Showing posts with label Christian fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christian fiction. Show all posts

Friday, April 17, 2020

The Rebel Bride Book Review

Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 10 in the Series 

The Rebel Bride Book Reviewed
When I started this historical fiction series, I knew it included a book that took place during the American Civil War.  After all, it would be very difficult to write a series that includes major historical events and omit the civil war.  Nevertheless, this was the one book I did not look forward to reading.  I put it off for several weeks after I finished reading the 9th book in the series.  Only because it has been such a wonderful and well-written series, did I decide to go ahead and chance it.

I get so tired of reading books filled with opinions or propaganda about the American Civil War.  Frankly, it is one subject that will cause me to stop in the middle a book, put it down, and never finish reading if the author deems it necessary to spout vitriol. We all know wars are fought for many reasons and that evil criminal acts are overlooked in wartime.  Often the real reason one takes up arms against their brother is lost long before the first bloody battle.  Justification for invasion and brutality becomes the mantra of the day that reverberates for many generations that follow.

It turns out, I had nothing to fear about reading The Rebel Bride.  The author did not denigrate the soldiers. She simply set up a wartime situation where individuals are challenged to be honorable instead of depraved.

Ironically, this book turned out to be one of my favorites in the series.  I would like to believe that even in the midst of war, basic human decency and kindness still exist.


Plot of The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear
1863 Tennessee - American Civil War - April 1961 - April 1965


 Rebel Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower)The war had already taken so much from Pearl MacFarlane.  Her 3 oldest brothers are casualties of war, lost in the battles of Shiloh, Fishing Creek, and Chickamauga. Her father is mentally broken, with only occasional moments of clarity.  Her mother, previously deceased.  Her youngest brother, and only remaining sibling, drifts away to places unknown, presumably hunting, as soon as he rises each morning.  The work of the farm is left almost completely to Pearl and there is only so much she can do. 

When her cousin, a sergeant for the Confederacy, arrives with wounded prisoners of war, Pearl is not at all prepared to be conscripted to duty.  She doesn't have food, beds, or even training as a nurse, yet she is required to care for these men.  The physical and emotional toll on Pearl is tremendous.  

Because her cousin has a soft spot for Pearl, he sends a man to help her tend the prisoners.  Fortunately, Portius does know how to treat and bandage the wounds and amputations.  He also has the physical strength to help the wounded soldiers move when necessary.

At first, it is difficult for Pearl to aid the very men who could have killed her brothers.  At the very least, they represent the army responsible for their deaths.  However, as she nurses them, learns their names, their birthplaces, and hears stories about their lives, she sees the individuals as living human beings who need help.  In turn, there are a few who try to help her, if in no other way, by being respectful of her father.  Unfortunately, as with any group, there are some who would prey on the isolation and her vulnerability. 

Not only is Pearl faced with providing food, shelter and medical attention to the enemy, she is further challenged by her romantic feelings for one of the prisoners.  In the midst of the American Civil War, a Confederate and a Yankee do not make an ideal couple.


More Factual Background


The story of The Rebel Bride takes place in Tennessee.  Every county of Tennessee endured battles.  Homes and farmland were destroyed along the way, many were intentionally destroyed as threatened in the book.  

During the Civil War, it is a fact that homeowners were required to take in wounded soldiers from both sides depending on which army occupied their area at any given time.  One renowned home, turned hospital, still stands and is located not very far from my own home.

Few people realize that Norwegian immigrants fought in the Civil War for the Union.  Shannon McNear includes a wounded Norwegian soldier in the group of prisoners tended by Pearl.

The only real fictional liberty that McNear might have carried too far in this book, is the marriage between a black woman and a white man (one of Pearl's older brothers).  Even McNear admits that it is highly unlikely that could have happened.

Surprisingly, I highly recommend this book.  



  

Previously Reviewed Book from the Daughters of the Mayflower Series

 
The Mayflower Bride Book ReviewThe Mayflower Bride Book 1 Reviewed

True American History woven into the fabric of fiction! An excellent historical romantic fiction about the Mayflower voyagers: Separatists & Strangers.



The Pirate Bride Book ReviewThe Pirate Bride Book Review

At the innocent age of 12, Maribel Cordoba's life changes forever. Her formative years & education are guided by nuns, but she never truly forgets the pirate who stole her heart.



The Captured Bride Book ReviewThe Captured Bride Book Review

An unlikely team is assigned a mission that is fraught with danger. It becomes necessary to trust a previously perceived enemy. I highly recommend this historical Christian fiction.



The Patriot Bride Book ReviewThe Patriot Bride Book Reviewed

After enduring several life tragedies, this wealthy young widow finds the strength & needed alliance to serve the patriots as a messenger. Highly recommended!



