Book Review: The Chapel Car Bride, by Judith Miller

From the Back Cover

After a sheltered life in Pittsburgh, Hope Irvine is ready for a new adventure. When her father takes a position as a preacher in a railroad car converted into a traveling church, she’s thrilled at the chance to accompany him. While accommodations in their new chapel car home are tight, Hope couldn’t be happier putting her musical skills to good use and ministering to the people of West Virginia alongside her father. But when their chapel car arrives in Finch, West Virginia, they find a coal mining community that has hit hard times and is suspicious of outsiders.

Luke Hughes works for the coal mine when he can, but the struggling company doesn’t always offer steady work. When Reverend Irvine and Hope arrive in town, Luke is intrigued by what the reverend can teach him–and by the lovely and kind Hope.

When Hope’s desire to bring supplies and Sunday school classes to neighboring counties leads to her traveling with a flirtatious young mine manager, Luke is hard-pressed to suppress his jealousy. But when he begins to suspect the manager’s motives are less than charitable, can he prove it without hurting Hope, or worse, putting her in danger?


About the Author

Judith Miller is an award-winning author whose avid research and love for history are reflected in her bestselling novels. Judy makes her home in Topeka, Kansas. Learn more at http://www.judithmccoymiller.com.
My Thoughts:
I generally enjoy doing book reviews, I guess because I usually enjoy the books that I get from Bethany House. This time…not so much.  😦
I thought this story by Judith Miller had the potential to be good and quite captivating. The history was intriguing. I had never heard of Chapel Car churches before. I also think  the setting of the story was interesting, the hills of West Virginia in the early 1900s, with coal miners and bootleggers. But the story was a disappointment.
What I typically like about romance stories is the tension or conflicts between the main characters. There is some obstacle that each of them need to overcome, or some issue from the past that they need to deal with before they can truly pursue a relationship with the other person. This story? Nothing. It was kind of flat and one dimensional.
The author didn’t have any issues that the characters needed to overcome until the last few chapters. I almost felt it was an afterthought.
Okay, one last point while I’m complaining…the title of the book. The Chapel Car Bride? That was a bit deceiving since (spoiler alert), they didn’t get married until the last page!
I would give this book 2 out of 5 stars. Bethany House Publishers provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Book Review: Long Time Gone, by Mary Connealy

From the Back Cover

Someone Will Stop at Nothing to Claim the Boden Homestead!

The Boden clan thought their problems had ended with the death of a dangerous enemy, but have they uncovered the real plot to take their 1880s New Mexico ranch? Justin Boden is a top rancher and a rugged man, but with his brother, Cole, shot and in mortal danger, even a tough man faces doubts. And it doesn’t help that Angie DuPree, the assistant to the doctor trying to save Cole, is as distracting a woman as Justin ever laid eyes on.
With her and the doc’s timely skills, Cole looks to be on the mend, and Justin and the rest of the Bodens can turn their attention back to the dangers facing them. It’s clear now that everything that’s occurred is part of a much bigger plot that could date back to a decades old secret. Can they uncover all the pieces before danger closes in on them, or is the threat to the ranch even bigger than any of the Bodens could imagine?

About the Author

Mary Connealy writes “romantic comedies with cowboys” and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has more than half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie’s Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero. Learn more at http://www.maryconnealy.com.
My Thoughts:
Long Time Gone is the second book in The Cimarron Legacy series. This book is best read after reading the first book in the series, No Way Up.
This was a fun book to read. It was well written and the characters were interesting, which is typical for one of my favorite authors, Mary Connealy. I enjoyed the suspense aspect of the story as well. I appreciated that the mystery of the book was pretty much solved, but the big overall suspense keeps me anticipating the next book in the series.
Here are a couple of quotes from the book that show Mary’s humorous style, but don’t give away and of the plot.
        “Heath’s blue eyes flashed with mischief. Justin didn’t bother to punch him.”
        “Shaking his head, Chance muttered, “That had to terrify the undertaker.”
        “The bright side was that Cole hadn’t even come close to punching him. It probably meant he was still a little slowed down from being shot.”
I have to be honest and share the few things that I didn’t particularly like. There was one thing in the book that I felt was a little cliche for a western, cowboy romance. I can’t tell you what it was with giving a spoiler. But really it wasn’t bad enough for me to say I didn’t think it was a good book. I actually thought the book moved a little slowly in parts also.
I would give this book a 4 out of 5 stars. Mary Connealy is a wonderful author, and I think you would be quite pleased if you read this book, or any of her others. So, go read!
Bethany House Publishers provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Book Review: When Tides Turn, by Sarah Sundin

From the Back Cover

In a time of war, sometimes battles take place in the heart.

