Books reviewed prior on this site prior to March 2019 were provided to me, at no charge, by the publisher, or by the author, in exchange for an honest review. I have received no further compensation for these reviews. Reviews beginning March 2019 come from a variety of sources: advanced copies, library loans, and my own purchases. All reviews are my honest opinions.

June 26, 2017

The Writing Desk {Rachel Hauck}

the writing desk rachel hauck
Tenley Roth’s first book was a literary and commercial success. Now that her second book is due, she’s locked in fear. Can she repeat her earlier success or is she a fraud who merely found a bit of luck?

With pressure mounting from her publisher, Tenley is weighted with writer’s block. But when her estranged mother calls asking Tenley to help her through chemotherapy, she packs up for Florida where she meets handsome furniture designer Jonas Sullivan and discovers the story her heart’s been missing.

Born during the Gilded Age, Birdie Shehorn is the daughter of the old money Knickerbockers. Yet her life is not her own. Under the strict control of her mother, her every move is decided ahead of time, even whom she’ll marry. But Birdie has dreams of her own. She wants to tell stories, write novels, make an impact on the world. When she discovers her mother has literally destroyed her dreams, she must choose between submission and security or forging a brand new way all on her own.

Tenley and Birdie are from two very different worlds. Yet when Tenley discovers Birdie’s manuscript, their lives intersect. Birdie’s words help Tenley find a way home. Tenley brings Birdie’s writing to the world.

Can two women separated by time help fulfill each other’s destiny?

My Thoughts:
Every time I pick up a Rachel Hauck book I know I am going to get a beautiful cover and an even more beautiful story on the inside. In this book, Hauck continues her beloved storytelling by combining the past with the present and bringing the two to an anticipated collision.

I both loved and was annoyed with Tenley throughout this entire book. She is a one-hit wonder novelist and has won a prestigious award for her effort. Her live-in boyfriend seems like a loser, her father has passed away, and her mother abandoned her when she was a young child. Tenley is full of self-doubt and has a tendency to annoy me with her constant put-downs of herself.

But my heart went out to her when she finally agreed to head to Florida to care for her sick mother. It is in Florida where I finally began to like Tenley and the life she was making for herself.

The story of Birdie's life moved a bit slow to me, but when it finally picked up the pace it was so beautifully written. Everyone deserves a love like Birdie finds and I fell in love with her story.

Birdie and Tenley's lives come together at a time when I least expected. I was surprised and so excited how Tenley chose to honor Birdie and her gift of writing.

This is a must-read for your list. I know you will love it.

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June 19, 2017

Peace in the Valley {Ruth Logan Herne}

peace in the valley ruth logan herne
In spite of their differences, Trey Walker Stafford knows he owes his life to cowboy and legendary rancher Sam Stafford--the uncle who rescued him after his parents' death. Trey had left the Double S Ranch to pursue music against Sam's wishes, but returns to central Washington when he learns he's the best match for a procedure that could save Sam's life. Although Trey's found country music fame and success, he's also endured the tragic loss of his wife. He croons about love, but struggles with a yawning emptiness he can't explain. 

Overwhelmed by a growing list of challenges, but mistrustful of Stafford men, single mother Lucy Carlton reluctantly accepts Trey's help to revive her crumbling farm when Sam instructs him to repay the overdue debt to her family. 

As the two grow closer, Trey slowly begins to open his heart to this beautiful woman and strives to let go of the grief he's held for years. Lucy has a complicated history of her own. Can Trey accept her as she is, learn to forgive the past, and find the elusive peace he's sought for so long?

My Thoughts:
My love for the Stafford family runs deep and I have been looking forward to finding out if Trey would ever find his way back home. In the first two books in this series, we watched Nick and Colt find their peace in life and with their family, and find the woman to make their lives complete, but I wondered if Trey would ever really give that kind of life a chance.

It is his father's failing health that finally brings Trey home as he commits to a life-threatening surgery that will give Sam a better quality of life. Once home Trey quickly runs into Lucy, the neighbor with the failing ranch, and he makes up his mind to help her get her life back in order.

