Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Where have we been?

It has been quiet here on the blog for a few weeks now. Why? Well life sped up to some degree and slowed down in other ways. Also I have not read a new book since June this year.

In many ways, I have been on a journey with God that has forced me to simply wait on him for answers and directions. Which has made me unable to read or take in new "friends". These times of waiting and seeking have not been easy. However, God is showing me, ever so slowly that he is wanting me to simply trust him and walk with him. This picture is a reflection of where I have been lately - sitting by quiet waters, drinking in God's goodness, resting in his shadow and learning to love him even more in all things.

I am looking forward to bringing new authors to your attention and some favourites as well in the new year.
Thanks for your patience. :)



Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Review: Tried and True by Mary Connealy

Tried and True by Mary Connealy
Bethany House Publishers, August 26th, 2014
 
Saddle up for a wildly fun ride with the Wilde sisters!
Kylie Wilde is the youngest sister--and the most civilized. Her older sisters might be happy dressing in trousers and posing as men, but Kylie has grown her hair long and wears skirts every chance she gets. It's a risk--they are homesteading using the special exemptions they earned serving in the Civil War as "boys"--but Kylie plans to make the most of the years before she can sell her property and return to the luxuries of life back East.

Local land agent Aaron Masterson is fascinated with Kylie from the moment her long hair falls from her cap. But now that he knows her secret, can he in good conscience defraud the U.S. government? And when someone tries to force Kylie off her land, does he have any hope of convincing her that marrying him and settling on the frontier is the better option for her future? 


Again, Mary's book arrive when I need them. Our whole house was down with the flu and finally after a few days, I was able to read and Tried and True arrived - what a perfect way to keep the sick blues at bay. The first thing I thought of not long after starting this book was that it reminded me of Mary's Sophie's Daughter's Series - different from it, but similar. I am now in the process of rereading Mary's collection of books: Lassoed in Texas Trilogy, Montana Marriages Trilogy and Sophie's Daughter's Trilogy - Tried and True inspired me to revisit those characters.

So Tried and True is a lovely book, funny with genuine moments. Kylie and Aaron both fought in the Civil War and those memories haunt them and drive their decisions. I liked Kylie, I liked how she simply embraced being a woman and actually enjoyed it. It was refreshing to read a story, where someone enjoys being what they were created as. She's got the spunk to go along with it too. Aaron was a solid hero, able yet also a man who has made mistakes and is paying for them. These two made a strong couple.

The story played out well and I thought was well paced. I enjoyed meeting Kylie's sisters and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the books when we see how Baily and Shannon fair in the love stakes!


 Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.



Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Book Review: Fatal Exchnage by Lisa Harris

Fatal Exchange by Lisa Harris
Revell, April 29th 2014

Emily Hunt might come from a family of cops, but she never goes looking for an adrenaline rush. She lives the quiet--well, relatively quiet--life of a teacher and thrives on making a difference in the lives of her students. But she'll have to draw on a well of strength and savvy she didn't know she had as student Rafael Cerda takes her class hostage for ransom money to save his brother's life.

Undercover cop Mason Taylor has been working with Rafael to find his brother and bring the cartel thugs who hold him to justice. Can he talk Rafael down from his impulsive actions? And is there something more sinister at work here than he realizes?

Fatal Exchange draws readers into a complex matrix of intertwining lives and unraveling secrets, where every answer creates more questions. Romantic suspense fans will hardly want to come up for air.


My first impression of this book was that it wasn't nearly as busy as the previous book in the series, Dangerous Passage - which automatically made it a better book for me. By simply being less busy and focusing on the two main characters more, I was able to enjoy the whole process from beginning to end.

I also liked the two leads in this one. They having an interesting history and it makes for a more compelling read. The situation they are in is tense and keeps the reader on edge. The mystery surrounding the story is solid and had me guessing until the end.

I'm enjoying this series more now.

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.



Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Book Review: Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer

Full Steam Ahead by Karen Witemeyer
Bethany House Publishers, 27th May 2014
 

When love simmers between a reclusive scientist and a wealthy debutante, will they abandon ship or is it full steam ahead?

Nicole Renard returns home to Galveston, Texas, to find her father deathly ill. Though she loves him, Nicole's father has always focused on what she's not. Not male. Not married. Not able to run Renard Shipping.

Vowing to find a suitable husband to give her father the heir he desires before it's too late, Nicole sets out with the Renard family's greatest treasure as her dowry: the highly coveted Lafitte Dagger. But her father's rivals come after the dagger, forcing a change in Nicole's plans.

After a boiler explosion aboard the Louisiana nearly took his life, Darius Thornton has been a man obsessed. He will do anything to stop even one more steamship disaster. Even if it means letting a female secretary into his secluded world.