Tess Beaumont is tired of being thought of as just a pretty face. Eager to do her part for the war effort, she joins the Navy’s newly established WAVES program for women. Perhaps there she can convince people that there is more to her than meets the eye.
Lt. Dan Avery has been using his skills in the fight against German U-boats and hoping to make admiral. The last thing he wants to see on his radar is a girl like Tess. Convinced that romance will interfere with his goals, Dan is determined to stay the course, no matter how intriguing a distraction Tess is.
But love, like war, is unpredictable. When Dan is shipped out at the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, he finds himself torn between his lifelong career goals and his desire to help the beguiling Tess root out a possible spy on shore. Could this fun-loving glamour girl really be the one?
About the Author
Sarah Sundin is the author of Through Waters Deep and Anchor in the Storm, as well as the Wings of the Nightingale and the Wings of Glory series. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy, and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force. Sarah lives in California. Visit http://www.sarahsundin.com for more information.
My Thoughts
Sarah Sundin is a talented author. I have read a few of her other books and thoroughly enjoyed them. This book, When Tides Turn, is the third book in a series, Waves of Freedom. I have to be honest and say that I have not read the first two books and that may have played a part in how much I enjoyed this particular book.
Things I didn’t like: (Let’s get this short list out of the way first. :)) I didn’t care for all the military references and abbreviations. I’m not from a military family and all the letters like ASWU, TBF, etc., were a little distracting for me. Also, there were a lot of minor characters in the book and that made it a little confusing at time. The “suspense” or “mystery” part of the story seemed a little forced also. I felt that it was kind of added into the story just so the publisher could say it had it.
Things I did like: I liked the story. I liked the historical part being blended into the overall story. I can tell that Sarah did a lot of research and tried to be accurate. The characters were well developed and I could see their growth through the book. The book was well paced and I didn’t feel like it dragged on, but it kept my attention and ended well. In fact I liked it more and more as I read it.
I would give this book a four out of five stars. Revell furnished me with a copy of this book for an honest review.
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Book Review: In the Shadow of Denali, by Tracie Peterson and Kimberly Woodhouse

From the Back Cover

Their Future Depends on Unlocking the Secrets the Mountain Holds From the Past

Cassidy Ivanoff and her father, John, work at the new and prestigious Curry Hotel near the foot of Mount McKinley–Denali as it’s still called by the natives. John is the wilderness and exploration guide for the wealthy tourists while Cassidy works in the kitchen as Cook’s assistant. The entire staff buzzes with excitement during the busy days preparing for the President’s imminent visit. His historic trip to dedicate the new national park on his way to driving in the golden spike to officially complete the Alaska Railroad will be the beginning of a new era for all of them and place The Curry at the heart of Alaska.

Allan Brennan travels to the Curry Hotel to be an apprentice to the seasoned Alaska mountain guide, with hopes of discovering the truth about his father’s death on the mountain years earlier. His father’s business partner blames the guide for Henry Brennan’s untimely death, but Allan cannot be at peace until he knows for sure. He finds an unlikely ally in Cassidy, and as the two begin to look into the mystery, they suddenly find that things are much less clear, and much more dangerous, than either could ever imagine.

About the Authors:

Kimberley Woodhouse is the best-selling and award-winning author of more than a dozen books. She is a wife, mother, author, and musician with a quick wit and positive outlook despite difficult circumstances. A popular speaker, she’s shared at more than 2,000 venues across the country. Kimberley and her family’s story have garnered national media attention for many years including ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, The Montel Williams Show, Discovery Health channel’s Mystery ER, The Hour of Power, The Harvest Show, and over 1,000 other TV appearances and radio interviews. She lives and writes in Colorado with her husband of twenty-five years and their two amazing kids.

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than one hundred books. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.

This story had all the elements of a truly enjoyable book. It is Christian historical romance at its finest.

If you are at all interested in the history of the great state of Alaska, this book is for you. Not only do Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse give some history of the state of Alaska, but they also wrap it all up in a wonderful fiction package.

This book has adventure, intrigue, romance, and picture-painting description. I highly recommend this book. As you can see, I am very excited to read the next book in the series.

If you can’t tell, I really like this book. Tracie Peterson is one of my favorite authors. I think I am ready for another trip to Alaska!

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars. Bethany House gave me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.

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Book Review: Fatal Frost, by Nancy Mehl

From the Back Cover

Following in her absentee father’s footsteps in a law enforcement career, U.S. Marshal Mercy Brennan has just recovered from being shot in the line of duty. And, unbeknownst to her, her father’s recent reappearance in her life has put her in the sights of St. Louis’s most powerful gang. Her boss assigns Deputy U.S. Marshal Mark St. Laurent–Mercy’s ex-boyfriend–to get her out of town until her safety can be guaranteed.

Unaware of the extent her boss and Mark have been keeping her in the dark, it isn’t until a freak ice storm strands them at a remote location and out of contact with the district office that the full severity of their situation becomes clear. As the storm worsens, the forces of nature combine with a deadly enemy to put them in great danger. Can they survive long enough for help to arrive–if help is even coming at all?