It was beautiful to see both Trey and Lucy work through the darkness from their past and trust God to bring them through to a place they could really find peace. Seeing that transformation is an example of how big God's love and kindness really is.

This book can be read as a stand-alone, but it is so much greater to meet the family in earlier books in this series and get to follow them through the years this series covers.

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June 15, 2017

A Matter of Trust {Susan May Warren}

a matter of trust susan may warren
Champion backcountry snowboarder Gage Watson has left the limelight behind after the death of one of his fans. After being sued for negligence and stripped of his sponsorships, he's remade his life as a ski patrol in Montana's rugged mountains, as well as serving on the PEAK Rescue team. But he can't seem to find his footing--or forget the woman he loved, who betrayed him. 

Senator and former attorney Ella Blair spends much of her time in the limelight as the second-youngest senator in the country. But she has a secret--one that cost Gage his career. More than anything, she wants to atone for her betrayal of him in the courtroom and find a way to help him put his career back on track. 

When Ella's brother goes missing on one of Glacier National Park's most dangerous peaks, Gage and his team are called in for the rescue. But Gage isn't so sure he wants to help the woman who destroyed his life. More, when she insists on joining the search, he'll have to keep her safe while finding her reckless brother, a recipe for disaster when a snowstorm hits the mountain. 

But old sparks relight as they search for the missing snowboarder--and suddenly, they are faced with emotions neither can deny. But when Ella's secret is revealed, can they learn to trust each other--even when disaster happens again?

The stories of the members of the PEAK Rescue team seem to better and better. I have loved this team from the beginning and look forward to each new book released.

We finally get to hang out with Gage in this one. Gage has been living in despair after his days of fame and it has seemed nothing would pull him out of the funk that has permanently taken over his life. He has been quite in past books and I was excited to get a glimpse into the man he really is.

We quickly learn he has a thing for Ella but refuses to be in love with her because of the way their relationship ended those years ago. When Ella comes back into his life, we know it is going to make for an interesting scenario.

These two find themselves stuck on a snow-covered mountain and forced to face the relationship they once had. As they spend their days searching for Ella's brother, they also dig into the details of everything that happened in the past and how they feel about the lives they have made for themselves since.

I can't tell you how this one ends, but I will tell you I didn't exactly expect the ending we got. This rescue went wrong on so many levels, but the drama unfolding back at headquarters went wrong pretty quickly as well. Not everyone got their happy ending we are all used to, and the door is wide open for the next installment in this series.

I can't wait!

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June 12, 2017

Beneath Copper Falls {Colleen Coble}

beneath copper falls colleen coble
Dana Newell has just moved to Rock Harbor to take a job as a sheriff's dispatcher and is settling in next door to Bree and Kade Matthews. The abusive relationship she left behind seems a distant memory in this perfect place.

Her first day on the job, Dana receives a call from her friend Allyson who screams "He's going to kill me too" before the phone goes dead. Dana immediately dispatches a deputy, but it's too late. Allyson's death is ruled an accident, but Dana just doesn't believe it. She knows Allyson—an investigative reporter—was researching a new story. Did someone want to keep her quiet?

Dana continues to look into the accident with the help of Bree and also Allyson's cousin Boone. Romance quickly blooms between Dana and Boone but the game is much more complex than either of them imagined. When Dana's ex-fiance locates her, she's caught in the middle. It’s a game of cat and mouse as she and Boone fight to catch one killer while evading another.

My Thoughts:
Colleen Coble is back with all our friends from Rock Harbor, plus their beloved pets!

This is one of those amazing books that holds you to the edge of your seat and has you second guessing every move each character makes. I fell in love with Dana immediately and felt so sorry for the situation she was in with Garrett. I thought running to Rock Harbor was the best decision for her, but the events that followed turned her life even more upside down.

I was suspicious of Boone when he and Dana first met, but I quickly realized I had misjudged him and liked him so much. I was excited about his and Dana's relationship that seemed to be forming very quickly.