The Liberty Bride Book ReviewThe Liberty Bride Book Reviewed

In The Liberty Bride, Emeline Baratt is sailing home to America. Her allegiance to America is greatly tested when the unthinkable happens.









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Friday, February 7, 2020

The Liberty Bride Book Reviewed

Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 6 in the Series

The Liberty Bride Book Reviewed
I've never found a series of books that I enjoyed more than the Daughters of the Mayflower series. 

Every book is based on the life of one of the female descendants of a married couple from the Mayflower ship.  Each descendant plays a part in a pivotal moment in American history.  

Just as each book has a different main character, each book is written by a different author.  Together, these books make a magnificent historical fiction series.

In The Liberty Bride,  Emeline Baratt is sailing home to America after the death of her aunt in Brighton.  Unfortunately, that voyage is during the War of 1812, which is fought between America and the United Kingdom.  

Her allegiance to America is greatly tested when the unthinkable happens. 


The Liberty Bride

1814 Baltimore - The War of 1812    (Jun 18, 1812 – Feb 18, 1815)

 The Liberty Bride
Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 6
Check Price
In spite of the ongoing war between America and Britain, Emeline's father has sent his best ship, under the command of his most experienced captain, to bring his daughter safely home from the United Kingdom.  However, even a privateer ship is vulnerable to capture in wartime.  They are simply no competition to a heavily armed warship.

Emeline, the captain and his crew are taken captive when they are attacked by a Royal Navy frigate, the HMS Marauder.  Being a prisoner on a warship and being forced to work for the enemy is not something anyone would desire.  But, there is obviously an even greater danger for a female.  

Realizing her perilous plight, and with the encouragement of her companion, Emeline makes the decision to tell the Captain of the Marauder that she is in fact a British loyalist following her father's demands to return to America.  She convinces everyone, including the crew from the American ship, that her loyalties lie with Britain.  As such, she is given tremendous freedom onboard the Marauder.  She hopes to be able to gain military plans and information that she could somehow pass along to American commanders.  What she doesn't realize is that there is already an American spy onboard and she has just make an enemy of a much needed ally. 


More about The Daughters of the Mayflower Series


If you have read my previous reviews on books in this series, you already know these books are not only historical fiction, but they all have romance woven throughout the pages.  However, in the case of Emeline Baratt, she has no desire to marry, which is the basis of her conflict with her father.  She would prefer that men stop pursuing her and her dowry.  She wishes to be an artist, not a wife tied to a home and domestic chores.  I very much enjoyed the way the author, Mary Lu Tyndall, developed a romantic plot in The Liberty Bride.


Previously Reviewed Book from the Daughters of the Mayflower Series

 
The Mayflower Bride Book ReviewThe Mayflower Bride Book 1 Reviewed

True American History woven into the fabric of fiction! An excellent historical romantic fiction about the Mayflower voyagers: Separatists & Strangers.



The Pirate Bride Book ReviewThe Pirate Bride Book Review

At the innocent age of 12, Maribel Cordoba's life changes forever. Her formative years & education are guided by nuns, but she never truly forgets the pirate who stole her heart.



The Captured Bride Book ReviewThe Captured Bride Book Review

An unlikely team is assigned a mission that is fraught with danger. It becomes necessary to trust a previously perceived enemy. I highly recommend this historical Christian fiction.



The Patriot Bride Book ReviewThe Patriot Bride Book Reviewed

After enduring several life tragedies, this wealthy young widow finds the strength & needed alliance to serve the patriots as a messenger. Highly recommended!









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Friday, January 24, 2020

The Gregory Sisters: While Love Stirs - Book 2 Reviewed

The Gregory Sisters: While Love Stirs - Book 2 Reviewed
The Gregory sisters were all strong willed, independent thinkers, and activists who were ready to challenge the social norms of their day.  Even though they were not prepared to be financially independent, when their supporting parents died, by necessity, they faced that challenge head on with determination and action.

In my last article, I reviewed the first book in the series, When Love Calls, that focused on the oldest sister, Hannah.  In this review, I'll tell you about Charlotte, the middle sister and the second book in the series, While Love Stirs.

Each of these books is categorized as a historical romance.  While that is true, the stories are so much more than simple romance novels.  They are about women who must survive in a time that females were not expected, in many cases not even allowed, to work outside of the home.  They each must find a niche that will allow for an income and is acceptable in their society.


While Love Stirs Book Synopsis


 While Love Stirs
(The Gregory Sisters Book #2)
Although an independent thinker like her sisters, Charlotte Gregory's interests follow a more traditional role for a woman in the 1910's. She loves to cook!  Believing that the only job for her would be a chef, or chef's assistant, she heads to a renowned restaurant in a local hotel. After all, she is a graduate of Fannie Farmer's School of Cookery.  Surely an esteemed hotel/restaurant establishment would recognize her value and give her a chance.  

