not since before Tom left.
The memory crashed over her with all the effect of an ocean wave. She felt suddenly ill and cold. Releasing Colin’s sleeve, she stepped back, crossing her arms over her chest for warmth.
Forgive me, Tom.
She’d done nothing wrong, but even entertaining the idea of Colin kissing her felt like a betrayal. Her heart could never belong to anyone else. And yet, in this moment, the past felt more like a burden than a boon.
“I’ll . . . uh . . . just get my sweater, then we can go on that walk.” Nora went to pull the garment off its usual peg. Her hands shook slightly as she slipped the sweater on over her blouse. “Ready?”
A flicker of emotion gleamed in Colin’s dark eyes. Was it disappointment? Frustration? Would he forgive her abruptness or understand the source of her pain? As quickly as it had come, though, the sentiment faded and Colin shot her a carefree grin. “After you, fair lady.”


 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Review: The Olive Tree: An Artistic Adaptation by Christine Layton Graham, Joan Layton Merrell, Carol Layton Ogden



My rating: 3 stars / I liked it

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Synopsis

Savor a unique scriptural experience with this beautiful book that combines text adapted from Jacob 5 with stunning artwork and calligraphy. A gorgeous addition to any LDS home, it will enhance your understanding of the exquisite symbolism in this significant story.

My Review

This is a beautiful book of paintings and calligraphy depicting the allegory of the olive tree from The Book of Mormon. I appreciated the loveliness, however I was expecting more interpretation from the original content. The text is word for word from the scriptures, and somewhat difficult to read in calligraphy form, especially for children. The art depicts literally what is read in the verses rather than the meaning behind the allegory. It would make a nice gift for a teenager or adult studying the Book of Mormon.

(Thank you to Cedar Fort Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Free e-book! The Rose Legacy by Kristen Heitzmann


The Rose Legacy by Kristen Heitzmann

Download the e-book of The Rose Legacy by Kristen Heitzmann for free!

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Synopsis

Driven by hope and vengeance, Carina Maria DiGratia leaves her idyllic home in Sonoma, California, for a new life in the mining town of Crystal, Colorado. Though the town has a rough element, Carina is determined that it is the place her dreams will come true. Early on, two men vie for her trust, but neither is what he seems. Will Carina discern the truth in time to prevent tragedy?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: A Timeless Romance Anthology: All Regency Collection by Anna Elliott, Sarah M. Eden, Carla Kelly, Josi S. Kilpack, Annette Lyon, Heather B. Moore


Review:  A Timeless Romance Anthology: All Regency Collection by Anna Elliott, Sarah M. Eden, Carla Kelly, Josi S. Kilpack, Annette Lyon, Heather B. Moore

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

3 stars
In THE WEDDING GIFT: A PRIDE AND PREJUDICE STORY, an enchanting novella by Anna Elliott, the story opens two weeks before Elizabeth Bennet’s wedding to Mr. Darcy. He has given her the perfect wedding gift, and now she must come up with one for him. But what do you give a man who has everything? Elizabeth soon discovers that the gift of love is more important than any one thing.

5 stars

DREAM OF A GLORIOUS SEASON, a sweet novella by Sarah M. Eden, we meet Elizabeth Gillerford who envies her sister only one thing—that she’s been intended for Julian Broadwood since they were children. The trouble is that Elizabeth is hopelessly in love with Julian too. When Julian discovers that Elizabeth has been denied a Season because her older sister is yet unwed, he undertakes his own stealthy measures to introduce her to society, only to find himself falling in love with her himself.

5 stars

In THE MENDER, a captivating story by Carla Kelly, Thankful Winnings takes a sea voyage with her cousin on the Ann Alexander, in a last adventure before she settles down to marry one of her beaus. Unexpectedly they come upon the aftermath of a fierce ship battle, and Thankful is commissioned to help in the place of an injured surgeon on one of the Royal Navy ships. Adam Farnsworth, surgeon, has been at sea for years. Tired of war, but devoted to his post, it takes a resourceful lady such as Thankful to give him the hope of love and help heal his own wounds, the ones that show and the ones that don’t.