Nicole is determined not to let her odd employer scare her off with his explosive experiments, yet when respect and mutual attraction grow between them, a new fear arises. How can she acquire an heir for her father when her heart belongs to another? And when her father's rivals discover her hiding place, will she have to choose between that love and her family's legacy?


I always look forward to a Karen Witemeyer book and this one sounded interesting. It's the story of a lost soul searching for answers and a woman trying to prove her worth - they collide with fireworks.

Nicole Renard is a strong woman - like many in Witemyer's books. She is assertive and determined to prove her worth to her loving father by protecting them the way a son would his family. This lands her in some hot water, running from her father's enemies. She lands a job transcribing her employer's notes and ends up with more than she bargained for.

Darius Thornton is a tortured man. He's left society life behind to pursue his impossible goal of amending for past incidents that were not his fault and were out of his control. What's also out of his control is his growing feelings for Nicole, who is not all she appears to be. They both keep secrets from each other - to be fair, the secrets if revealed sooner would have made things much smoother. But this is a book, I choose to suspend realty when I read one for the most part.

Overall I enjoyed this book, but I did feel that the relationship between them progressed very quickly. Too quickly for it to be really realistic. Thus making the overall relationship feel a but rushed. I did like Darius and felt him to be the more well rounded of the two main characters. I could empathize with him and liked how he moved through his issues.

A solid read from Witemeyer.

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.



Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Book Review: Imogen's Chance by Paula Vince

Imogen's Chance by Paula Vince
Even Before Publishing, April 1st, 2014

Imogen Browne longs to make up for past mistakes before she can move on. She quietly resolves to help the Dorazio family, whose lives she accidentally upset. Her biggest challenge is Asher, the one person who may never forgive her. And he is facing a crisis of his own. Imogen must tread very carefully, as trying to fix things may well make them shatter. A sensitive story about misplaced loyalty, celebrating life and falling in love. Can family secrets concealed with the best intentions bear the light of day?

This is a thoughtful book, in which relationships are not simple. People are not simple, so this means there are secrets, lies and guilt surrounding people. This is the case in this story. Almost all of the characters have something they are atoning for. None more so than Imogen and Asher - the leads in this story.

Paula Vince handles the subject matter well and as a reader I enjoyed watching the relationship between Imogen and Asher evolve and the really nice thing was, neither character saw it coming. Watching them navigate their way through their feelings was sweet and even when their secrets are revealed and almost all seems lost, they prevail.

A couple of things gave me a little trouble in the book. A few scenes were a little crowded with characters. I couldn't tell who was who at one point early in the book, but that was fairly brief. The second thing that troubled me, was the spiritual conversation. When I say that I'm not saying I didn't want spiritual talk in the book. This is a Christian novel and one expects that it be there. What troubled me was that for me the conversation dragged the story a bit. I found it to be a little on the theological side, which distracted me from the story. Some readers might find this the case, but others might not notice it.

Overall Imogen and Asher stand out easily in this story of hope, faith and healing. I liked them and really enjoyed watching their budding romance unfold and prevail. 



Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Book Review: In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin

In Perfect Time by Sarah Sundin
Book 2, Wings of the Nightingale
Revell, 05 August 2014

Bold, sophisticated, and flirtatious, Army Air Force flight nurse Lt. Kay Jobson collects hearts wherever she flies, leaving men pining in airfields all across Europe. So how can ruggedly handsome C-47 pilot Lt. Roger Cooper be all but immune to her considerable charms? In fact, he seems to do everything he can to avoid her.

Still, as they cross the skies between Italy and southern France, evacuating the wounded and delivering paratroopers and supplies, every beat of their hearts draws them closer to where they don't want to go. Can they confront the fears and misunderstandings in their pasts?


In Perfect Time is the third and final book in the Wings of the Nightingale series.  Here we finally get to know the real Kay Dobson and hear her story. I've been so looking forward to this story after enjoying the previous two books immensely. I couldn't wait for the book to come out to Australia so I pre-ordered the ebook.

As usual, Sarah brings to life WWII and weaves the story with the setting seamlessly.  At one point in the story the characters find themselves behind enemy lines and despite being tired that evening and not intending to stay up reading, there was no way I could put the book down.

Kay and her attitude has been a curiosity in the earlier books, and pilot Roger Cooper and his renowned avoidance of women an utter mystery.  This combination made a great recipe for anticipation as I started this book. Being finally able to discover the intricacies of their lives and join them as they grew both individually and together was satisfying and exciting - Sarah Sundin did not disappoint!

I loved Kay and Roger - they are both unconventional Christians and unconventional war heroes, making them intriguing and undeniably likeable.  It was a bittersweet ending for me. I was so happy for the outcome for Kay and Roger, but I was sad to say goodbye to the Nightingale girls.  We get to say goodbye to both Mellie and Georgie as well and the three stories are finished and tied up nicely together. 