After being directed to the side entrance of the hotel designated for unaccompanied women, she quickly discovers the head chef's "not a chance" attitude toward a woman being employed in the kitchen.

Then, when she visits her sister in the hospital, she is disgusted with the lack of concern for proper nutrition for the patients.  She tries to explain to the doctor how the right meals could help patients get well sooner, but she is once again met by the steel wall of male dominance and superior thinking.  Not to mention the hospital's very limited budget and inability to make changes.

Dejected, distressed, yet still determined to get a job cooking, Charlotte returns home to consider what other options might be available to her.  When she finds a newspaper article advertising a contest being hosted by the gas company promoting gas ranges, she believes she has found her answer.  If she can just win that contest, surely she would be recognized as a real chef with an education in nutrition and be able to find suitable employment.  But, there are other women who wish to win that contest too and will stoop to deceptive levels to accomplish their own personal goals.



And, that is the limit to how much of the plot I will divulge.  You will simply have to read the book to find out what happens!


My Thoughts & Opinion of "While Love Stirs"


I admit, it had not occurred to me that a woman would have trouble finding a job as a cook in the 1910's.  This book gave me a new appreciation for the plight of a single women who did not wish to be forced to marry just to survive.  I believe I have taken the vast opportunities for granted in my lifetime.  I've always had the right to vote, I've always been able to wear comfortable clothing, I've always been allowed to walk through the front doors of public places, I have always been able to get a job when needed, and I was most certainly allowed to make my own marriage decision.  

While this series has been entertaining to read, it has also been somewhat educational and thought provoking.  I knew the history of the suffrage movement, the history of fashion in America, and the history of etiquette.  But, I still found it enlightening to read how it could have affected individual lives.  I have no doubt the real life stories would be far worse since there is not always a happy resolution in reality.








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Friday, January 17, 2020

The Gregory Sisters: When Love Calls - Book 1 Reviewed

The Gregory Sisters: When Love Calls - Book 1 Reviewed
I recently read a delightful series of romantic fiction books set in the early 1910s.  The books provide a clear picture of what life in America was like for women a hundred years ago.  Specifically, women who were not married and clearly needed a way to earn a living.  They serve as a reminder of how thankful I am that I was not an adult female during the Progressive Era.  What a difference 60 years can make!

The Gregory sister's lives are turned upside down when their parents die.  Not only are they grieving the death of their parents, but they cannot afford to payoff the mortgage and family debts.  They are faced with losing their home while having to make major life changes and decisions that will effect the rest of their lives.  Neither sister has a husband, fiance, or even a prospective husband.  And, neither sister has a job.  Actually, they are all still in school, albeit, the two oldest are in vocational schools.

The first book, When Love Calls, provides the background information for the series.  The 3 sisters are in all of the books, but each book has a primary sister character.


When Love Calls Book Synopsis


 When Love Calls (The Gregory Sisters Book #1)
A Novel
When Love Calls focuses on the oldest sister, Hannah, who is in law school.  When her parents die and the family home is repossessed, Hannah makes the difficult decision to leave school and go to work.  After all, someone has to earn money for rent, food, clothes, etc., for all 3 girls. 

Hannah feels extremely blessed when she is hired as a "Hello Girl", a switchboard operator for the telephone company. Unfortunately, the very thing that would make Hannah an excellent attorney, is the part of her personality that makes her a problem by company standards.  Hannah has a mind of her own.  She doesn't make a very good conformist follower.  Still, she tries hard because she really needs the job.

There are so many changes all at once in Hannah's life, it makes it hard for her to know who she can trust.  When the very attorney who represented the bank in their home foreclosure seems to keep turning up, Hannah isn't sure if he is trustworthy, yet she needs his help.  As it turns out, they have a lot in common.


My Opinion of "When Love Calls"


I suspect this book was named "When Love Calls" because Hannah is a switchboard operator.  However, it could easily reference how she changed the entire direction of her life because of her love for her sisters.  She answered the "call" to care for her sisters instead of finishing law school. 

Because of her life changes, she meets someone and falls in love.  Of course, he does call her on the phone occasionally.  Regardless, what is clear is that love dictates Hannah's actions. 

There are many changes in the Gregory sister's lives over the course of the series.  The one thing that is consistent is the bond between sisters.  Regardless of trials, failures, fortune, or life choices, these girls remain committed to supporting each other.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a wholesome and uplifting story of love and family.








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Friday, December 27, 2019

The Patriot Bride Book Reviewed

Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 4 in the Series


The Patriot Bride Book Reviewed
It is unusual to find a series where every book in the series deserves an individual review!  However, that is the case with the Daughters of the Mayflower historical series.

As I have read each book, I have thought it was my favorite.  At this point, I must declare that this is clearly a series of favorites for me.

