A Worthy Heart by Susan Anne Mason

A Worthy Heart

First thoughts:   This book was more enjoyable than the first of the series, Irish Meadows.  I always enjoy stories that have multiple perspectives and relationships.  The characters were strong, the plot was original and the story moved along at a great pace.  There was plenty of conflict as family secrets are brought to light and many lives are in danger from diseases, fires and stalkers.  This was an excellent read that kept me guessing.

Plot:  Maggie Montgomery is visiting New York from Ireland with her brother Gabe, a trip she felt necessary to escape from the unwanted attentions of a man.  Although her family doesn’t know it, she has no intention of returning home.  Adam O’Leary has made some mistakes and has a prison record to show it.  Recently released and a new man, he returns home, hoping his family will take him in, especially the father he’s always had a strained relationship with.  Gabe Montgomery dreams of becoming a fireman and longs to return to Ireland and fight for his country’s freedom, but an encounter with the wealthy banker’s daughter, Aurora Hastings may change his plans.

Setting:  The story takes place in New York City in the early 1900’s with a brief jaunt to Ireland.  I enjoyed learning a little more about this time period in history as I haven’t read many books from this era.  This story picks up a couple years after Irish Meadows, so it was fun to catch up with the previous characters and see what’s been happening in their lives.

Characters:  I enjoyed getting to know Adam O’Leary as he was rather briefly introduced in Irish Meadows and I had many questions about his past.  Maggie was a fun addition to the story, as she added spunk.  It was also great to see Aurora make an appearance, as she got her heart broken in the previous story.  She has a second chance at a happily-ever-after with the charming Gabe.

Series: This is the second book in the Courage to Dream Series.  It can stand alone, but I’d suggest reading both books in order if you’d like to get the background of the secondary characters. This story picks up a couple years after Irish Meadows, so it was fun to catch up with the O’Leary family and see what’s been happening in their lives.

Recommendation:  I’d highly recommend this story to those who enjoy historical romance with faith and heart.

Rating:  4.5/5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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The Mountain Midwife by Laurie Alice Eakes

The Mountain Midwife

First thoughts: Don’t judge a book by its cover, or its title in this instance.  This was a very enjoyable read.  Had I not been sent a copy to review, this probably wouldn’t have been one I would pick up, but it’s definitely worth reading.  Filled with interesting characters, mysterious pasts and secrets, the story kept me guessing until the end.  There were enough twists to keep it unpredictable.  I loved every minute of it.

 Plot:  Ashley Tolliver is a midwife in Appalachia  (hence the unoriginal title) where she’s following in the footsteps of generations of the Tolliver women.  She dreams of attending medical school, becoming a doctor and really being able to help her patients, like the young girl that mysteriously showed up in the middle of the night, gave birth, then disappeared while she was still hemorrhaging.   Hunter McDermott is reluctantly branded a hero by the national media after saving a child.  In the flurry of attention, he receives a phone call from a woman claiming to be his mother.  Hunter’s search for the truth about his past brings him to Appalachia where crosses paths with Ashley, who’s apparently got someone trying to harm her.

 Recommendation:  I would recommend this book to those who like Inspirational Romance with a little bit of suspense.  As she is a midwife, a few scenes have some details of childbirth, but it didn’t get too graphic.  All in all, a great and enjoyable story.

 Rating:  4.5/5 stars

 I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

The Wedding Chapel

First Thoughts:  I always enjoy a dual storyline in a book, and The Wedding Chapel has two great romances, one in the present and one in the past.  With Jack and Taylor already married, it’s not your typical plot, but I enjoyed having a newlywed point of view.  The story was well written and raised enough questions to keep me guessing what would happen next and what went wrong in the past. Continue reading

Top Reads of 2015

2015 was a great reading year for me! I read a lot more books than I have in a long time, and branched out with some new-to-me authors.  Here are my picks for the best books published last year. If you haven’t read these yet, I’d highly recommend any of them.

 Top in Contemporary Romance:

 A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade- This book was just the perfect romance for me. I adore stories of childhood friends that grow up and find a romance blossoming between them. Jake and Lyndie are both extremely likeable, albeit stubborn at times. I enjoyed the look into the unfamiliar worlds of PTSD and horse racing.

