Romance

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Grace and the Preacher by Kim Vogel Sawyer



MY REVIEW:

“Grace and the Preacher” was such an enjoyable read with an abundance of memorable characters. Sweet Grace had fallen in love with Fairland’s new preacher through his letters but when he finally arrived in town, he was not at all what she expected. Theophil Garrison had always tried to do the right thing but somehow nothing ever seemed to go his way. When he arrived in Fairland to deliver a difficult message, the acceptance he felt from the townspeople made him decide to reinvent his life as another man. Little did he know how difficult it would be to live out the lie.

A story populated by people who often made the wrong decisions, “Grace and the Preacher” was also filled with Biblical wisdom liberally shared by Grace’s Uncle Philemon and Bess, the lady who ran the boarding house. It is a beautiful story of grace and mercy, forgiveness and redemption that ultimately points the reader toward following the Lord’s plan for her life rather than her own.

I especially liked how Earl’s story turned out. He was a character who could easily have received what he deserved and most readers would have been happy with that outcome. The author’s solution was so much better! I loved this book and look forward to reading more books by Kim Vogel Sawyer in the near future.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book that was provided by Blogging for Books. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

At the age of twenty-four, postmistress Grace Cristler has all but given up hope of finding a husband among the narrowing group of eligible men in her town of Fairland, Kansas. But when her uncle decides to retire from the pulpit, Grace is responsible for corresponding with the new preacher set to take his place. She can’t deny the affection growing in her heart for Reverend Rufus Dille—a man she deeply admires, but has only met through his letters.

Theophil Garrison is on the run from a past and a label he’s desperate to escape. Ten years ago, his outlaw cousins convinced him to take part in a train robbery, but Theo fled the scene, leaving his cousins to face imprisonment. Now their sentence is complete, but the plan for vengeance has only just begun. Branded a coward and running for his life, a chance encounter could provide Theo with the escape he needs.

But the young man’s desperate con might come at an enormous price for the tenderhearted Grace—and the entire town. Will Grace’s undeserved affection and God’s mercy make something beautiful from the ashes of Theo’s past?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

With over 40 titles on library shelves and more than 1.5 million copies of her books in print worldwide, Kim Vogel Sawyer enjoys a full-time writing and speaking ministry. Empty-nesters, Kim and her retired military husband, Don, are active in their church’s music ministry. Additionally, Kim helps lead women’s fellowship and enjoys teaching at writing conferences and spiritual retreats. When she isn’t writing, Kim enjoys quilting, traveling, and spoiling her granddarlings.

The Amish Wanderer by Laura Hilton



MY REVIEW:

If asked to describe Laura Hilton’s books, I might tell you that they are “gritty” Amish fiction. This author has chosen to write stories that reveal the fact that like in all other walks of life, at their core, the Amish are also human and not all are the perfectly upright people portrayed in many of the popular novels. In “The Amish Wanderer” the reader will find that each of the two primary protagonists have secrets and carry heavy burdens from their past.

Bethany longs to run away from the town that knows about her father’s disgrace but her pain goes even deeper and there is one man she wants to leave far behind. Silas has spent his entire life in a dysfunctional and violent family and probably carries the scars to prove it. He is one the road to what he hopes will be a new life away from his family and the man he believes wants him dead. When he takes shelter one night in the Weiss barn and agrees to stay and help out on their farm, he and Bethany will find their lives changed forever.

I have read only two of Laura Hilton’s books but if they are indicative of her others, I have found another author to add to my “Don’t Miss” list. “The Amish Wanderer” grabbed my attention from the very beginning and I found myself reading well into the night. I did not want to do anything other than read this book. The story is so compelling although it does contain at least one scene that may be offensive to some readers. I personally believe that the scene was necessary to fully make the point of the danger to Bethany and it was handled very tactfully.

I liked Bethany and Silas’s characters very much and enjoyed reading about their road to romance, forgiveness, faith, and restoration. A good amount of scripture was woven seamlessly into the plot and was all quite applicable to their situations. Some suspense, drama, humor, and of course romance were blended perfectly to make the perfect read. Several plot twists and surprises made it all the more enjoyable.

If you have not read any books by Laura Hilton, please do yourself a favor and give one or more a try soon. I do not think you will regret it.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book that was provided by Celebrate Lit. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Click to purchase

Bethany Weiss is ready to leave town. Tongues haven’t stopped clacking in Jamesport, MO, since her daed, the bishop, was admitted to a mental hospital after hurting their small Amish community. But her sharpest wounds Bethany hides from prying eyes, quietly biding her time until she can take a chance at a new life—away from Jamesport and away from God.