Because these books are historically accurate, simply written with fictional characters included, I have felt I was walking the path alongside these women.  There are real places, real historical individuals, real historical events that are the foundation of each story.  It is easy to believe these "Daughters of the Mayflower" could have been real people.

In The Patriot Bride, both George Washington and Benjamin Franklin are important characters in the book.  Not one word cast these real men in a negative light.  Nor does the author take liberties with their integrity, as some fictional books are prone to do.  I appreciate her for being true to the character, wisdom and extreme sacrifice of these esteemed men of our real American history.  

This book made me sit back and really consider the price of America's freedom.  It isn't the first time in my life that I recognized the dedication and sacrifices of our patriots, but the book served as an excellent reminder that we owe them, at the very least, a debt of gratitude. 

I've seen the dates and years written in ink before, but until I read this book, I had not considered how long 8 years is, in reality.  I had not realized that George Washington had not been back even for a visit, to his beloved Mount Vernon for that entire 8 years.  Personally, I don't like being away from home for 8 hrs, or 8 days.  I can't imagine the enormous dedication required to endure 8 years.


The Patriot Bride

1774 Philadelphia - American Revolutionary War

 The Patriot Bride: Daughters of the Mayflower
Book 4
Check Price
Faith Jackson is a mere child whose parents were killed in a home fire.  Her neighbor, a young George Washington, becomes Faith's guardian.  Being an only child, Faith has always looked up to George, like an older brother.  Now, she depends on him for everything.  

Because George is a single, young man with a job, he places Faith with friends, a wealthy childless married couple in Boston, but he maintains frequent correspondence with Faith.  When her adoptive parents die, once again George is the only constant in her life.

George introduces her to a soldier, whom she marries.  Sadly, her new husband dies in battle within a week.  Now, Faith is an extremely wealthy young widow.  

As a prominent member of Boston society with plenty of free time, Faith, along with a group of friends, provides aid and volunteers frequently to community service.  These activities, along with her long standing relationship to George Washington, make Faith the perfect messenger for the patriots.  She is assigned a permanent contact, whom she meets regularly to exchange information.

It is necessary to trust messengers completely.  It doesn't take long for Faith to form a strong attachment to Matthew Weber.  When he doesn't show for "meetings", Faith worries something has happened to him.  Likewise, if Faith does not make a meeting, Matthew worries about her.  After all, no one understands better than Faith, how anything can happen in wartime and both sides would seek to eliminate spies or intercept inportant messages. 


A Few of My Personal Thoughts About The Patriot Bride


If I had previously read a review that told me about the personal tragedies in Faith's life, I might have thought it would be a very sad book to read.  That was not the case.  We were told of the deaths and difficulties, but we were not forced to read chapters of details or suffer with Faith as they happened.

The Patriot Bride Book Reviewed
Also, her fondness of George Washington, followed by their continued alliance, actually made perfect sense.  At no time did the author try to make their relationship inappropriate or unfitting of the father of our country.

I thoroughly enjoyed the intrigue, including the stressful uncertainties,  in this book.  Although, I must admit, my favorite part included Benjamin Franklin wearing a dress, which made me laugh out loud in the middle of the night.

Just as the previous books in this series, The Patriot Bride would not easily release me for sleep.  I literally had to find peaceful moments in the middle of chapters to decide to set it down so I could get needed rest.  But, be assured, I awoke with a desire to continue reading instead of attending to my daily work.

I give this book my highest recommendation!



The Daughters of the Mayflower Book Series


While this is a series, the books do not focus on one character.  They are based on a family lineage, descendants of one original Mayflower couple.  Furthermore, the books are written by different authors, which gives each story a unique quality.

Each stand-alone book is most excellent and deserving of individual praise for being outstanding literature. 
 

Previously Reviewed Book from the Daughters of the Mayflower Series

 
The Mayflower Bride Book ReviewThe Mayflower Bride Book 1 Reviewed

True American History woven into the fabric of fiction! An excellent historical romantic fiction about the Mayflower voyagers: Separatists & Strangers..



The Pirate Bride Book ReviewThe Pirate Bride Book Review

At the innocent age of 12, Maribel Cordoba's life changes forever. Her formative years & education are guided by nuns, but she never truly forgets the pirate who stole her heart.



The Captured Bride Book ReviewThe Captured Bride Book Review

An unlikely team is assigned a mission that is fraught with danger. It becomes necessary to trust a previously perceived enemy. I highly recommend this historical Christian fiction.









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Friday, March 22, 2019

The Interlude by Lin Stepp Reviewed

The Interlude by Lin Stepp Reviewed
Definition of Interlude: an intervening episode, period, space, etc.  

Everyone has times in our lives when we need a break from work and responsibility, especially when we are grieving.  Therefore, most of us can identify with Mallory Wingate as she seeks a refuge of peace in The Interlude.

The story takes place in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, which is the perfect place for respite and recovery.  I know from my own experience that the Smoky Mountains are a little piece of heaven here on earth. 


