BETHANY HOUSE BOOKS--heartwarming, inspiring, historical western romance!
by Virginia Campbell
Author Lauraine Snelling continues her delightful "Wild West Wind" series with Book 2: "Whispers in the Wind". I recommend reading "Valley of Dreams", the first book in the series, before reading the second book, which immediately continues the story line. Cassie Lockwood learned to shoot and ride in her father's Wild West Show, and after his death and the loss of the show, she determines to follow her father's dreams. As a young man, her father, Adam, had been best friends with Ivar Engstrom, and both men had loved the same woman, Mavis. When it became clear that Mavis and Ivar where meant to be together, Adam left the land he co-owned and went off to pursue other adventures. After many years, when his daughter Cassie shows up to claim the land, long-held secrets are forced into the open, and lives are forever changed. Mavis and Ivar never told their children that someone else owned half of their land, and when Cassie arrives with her collected group of companions, hearts are stirred and faith is tested. The oldest Engstrom son, Ransom, has serious doubts about Cassie and her claim to the land, but the youngest son, Lucas loses his heart to Cassie right away. Cassie has traveled a long, difficult trail to reach the promised land of her father's memories, but will the ensuing conflicts force her to give up her cherished desire to raise horses and send her back to the life she left behind? Will faith sustain her and lead in the direction of love and a new life of happiness and fulfillment? The author has left the door open for more answers and adventures in the next book, "A Place to Belong", which concludes this very enjoyable series.
Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
"A Home in Drayton Valley" seems like the answer to a prayer for three troubled souls in Kim Vogel Sawyer's thoughtful, inspirational historical romance. The rough-and-tumble world of the New York City dock area of the late 1800s is a place of despair for Tarsie Raines--so far removed from the beauty of her native Ireland. On her own after her great-aunt passed away, Tarsie found a true friendship with Mary Brubacher, a young married woman with two children. Tarsie loved Mary's children, Emmy and Nathaniel, but she had little care for their father, Josh. A hard worker, who drank and gambled just as hard as he worked, Josh seemed to show little care for his family. His own harsh childhood dominated by his father's rantings and prejudices had left Josh deeply conflicted. Mary had been the one shining light in his life, but her progressive illness had changed the course of their lives. Tarsie, a practitioner of herbal healing, taught by her great-aunt, often tended Mary during her times of sickness. By chance, one day Tarsie finds a discarded copy of a guidebook extolling the opportunities for a better life in the booming Mecca of Drayton Valley, Kansas. Tarsie persuades Mary to read the book, and the two of them determine that the way West is best for all of them. Josh is harder to convince, but his gambling debts and Mary's plea for their family make him change his mind. The journey begins, but Mary's illness is far worse than she had revealed. On her death-bead, she extracts a promise from Tarsie to always care for her children and Josh. In his grief over Mary's death, Joss decides that he must place the children in an orphanage. Tarsie is stunned, and in desperation, she asks Josh to marry her so that they can take care of the children. Josh reluctantly agrees, and so they are married, but Josh is keeping a shameful secret from Tarsie. A woman of great faith, and great heart, Tarsie tries to hold her new family together, but does fate have other plans for them all? Will the unexpected love she feels for Josh ever be returned by him? "A Home in Drayton Valley" is character-rich, with surprising twists and turns, and compelling historical detail. Many issues are dealt with including prejudice, alcohol abuse, gambling addiction, and the spiritual freedom of loving others more than you love yourself.
Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
Delightful mischief and mayhem ensue when a downtrodden and determined heiress leaves her home in England to follow her fate to New York City of 1880. Lady Eliza Sumner struggles to endure the loss of her father and her fiance, but when her fortune is misappropriated, she determines to take matters into her own hands and regain her rightful inheritance. Posing as a governess, complete with an unflattering "makeover", she searches for the scoundrel who stole her family funds. Her quest inadvertently crosses her path with that of Hamilton Beckett, a widower with two small children who is considered to be "the catch" of the social elite. Hamilton's keen eye determines that Eliza is far more than a governess, and eventually they discover that they pursue a mutual enemy. After rescuing Eliza from an ill-advised investigatory incident, Hamilton is struck with the realization that he is meant to keep Eliza in his care. It seems Eliza's predilection for perilous predicaments brings out his best "knight in shining armor" behavior, and he finds that he enjoys his role as guardian. However the increasingly complex circumstances around Eliza's stolen fortune and the mysterious death of Hamilton's first wife cause both Eliza and Hamilton to ponder their own loss of religious faith. As the two of them grow closer, their enemies draw ever near, and the love blooming between them is threatened. Will Eliza regain what has been taken from her, or has she found something even more precious? Will Hamilton overcome painful memories and truly learn to trust his heart again? Has each incident in the chain of events been part of a master plan to bring them together after all? "A Change of Fortune" is a fast-paced, funny and thoughtful historical romance. Very enjoyable. A prequel story, "A Gentleman of Her Dreams", is available as an e-book novella.