3 stars

In BEGIN AGAIN, a charming novella by Josi S. Kilpack, Regina Weathers gives up on marrying for love the day that Ross Martin walks out of her life. Now, fifteen years later, Ross shows up at a ball and thinks he can woo Regina. But she is set on her lonely path and stitched-up heart, no matter the excuse Ross gives for his years of silence and neglect. When Ross insists he wrote many letters during his military years, Regina discovers a secret long-since buried by her father, and the revelation might be enough to thaw the coldness of her heart.

4 stars

In Annette Lyon’s endearing story, THE AFFAIR AT WILDEMOORE, Mrs. Ellen Stanhope escorts her three daughters to a ball. As her oldest flirts with a beau, Ellen is reminded of her courtship and early years of marriage with Anthony, before tragedy struck with the death of their infant son. The marriage has faded and dulled. Not until she sees Anthony dancing with a woman he courted years before does Ellen realize how much she misses him, still loves him, and yearns for him to yet feel the same way for her.

5 stars

In the delightful novella, THE DUKE’S BROTHER, by Heather B. Moore, Mr. Gregory Clark is having an awful day, and it only gets worse when he’s run over by … a woman. Mabel Russell reluctantly visits her sister in London for the Season, even though she’d rather stay in the country cataloging insects and aphids. When she runs into Gregory Clark, quite literally, she’s afraid to show any interest, especially since he’s a member of the dreaded ton. But getting to know Gregory becomes an unexpected delight.

My Review

I just love reading novellas! They are the perfect quick fix for the end of a long day. I definitely enjoyed this collection; all are good stories and I loved several of them. It's always a pleasure to read from the Regency era, and even though that was a theme of all these stories, each one was different very different. I found The Mender by Carla Kelly to be especially unique with it's focus on the aftermath of a battle at sea and tending to the injured. My other favorites are The Duke's Brother by Heather B. Moore and Dream of a Glorious Season by Sarah Eden.

(Thank you to Ebooks For Review for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Cover Reveal with Giveaway! Saving Marilee by Annette K. Larsen


Coming May 1, 2015 - Saving Marilee by Annette K. Larsen
Kindle-Cover-1


Synopsis

Marriage wasn’t bliss—not for Marilee. Instead of finding contentment with the handsome son of a sovereign duke, she found betrayal and neglect. And fear. A fear that finally lifts when her husband dies, freeing her from his domineering hand. But freedom alone can't give her peace, and she must battle to regain her love for life, rebuild her happiness, and reclaim the ability to trust. When her charming neighbor intrudes on her quiet life, offering his friendship (and a dog, of all things), she must determine whether his interest is genuine, whether he is a friend or foe, and whether he deserves the fragile bit of trust she has managed to scrape together.

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Annette 
Author Annette K. Larsen

I was born in Utah, part of a crazy, fun family of nine. I grew up in Flagstaff, AZ and St. Louis, MO before striking out on my own college adventure in Virginia. I decided to try my hand at writing novels after I was married and living in Idaho. I write clean romance because it’s my favorite genre, but often difficult to find.
I have Charlotte Brontë to thank for the courage to write novels. After being bombarded with assigned reading about women who justified abandoning either their families or their principles in the name of love, I had the great fortune of reading Jane Eyre. And that was it: finally, a heroine who understood that being moral and making the right choice was hard, and sometimes it hurt, but it was still worth it. After rereading it several years later, I realized that if I wanted more books to exist with the kinds of heroines I admired, then I might as well write a few myself. My books are about women who face hard choices, who face pain and rejection and often have to face the reality of sacrificing what they want for what is right. The consequences are often difficult or unpleasant, but in the end, doing what’s right will always be worth it. I believe there is no substitute for good writing or good chocolate. Fortunately, one often leads to the other.

