Monday, September 30, 2013

The Message on the Quilt

The Message on the Quilt
Stephanie Grace Whitson 
Barbour Publishing
April 1, 2013
Fiction, Romance, Historical 

Return to historic Nebraska for the stunning conclusion to The Quilt Chronicles. When Emilie Rhodes convinces her newspaper editor father to assign her to interview the speakers at the 1890 Chautauqua series, she meets and falls in love with “The Man of Many Voices.” But Noah Shaw’s professional life is only one reason he’s in Nebraska. Noah is on a quest to find answers. . .but will a treasured quilt bear a message of brokenness—or hope and healing?

I loved this book. As I've mentioned before Whitson is a favorite author. This is the conclusion to The Quilt Chronicles. While I feel like the whole quilt thing is a bit of a stretch to tie the books together it hardly interferes with Whitson's solid writing. Emilie is so fun to get to know and Noah is as sweet as can be. I'm often working in Nebraska and I loved hearing about the Chatauqua series. It was incredibly intriguing. In fact, it prompted me to do some further research of my own. You've got to love a fiction book that has you researching history. The sweetness of Emilie and Noah is naive and yet special. I so enjoyed "watching" them fall in love.  There is some major intrigue that pops up as well and will have you wondering just how the story will end. I'll leave that up to you to find out. You'll enjoy it, promise. 

My thanks to Barbour Publishing for providing me a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

The Shadow on the Quilt

The Shadow on the Quilt
Stephanie Grace Whitson
Barbour Publishing
November 2012
Historical, Fiction, Romance

Will past pain unravel the future?
Juliana Sutton has just about everything a woman could want. Her husband is riding a crest of success in the bustling capitol city of Lincoln, and Juliana leads various philanthropic endeavors. Once finished, their new home, a spectacular mansion on five acres, will be the envy of all. Then a devastating scandal erupts. . . .
Cass Gregory, the foreman overseeing the Sutton mansion construction, has spent recent years trying to untangle the disastrous results of his own past choices—and wishing he didn’t know the truth about his boss. When scandal ignites, Cass longs to comfort Juliana but is convinced her position in society and his past make a relationship impossible.
Juliana and Cass are thrown together as completion of the mansion draws near, each one wounded and afraid to trust. Will the shadow of a name stand between them and true happiness?
I'm a big fan of Whitson and have been from her earliest beginnings. The woman knows how to weave a story. At the risk of spoiling a part of the story I'm just going to let you know Juliana's husband dies. Hopefully you could pick up on that from the description. I'll let you read to find out the "scandal". The story is well developed and you'll be swept along. Juliana is sweet if not a bit naive. Cass is just a sweetheart. The two of them growing together is achingly sweet. You'll love where the story leads. 
I personally feel like the whole quilt theme is a bit of a stretch. But that's a moot point when it comes to this sweet story of redemption. Wrap up in a quilt and get ready to read for quite awhile. 
My thanks to Barbour Publishing for providing me with a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Five Days in Skye

Fve Days in Skye
Carla Laureano
David C. Cook
June 10, 2013
Romance, Fiction, Modern

Hospitality consultant Andrea Sullivan has one last chance to snag a high-profile client or she'll have to kiss her dreams of promotion good-bye. When she's sent to meet Scottish celebrity chef James MacDonald on the Isle of Skye, she just wants to finish her work as efficiently as possible. Yet her client is not the opportunistic womanizer he portrays himself to be, and her attraction to him soon dredges up memories she'd rather leave buried. For James, renovating the family hotel is a fulfillment of his late father's dreams. When his hired consultant turns out to be beautiful, intelligent, and completely unimpressed by his public persona, he makes it his mission to win her over. He just never expects to fall under her spell.

Soon, both Andrea and James must face the reality that God may have a far different purpose for their lives—and that five days in Skye will forever change their outlook on life and love.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not typically a big fan of modern fiction. However, this book may have just changed my mind. It was excellent. Such a good read! I was swept away to Scotland and found myself searching flights to I could go visit the land of my ancestors (you may have noticed the main character and I share a last name). Andrea is strong and defiant but is completely worn down by James. James is public yet very private and he's extremely likable. Like watching your favorite romantic comedy you won't want this book to end. You're going to want to grab some girlfriends, cook together, and then plan that trip to Scotland. Read it. Do it. 

