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Whispers in the Reading Room by Shelley Gray

Gray, Shelley  Whispers in the Reading Room.jpg

Publication Date: November 2015

Publisher: Zondervan

Copy from publisher as a “Fiction Guild Team Challenge” book

 

“If life has taught me anything, if that World’s Fair in the middle of our fair city has shown me anything, it’s that everyone, no matter what their circumstances or bearings or hopes, deserves to be around other people.”

                                                                                    -Sebastian Marks

Sebastian Marks, a handsome, aloof, and formidable young man from the wrong end of town, likes to hang out in the library reading some most respectable works of literature. His presence in the library reading room has intrigued Miss Lydia Bancroft, the upright and serious young librarian who manages the front desk at the library.

The story begins in 1894 shortly after the World’s Fair has closed in Chicago. The historical detail on the seedy end of Chicago and the violent crime occurring at the time lend a different approach to the story that centers around the lives of four people who are drawn together as a result of a poor decision of Lydia’s late one night. A bit of mystery and intrigue creep through the story, as well as a healthy dose of romance.

The four main characters are interesting and dynamic. They all come to the realization by the end of the novel that solving their individual problems is not a task to be handled by them alone. Each finds the need for faith in order to turn their lives in a more positive direction.

I felt the book was relatively predictable. The mystery added a bit of intrigue to the overall tale, but at the same time, the clues were easily read. I enjoyed the story, but the book was not a complicated read. I thoroughly enjoyed the setting being in the library and Sebastian and Lydia’s love of literature and books.

This ARC copy was received from Thomas Nelson Zondervan as part of the Fiction Guild Team Challenge in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

 ***/5

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The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

Klassen, Julie The Painter's Daughter

Publication Date: December 2015

Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group

ARC Copy from Netgalley.com and Bethany House

 

 

What is a girl to do in 1815 in Devonshire, England if she finds herself pregnant and abandoned by the man she thought was the love of her life, Wesley Overtree? She marries the dashing Army officer who rescues her from the edge of a cliff and who just happens to be Wesley’s brother. Thus begin Miss Sophie Dupont’s adventures as a married woman.

Sophie’s life gets extremely complicated when she and Captain Stephen Overtree visit Overtree Hall. Sophie meets her in-laws as the wife of one brother while carrying the child of the other. As Sophie becomes better acquainted with her new husband and learns a bit more about his brother, her feelings begin to undergo a change.

Some of the secondary characters actually have more charm than the primary characters. I really liked Colonel Overtree, Stephen and Wesley’s grandfather. He was a pleasant, interesting old guy who added appeal to the story. Kate, Stephen and Wesley’s younger sister, is also a likeable character. However, it took some time before I felt empathy for Sophie and her situation.

In spite of some of the characters, the story was interesting. I wanted to find out what Sophie was going to do with her predicament of being married to one brother and infatuated with the other. Family secrets come to light that make the story more interesting, as well as adding a bit of intrigue. As with all Regency era novels, the class system, romance, and honor play a role.

I did enjoy the way the loose ends were tied up and the ending of the novel. The book has some interesting themes that carry throughout the story, such as keeping an oath, responsibility, and beauty being skin deep. A pleasant read!

This ARC copy was received from Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

4/5

Author’s Pages:

julieklassen.com

Goodreads

Author Julie Klassen, Facebook

 

 

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Among the Fair Magnolias: Four Southern Love Stories by Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love, and Elizabeth Musser

Among the Fair Magnolias

Publication Date: July 2015

Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishers

ARC Copy from NetGalley.com and Thomas Nelson Publishers

A Heart So True by Dorothy Love

A Heart so True is a story that takes the reader back to Pawleys Island, South Carolina during the year of 1860. Abigail Clayton, a vivacious young Southern woman, has her heart set on marrying Dr. Wade Bennett. Her father, however, has his mind made up that she will marry Charles Kittridge, which will help further his ambitions to be governor. I love the descriptions of life on the island during the summer and Abigail’s struggle to make the right choices for her future. I enjoyed this story very much and enjoyed meeting up with some familiar faces from previous books.

To Mend a Dream by Tamera Alexander

To Mend a Dream is the story of Savannah Darby and her struggles to survive in post-Civil War Nashville in the year 1870. After the death of both parents and her older brothers, Savannah is left to raise her two younger siblings. In addition to the loss of her family, she is evicted from the family home when a northerner from Boston buys the place. Aidan Bedford, a Boston attorney, moves to Nashville to begin a new life after the war along with a new fiancé, Priscilla Sinclair. To make life more complicated, Savannah gets assigned a sewing contract for the new owners and Savannah’s efforts at solving a family mystery become complicated. A great story with an interesting bit of intrigue!

Love Beyond Limits by Elizabeth Musser

Set in 1868 in post-Civil War Georgia, Love Limits, tells of the conflicts of Emily, a young southern white woman, committed to helping freedmen get an education. Lieutenant Thomas McGinnis has been in love with Emily for years and struggles to get her attention as anything more than a brother. This novella has a complex storyline for such a short story touching on racial prejudice in the south. The story is interesting, but a little complicated in my opinion for an inspirational based story.