Silas Beiler was kicked out of his own home. Dogged by a rough childhood and a family who blames him for each new disaster, he begins hitchhiking across the country, sleeping in barns where he can, working for food when possible—headed for Pennsylvania in the hope of some stability.

When Bethany spies a man asleep in the hayloft, she first fears the return of an unwelcome suitor. But when it is Silas who turns and speaks, the memories flood back: a happy summer six years ago full of lemonade, long walks, and budding courtship. Now, however, those months of bliss seem naïve and idyllic. Was their old love strong enough to overcome new pain? Or will hurt and rejection continue to haunt their path?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Amish fiction lovers responded positively and immediately to Laura V. Hilton’s debut novel, Patchwork Dreams, when she burst on the scene in 2009 with her unique series, The Amish of Seymour, set in the tiny town of Seymour, in Webster County, Missouri. Fans of the genre immediately recognized Hilton’s insider knowledge, not only of the Webster County community, but Amish culture in general. Her natural speech and writing patterns, she says, are uniquely “Amish,” acquired from her Amish maternal grandparents. The Amish of Seymour, includes Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another. Her second series, The Amish of Webster County, is comprised of Healing Love, Surrendered Love, and Awakened Love. A stand-alone title, A White Christmas in Webster County, was released in September 2014. The Amish of Jamesport includes The Snow Globe, The Postcard and The Birdhouse. In spring 2016 she released The Amish Firefighter with the setting in Jamesport, MO, the same as for The Amish Wanderer.

Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer. Laura and her husband, Steve, have five children, whom Laura homeschools. The family makes their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas.

GUEST POST FROM LAURA HILTON:

I didn’t intentionally set out to write an Amish story loosely based on a true story. If fact, when people asked me if I would write my maternal grandparents’ story, I told them no.

But when time came to write Bethany’s story, all I knew was a short paragraph blurb about it. Bethany and her once-upon-a-time boyfriend Silas who left that particular Amish district and her before their relationship became serious. I didn’t know their backstories, really, and had no idea how the story would proceed. And since I don’t plot, I spend a lot of time praying about the story, because really, I want to write what He says to write. He knows who He wants it to reach.

So I sat down to pray about it. And God gave me a verse. Which is unusual at the beginning of the story. Usually, for me, it’s at the middle when God reveals His theme for the book. But this time, it was at the beginning. The verse is:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)

And the verses caused more prayer. What am I supposed to do with it?

I was driving to Melbourne (Arkansas, not Australia) to pay property taxes and get my vehicle tags renewed, listening to the radio as we (my three daughters and I) drove down Larkin Road (that’s not the real name, just what everyone calls it—we have a lot of those around here: Day Road, Moko Road, etc—because there are ghost towns on these roads so they are called by the name of the ghost town). A song came on the radio and I don’t remember the name of it, or even who the singer was, but when I arrived in Melbourne, I had the opening line to my story.

The sky is falling and I’m searching for somewhere to hide.

I’m sure the people at the county clerk’s office might have been a little concerned about the state of my mental health when they saw the words scribbled at the top of my bill. I did get a strange look. I didn’t offer an explanation. And they didn’t ask.

When I got home, I started writing and paying close attention to Bethany’s mental clues (and Silas’s) to figure out what their stories were. And how they tied into the verse God had given me.

And then, without even realizing it until it hit, I knew who’s story I was writing.

My grandmother’s. My grandfather’s.

Except they are different. My grandmother wasn’t date raped. It was a member of her own family. And she wasn’t in love with my grandfather. She just discovered he was leaving the Amish and she wanted—needed—to escape.

Neither were Christians at the time. My grandfather was saved on his death bed. My grandmother’s youngest child was a teenager when she was saved. My mother, her sister, and all their girlfriends went to a tent meeting for a United Brethren Church and my grandmother attended one of the meetings with her daughters and was saved as a result. And their testimonies ultimately led to the salvation of my uncle and my grandfather.

Both of my grandparents had a lot of issues to work through as to why God allowed the bad things in their lives to happen. That they eventually came to Christ is a miracle but I’m glad they did, as I was raised in a Christian home.

Why does God allow bad things to happen to people? The short, pat answer is: because sin entered the world. Yes, God could stop them. But what if He uses the bad thing to refine a person’s faith, to draw them closer to Him as a result?