The outcome of this book shocked me. I honestly never saw it coming. That is all I am really going to say about that because anything else would be a spoiler :)

If you love Colleen Coble, Rock Harbor, or any suspense book then this is the book you need to put next on your reading list.

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June 5, 2017

Love Story {Karen Kingsbury}

love story karen kingsbury
From the day they met, John and Elizabeth were destined to fall in love. Their whirlwind romance started when they were young college students and lasted nearly thirty years—until Elizabeth died of cancer.

So when John Baxter is asked to relive his long-ago love story with Elizabeth for his grandson Cole’s heritage project, he’s not sure he can do it. The sadness might simply be too great. But he agrees and allows his heart and soul to go places they haven’t gone in decades. Back to the breathless first moments, but also to the secret heartbreak that brought John and Elizabeth together.

At the same time, Baxter family friend Cody Coleman is working through the breakup of his complicated relationship with Andi Ellison. He is determined to move on when a chance sighting changes his plans—and heart. Can Cody convince Andi to give their love another try, or is it time for them to say goodbye, for good?

As school comes to an end, Cole presents his report on the love story between his grandparents John and Elizabeth Baxter. It is a tale that touches the hearts of the entire family, and one that causes Cole to better understand his own beginning.

My Thoughts:
Oh, I love the Baxters. I've read the first two series in the Baxter family books, but you do not have to be familiar with this family to love LOVE STORY.

In this book, we get to go back in time to when John and Elizabeth met and married. We know John and Elizabeth as the parents of the Baxter clan, and the loss of Elizabeth in the first series ripped my heart into pieces. I think missing her so much (can you miss a fictional character that much?!) made this story so much sweeter because it brought her back into our lives.

It was also so much fun to catch up with Ashley and Landon, and oh how big Cole has gotten! We also got back into Bailey's life. So great to see where all our favorite people have ended up.

I am truly so happy Karen Kingsbury has brought the Baxters back into our lives and I cannot wait to see what will continue to come from this family. In the meantime, I'm headed to the library to get Baxter books from the past. I just can't get enough of this family!

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June 1, 2017

With You Always {Jody Hedlund}

with you always jody hedlund
When a financial crisis in 1850s New York leaves three orphaned sisters nearly destitute, the oldest, Elise Neumann, knows she must take action. She's had experience as a seamstress, and the New York Children's Aid Society has established a special service: placing out seamstresses and trade girls. Even though Elise doesn't want to leave her sisters for a job in Illinois, she realizes this may be their last chance. 

The son of one of New York City's wealthiest entrepreneurs, Thornton Quincy faces a dilemma. His father is dying, and in order to decide which of his sons will inherit everything, he is requiring them to do two things in six months: build a sustainable town along the Illinois Central Railroad, and get married. Thornton is tired of standing in his twin brother's shadow and is determined to win his father's challenge. He doesn't plan on meeting a feisty young woman on his way west, though.

My Thoughts:
When Jody Hedlund writes a book you know two things: it is going to have a beautiful cover, and the story inside is going to match that beauty. It is a constant with her, and this book is certainly no exception.

I had never heard of the Orphan Trains before this book, but the thought of our country tearing apart families and putting children on trains to unknown breaks my heart. When we meet Elise and her sisters it is clear this is their destiny unless some type of miracle occurs first. Unfortunately, that miracle does not come before Elise finds herself on a train, alone and headed to an unknown city and an unknown job.

Elise meets Thornton on that train, and we already know his is wealthy and looking to best his brother in a competition for the family business. I was skeptical of Thornton at first but quickly realized he was one of the good guys and deserved all the happiness he could find in life.

As Thornton struggles to build his town, and Elise worries about her family she left behind, we see them build an amazing relationship based on friendship and mutual admiration. But Thornton has a competition to win and Elise is not included in his plans.

We see God show up and work to find a way to happiness for both Elise and Thornton. God works that miracle only he can do and the ending is simply perfect. 

This is a great start to a new series based on the orphan trains and I know you will want to add it to your reading list.

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