Review Copy Gratis Library Thing
"Land of the Lone Star" is a wonderfully-written inspirational historical romance series from author Tracie Peterson. Set in Texas during the Civil War and the years following the end of the war, the series deals equally with the effects of the war and other issues faced by those who lived during this era of myriad societal changes. I was born and raised in the mountains of Virginia, and reminders of the War Between the States are still a powerful presence in the Blue Ridge. Tracie Peterson really captured my interest, and also enlightened and entertained me, with the fascinating history of Civil War Texas. "Taming the Wind" is the third and final book in the series, and it is a rewarding, inspiring read for lovers of historical romance. Carissa Lowe survived a horrible, abusive marriage and the death of her dangerously deceptive husband, Malcolm. The only light in this dark time of trial is her young daughter, Gloria. Visiting the ranch owned by her sister, Laura, and brother-in-law, Brandon, brings Carissa back in touch with Tyler Atherton, the man who helped to rescue her when her husband tried to carry out the evil scheme which eventually cost him his life. While Carissa is drawn to Tyler's quiet strength and grateful to him for saving her life, she is reluctant to ever truly trust another man. Malcolm had preyed upon her youthful vanity and social aspirations for his own purposes. Once they were married, his charm gave way to cruelty. A sadder and wiser Carissa is very protective of her daughter, and she keeps her own heart closely guarded. Tyler has cared for Carissa from the time they first met, but kept his distance due to her marriage to Malcolm. Spending time with Carissa and Gloria makes Tyler long for the chance of a happy future for the three of them, but he is without the means to provide them with a home. Because he fought for the South during the war, he was considered to have fought against the United States, and his property was taken away. Tyler is also still grieving and seeking vengeance against the Comanche war party which killed his father during an attack at their family ranch. A cattle drive to raise much-needed funds will take the men away from home and leave the women to move together to one ranch for better security. Much occurs on the trail and back at the homestead, and lives will be forever changed. Will both Carissa and Tyler let faith fill their hearts and lift their burdens, making the way clear for a life together? A highly recommended series from superlative storyteller Tracie Peterson.
Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
Author Tracie Peterson is quite adept at including more than one side of an issue in her historical romance works. While the romance is always poignant and appealing, the characters often face conflicts due to their beliefs and their chosen path in life. Faith and loyalties are challenged by the behavior of others and the era in which they live. "Touching the Sky" is the second book in Tracie Peterson's the "Land of the Lone Star" series, and it vividly captures the turmoil of Civil War Era Texas. Set just as the war officially ends, it focuses on the split sentiments of Texans--those who were Union supporters, and those who were committed to the Confederacy. The mid to late 1800's were a period in time in which the world changed radically in a relatively short number of years, and many of the themes in "Touching the Sky" reflect what was to come before the end of the century. Laura Marquardt and her family were Union supporters, and when she meets soon-to-decommission Union Captain Brandon Reid, she is immediately drawn to his quiet strength and deep faith. Brandon is captivated by Laura's beauty, intelligence, and her desire to educate and assist freed slaves. When Laura's somewhat frivolous younger sister Carissa marries a Confederate suitor, all of their lives are forever changed. Carissa's new husband is not what he seems, and his cruelty and subversive behavior threaten all that Laura holds dear. Brandon is not quite through with his service to the Union, as he begins working undercover to bring down a murderous group of renegades. When Laura confides in him about the truth of her sister's abusive marriage and her suspicions about her brother-in-law's real nature, then Brandon must follow through with his last mission, even if it costs him the love of his life. A very involving historical romance, both touching and thought-provoking. Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
"Chasing the Sun", by Tracie Peterson, is well-paced historical western romance set in Texas during the middle of the Civil War. Hannah Dandridge, a genteel young lady from Vicksburg, Mississippi, accompanies her widowed father and two younger siblings to a new home on a ranch in Texas. When he must return to Mississippi to bury his mother, Hannah is left to care for her brother Andy and her sister Marty. As her father's absence increases, so do Hannah's concerns for his safety and the welfare of the family and their home. When her father's business partner, Herbert Lockhart, informs her that her father is missing, he tries to persuade Hannah to marry him and move to his home in town. He insists that her father gave his blessing to the union, but Hannah has misgivings, and she feels no attraction to the older, domineering man. Hannah is a strong young woman with a mind of her own, a deep religious faith, and a great love for her family. One day Hannah's young brother Andy brings home two surprise visitors: an injured Comanche youth, and William Barnett, son of the original owners of the ranch property. Hannah treats the Comanche boy and tries to reconcile the knowledge that William has come back from the war not knowing that his ranch was taken over in his absence. Will is the only surviving member of his family, and he has come home from serving in the Union Army after receiving a serious leg wound. The fact that Will and his father and brother, natives of Confederate Texas, served in the Union Army made the Barnett family outcasts in their home area. Will did not want to go to war, but he stayed loyal to his father's wishes. Hannah's older brother was killed in the war fighting for the Confederacy, and her growing attraction to Will leaves her greatly conflicted. Will has never met a woman like the lovely Miss Hannah Dandridge. Strong-willed, caring, and sure in her faith, she makes Will realize how his own faith has lapsed since his experiences in the war. As Will begins to become more involved with the running of the ranch, he grows closer to Hannah and the children. Seeing the influence that Will has in the lives of Hannah and the children, Herbert Lockhart continues to scheme to gain control of Hannah and the ranch. Are greed and suspicion to have their way, or will abiding faith and a deepening love bring together a new family and keep them in their home? "Chasing the Sun" is an exciting, well-written historical romance. The story line flows smoothly, and keeps you involved until the very end. There are many issues explored in the book, and once again the great tragedy of the Civil War and the sadness of the plight of Native Americans is brought to light. Tracie Peterson is an author to treasure, and I look forward to the next two books in the "Land of the Lone Star" series.
Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
When I first started reading "A River to Cross", by Yvonne Harris, I was struck by dialogue and terminology which seemed inappropriate for the setting and era of the book, Texas of 1886. However, once the characters really developed and the story line deepened, I was hooked. Lloyd Evans is the owner and operator of the largest newspaper in El Paso, TX. An editor with a bold, investigative style, Lloyd is writing strong expose articles on the local crime element in the area. His reporting leads to his death and to the kidnapping of his sister, Elizabeth Evans. Texas Ranger Captain Jake Nelson, a friend of Lloyd's who was assisting in the investigations, rescues Elizabeth and vows to bring the local crime lords to justice. Elizabeth is the daughter of a US Senator and the still-grieving widow of a US Army Lieutenant, Carl Evans. Beautiful and petite, Elizabeth's exterior belies her inner strength and intelligence. Jake is immediately captivated by Elizabeth, and he soon realizes that he is in over his head. He will also have to overcome the memories Elizabeth has of her lost love. When Jake sets out to woo Elizabeth, and turns on the slow-talking, courtly protector, larger-than-life Texas charm, she is smitten. Their friendship and courtship of each other throughout the action-packed story line is very enjoyable. The romantic suspense aspect of this historical western is terrific! I was very involved with the characters and so looking forward to the resolution of their adventures and to their HEA. Jake and Elizabeth have a wonderful romance with a very unromantic ending. The author did tie up the story line issues, but left out the romance in the final chapter. All in all, because of the characters and the action-adventure suspense of the story, I recommend "A River to Cross" for lovers of western romance.
Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
Sixty Acres and a Bride by Regina Jennings
Regina Jennings' debut historical romance work, "Sixty Acres and a Bride", is written with great heart, humor, and honesty. I enjoyed this book very, very much. I could feel the author's spirit in her words. She obviously treasured her characters and crafted her story line with care. While the hero, Weston Garner, is a very worthy fellow indeed, it is the heroine, Rosa, who will capture the reader's affections. Rosa is the widow of Weston's cousin, Mack Garner. Rosa's husband and father-in-law were both killed when an earthquake struck the area of the Sierra Madres in Mexico where the family hoped to find a fortune in the silver mines. Rosa and her mother-in-law, Louise return to the family home in Texas, only to find that they are about to lose the ranch due to back taxes. Weston Garner is a widower who carries great guilt over his wife's death, believing that he did not help her when she needed it most. For over five years, he has kept mostly to himself, refusing to believe that he deserves to find happiness. Rosa's unpretentious loveliness, honesty, gentle strength, and courage begin to thaw his frozen hopes. She finds him equally appealing, but her marriage to his cousin was one of hidden unhappiness, and she is afraid to trust her heart. Weston is drawn more and more into helping his extended family, much to the displeasure of those around him with their own hidden agendas. You will come to love Rosa. She is a heroine to appreciate and admire, one of the most refreshing and delightful female characters that I have read about in quite some time. She is so honest and real that her beauty shines from within, making her as lovely on the inside as she is on the outside. Her wise innocence is as much a healing balm for Weston's soul as is her lilting flute music soothing to his spirit. Recommended for romance lovers and readers in need of a lighter heart.
Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Publishers
To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer
A brainy blacksmith whose halting speech makes him seem slow-minded. A prim and proper librarian with a warm heart hemmed in by societal conventions. Two seemingly mismatched characters with a shared love of reading find themselves head-over-heels in love and not sure of how it all happened. Levi Grant's imposing size and prison record are intimidating, and his awkward speech is a cover for his hidden stuttering problem. Instead of speaking at a natural pace and exposing his stutter, he searches for words that he won't stumble on, making him seem somewhat limited in mentality. Eden Spencer is appalled to find herself attracted to such a man, but when they share their mutual love of books, she cannot deny Levi's appeal. When they began to write notes to each other, and Levi can "speak" with his natural intelligence and flow of words, Eden is hopelessly smitten. Their physical awareness of each other, at a respectful distance, is sweetly enticing. Their growing happiness is threatened by the sheriff in the town, a man who has always wanted Eden for her beauty and her family's wealth. Levi and Eden learn that being true to your faith and who you really are as a person is the key to real happiness. Luckily, their real happiness is found in each other's heart.
Review copy provided by Bethany House
Each of us observes our faith in our way, just as we deal with grief as best we can in our own personal manner. The loss of loved ones may result in a loss of faith, or it may send one into deep religious contemplation--"prayer without ceasing". Children and adults may also see death in a very different light, and often the adults cannot answer the simple, powerful questions that only a child will ask. Young widow Amy Knackstedt and her three children leave behind the life they have known in Ohio and move with other Old Order Mennonites to a new life in Kansas. Hoping to distance her family from the speculation over her husband's tragic death, Amy lets her faith guide her as works to provide for her children's future through her quilt business. Tim Roper is the owner of the apple orchard near Amy's new home, and he is not pleased to learn of his new neighbors. A former member of the same religious order, Tim left the Mennonite way of life behind years ago. As a young man, he had forsaken his Mennonite upbringing and legally changed his name from Rupp to Roper. Later, the loss of his wife and son in a car accident drove him even further away from his faith, touching him with bitterness. He doesn't want to hear the sound of children's laughter, or see the unspoiled innocence of their hearts, but the Knackstedt children find a way to break through his barriers. As they help him work in his apple orchard, they also work their way into his heart. Thirteen-year old Bekah acts out her grief over losing her father by wanting to be like Mr. Roper and leave the order. Eleven-year old Parker, who will always be somewhat off-pace due to a brain injury, declares Mr. Roper to be his best friend. Five-year old Adrianna, both precious and precocious, is just plain irresistible. Most disturbing of all to Tim is his emotional response to Amy's gentle beauty and the warmth of her concern for her family and those around her. While Tim tries to think of a way to distance himself, circumstances continue to conspire to keep them in each other's company. When he acknowledges to himself that he loves Amy and the children, he must also make a choice of whether he can return fully to the ways of the Old Order Mennonites. Amy cares deeply for Tim, but she is afraid to give her heart to someone not fully committed to the faith as she is. When a previously unrealized connection from the past comes to light, can Amy and Tim let hope fully bloom? Simple pleasures such as sun-warmed earth and working in harmony with nature, the pull of a needle through cloth to make a quilt, and the satisfaction of nurturing others through the preparation and serving of needed sustenance are all healing in their own way. Go forward in faith, let your heart find its solace, and live each day to the fullest. Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
Richly written, "Song of My Heart", by Kim Vogel Sawyer, offers a vivid portrait of Kansas in the late 1800s. The author perfectly captures the rough and tumble times of an era in which so much occurred during a relatively short period of time. Changes to technology, transportation, communications, social mores, religion, fashion, science and medicine, literature, art and entertainment. The long-lasting aftereffects of the War Between the States. The glory and grit of the American Old West. A very rich and revolutionary period in history. The two most important things in Sadie Wagner's life are her faith and her family. Blessed with a beautiful singing voice, Sadie longs to make the most of her God-given talent by having a successful career as an opera singer. When her stepfather is seriously injured, and unable to work and support Sadie's family, she decides to accept an offer of work away from her home in Indiana. Through her cousin, Sid, she is able to procure work as a mercantile clerk in Goldtree, Kansas. She will also have the opportunity to sing in the local opera house. Sadie never expected that her new boss would be manipulative and unscrupulous, the "opera house" would be more like a bawdy house, and that she would land smack-dab in the middle of a bootlegging operation. Unsure of what to do, she continues to work for Asa Baxter in order to help with her family's finances. The town of Goldtree hires a new sheriff, Thad McKane, to investigate the illegal liquor business. Thad's true desire is to become a minister, and his plan is to earn enough money as sheriff to pay for his ministerial studies. He is immediately captivated by lovely young Sadie, but he is confused and concerned by her performances at the opera house. How can someone as sweet and spiritual as Sadie appears work as a saloon singer, and just how involved is she in the criminal activity? Both Sadie and Thad grow as characters as they grow to love each other. The supporting cast is lively and entertaining, particularly Asa Baxter's twin sisters. I truly savor well-written historical western romance, and I will long hear the words of "Song of My Heart" in my mind.
Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
Causes Virginia Campbell Supports
I live in a very small town with few job opportunities. I would love to be employed in a position which allowed me to promote literacy and put books in the...