“An out-of-control roller coaster of a romantic suspense novel! The first book in the Defenders of Justice series has something for every fan of the genre. . . . The characters are smart, cunning and know how to use their wits to get them out of tight situations. The plot is fast paced and is not standard or run of the mill. Nancy Mehl has raised the bar with her new series.”–RT Book Reviews

“Mehl has stepped up her writing skills with characters so believable that readers may find themselves praying for them.”–CBA Christian Market

About the Author

Nancy Mehl is the author of 22 books, including the Road to Kingdom and Finding Sanctuary series. She received the ACFW Mystery Book of the Year Award in 2009. She has a background in social work and is a member of ACFW and RWA. Nancy writes from her home in Missouri, where she lives with her husband, Norman, and their Puggle, Watson. Visit http://www.nancymehl.com to learn more.

My thoughts:

Let me start by saying that this is not one of my favorite genres. I watch a lot of police drama television shows with my husband, so when I read books that is not my “go to” genre. I prefer romance and historical type stories.

That being said, I do have some things to say about the story. I really thought it was kind of predictable. I didn’t feel like it was very suspenseful. The ending was a bit of a disappointment. The plot was resolved as far as the police drama part, but the relational part between the two main characters was not. That didn’t make for a satisfying conclusion for me. This book is the first in the series, so I guess that is why she ended it the way she did.

The mechanics of the actual writing was good, and if you like this type of story I would say you should read it.

I would give Fatal Frost three out of five stars. Bethany House publishers provided me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Book Review: Waves of Mercy, by Lynn Austin

From the Back Cover
Haunted by the Unknowns of Their Pasts, Two Women Search for Answers Along the Shores of Lake Michigan

Chicago socialite Anna Nicholson retreats to the Hotel Ottawa in Holland, Michigan, after breaking her engagement with her wealthy fiancé. Filled with questions about her newfound faith and troubled by a recurring nightmare, Anna finds solace in Derk Vander Veen, a seasonal hotel worker who plans to go into the ministry.

Prompted by a request from her son, Geesje de Jonge begins to sift through memories of emigrating from the Netherlands almost fifty years ago. As she writes them down for the Semi-Centennial anniversary of the town’s settlement, her story takes on a life of its own as she honestly and painfully recalls her regrets, doubts, hardships, and joys. Her story captivates Derk, who sees similarities between Geesje and Anna, and wishes to bring the two together.

Past and present collide as Anna and Geesje seek clarity, but neither expects the revelations that await them.

My Thoughts:
This was an intriguing story. It was historical and captivating. It was almost two stories in one and it came to a satisfying conclusion.
This wasn’t an outstanding book but it kept my attention and I enjoyed it for the most part. The one issue I had was only an opinion but I must say that it effected my review. That issue was that I would disagree on the author’s view on the reason for the Civil War.
I would give this book a four out of five stars.
Bethany House provided me a copy of this book for my honest review. This opinion is mine alone.

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Book Review: Where Hope Prevails, by Janette Oke & Laurel Oke Logan

From the Back Cover
She leans forward for her first glimpse of the little mountain town that has captured her heart, but something has changed.

Elizabeth Thatcher’s highly anticipated return to her beloved Coal Valley after a long summer with her family back east is filled with surprises . . . and not all of them good ones, in her estimation. Maybe the worst one of all relates to her treasured students. Can she adapt and learn to cope with this enormous change?

Her Mountie, Jarrick Thornton, hasn’t yet proposed, but she already knows what her answer will be. His duties take him away from the valley much too often, in her view, but the two of them, with patience and understanding–and one significant misunderstanding–are learning to know each other better.

The dark cloud looming on the horizon in Beth’s mind, though, is filled with questions about where their future might take them. As a member of the RCMP, Jarrick is stationed wherever his superiors send him . . . but what about her teaching position in Coal Valley?

Beth attempts to do her best with each obstacle she faces, but does she rightly assess each situation as it surfaces? Good intentions don’t always lead to good results. . . .
About the author
Janette Oke (pronounced ‘oak’) pioneered inspirational fiction and is the leading author in the category today. Love Comes Softly, her first novel, has sold over one million copies. Janette is now the bestselling author of over 70 books, 32 of which have been translated into fourteen languages. Her books have sold over 22 million copies.
Janette receives fan mail from all over the world and answers each letter personally. She received the 1992 President’s Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association for her significant contribution to Christian fiction, the 1999 CBA Life Impact Award and has been awarded the Gold Medallion Award for fiction. Janette and her husband, Edward, have four grown children and enjoy their many grandchildren. They make their home in Canada.

My thoughts:
What’s not to like about Janette Oke? She was one of the first Christian romance authors that I ever read and I enjoyed all of her books.
Where Hope Prevails didn’t disappoint me at all. I was immediately pulled into the story and I didn’t want to stop reading. The only thing that I could say in the negative was that I wish I had read the first two books in the trilogy first! This is a must read for all Janette Oke fans and fan-wannabes.
Bethany House provided a copy of this book to me for an honest review.

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