Sunday, May 25, 2014

Until I Found You by Victoria Bylin

Until I Found You

What’s not to love about that cover?! Love it!

Let’s begin with the summary:

Finding each other was only the beginning . . .
When Kate Darby swerves off a mountain road to avoid hitting a California condor, she ends up trapped in her car, teetering on the edge of a cliff. Terrified, she breathes a prayer that changes her life.

It's Nick Sheridan who comes to Kate's rescue. Nick is handsome and confident, and he seems to develop a habit of rescuing her, but Kate is in town only until her grandmother recuperates from a stroke. She's not planning to get involved with one of the locals.

Nick is a reformed veteran of life in the fast lane, a new Christian, and a travel writer. When he sees a car dangling on the edge of a cliff, the daredevil in him jumps into action. He doesn't expect to be swept off his feet by the car's occupant. He's made a vow--no dating for a year--but keeping that vow is going to be a lot more difficult now that he's met Kate Darby. . . .

And now, my review:

I had to Google condors while reading this book. The endangered birds play a symbolic role in this story. Interesting creatures!

I hadn’t heard of this author before, but I must say I’ll be watching for her further books because I so enjoyed this novel.

The story begins with a knight-in-shining-armor moment where we get to see the hero in action. Great scene! Immediately hooks the reader.

The author explored themes of faith, trusting God, overcoming anxiety, following God’s path, and hearing God’s voice. I loved that she didn’t offer any easy answers while the characters tried to figure things out.

The hero has made a vow to not date for a year—that’ll put a crimp in any romance. (*wink*) But, the author kept this romance reader turning pages.

At times, I felt this author was very strong, which made me wonder why I hadn’t heard of her.  At other times, when I caught POV missteps, I wondered if this was a first-timer. Now, granted I read the ARC (advanced reader copy), so those POV issues were probably resolved. But the story arc progressed at a good pace. Her male POV was superb. I highlighted her prose on several occasions. When I visited her website, I discovered she has several previous titles.

The author also dealt with hero worship in a believable and compelling way. Our poor heroine struggles with insecurity. Unfortunately, she’s reaching for anything that might help her—including the hero, control, familiarity, etc. But it’s God she must learn to trust.

I appreciated the author’s wisdom in things of God, and I recommend this book! Her next title, Together With You releases April, 2015. I'll be watching for it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

With Autumn's Return by Amanda Cabot

With Autumn's Return

This is book three in the Westward Winds series.

Let’s begin with the summary:

Elizabeth Harding arrives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to establish her medical practice thanks to the wooing of her two older sisters who extolled the beauty of the land. She's certain she'll have a line of patients eager for her expertise and gentle bedside manner. However, she soon discovers the town and its older doctor may not welcome a new physician. Even more frustrating, the handsome young attorney next door may not be ready for the idea of a woman doctor. For his part, Jason Nordling has nothing against women, but he's promised himself that the woman he marries will be a full-time mother.

Despite their firm principles, Elizabeth and Jason find that mutual attraction—and disdain from the community—is drawing them ever closer. And when the two find themselves working to save the life and tattered reputation of a local woman, they'll have to decide how far they're willing to go to find justice—and true love.

And now, my review:

The hook for me in this historical was the lady doctor. The author did a great job giving us a heroine who was competent, eloquent, and sharp. In her time, 1887, she held a mirror up for others to see their double standard and belligerence. She withstood multiple pressures, whether in social situations (where she was a novelty), arguments (where people tried to tell her she couldn’t be what she felt called to be), and medical emergencies. That kind of strength makes a great heroine. She was also kind to her roommate, and her kindness rounded out her personality.

Amanda gave us an ensemble cast, with folks we had seen in earlier books in this series, like Gwen and others. Because of this, we get to watch two romances grow. She even gave us their perspective for a scene or two. Multiple POV isn’t easy do, but Amanda kept the pace and tension strong. I enjoyed watching Jason and Elizabeth grow closer together.  

I enjoyed this series, with its endearing characters. Though one probably wouldn’t have to begin with book one, in order to have the benefit of their journeys, I recommend it. The other titles are Summer of Promise and Waiting for Spring. Perhaps this series will contain four titles, with a winter focus too? I’ll be watching for it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Spirit Bridge by James L. Rubart

Spirit Bridge

I can’t read one of Jim Rubart’s novels just for entertainment. Somehow God uses them in my life. Every. Single. Time. And they’re not just novels anymore. 

This book releases Tuesday, May 6, 2014 from Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins Christian Publishing.

Let’s begin with the summary:

The Warriors Riding have battled in astounding supernatural realms, set captives free, and awakened thousands of hearts. But now their only chance of survival depends on calling for The Spirit Bridge.