Synopsis of The Interlude


 The InterludeCheck PriceMallory has spent the last few years working full-time and also caring for her terminally ill mother.  When her mother dies, Mallory has an emotional breakdown at work.  Her concerned boss insists that she take time off, so Mallory returns to the one place where she has always found love and care, her grandparents home.

On the plane, a handsome man is seated next to her, but Mallory prefers to be left alone.  However, Lucas James is intent on engaging Mallory in conversation.  He even invites her to join him for dinner during the layover between flights.  What seems like a casual meeting and flirtation when traveling, actually takes on a totally different significance when the two passengers find their destination is exactly the same place, her grandparents home and resort.  

Mallory is slightly embarrassed to find out that Lucas is the pro-golf instructor at the resort.  Lucas is shocked to discover that Mallory is actually his employers granddaughter.  Both would prefer to keep their "interlude" a secret between just the two of them.  Both have their own issues and baggage that keeps them from desiring a romantic relationship.  

One of the things I found most interesting about this book was how the author showed us just how easy it is to say something hurtful to someone else without realizing, or even intending, to cause pain.  Most likely, we have all experienced that to some degree in our own lives, but seeing it written so vividly in the context of a conversation in a book, really can be eye-opening.  A promising friendship, or relationship, can be irreparably fractured by careless words and assumptions.


My Copy of the Book, The Interlude


I would like to thank the author, Lin Stepp, for gifting me with an advance copy of "The Interlude".  That gave me the opportunity to read and review it before the actual release date.  You will definitely want to grab your copy of this wonderful book today and start reading as soon as possible.

  


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Thursday, February 21, 2019

His Stubborn Sweet Bride: A Christian Historical Romance Novel Reviewed

An excellent Christian historical romance that transfixes readers with Molly's story of loss, betrayal, survival & desperate decisions. Highly Recommended!
I admit, His Stubborn Sweet Bride (Colorado Reborn Book 1) written by Chloe Carley was a big surprise for me. I loved this book! 

This is the first book by the author, Chloe Carley, that I have ever read, but it won't be the last.  I am beyond thrilled to find a new Christian author who writes unique and original content.  That is what I liked best about this book.  I didn't feel like I had ever read one that was similar in plot or characters.  Plus, I loved the unexpected surprise elements in it.  

The story takes place in 1878 in several early settlement cities in America, including Cheyenne, Wyoming, Denver &  Indian Rock, Colorado, which is beautiful, but rough country.  The depiction of the towns, the battle between the original settlers and the new comers, as well as the harrowing life events of the main character, are all reasons why I was transfixed by this story. 



The Plot of His Stubborn Sweet Bride (Colorado Reborn Book 1)


When a wealthy aristocrat from England, Nate Trowbridge, and his sister, Leonie, inherent their uncles ranch in Colorado, they decide to move to America.  Leonie is young, adventurous, and quite naive, while her older brother, Nate, is steadfast and somewhat boring.  Nate wishes to protect his sister for as long as possible.  He also desires to maintain their good name, respectability and social standing even in the new country.  

Upon arrival, they find the ranch is not exactly in the condition they expected.  Immediate repairs and restoration are necessary.  Because there is little else in Indian Rock other than his Circle T Ranch, Nate has to travel to Denver to hire craftsman, and purchase furnishings and decor.  That also gives him the opportunity to visit with old family friends.


Nate Trowbridge's Story


 His Stubborn Sweet Bride:
A Christian Historical Romance Novel
(Colorado Reborn Book 1)
Check Price
Nate believes it will be time for him to get married as soon as the ranch is renovated.  He believes his obvious choice is one of the daughters of old family friends.  Actually, over several generations, the two families have married one another to preserve their wealth and status in society.  The Chiswicks live in Denver, therefore they have already made the necessary transition to America from England.  After visiting with them, he has every reason to believe Emmaline Chiswick is like-minded and would welcome his proposal. 

Once the house repairs are finished, Nate sends a letter of marriage proposal by way of his ranch foreman, Jem, to Denver when he finds out that Jem has to go to the dentist there.  It is necessary for the doctor to give Jem a dose of laudanum so he can preform the dental work needed.  Jem is still under the influence of the laudanum when he searches for the address on the envelope to deliver the letter.  He immediately notes that the woman doesn't appear to be the type of woman he would expect his boss to court and certainly not to marry, but when Molly opens the letter, she accepts Nate's proposal.  Everything gets pretty hazy for Jem and later he awakens to find himself, along with Molly, on a train destined for Indian Rock, Colorado.  


Molly Clanahan's Story


Molly's story is one I had never considered a possibility, but I could easily see how it would happen in 1878.   It made me think of current day human trafficking and how we all want to believe it can't be true and would never happen.