In Perfect Time is the perfect ending to a beautiful series. I'm ready to go back to With Every Letter and start reading the whole series again!


Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Book Review: One More Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong

One More Last Chance by Cathleen Armstrong
Revell, April 29, 2014

Sarah Cooley has come home to Last Chance, New Mexico, for one reason--because it doesn't change. After an engagement gone bad with a man who wanted to change everything about her, Sarah is more than ready for the town whose motto may as well be, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Chris Reed, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to spark some change in the little town. As the new owner of the Dip 'n' Dine, he's shaking things up to draw folks from all over the Southwest into his restaurant.

As it turns out, the winds of change are blowing into Last Chance--just not in the ways that Sarah or Chris might expect.

With the same evocative writing and fascinating characters that won fans for her debut novel, Cathleen Armstrong invites readers back to Last Chance for a soul-searching, romantic story of two people navigating the twists and turns of small-town life.


This is the second book in The Place to Call Home series by Cathleen Armstrong. In the first book in the series Welcome to Last Chance, I found it hard to get into. Mainly because the author was focusing on so many characters in the town, that the two main characters got lost a bit. I understand how that can happen with a series set in a small place, where the quirky characters are involved and the first book is alot about setting up for the rest of the series.

I was pleased to find that this book was much more focused than the first. The people of the town have been set up, so it was much easier to focus on the two main characters. Overall Sarah Cooley was an interesting heroine. Torn between two men and possibly two very different futures. She is drawn to one man in an almost love hate kind of way and the other is almost too comfortable to stay with kind of way. Her situation is not usual but it was good to see it played out without the drama. It was more of a low key decision, taken in little steps rather than leaps and bounds, which I liked. She's a strong woman Sarah, who doesn't like change, especially in her small town.

Chris Reed represents change and that threatens Sarah - hence the almost love hate she has with him. Chris is awkwardly persistent, it's cute to watch. He isn't suave and he's trying to hold his niece together, whilst running the dinner and trying to fit in with the locals of Last Chance. He's got it tough, but he's up to the challenge and it suits him. He's likeable and engaging to watch.

I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the third book in this series.

 Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.

Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Book Review: One Perfect Spring by Irene Hannon

One Perfect Spring by Irene Hannon
Revell, April 29, 2014

Claire Summers is a determined, independent single mother who is doing her best to make lemonade out of the lemons life has handed her. Keith Watson is a results-oriented workaholic with no time for a social life. As the executive assistant to a local philanthropic businessman, he's used to fielding requests for donations. But when a letter from Claire's eleven-year-old daughter reaches his desk, everything changes. The girl isn't asking for money, but for help finding the long-lost son of an elderly neighbor.

As Keith digs reluctantly into this complicated assignment, he has no idea how intertwined his life and Claire's will become--nor how one little girl's kindhearted request will touch so many lives and reap so many blessings.


This was a really sweet, memorable story. Both the main and supporting characters were just right. Claire and Keith are not just likeable, but feel like real people you would know and see in your own life. Their steady, cute, bumpy and sometimes awkward road to romance was lovely to watch. Their own journey's with their individual issues was worked so well into the story, that it felt natural. The faith element was played well, not too strong and handled with care. A lovely spring read truly!


Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Review: Stuck Together by Mary Connealy

Stuck Together by Mary Connealy
Bethany House Publishers, 3rd June, 2014

Bestselling Author Mary Connealy Delivers Laughs, Romance, and Western Adventure

Tina Cahill, newly arrived from the East, is determined to get the saloon in Broken Wheel, Texas, closed for good. To that end, she pickets outside the place every afternoon. Unfortunately, so far no one has paid any attention.

Vince Yates earned the nickname "Invincible Vince" because of his reputation for letting absolutely nothing stop him. Not his tyrant of a father. Nor the injuries he suffered in the Civil War. Nor the fact that he is Broken Wheel's only attorney and sheriff yet has no law degree.

But Vince is about to face his biggest challenge yet: his past has just caught up with him. His father, mother, and the sister he didn't know he had show up in Broken Wheel without warning. His father is still a schemer. His mother is suffering signs of dementia. And his surprise sister immediately falls for one of Vince's best friends. Vince has a lot of people to take care of, and Tina doesn't approve of how he's handling any of them. But with almost all the other men in town married off, Vince finds himself stuck with feisty Tina over and over again. Of course, Tina is the prettiest woman he's ever seen, so if he could just get her to give up her causes, he might go ahead and propose. But he's got one more surprise coming his way: Tina's picketing at the saloon has revealed a dark secret that could put everyone Vince loves in danger.


Mary's books always turn up just when I'm needing something light and funny after having read something brain heavy - it's always the right medicine. I loved what I saw from Vince and Tina in the previous book in the series Fired Up and in Stuck Together their chemistry jumped off the page.

