Fire & Ice by Mary Connealy

Fire and Ice

First thoughts:  This was my favorite book of the Wild at Heart series.  From the first time meeting Gage and Bailey, I wanted to know more about their pasts.  They lived up to my expectations with an entertaining story full of heart.  I always enjoy the mix of cowboys, old west, quirky humor and the dash of danger that Mary Connealy brings to her stories.

Plot:  The last of the Wilde sisters to hold out in keeping her disguise as a man, Bailey fights with nearby rancher Gage Coulter for the prime grazing land of the canyon.  Gage owns the land, but Bailey’s property blocks his access. Upon finally meeting Bailey face to face, Gage learns her true identity.  After a long winter being snowed in, Gage receives news that has him desperately scrambling to find one thing.  A wife.

Characters:  Bailey’s the typical Connealy heroine: a tough woman doing a man’s job.  With her sisters both married and moved away, she’s a little lonely.  Something in her time at war causes her to be wary of men, especially in numbers, but somehow Gage has managed to slip through her defenses.  Gage has his own secrets; he left his home in Texas to escape being branded a coward for not going to war.  Now, he’s a successful rancher, tough and honorable.

Recommendation:  If you enjoy light-hearted stories, feisty heroines and the old west, I’d recommend giving these stories a try.  Fire and Ice is the third book in the series, but it can stand alone.

Rating:  4/5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

The Girl From the Train by Irma Joubert *Plus Giveaway*

The Girl From The Train

 First thoughts:  I always enjoy stories from the WWII era, as my grandparents fled from the Ukraine at that time.  Books like this always move me, giving a small glimpse into what they went through.  I liked the unique perspective from a war orphan who’s sent to South Africa to be adopted.

Plot:  Six year old German Gretl Schmidt was on a train with her family, bound for Auschwitz, but she’s able to escape along with her sister.  The two are lost in the countryside of Poland, until a young man, Jakob Kowalski and his family take them in.  A few years later, the Kowalski’s are no longer able to take care of Gretl, and Jacob must return her to her homeland. Torn, Jakob decides the best he can do for Gretl is leave her at an orphanage where they’re looking for children to send to South Africa for adoption.  All the while, Gretl is forced to hide her Jewish background and Jakob is joining the fight against the communists taking over his country.

Characters:  The story is told through the perspectives of Gretl and Jakob.  It follows them until Gretl’s a young woman in college.  I found Gretl to be a very bright character, as she seems to have no trouble adapting or understanding situations, even at a young age.  She immediately earns my sympathy as she’s separated from all her family.  One aspect that I found a little confusing was Gretl’s name changes.  In Poland she’s known as Gretz, though Jakob calls her Gretchen.  Then when she moves to South Africa, she’s called Grietjie.  I understand that’s part of the language differences, but as a reader, I found it disconnected me from the main character because I didn’t know what to call her.

Recommendation:  I’d highly recommend this story to those who enjoy historical fiction and the WWII time period.  It was an emotionally moving coming of age tale that I very much enjoyed.

Rating:  4.5/5 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway: What’s your favorite time period to read about? Leave a comment to enter to win my slightly used Advance Reader’s Copy of The Girl From the Train.  US mailing addresses only, please. Giveaway ends Oct. 21st at midnight.