When her father and brothers all died from influenza, Molly was left completely alone.  The bank foreclosed on her family farm and  she had no way to survive.  It seemed becoming a mail order bride would be her best option.  

Molly started corresponding with Jack in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  After she sent him a picture of herself, as requested, the man she believed to be a lonely widower sent her train fare to Wyoming.  When she arrived, she was met by Jack and immediately taken to his business, the local brothel.  She was expected to go to work immediately.  The promise of marriage was just a ploy to get her there.  Jack was abusive, threatening, and downright evil.  Molly felt trapped until she decided to risk her life and get away.  

Even after Molly has escaped the brothel, Jack swore to find her and make her pay for humiliating him.  She knew she was living under the shadow of fear and possible discovery.  She felt fortunate to get a job as a seamstress in Denver, but when Jack found her, she was once again desperate for escape.  That was when the man with the letter containing a marriage proposal showed up at her door. 


My Recommendation of "His Stubborn Sweet Bride"


I have now given you the basic background of the characters and book plot, but you must read this book yourself.  You might even find that you think twice before you jump to conclusions about people and judge their actions.  

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.  While it dips into the dark world of murder, lies, criminals, and pure evil, nothing is too graphic, yet it clearly depicts depravity.  

In addition to the expected romantic love story, the book also aptly depicts the concern and protective nature of an older brother toward his sister.  I enjoyed the way the author developed both types of love throughout the book.

 


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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Review of The Steadfast Series by Nancy Moser

Not Your Typical Christian Fiction


When I was much younger, it was hard to find good Christian fiction. Grace Livingston Hill ( who wrote between 1877 and 1947) almost owned the Christian romance genre. Her books are still popular today, but many in younger generations find her books too old-fashioned. Today's Christian readers, however, have far more choices. Many excellent books now exist in the genres of Christian contemporary romance and Christian historical fiction. We also have Randy Singer's Christian legal thrillers to compete with John Grisham. And we have Nancy Moser's contemporary Christian fiction.




Amazon classifies The Steadfast Series as religious and inspirational, as well as mystery and suspense. In my opinion it lives up to both labels. I couldn't put the books down. After reading The Seat Beside Me I had to download the other two books in the series immediately. Warning: When I finish a book in this series, the end leaves me hanging. I always feel the book is not quite complete. But isn't real life also like that? We don't always know what's next.

The Theme of The Steadfast Series


The books in The Steadfast Series emphasize the importance of individual choices. God deals each of us a hand, but we choose how we play that hand. We humans make decisions that have consequences. Each chapter of the three books in this series is introduced by a short related portion of Scripture.


The Seat Beside Me


When you fly alone, do you wonder who will be sitting beside you on your trip? I do. So do the characters in The Seat Beside Me. They have made conscious choices leading up to their presence on Flight 1382 to Phoenix. We watch many of their choices as they board and discover their seatmates. We get to know six passengers very well. Sonja is a schemer who tricks her way onto Flight 1382. She wants to be one of the three from her company to attend a corporate conference in Phoenix and hopes her attendance will help her get a promotion. She uses information she overheard to betray her colleague who was supposed to go so that she could take her place. The seat next to her is filled by a handsome black man in a suit, Roscoe Moore, who immediately engages her in conversation.

Henry's job requires him to fly, but flying scares him. He is a Christian and you see him struggle with his fear as he takes his seat. He's not afraid to die, but hates the feeling of being completely out of control of his life while in the air. He sits in the aisle seat on one side of George (below).

George lost his beloved wife seven months ago. He is grieving and is going to Phoenix to commit suicide. He has one daughter. He has left money, a note, and important documents so that she can't miss them after he is gone. George is sitting between a widow in the window seat who won't leave him alone and Henry, who rescues him from her.

Merry has a husband and son. She is going to Phoenix to meet a single girlfriend and escape her family and responsibilities for a few days. Although she loves Lou and Justin and they love her, she is a discontented housewife and her marriage is going through a rough phase. Merry is not at all happy when Lou and Justin surprise her by boarding the plane, and joining her for the trip. No escape.

Anthony is an egotistical plastic surgeon. He is rude to everyone he meets as he prepares to board. He's a man with no real friends and the reader can easily see the reason why. The person who (in his opinion) overfills the seat next to him is an unattractive woman he immediately labels as "white trash." Even her substandard English offends him. She calls him a "rich la-di-da" and lets him know she hates doctors.

Tina is a high school English teacher who hates her job and doesn't like her students much, either. She is also a Christian. She is not happy to be seated next to a teenage girl who reminds her way too much of her students, but as she converses with Gayla she actually begins to like her.

Dora is a reporter who did not want to go to Phoenix. Then her mother called and begged her to come because she needed surgery and didn't want to be alone. So Dora got ready to make the trip. At the last minute her mother called and Dora didn't have to go after all because the doctor said her mother no longer needed the surgery. She is delighted to stay home.