Essentially both Vince and Tina use other people's perceptions of them to hide who they really are. They like people to view them a certain way, so that no one sees the hurts they carry deep down. Unfortunately Vince's estranged father, mentally ill mother and the sister he didn't know existed turn up in Broken Wheel and throw his life into a tail spin. Throw in his and Tina's constant bickering and we've got one confused hero.

Tina feels rejected her whole life and when Vince appears to reject her, her brother decides he's in love - the rejection hurts all the more. So she clings to her causes and being a woman who can look after herself. She learns that like Vince, she's been hiding too, longing for love and acceptance. Both characters find it in God and each other by the end of the book.

For me Stuck Together wasn't quite as funny as the previous two books in the series, but still offered a lovely and amusing diversion. I did feel that Tina's insecurities around her brother could have been alleviated if he'd only explained to her why he didn't stop by and see her when she was growing up - that didn't happen, so Tina was left in the dark there.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It made me smile and chuckle here and there.

Looking forward to another one Mary!

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Book Review: Undetected by Dee Henderson

Undetected by Dee Henderson
Bethany House Publishers, April 29th, 2014

When asked what he does for a living . . .
Commander Mark Bishop is deliberately low-key: "I'm in the Navy." But commanding the ballistic missile submarine USS Nevada, keeping her crew trained and alert during ninety-day submerged patrols, and being prepared to launch weapons on valid presidential orders, carries a burden of command like few other jobs in the military. Mark Bishop is a man who accepts that responsibility, and handles it well. And at a time when tensions are escalating around the Pacific Rim, the Navy is glad to have him.

Mark wants someone to come home to after sea patrols. The woman he has in mind is young, with a lovely smile, and very smart. She's a civilian, yet she understands the U.S. Navy culture. And he has a strong sense that life with her would never be boring. But she may be too deep in her work to see the potential in a relationship with him.

Gina Gray would love to be married. She has always envisioned her life that way. A breakup she didn't see coming, though, has her focusing all her attention on what she does best--ocean science research. She's on the cusp of a major breakthrough, and she needs Mark Bishop's perspective and help. Because what she told the Navy she's figured out is only the beginning. If she's right, submarine warfare is about to enter a new and dangerous chapter.


I liked the blurb when I read it and with some reservations from having read Unspoken, I plunged into Undetected. I read it in two days and that's usually a good thing. I kept waiting for it to get really good, waiting and waiting until I found myself at the last page and I was still waiting.

It appears with her latest three books: Full Disclosure, Unspoken and finally Undetected a real pattern has emerged. Ms. Henderson likes her women to be unrealistically accomplished, usually wealthy and so complicated that the it would take about fifty years to decode them. All three women in the books seem to be emotionally unavailable, to the point of exasperating. I get it, they've all had hard lives (especially Charlotte from Unspoken) in some way or another and this makes them put up walls, walls so thick that they usually aren't knocked down much by the end of the book.

The men in these books are perfect - they are patient, calm, forthright without entering pushy boundaries (although Mark Bishop gives it his best shot in the badgering department regarding his romance with Gina), they are logical and methodical in how they approach love that the spark from the romance never gets a chance even start. 

This is the case with Undetected. As I was reading the book, the addition of an extra character to make things interesting was great. I was really wondering how Ms. Henderson was going to sort out the mess (a good storyline mess) she'd created.  Once it was resolved, I kept waiting for the next problem to come along and challenge this couple. It didn't happen sadly. So instead of watching a potentially great couple weather the storms of military life with a genius spouse thrown into the mix, we get lots of science information and lots and lots of information on the ins and outs of submarine maneuvers and life on such a vessel. I know the author does her research and it shows - a little too much. Information overload was happening for most of this book. I'm an average reader and my brain was tired from all the science and technical information - not all of it added to the story either.

I wanted more development from Mark Bishop, I wanted him to show a range of emotions that are realistic of a man - he doesn't appear to have a temper, get irritated, get frustrated or even be vague like some men I know. He's just focused on the task ahead and finding the best way to make the outcome happen. I found him at times to be a little patronizing of Gina (he doesn't mean it, but he can't see that he is at times) and I wanted to hit him a few times for his almost badgering the poor girl into a romance with him.

I liked Gina and understood her better than the other heroines in Dee's two previous books. Gina is easily lead and I get why. She's a genius, she is so far ahead of those in her own field that she likes to fit in and is socially on the back foot. She doesn't know how to be different but she wants to at the same time. She's been different her whole life and she worries that she'll never find her place outside the science world. I think if she had more time with Mark before the badgering started, I could have believed in this relationship more. Give Gina the time to really settle onto the decision and getting to watch her fall in love would have been magic. I didn't see her fall in love, not really as much of the book is from Mark's POV, but she somehow did.

I wanted more from this book as I saw more than it offered. It had the potential to be really, really good, instead it was average and this made me sad. Will I keep reading Ms. Henderson's books? Yes, because I'm an eternal optimist and very loyal.


Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.



Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thursday Thoughts: Freedom to Explore

I recently went on a spiritual retreat. I went to a small country town just outside of the city I live in. I spent two days and one night at a convent and had a surprising and meaningful experience.

I live in a city of about 250,000 people and I grew up in a small town of 10,000 people. Normally the size of my city doesn't bother me, but the other day it did. I recall exclaiming to my husband:

"There is no where to go where there is no one!"

So after discussing it with him and God, I decided to go on a spiritual retreat, just me and God. I didn't know much about what I wanted from it, just alone time with God. I did however know that I didn't want an ocean. I'm from the country (although I'm not a farm girl by any means) and I wanted space, land not water in front of me. God answered my prayers!
View from balcony  near my room

It was a very relaxing two days and I discovered something God has been trying to tell me for a while: He is here - in everything I'm doing. I want my heart to reflect His heart and when I realise he is here with me enjoying life with me, then my heart is reflecting His heart.

Something else God pointed out to me: He wants me to have the freedom to explore with Jesus. Explore with Him, take him along on whatever adventures unfold around me.

One of my most joyous experiences was taking my camera around and taking photos, experimenting with the cameras features! I had so much fun doing that. I'm no photographer, but I was filled with joy just exploring this huge place and snapping shots.

Here are some of my experiment photos :

A place to sit and think

A eerie take on the courtyard

Pink roses

Walkway captured

As I said I'm no photographer, but what joy it was to just have fun with the experience!



Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Review: Gathering Shadows by Nancy Mehl

Gathering Shadows by Nancy Mehl
Bethany House Publishers, May 6, 2014

Wynter Evans is a promising young reporter for a television station in St. Louis, but even a bright future doesn't take away her pain over the disappearance of her brother nine years ago. So when she stumbles across a photograph of a boy with an eerie resemblance to him, she can't pass up the chance to track him down. With research for work as her cover, she sets out with one of the station's photogs for the place where the picture was taken: the town of Sanctuary.

Almost as soon as she arrives, she meets the town's handsome young mayor, Rueben King, and together they begin to uncover long held secrets that could tear the small town apart and change everything Wynter thought she knew about her life. As the truth of her family's past hides in the shadows, it's clear someone will stop at nothing to keep the answers she's searching for hidden forever--even if the cost is Wynter's very life.

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book when I started reading it. I had never read Nancy Mehl before but the premise intrigued me. This was a good book and kept me turning the pages ever so quickly. The mystery surrounding Wynter's missing brother was captivating. The secrets apparently held in the small town of Sanctuary had me asking lots of questions. The mystery deepened almost every other chapter as the book trotted along at it's quick pace. I didn't know who the criminal was until the end, but I was speculating widly throughout the book.

These are all great things for a suspense novel to have. I didn't really connect with the characters though. Wynter was so focused on the missing brother case that she seemed to miss much of what was going on around her - including clues to the case. Rueben, the cool headed, calm farmer/mayor of Sanctuary never seemed to work on his farm or do anything but follow Wynter around. These two didn't have a deep connection, or if they did, it needed more time to develop. I would have liked to see them spend more time together once this case was over because this case was huge for Wynter's life - everything about it was so confronting for Wynter that any real person going through the same thing wouldn't have the head or heart space to even contemplate a romance for several months.

Overall a good mystery book that needed more work on the characters. I would like to read more from this author in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.



Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Book Review: Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade

Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade
Bethany House Publishers, April 29, 2014

Ty Porter has always been irresistible to Celia Park. All through high school--irresistible. When their paths cross again after college--still irresistible. This time, though, Ty seems to feel exactly the same way about Celia. Their whirlwind romance deposits them at a street-corner Las Vegas wedding chapel.

The next morning they wake to a marriage certificate and a dose of cold reality. Celia's ready to be Ty's wife, but Ty's not ready to be her husband. He's a professional bull rider, he lives on the road, and he's long planned to settle down with the hometown girl he's known since childhood.

Five and a half years pass. Celia's buried her dreams so that she can afford to raise her daughter. Ty's achieved all of his goals. Or thought he had, until he looks again into the eyes of the woman he couldn't forget and into the face of the child he never knew he had.

How much will Ty sacrifice to win back Celia's trust and prove to her that their spontaneous marriage can still become the love of a lifetime?


So I became a Becky Wade fan after reading first Undeniably Yours and then My Stubborn Heart. I loved both books, so I have been looking forward to reading her latest one. In this book we meet Ty Porter, the brother of  Bo Porter from Undeniably Yours. Ty's leading lady is Celia Park, a girl who's had a thing for him since high school. When they reconnect after college resulting in a Vegas marriage, Ty realizing he's done something really dumb, leaves a heartbroken Celia.