Reece, Dana, Brandon, and Marcus have achieved staggering success in the spiritual realm . . . but each is reeling from vicious attacks. They need rest. A break from the war.

But the warlord Zennon is raging and will give them no quarter. The demon holds what he believes to be the trump card—a hidden strategy set in motion before Warriors Riding even began—that will detonate the team from the inside out. And he's just set it loose.

The street magician Simon—finally free of Zennon's alternate reality prison—is racing to remember his past before his ignorance obliterates his destiny. Then there's Miyo—a brash young warrior with advanced knowledge of spiritual realities and supernatural armor even Reece doesn't know about. These two will be pivotal in the final war.

If only the Warriors knew which side Simon and Miyo are truly on. If only they knew how to fight against Zennon's final assault.

The Spirit Bridge is the epic conclusion to acclaimed author James L. Rubart's Well Spring series, which will propel each of the Warriors Riding on a quest of true identity, ultimate freedom, and a final battle that will leave them changed forever.

And now, my review: 

I usually have the privilege of reading Jim’s books as ARCs—advanced reader copies. These may or may not contain some typos, or some elements that may later be changed during the editing process. So, I won’t quote passages here, though I certainly highlighted a few places in the version I read. Because I don’t see the finished product, I like borrowing the audio files from the library after they’re available. Unlike with some novels where a reader is hired, Jim himself reads the books for us. And no matter how much I gain from the read-through a few months before I listen to the audio books, I always glean more in the listening. (Just ignore the fact I may linger in the car while I run errands around town.)

As usual, Jim’s use of setting captured my imagination once again. Sure, these are fantasy novels with plenty of supernatural elements, but the Pacific Northwest also plays a “role” in the story and I love that! A beautiful setting. 

His books are easily visualized, and like with the earlier books, I could see this playing out as a movie including Seattle attractions. 

Beneath that, though, are the spiritual elements. With themes like identity, truth, one’s calling, approval seeking, humility, and personal worth, readers will find relatable elements. And without being preachy, Jim presents principles that offer revelation and insight. 

I liked Simon’s characterization and how this title brought hope—the hope of restoration only available from God. 

Another great book from this author. 

Highly recommended!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg

Here to Stay

Sometimes our goals aren’t really what we want, or where we want to be. And that can take a while to figure out. 

Let’s begin with the summary:

After playing nomad for five years, Blake Hunziker has finally had enough of adventure. Not sure what reception he’ll get from everyone back in Whisper Shore, he’s stunned at not only a warm welcome from his hometown but also a job offer. The job is his if he can successfully pull off the annual Christmas Festival. If only he knew the first thing about coordinating events...

If there’s one thing Autumn Kingsley knows, it’s Whisper Shore. For years, she’s been stuck running her family’s inn when all she wants is to see the world. Now she has a visit scheduled from a potential investor who could take over the inn, as well as a dream job offer in Paris. But with just two weeks to whip the inn into shape, her chance at escape is a long shot.

The Hunzikers and the Kingsleys may not get along, but Blake knows Autumn’s the only one who can help him. She agrees to a trade--she’ll help with the Festival and he’ll help with inn repairs. But what was meant to be a simple deal quickly becomes much more than that when the guy who’s done running away joins forces with the girl who can’t wait to leave.

And now, my review:

How fun to pick up from Melissa’s debut novel with Blaze—a favorite character—and dive into his story! (By the way, even if you haven't read book one—Made to Last—you can jump right into this novel without feeling lost.)

Autumn’s mother handed her the family’s inn, leaving its operation—and debt—in Autumn’s hands. She takes this responsibility seriously and has even delayed launching into what she’d really like to do with her life. But as we open this story, we find the opportunity she’s been waiting for, the one that will take her across the ocean, is now hers.

Enter the hero: Blake has a tender heart. He’s made some mistakes, and he regrets some things from his past. He’s believing lies and carrying something he doesn’t have to carry. Readers will relate to that. Blake’s back in Whisper Shore ready to stay. He never plans to fall in love.

Melissa is great at writing romance. She kept me turning pages to see what would happen. I loved the hero’s characterization, and I respected Autumn’s choice to carry on the family business. She was strong and likable. Blake brings Autumn out of her comfort zone, which I liked because if anything went wrong he’d be right back in that place of blaming himself. The setting was beautiful—in Michigan, along Lake Michigan.

The author also threw in a few twists and some humorous fiascoes, which I enjoyed. Ooh, and we got a cameo from the heroine in book one—Miranda Woodruff (with whom Blaze had pretended to be married for the sake of her show).

I enjoyed the themes of forgiveness (even forgiving oneself) and going “home.”  Of learning people don’t always perceive us as we think they do, and for Blake that was a very good thing. Of discovering a new dream.

I really enjoyed this book! 

Highly recommended!