The Weather

Book Review of The Steadfast Series Suspense Novels by Nancy Moser
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay


Although the passengers are ready to go, a blizzard has closed the airport and delayed all flights in or out. Even after boarding, the plane is delayed on the tarmac for several hours because of snow and icy conditions. This delay gave the passengers a lot of time to get acquainted with their seatmates. The extra time of quiet and boredom made passengers more willing to open up with each other and have conversations that touched on important issues. As we listen in we learn what choices Tina, Sonja, George, Henry, Merry, and Anthony are contemplating. We also discern a lot about their problems and characters.

Finally the pilot tells the passengers that they will be taking off. The author does a good job of foreshadowing what will happen. Readers know the plane will crash.

The Crash

We watch the passengers reactions as they begin to realize the plane is about to crash. Those who survive impact fight for their lives as the plane falls apart and they await rescue. We see the actions of the most selfless and the most selfish. None of the survivors will ever forget their experience in the icy water and the hospital. The memory of the horror and fear while waiting for the rescue helicopter stays with them. We watch  as the crash experience changes all of them. None can go back to exactly the lives they had before.

The crash, important as it is in the plot, is not the main focus of the book. It is the characters' catalyst for change. The focus is on the decisions the characters make after the crash and how those decisions affect their new lives and relationships. You will meet some of the characters in other books by Nancy Moser. One of them is the main character of the next book in the series.  

A Steadfast Surrender


In this second book in the series, crash survivor Merry, who lost her husband and son in the crash, tries to start over in the small town of Steadfast. Orphaned teen Sim runs away from her aunt and uncle guardians. Claire Adams, a famous mosaic artist, is challenged by a speaker at church to give away all her possessions in complete surrender to Christ. All three end up in the small town of Steadfast, Kansas. It is there they meet and begin to influence each other as their lives change. All three need to choose a future direction for their lives.

Much of this book is set in the public library where Merry is the librarian. I loved watching the antics of the regular library patrons and the library "ghost." Most of the characters in this book continue on to the next book in the series. In this book most of the focus is on Merry, Sim, and Claire.

The Ultimatum

This third book in the series has the most suspense. The main characters are restaurant owners, their employees, and their families. Readers will have met most of them before in A Steadfast Surrender. This book zeroes in on 
  • Annie McFay, waitress at the Plentiful Café, her husband Cal McFay, handyman, and their ten-year-old-daughter Avi  
  • Bailey, owner of Bon Vivant. the one upscale gourmet restaurant in town, and Jered (teen son) Manson
  • Merry Cavanaugh (town librarian) and Police Chief boyfriend, Kent Kendell
  • Sim, a teen runaway in previous book, now living legally with Susan
  • Susan, a nurse at the hospital emergency room
  • Claire Adams, a famous mosaic artist who now resides in Steadfast
  • Jinko, owner of Palamba Bar and Grill in Eldora, a town twenty minutes from Steadfast. 
  • Vasylko (aka Vasy), the cook at Palamba Bar and Grill

 

The Action


As the book opens, Jered is running for his life. He has been on the streets for  three months. He had argued with his dad Bailey and Bailey had collapsed with a heart attack. Jered, afraid he might have killed his dad, grabbed a few clothes and fled in his truck. First he'd gone to Kansas City, but he found it too big and dangerous, so he drove to Eldora, which was much closer to home.

He had run out of money and was eating from the garbage. As he raids a dumpster in front of the Palamba Bar and Grill, Jinko, the owner, discovers him, offers him a job and gives him money to clean himself up and return to work for him. Jered accepts and Jinko offers him a place to live. He starts by washing dishes. He is eager for Jinko's acceptance. I won't say more about this because I don't want to spoil it. 

Bailey is plotting to swindle Cal. Annie suspects it. But the marriage is in trouble because Annie recently became a Christian and Cal not only wants nothing to do with Jesus, but also resents Annie following Him. Annie has to be careful what she says. 

Much of the plot revolves around the relationships of people and how they are trying to get ahead any way they can, escape or face their problems, and make important life choices.  Jered's dream is to be a musician but his father mocks that choice and wants Jered to work at Bon Vivant and take it over some day. Jered longs to feel important to his father and know his dad loves him. Annie wants Cal to become a Christian, but Cal wants to pull Annie away from Christ. Jinko wants to control and use Jered. Claire, Sim, Merry, and Susan play supporting roles in this drama as they help, encourage, and pray for others. 

It takes a life and death situation to truly reveal the character of Cal, Annie, Jered, and Jinko. Personal choices brought each of them to play their part in this scene where it appears someone will die. Each reveals his character or lack of it in this scene. And each must endure the consequences of his own choices and those of the others.