Celia, as the heroine has a real personality, she's quick witted, sarcastic, loyal (almost to a fault), she loves fiercely and is determined to make a life for herself and her little girl. She loves baking, colour and nicks knacks around the house. She has held a torch for Ty since high school and when he thought she finally got the guy he trampled all over her heart. So she took her manged heart and made a life for herself and her little girl, put up walls and made sure she kept her promise of never seeing Ty again. Until Ty walked back into her life, after realizing he had much to apologize for. Begrudgingly she lets him into her daughter's life and slowly into her own still attracted heart.

When Ty works out that Celia still hates him, he can understand. When he works out that he has a daughter, he gets really mad. He then spends most of his time getting to know his little girl and trying to ignore his still there attraction to Celia. Ty is a charming and yes, I'll say it - a sexy hero. He uses his charm, wit and good looks to his best advantage. In short he knows Celia returns the attraction he feels, so he pushes her buttons and he does a great job of it. The banter between these two characters is great to see. They have chemistry, but Ty is still (at least at the start of the novel) trying to win back Tawny, his high school sweetheart and the girl everyone in Holley, Texas thinks Ty will end up with.

Why is it the women the guys in books often want to settle down with first, don't seem to have much personality? They seem bland, pretty, but bland. This is what Tawny is. Intimidatingly pretty to Celia, but there appears to be not hint of a real personality underneath the good looks. Celia may not be the poster girl kind of knockout that Tawny is, but her own good looks and ripper of a personality more than make up for her insecurities around Tawny.

There will be readers out there who won't like this book. It's Christian fiction and Ty and Celia find themselves growing more dependent and closer to God, but there is stuff in here that will put some readers off. The beginning features alcohol and lust (nothing described) and it gets sorted after the first chapter. There is a lot of kissing in this book and some scenes involving medication abuse. For those who have read Becky Wade before, her pushing the Christian boundaries is something she does well. I for one love it and I can't wait to read more from her!

Well done Becky!

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.



Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Book Review: A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin

A Distant Melody by Sarah Sundin
Revell, 01 March 2010


A Distant Melody was Sarah's debut novel, and the first in the Wings of Glory trilogy about three brothers. 

I wasn't sure what I felt like reading the other day as I scanned my bookshelf.  But then I saw I hadn't yet read this book, I decided now was the time. And I was totally hooked within the first two chapters.

In this first book we meet Walt Novak, the youngest brother, as he finishes his flight training and is posted to England.  But before leaving for his posting, he spends a week in his home town of Antioch where he meets Allie and life is never the same again.

Allie is trapped by her parents' plans and under pressure due to societal expectations.  Her week spent in Antioch for a friend's wedding is an unexpected breath of fresh air and returning home a dismal prospect.

Allie and Walt are ordinary people, but Sarah has brought them to life and made them extremely likeable and endearing.  It's so easy to identify with their insecurities and get emotionally involved with their plights.  And with a war back drop and the inevitable tragedies that follow, I was in tears on more than on occasion.

Both characters are forced into difficult situations and have to make gusty decisions.  This adds to the authenticity of the story.  There is a delightfully real, but happy, ending for the characters.

I loved this book.  This is my third Sarah Sundin book and I have to say, she's now officially one of my favourite authors.  And she has totally sold me on WWII fiction!

If you haven't already tried Sarah's books, give this one a go - particularly since right now, it's FREE for Kindle. Please check price before downloading!


Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

American Adventure Part II

So begins Part II of our American adventure!

Lincoln Memorial:
Mr Lincoln
Lots of stuff happened in our second week in the USA. We visited the Lincoln Memorial and although it looks warm it was actually 0C - we were so cold. It was so cool to see the Reflection Pool and my first thought was Forest Gump and Jenny running into the pool calling Forest's name! We ran around there for a bit, then did some quick shopping in the afternoon.








Mount Vernon:
One of the most special days for us was when we visited Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. It snowed and we got to walk around this beautiful property in gently falling snow. It made everything look so pretty and magical. After two hours we were all tired and freezing, so we trooped home to make cupcakes and Josh and Michaele made a fire for us in the fireplace and we had smores - which are yummy by the way!!
Standing in the snow outside George Washington's home.

The White House:
Outside the White House
Our much awaited White House tour started at 8am...so we had to hustle early in the morning to make it into DC and find a park before 8am. Well that didn't actually happen.

One of my fondest and funniest memories is Michaele pulling the car over; Eleyna and I jumping out and being told to run straight ahead, the White House is there, whilst she finds a park. So Eleyna and I are hustling towards the White House, we find it and I have no idea where the visitor center is. So after asking a few people, we bolted in the right direction, found Josh (Michaele's husband) and waited only a min or two until Michaele appeared, together we missed our 8am appointment but jumped in the queue. One hour of queuing in 0C temperatures, we finally made it inside the famed house.