An Outlaw’s Heart by Shelley Gray

This novella shares the story of Russell Andrew Champion, Texas bad boy and previous outlaw, and Nora Hudson, a young woman who had been his one true love. An extremely complicated and personal situation tore Russell and Nora apart when they were young and Russell fell into a lifestyle he did not mean to choose. Time has a way of healing hearts and making complicated situations a little less complex! Read this fun novella and see what happens to this Texas bad boy and his true love!

This ARC copy was received from Thomas Nelson Publishers and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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A Stranger’s Secret by Laurie Alice Eakes

Eakes, Laurie Alice  A Stranger's Secret

Series: Book 2, A Cliffs of Cornwall Novel

Publication Date: April 2015

Publisher: Zondervan

Copy won from Soul Inspirationz, christianfictionsite.com

Laurie Alice Eakes offers a captivating mystery set along the coast of Cornwall, England in the year 1813. Lady Morwenna Trelawny Penvenan, a young widow, finds a handsome stranger washed ashore after a ship wreck along her beach. She is struggling to raise her young son and to find a way to salvage his inheritance without depending upon her wealthy grandparents who live in the same area.

The handsome stranger, David Chastain, turns out to be a boat builder from Somerset whose father has recently died mysteriously.   In spite of his misgivings over her role in the shipwreck, David finds himself drawn to Morwenna. As she tries to get more information from David, Morwenna finds herself becoming more attached to the man behind the mystery.

Morwenna and David strive to overcome very different backgrounds and social classes as they become closer. Read the story and see if these two proud people are able to overcome their differences and find a neutrality in which they can develop a shared life. Rich in historical detail, spiced up with suspense and mystery, and sprinkled with romance, an enjoyable read!

This  copy was received from Soul Inspirationz as a contest prize in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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Coming Soon! New from Laura Frantz and Sarah Ladd

Love's FortuneA Lady at Willowgrove Hall

Two great new books will be reviewed this month as they premiere shortly within the next few weeks! The first is Love’s Fortune by Laura Frantz. I received my ARC copy today as I was finishing up a quilt top. See the great photo opportunity! The second novel will be A Lady at Willowgrove Hall by Sarah Ladd, another one of my very favorite authors. What a great month with two amazing reads by great authors! Keep your eyes open and watch for the reviews coming shortly!

 

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With Every Breath by Elizabeth Camden

with every breath

Publication Date: August 5, 2014

Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group

ARC kindle copy from Netgalley.com and Bethany House

Elizabeth Camden once again takes a historical social issue, the treatment of tuberculosis and patients living with the disease, as her focal point in this new novel. She explores the various treatments that were used as doctors tried desperately to find a cure for one of the biggest killers of the late nineteenth century.

She entwines a romance through the plot that keeps the readers’s interest peaked. Kate Livingston, a lovely young widow working as a statistician for the government, once again meets up with Trevor McDonough Kendall, a brilliant doctor at the forefront of tuberculosis research in the United States. Kate and Trevor have a past. Can Kate get around the bitterness of the past in order to work with Trevor in a challenging well paid position at his hospital?

Read the novel. The plot will definitely engage your interest. The characters are funny at times, sad at times, and totally courageous almost all the time! Elizabeth Camden once again makes her female character a strong, smart woman. I like reading about strong women who also have faith and romance in their life. The element of faith shines in the book, and Ms. Camden reaches out with the message that “your life is going to unfold exactly as God intends.”

I would certainly recommend this book to readers of historical fiction and inspirational fiction, particularly people that enjoy strong historical detail regarding social issues. The story has a satisfying end and readers will feel good upon completing the novel. Thanks again, Elizabeth Camden for a job well done!

This ARC copy was received from Bethany House Publishing and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

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Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell

love comes calling

 

Publication Date: 2014

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

ARC Copy from Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley.com

 

 

“I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.”

-Ellis Eaton

This quote from Ellis Eaton sets the tone for the entire first half of this book. Ellis is an extremely attention deficit Radcliffe College student during the 1920’s, who struggles continually. The use of Ellis’s voice in character creates a novel that feels jumpy and lacking in focus. The voice of the main character struggling with a lack of focus felt annoying to me as the reader.

This book was not a particularly enjoyable read for me due to the constant diversion of the main character’s mind. She is distracting and not very appealing, particularly during the first half of the novel. She frequently comes across selfish and self-centered as well.

Her love interest, Griff Phillips, is a decent clean cut all American kid that plays quarterback for Harvard and investigates bad politicians in his spare time. Griff is very likable and just the opposite of Ellis. They do make an interesting contrast in character.

Historical detail is abundant through the use of background settings, such as the speakeasies and the phone office. The novel deals with several moral issues such as alcohol and Prohibition; however, I did not feel it touched on inspirational values or themes. The book may appeal to some readers of historical fiction, but I do not believe it is specifically targeted towards the inspirational market. I have enjoyed Ms. Mitchell’s writing in other books, but this one just did not appeal to me.

This ARC copy was received from Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. The above thoughts and opinions are wholly my own.

Rated: 2 out of 5

 

 

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