How a person reacts to the bad things directly ties in to how they affect them. In my story, Silas chose to trust God even though he feared for his life. No, he didn’t like what had happened, but even though he didn’t see how, he trusted God was working behind the scenes to bring Silas to where he needed to be, spiritually and physically. On the other hand, Bethany believed God had rejected her. Pushed her away and didn’t care about her. If He didn’t care for her, why should she care about Him? So she went into a stand-off with God.

The lessons ultimately learned, for both my grandparents and my characters, brought them to their knees before the living and holy God who was, and is, and is to come. And I trust God will use this story to help a reader out there who might be questioning something terrible that happened in their life.

You might not see how now and may not know why until eternity, but God has this. Keep praying. Keep trusting. Keep believing.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (KJV)

BLOG STOPS:

February 14: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

February 14: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

February 14: inklings and notions

February 15: A Rup Life

February 15: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

February 15: Lane Hill House

February 16: Daysong Reflections

February 16: A Simple Life, really?!

February 16: Blogging With Carol

February 17: Reading Is My SuperPower

February 17: Bigreadersite

February 17: Rockin’ My Mom Jeans

February 18: Rhonda’s Doings

February 18: Jeanette’s Thoughts

February 19: A Greater Yes

February 19: A Holland Reads

February 20: Connie’s History Classroom

February 20: Blossoms and Blessings

February 21: Eat, Read, Teach, Blog

February 21: Mom Is Forever

February 22: A Baker’s Perspective

February 22: Splashes of Joy

February 23: Moments Dipped in Ink

February 23: Carpe Diem

February 24: Pause for Tales

February 24: Quiet Quilter

February 25: For The Love of Books

February 25: Donna’s BookShelf

February 26: Christian Bookaholic

February 26: Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner

February 27: Giveaway Lady

February 27: Autism Mom

GIVEAWAY:

To celebrate her tour, Laura is giving away  Amish Wanderer, Patchwork Dreams (Amish of Seymour #1), Snow Globe (Amish of Jamesport #1),
a 10 x 17” canvas banner: “Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly” (Micah 6:8), and
Abba Scripture Candle (3” natural, clean-burning wax, scented) – “With God All Things Are Possible”! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/b0d8

The Newcomer by Suzanne Woods Fisher



MY REVIEW:

Although there is a wealth of Amish fiction available, few cover the early history of the Amish in the New World. In “The Newcomer”, Suzanne Woods Fisher’s second book in her Amish Beginnings series, readers join Anna, Bairn, the Bauer family, and their fellow church members during their first months in Port Philadelphia and their subsequent journey to the settlement Jacob has chosen for them. However, not all goes as planned.

With Bairn deciding to make “just one more” voyage before joining the group and other members who for one reason or another are missing, a newcomer joins the group and makes a strong impact on them all. Multiple plot twists and surprises kept me turning the pages until the very end.  I enjoyed the strong cast of characters with their vivid personality traits. It was especially fun reading about Felix and all his mishaps. Many of the characters held a strong faith but not all of them were what they seemed.

Learning more about the beginnings of the Amish people in the U.S. was both informative and interesting – made more enjoyable by such an engaging story. This series is a must read for all fans of Amish fiction.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book that was provided by Celebrate Lit. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Click to purchase

In 1737, Anna Konig and her fellow church members stagger off a small wooden ship after ten weeks at sea, eager to start a new life in the vibrant but raw Pennsylvania frontier. On the docks of Port Philadelphia waits bishop Jacob Bauer, founder of the settlement and father to ship carpenter Bairn. It’s a time of new beginnings for the reunited Bauer family, and for Anna and Bairn’s shipboard romance to blossom.

But this perfect moment cannot last. As Bairn grasps the reality of what it means to be Amish in the New World–isolated, rigid with expectations, under the thumb of his domineering father–his enthusiasm evaporates. When a sea captain offers the chance to cross the ocean one more time, Bairn grabs it. Just one more crossing, he promises Anna. But will she wait for him?

When Henrik Newman joins the church just as it makes its way to the frontier, Anna is torn. He seems to be everything Bairn is not–bold, devoted, and delighted to vie for her heart. And the most dramatic difference? He is here; Bairn is not.

Far from the frontier, an unexpected turn of events weaves together the lives of Bairn, Anna, and Henrik. When a secret is revealed, which true love will emerge?