So 45mins of touring the White House with a 3.5 year old  resulted in me basically chasing her around, telling her to stop swinging on the ropes that were keeping visitors out of certain rooms. It was fun though and I'm really glad we both got to. I loved seeing the rooms you get to see on TV or the movies and the history of the building is so amazing. What an experience for my girl and her mummy!

Williamsburg/Yorktown:

Carrie and I
So Friday the 28th March Michaele and I travelled with the three littlies to Williamsburg, a 2.5 hour drive from Alexandria. We made it in time for dinner at Chick-Fil-A (very yummy) and headed to our hotel. It was raining lightly when we got there. We were scheduled on Saturday to spend the day with Carrie Fancett Pagels at Yorktown where she lives. What a day it was. Yorktown was another highlight for me.

We met Carrie who was dressed in PINK - so we couldn't miss her! And with her knee roller, accompanied by more light rain she showed us around the Victory Center. She's such a fountain of knowledge, telling us all this information relating to the area and the center itself. What fun it was to learn from her. I loved seeing the replica Revolutionary village, especially the houses. Since I read a lot of historical fiction, seeing the inside of a typical house of that era made many of historical books I've read come to life.

Inside typical house of the era
Carrie then guided us into Yorktown town center and I fell in love with it. The pictures below don't really show just how pretty it is, but it just captured my imagination. We then went to lunch at this gorgeous restaurant by the York River and the food was amazing! I loved the clam chowder (I've always wanted to try it) and just sitting and talking with Carrie was such a delight. The three little girls behaved themselves so well. If I can return one day, I would love to do Yorktown again in more depth and really explore the place and do it in warmer weather!


Yorktown town center
Yorktown town center
Thanks again Carrie for giving us such a fun and special day!

I have decided to do a Part III devoted to food and the last few days in USA.

Stayed tuned!


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Book Review: Silenced by Danni Pettrey

Silenced by Danni Pettrey
April 29, 2014
Bethany house Publishers

Jake Knew Something Was Wrong.
But He Never Guessed
How Wrong.
A relaxing day of rock climbing takes a disturbing turn when Kayden McKenna's route brings her face-to-face with a dead climber. Is it a terrible accident or something darker? When the case is handed to overburdened sheriff Landon Grainger, he turns to Jake Westin for help. With Jake's past now revealed, he's ready to use his talent for investigation again--but he could never prepare for where the mystery will take him.

Kayden's climbing expertise soon leads her and Jake to the realization that the death was no accident. And worse, it seems the killer is onto them. When strange things begin happening in Yancey, Jake is terrified that once again his world may put someone he loves in danger. But the truth is far worse than he could ever imagine. 


I've been waiting for this book in the Alaskan Courage Series since book 2, Shattered. Jake and Kayden's story felt really ready for it's own book by the time this published. For the first three books readers were treated to Kayden and Jake's love/mistrust relationship and finally we see it out in the open -well except neither of them admit it their feelings for the other until the end.

The mystery of Jake's past was solved in the last book Stranded by Darcy.So how does Kayden react to all this? She quietly, stoically loves him without telling him because she can't go there emotionally. Jake loves Kayden as well. He loves her with his whole heart, but doesn't think she could ever love him back. So he stays silent. All the while the two of them are thrown together by the investigation of a dead climber. With Kayden being a climber and Jake reinstated as a cop, they work together to solve the mystery.

I liked this book better than Stranded, which I felt was a little too busy with characters and plot lines. The author returns here with a focus on Kayden and Jake while managing to keep the large McKenna clan a little more in the background throughout. However, as well as Danni Pettrey gets the chemistry between the two main characters right - more than right - it's great we don't get to see them have the conversations needed to bring their feelings into the open - until the very end where it feels rushed. Parts of this book feel rushed and sometimes tedious, especially when Kayden and Jake question the same characters over and over again while only getting the same answers.

Something funny happens in this book, just as the mystery is solved another ones pops up. It's unexpected and a little confusing to the reader. Overall I liked this book more for the history of the other three. It stands alone well, but new readers to the series might like to start with Submerged, the first book. As I said I enjoyed this book, but I wanted more from Kayden and Jake than what the reader was given, consdering the build up they'd had over the past three books.

Will I read more from this series? Yes. Will I read other books by this author? Yes


Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.



Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Book Review: Until I Found You by Victoria Bylin


Until I Found You by Victoria Bylin
Bethany House Publishers
May 6, 2014

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: “God, if you’re real, I want to know you.”

It’s Nick Sheridan who comes to Kate’s rescue. Nick is handsome, confident, and 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 fall in love with one of the locals.

Nick Sheridan 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. And it’s a vow he intends to keep in spite of his attraction to Kate Darby . . .

So a book cover can really do something for a person to pick up a book and this cover is gorgeous!! When I read the blurb, well there was nothing left to do but read the book. However, before I started it I just knew it was going to be good. Sometimes that happens with me, something about a book just tells me it's going to be good, different. This book was that on both counts!