Cover Reveal Giveaway 

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 4/8/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review & Giveaway: House Divided by Jennifer Peel


House Divided (1)


  House Divided by Jennifer Peel

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

There is a law irrevocably decreed in the state of Alabama that you must choose a team. You're either an Auburn fan or an Alabama Fan. There is no fence sitting or waffling. It’s one or the other. However, it doesn't mean that you can’t fall in love with someone from the opposing side. They even have a name for it ... House Divided. Ellie Eaton and Brady Jackson were just such a couple, but unfortunately they were separated by more than just their loyalty to a university. Against the odds and against the rules, Ellie and Brady dove right into the forbidden current of friendship and then love. Their sweet, innocent romance was one for the storybooks, but old rules and family prejudices ultimately tore them apart, just as they were each ready to depart to their beloved universities, Ellie to Auburn and Brady to Alabama. But years later, when near tragedy strikes, they're brought together again and given a second chance at love, this time with help from some very unlikely sources. House Divided is a sweet romance filled with southern charm, a dash of humor and, for good measure, a pinch of lies and intrigue.

My Review

Wow, there is quite a bit of emotion in this story. The friendship between Ellie and Brady is so sweet, and he is so determined to win her heart again. His relentlessness is my favorite thing about this book. It was refreshing for the hero to know exactly what he wants and goes for it. Of course, this laid the conflict at the feet of Ellie, who repeatedly thought/said how much she wanted him, but it was impossible to be together. Major angst-fest. The prologue was written well about Ellie and Brady's early relationship; it made me invested in them and rooting for them from the beginning to the end. Ellie's Aunt Lu is a fabulous secondary character and helps show Ellie's more compassionate and nurturing side. She has an unwavering devotion to her aunt that tells us how deeply she loves. I couldn't put this book down and had yet another late-night reading hangover :)

(Thank you to Ebooks for Review for providing a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)

Jennifer Peel HeadshotAuthor Jennifer Peel

 I'm a Colorado native who currently calls Alabama home. I'm the mother of three amazing children who have grown up way too fast. I enjoy the mountains, vacations at the beach, date night with my husband, late night talks with my kiddos, touring model homes, and pink bubblegum ice cream. I grew up on the Western Slope in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. I learned to love the beauty of the outdoors, but not camping--unless staying overnight at the Marriott counts. I met my husband while living in Denver and then several years later we traded the beauty and majesty of the Colorado Rocky Mountains for the art and culture of Chicago, Illinois. My family and I enjoyed living near this world class city, despite the crazy cold winters, but new adventures awaited in Northern Alabama--just six hours away from Orange Beach, Alabama. These three magical places (the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Chicago, and Orange Beach) are the inspired locations used in several of my books.
Jennifer Peel
  

25_Amazon_Paypal$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 4/12/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


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Review: Summer Campaign by Carla Kelly



Summer Campaign by Carla Kelly

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing

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Synopsis

Miss Onyx Hamilton is about to make what everyone agrees is a perfect marriage—until handsome Major Jack Beresford comes galloping into her life. But with his fortune and connections, Onyx knows he’d never ask for her hand, would he? New and longtime fans alike will relish this delightful romance from Carla Kelly. Charming, sweet, and full of fun, it’s simply impossible to stop reading.

My Review

The synopsis of this book makes it sound more light and fluffy than I found it to be. Onyx is an illegitimate child, being bullied by her foster mother into a loveless marriage with an obnoxious reverend- who could give Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice a run for his money. I rather pitied Onyx as she woodenly gives in and goes along with plans that others make for her life. My interest in the book was dwindling until Onyx experiences independence from her family as she travels to her future home and begins to realize the value of the person she really is. She meets Jack through a harrowing experience that tests her mettle and establishes her as the strong and spunky female lead I always enjoy reading about. Jack is a wounded soul, just trying to get home and recover from the nightmares of war, but Onyx brings joy and laughter into his heart again- I found his wicked sense of humor a fun element to their relationship. For a regency romance, this book is a little more gritty than the norm, which I appreciated as the author explores themes of death, sickness, grief, war, societal bounds, and family loyalty. Highly recommend to fans of Jane Austen, Julie Klassen and Julianne Donaldson.

(Thank you to Cedar Fort Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)