The Challenge

What is the purpose of life? Where can we find the significance we humans crave? The characters in these books are looking for those answers. What does God really want from us? How do we follow him in today's world? What does it mean to be a Christian? Why do bad things happen to even good people? This book helps people think through the answers to these questions as they make their own choices.

Review of The Steadfast Series by Nancy Moser: Three Christian Suspense Novels
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay


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Friday, July 20, 2018

Review of The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers

Review of The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers
The Masterpiece is Francine River's most recently published book. Like all of her books, The Masterpiece isn't a typical cookie-cutter Christian fiction where everything is perfect after salvation. It is a story about people with very real issues in life.  

Rivers doesn't write about fairy-tale versions of life as a Christian.  She writes about down to earth people who have been hurt or are struggling with life and in some cases, struggling with God.  Her books are not meant to malign Christians.  Rather to assure us that we are not alone and that it is not abnormal for a Christian to hurt, suffer, or even fail.  

She also doesn't steer clear of difficult subjects like adultery, divorce, abortion, pregnancy outside of wedlock, prostitution, separation from loved ones, or even going to hell, quite literally.

For nearly two decades, Francine Rivers has been my favorite author.  Ever since I picked up her series, Mark of the Lion.  I have read and reread that series several times.  I originally purchased it in hardback since Kindles were nonexistent.  But, it was one of the first sets of books I added to my Kindle when one was gifted to me.

It may seem odd to you that I read some books several times.  I do that when I want to read something I know I will love.  It is like watching the same movie over and over again because it touches something deep inside of you.

Even though most of my current day book purchases are made in Kindle version, I collect Francine Rivers' books in hardback copies too.  I never want to be without them.


Plot of The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers


 The MasterpieceCheck PriceWhen Grace Moore's father kills her mother and then commits suicide, Grace is found hiding in the closet.  Already she has seen and experienced too much for her young mind to comprehend.  She will be scared by the murder-suicide of her parents for the rest of her life.  

Grace is sent to live with a grieving single aunt she does not know.  Aunt Elizabeth has no idea how to truly care for a 7 year old child, nor does she want to learn.  Every time she looks at Grace, she is reminded of the man that killed her beloved sister.  It doesn't help that Grace looks like him.    

Having been raised in a loveless home, Grace doesn't really know or remember what love looks like.  It is no surprise that she ends up marrying a man who uses his charm to get what he wants from Grace, but who doesn't love her.  Because she believes her husband's education should come first, she drops out of college and goes to work full time to support them both and pay his tuition.  She is devastated when she comes home early from work one day and finds him with another woman.  Adulthood doesn't look anything like what she wanted, needed or expected.  She must get away and start over.  Even though she is a Christian, her problems are far from over.  

Seeking to find love in all the wrong places, she leaves a bar with a man she just met.  The decision to cast caution to the wind will change her life forever.  She ends up being a single mother torn, trying to choose what is best for her child.  She had planned to give her baby up for adoption.  Now, she wants to keep him, but the parents she had chosen to adopt her child, still want him too.

Elsewhere, Roman Velasco is a wealthy artist who has lived under the shadow of evil his entire life.  He never knew his father, and his mother died of an overdose when he was a child.  Roman moved from one foster home to another where the parents either gave up on him, or only wanted the money for taking in a foster child.  He joined a gang just so he could have a place where he fit in.  Selling drugs did not appeal to him, but he found his niche within the gang by painting graffiti on buildings.  After he is caught and arrested, he is sent to Masterson Ranch.  An isolated ranch that makes running away impossible.   However, the Mastersons and his teacher encourage him to develop his artistic abilities.  

As an adult, he changed his name from Bobby Ray Dean to Roman Velasco, and found a place where he, or at least his art, was wanted.  He became a workaholic and spent every day drawing or painting, often forgetting to eat.  He needed a personal assistant to take care of his daily tasks like grocery shopping, laundry, paying bills, answering the phone, etc.   Things a wife might do, if he had one.  But the last thing Roman wanted was a wife and he certainly did not want another personal assistant who wanted to be his wife or his girlfriend.

When Grace is sent by a temp agency to be Roman Velasco's personal assistant, she is not really impressed with him.  He is demanding, yet distant.  However, the distant part is much preferred by Grace.  So much so, that she ends up moving into the cottage on his property for convenience and going to work for him permanently.  


Conclusion


You may think from the description above that you can guess what is going to happen and to some extent, you might be right.  However, expect the unexpected.  Grace is a Christian, but Roman is not, so it is hardly a relationship made in heaven.  

It is what happens to Roman when he suffers a heart attack that I found most gripping.  I have heard people describe going to heaven when they die, or even seeing the white light, but reading River's description of what going to hell might look like, sent chills down my spine.  Frankly, it isn't as far fetched as I would like for it to be.

While this may not be my all-time favorite book by Francine Rivers, I would definitely recommend it.  




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