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about this book is the depth of emotions the characters go through. Nick, Kate and her Grandmother experience a lot of real emotions and situations. When I say that, they aren't facing tragedy after tragedy, just life in it's realness - the bitter, the sweet and the hard decisions people have to make. It was really nice to see both hero and heroine making mistakes -  in short acting like people!

Nick is a flawed hero, who is trying to get this faith even deeper with God, but he forgets about God's grace sometimes. He's a strong and capable man, who is well aware of his failings and weaknesses. Kate is lonely and she has been for most of her life. Time and experience have taught her that she must always be in control and that people you love are all too often taken away from you. When she meets Nick, the guard slowly comes down until life gets messy again, where she finds herself running away from her new faith and Nick. 

Nick and Kate in the end sort out the issues between them and it's a beautful ending to a beautulf story full of facing the things in life that scare us and learning to trust in the God who is bigger than our fears.

A fantastic book and I'm so excited to be reading more from this author in the future.

Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Book Review: Beloved by Robin Lee Hatcher

Beloved by Robin Lee Hatcher
Zondervan, September 24, 2013

 Diana Brennan came west on the orphan train and was given a home with a loving couple who cherished and spoiled her. At 17, she fell hard for Tyson Applegate, the son of a wealthy mine owner. After a whirlwind courtship and marriage, Tyson took off for adventures around the world, including fighting with the Rough Riders in Cuba. Receiving no word of him for seven years, Diana's infatuation with her dashing husband died an ugly death, and she is ready to move past the old pain and marry again, just as soon as Tyson is declared legally dead.

 But when her husband returns, supposedly a changed man, he wants to reunite with his wife and run for the senate. While Diana suspects the election is his real reason for wanting her by his side, she agrees to maintain his home and to campaign with him, but when it is over, win or lose, she wants her freedom. He agrees with one condition----she must give him a chance to change her mind about him.

Robin Lee Hatcher is a new author to me and she didn't disappoint! Trying new authors can be scary but it is often rewarded when you find one that you enjoy. This is my second book to read by this author and what an engaging read it was.

This is an emotional story of love regained for one person and love found for the other one. Tyson and Diana have so much to overcome that is almost seems impossible. They need a miracle and they get it! For me Diana was a complicated heroine. She had been burned so badly by Tyson before that she could barely stand to look at him. Every thing he does from the moment he reentered her life she views with suspicion. 

Tyson on the other hand knows just how badly he hurt Diana. So many times throughout the book when they've made some headway; something ugly from his past rears it's head undoing all the ground that has been made. Tyson is trusting God for his wife, but Diana isn't trusting God or Tyson. Slowly she works her way through the issues and finds the peace and love shes always craved.

I loved this book and am eager to read more from this author.
  
Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this novel for review.  I was in no way obliged to give a positive review.


Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

American Adventure Part 1

Well, the much anticipated USA trip has been and gone! Eleyna and I loved our time in America visiting friends and getting to meet a very special lady named Carrie!


I'll start with the basics. We left Australia on the 17th March, took a 13.5 hour flight to San Francisco and then took another 4.5 hour flight to Washington D.C.  to arrive at 10pm on Monday the 17th March! I was so proud of my little girl - she's only 3 and she coped so well with all that travel ! We arrived to 8 inches of snow on the ground along with light snow falling! These two Aussie girls have never seen snow so this was very special for us.

Having my friend Michaele and her brother meet us at the airport was heavenly!

Museum of Natural History
 Some first week highlights:
  • Seeing, touching and playing in the snow! What a fantastic experience! Eleyna loved building her flat snow castle!
  • Going to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History - Eleyna loved the dinosaur bones!
  • The grocery store - I know who would have thought? The range of choice Americans have is so much more than here in Australia. I was overwhelmed with the choice at the deli that I couldn't physically make a decision. As the holiday continued, I found myself saying to my friend: Is this a 50 million decision thing? She would say yes and would ask her to make the decisions for me. 
  • The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus - the kids were mesmerized! So loud but lots of fun! 
  • Going to a Cherry Blossom Festival event for the kids. 
  • Going into a Pharmacy (called chemists here in Oz) and seeing an aisle called Hardware - that is unheard of in Australia! 
  • Reading some of my favourite authors on American soil and getting the references - finally! 
Catching up with my friend Michaele was a great joy for me. Seeing our two little girls playing together was so much fun. How different they were as 20month old of age when they last saw each other to two vibrant and imaginative 3.5 year old little girls!

I haven't forgotten about Carrie...I'll save that for my next post. Stayed tuned for Yorktown, The White House, George Washington's home and my love affair with American junk food and lemonade.



Cherry Blossom Festival Event...i have no idea what the balloon figure is supposed to be!



Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.