My thanks to David C. Cook (holler at my favorite publishers!) for providing me with a free digital copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Love's Awakening

Love's Awakening
Laura Frantz
Revell Publishing
Sept 2013
Fiction, Historical, Romance
“Available August 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

Ellie Ballantyne, youngest child of Silas and Eden, has left finishing school. But back at her family home in Pittsburgh, Ellie finds that her parents are away on a long trip and her siblings don't seem to want her to stay. When she opens a day school for young ladies, she begins tutoring the incorrigible daughter of the enemy Turlock clan. The Turlocks are slaveholders and whiskey magnates, envious of the powerful Ballantynes and suspicious of their abolitionist leanings. As Ellie becomes increasingly tangled with the Turlocks, she finds herself falling in love with an impossible future--and Jack Turlock, a young man striving to free himself from his family's violent legacy. How can she betray her family and side with the enemy? And will Jack ever allow her into his world?

I loved the first book in this series and the second book does not disappoint. Frantz weaves yet another sweeping historical tale that will have you shutting out real life to read of days gone by. Don't be fooled into thinking that those days of old were peaceful. In fact they were filled with danger, intrigue, and extreme deception. Ellie teeters just on the edge of obnoxious for me. If you're looking for a strong fighter of a woman in a main character you won't find that in Ellie. She has strong character but faints no less than two times throughout the book. Jack is everything you would hope for in a hero. He's handsome and loyal and God is at work in his heart. 

While this book can be read as a standalone I'd encourage you to read it with the other book. There is just enough of overlap you'll appreciate the full story. 

My thanks to Revell Publishers for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Invention of Sarah Cummings

Invention of Sarah Cummings
Olivia Newport 
Revell Publishing
Fiction, Romance, Historical 

Sarah Cummings has one goal in life--to break into Chicago's high society. Desperate to stop serving dinner to members of the wealthy Banning family and to start eating at society tables, Sarah spends her meager free time altering cast-off gowns to create the perfect wardrobe for her future life.

When opportunity knocks at a chance meeting, she presents herself as Serena Cuthbert, weaving a fictitious past to go with her fictitious name. But as she gets closer to her goal--and closer to Simon Tewell, director of St. Andrew's Orphanage--Sarah finds that she must choose between the life she has and the life she dreams of.

Can she piece together the perfect life from scraps? Or will it all come unraveled in the face of true love?

"Newport's touching historical romance sweeps readers into another time and place, where elegance and wealth are abundant and where dreams really can come true. Highly recommended for fans of Tamera Alexander."--Library Journal

You know a book is good when you find the main character completely deplorable. That's where I was. I did not like Sarah in the least, in fact I almost quit reading because I disliked her so thoroughly. I am, however, glad I stuck with the book until the end. And don't get me wrong, it was no hardship to stick with the book. Newport weaves a completely enticing and enthralling tale. I was hooked immediately. The attention to detail both in period clothing and in Chicago history was excellent. Sarah's unstable behavior is hard to believe but it's fun to read. 

My only complaints with the book are that I felt that character development was lacking. Sarah was nasty and ridiculous and we're not entirely sure why. Simon was sweet and lovable but not at all endearing and we never actually got to know him. I would have liked to have seen more into their backgrounds and their stories. The challenge with any series is to have so many character story lines it's hard to follow any one of them. This book teetered on the edge of that. It can be read alone but you'll be a lot less confused if you read the first two books. The book ended rushed. Sarah never really had that "come to Jesus" moment that she needed. It seems she got there but I'm not sure how. Between a fire at the orphanage and being propositioned to be a mistress I don't quite know how she managed to fall in love with Simon. But she did. 

In short, a great read. There are definitely some holes and some rough patches but Newport writes with ease. If she can grow to the point of being able to weave things together seamlessly and in a way that makes sense to the reader she might just catapult herself into position as one of my favorite authors. 

My thanks to Revell Publishing for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my real and honest review. 

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