Jaded by Varina Denman- This was a powerfully moving story based on church hurt and what can happen when the people of the church get in the way of God, pushing others away instead of drawing them into the fold. This book really made me think about how our actions, as Christians, speak louder than words and what far reaching consequences those actions can have. Full Review

Together With You by Victoria Bylin- An emotionally moving story with themes of forgiveness, healing and redemption, Together With You also delves into Fetal Alcohol effects, and I thought the author did a great job of informing in a manner that was part of the story and didn’t bog it down with details. It was very enjoyable reading, full of substance and conflict. The characters were flawed, hurting and made mistakes, but they learned their lessons and grew throughout the story.  Full Review

 Romantic Suspense:

By Your Side by Candace CalvertI love the blend of medical drama, suspense and romance in her stories. I adored Fletcher Holt. He’s probably one of my favorite fictional heroes of all time. I love how he feels compelled to do the right thing and takes his job as an officer seriously.

Web of Deceit by Susan Sleeman-  This is a general market release, not Inspirational, but it’s still clean.  It was an interesting look into the world of cyber criminals. Sam was my favorite character. He’s out of his element investigating this case as he’s not very technologically savvy, but I liked that he wasn’t afraid to admit it and ask questions when he didn’t understand.  Full Review

Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey– This was an action-packed adventure through the Alaskan wilderness, following the Iditarod. Full of suspense, danger, romance and enough plot twists to keep me guessing, this book was difficult to put down. Well written and fast paced, the book doesn’t get bogged down by too much detail, giving the reader just what they need to know. Full Review

 Historical:

Not by Sight by Kate Breslin- This book was so much better than I ever expected it to be.  I felt the back cover description didn’t do justice to the story within.  Kate Breslin created such an interesting cast of characters and wove together a story that kept me guessing.  I loved taking this journey with Jack and Grace as they both faced up to the mistakes of the past and changed for the better. If you enjoy WWI  historical fiction, intrigue, British estates and countryside, or ‘Beauty and the Beast’ type stories, I’d highly recommend this book! Full Review

A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter-  This book had it all: intrigue, romance, an interesting cast of characters and a well paced storyline.  I can’t think of a single thing I’d change to make it better.  There were also some interesting twists and the story was filled with humor.  This was not a typical Regency romance.  It was packed with spies, intrigue, danger and suspense.  Full Review

At Love’s Bidding by Regina Jennings-  While filled with humor and crazy situations, At Love’s Bidding also has plenty of heart.  The characters were fun, but they also had depth and interesting back stories.  I really enjoyed sharing the adventures with them.  This is a great blend of historical western and amusing storyline. Full Review

To Win Her Favor by Tamera Alexander  This story had the perfect blend of historically accurate stories, an element of faith and realistic characters that I can relate to. Tamera Alexander’s stories have that perfect balance where I’m both entertained and educated in a way that it’s just part of the story. To Win Her Favor was an enjoyable book that kept me enthralled. Full Review

My Favorites and most highly recommended:

Married ’til Monday by Denise Hunter This book brings together the fun and adventure of a road trip combined with a last chance for reconciliation. It had fun, lighthearted moments mixed in with some great romantic tension.  Denise Hunter always does romance well, keeping it swoon-worthy without crossing the line.

The Wonder of You by Susan May Warren This is the fifth book in the Christiansen Series, and they all have been phenomenally good.  The stories have been so emotionally gripping, full of moments that can break your heart with enough happy endings to balance it out.  Adored all of these stories and they will probably continue to be ones I recommend the most.  I wanted to get a full review written, but that hasn’t happened yet.

 Falling Like Snowflakes by Denise Hunter Once again, she shows why she’s one of my favorite authors.  A swoon-worthy hero, secretive mother travelling with her mute son, and brothers that don’t always get along combine for a delightful adventure.  This story had a little more suspense and danger than I’m used to from Denise Hunter, but I enjoyed every bit of it. Full Review

From the Start by Melissa Tagg  I love how she throws so many old movie references into the story. As a fellow lover of the classics, it’s like running into a good friend unexpectedly.  It was perfection with the blend of humor and romance, yet the characters have trials they’re going through.  If you enjoy classic movies, humor and romance, you’re going to love Melissa Tagg.    Full Review