Click here to purchase your copy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including Anna’s Crossing, The Bishop’s Family series, and The Inn at Eagle Hill series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace and The Heart of the Amish. She lives in California. Learn more at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and follow Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher.

GUEST POST FROM SUZANNE WOODS FISHER:

Pennsylvania of 1737, the setting for The Newcomer, is like a foreign country. Parts of it might seem familiar—the same hills and creeks and blue sky, but we’d hardly recognize the settlers. People like Anna, or Bairn, or the mysterious Newcomer. We wouldn’t be able to understand their language, their customs and traditions. Their world was that different from our modern one.

The first group of Amish immigrants (first written about in Anna’s Crossing and followed up in The Newcomer) settled northwest of Philadelphia, then a vast wilderness, and relied on each other for safety, security, building projects, and church. In nearby Germantown, settlers were tradesmen, so they clustered houses together in small knots. The Amish farmers took out land warrants for sizeable properties and lived considerable distances from each other.

In The Newcomer, Anna cooked food in a cauldron over a large hearth. One-pot meals can trace their beginnings to open-hearth cooking when ingredients for a meal went into a large kettle suspended over the fire. Traditional dishes—ham and beans, pork and sauerkraut—used sturdy, available, and simple ingredients that improved with long, slow cooking. The dishes could be easily expanded when the need arose to set a few more places at the table. And it did, often. Large families and unannounced company inspired Amish cooks to find ways to “stretch the stew.”

Noodles (including dumplings and rivvels) could be tossed into a simmering broth to make a meal stretch. Most farms had a flock of chickens, so eggs were easily at hand. Today, homemade noodles are still a favorite dish.

Another “stew stretcher” was cornmeal mush, originally eaten as a bread substitute. Early German settlers who made their home in eastern Pennsylvania roasted the yellow field corn in a bake oven before it was shelled and ground at the mill. The roasting process gave a nutty rich flavor to the cornmeal. Mush is still part of the diet the Old Order Amish—cooked and fried, baked, added into scrapple, smothered in ketchup. Dress it up and you’ve got polenta.

Now here’s one thing we do have in common with 1737 Pennsylvania immigrants…a love of good food and a shortage of time! Here’s one of my favorite one-pot recipes—probably not the kind of stew Anna might have made for ship carpenter Bairn or the mysterious Newcomer (ah, which man one stole her heart?)…but definitely delicious. Enjoy!

Lentil Chili

Here’s one of my favorite “stew stretchers.” You can expand it even more by serving over rice.

Ingredients:

1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
10 c. water
1 lb. dry lentils
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt (season to your taste)
½ tsp. pepper
2 c. salsa (your favorite variety)
29 oz. canned tomatoes, crushed

BLOG STOPS:

February 7: cherylbbookblog

February 7: Moments Dipped in Ink

February 7: inklings and notions

February 8: Just Commonly

February 8: D’S QUILTS & BOOKS

February 8: Ashley’s Bookshelf

February 9: A Reader’s Brain

February 9: Genesis 5020

February 9: A Simple Life, really?!

February 10: Lane Hill House

February 10: Blogging With Carol

February 10: Eat, Read, Teach, Blog

February 11: Quiet Quilter

February 11: Daysong Reflections

February 11: Southern Gal Loves to Read

February 12: Christian Bookaholic

February 12: Jeanette’s Thoughts

February 12: Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

February 13: Karen Sue Hadley

February 13: Just the Write Escape

February 14: Rhonda’s Doings

February 14: Bigreadersite

February 14: Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

February 15: Blossoms and Blessings

February 15: Connie’s History Classroom

February 16: Bibliophile Reviews

February 16: Book by Book

February 17: Pause for Tales

February 17: A Holland Reads

February 18: A Greater Yes

February 18: The Power of Words

February 19: Lighthouse Academy

February 19: A Baker’s Perspective

February 20: By The Book

February 20: Giveaway Lady

GIVEAWAY:

To celebrate her tour, Suzanne is giving away a Kindle! Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!https://promosimple.com/ps/b0d1

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An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter


MY REVIEW:

I found “An Uncommon Courtship” to be a thoroughly delightful read. It was fun reading about a couple who were more-or-less strangers who were forced to marry to protect her reputation because of an innocent situation. I thought Trent was very thoughtful when he decided that Adelaide deserved her introduction into society and a proper courtship. Rife with misunderstandings and awkward situations, this often amusing tale was a sweet romance that found the couple eventually falling in love.

Some readers have found a certain scene well into the narrative to be a bit too honest for their taste so be warned of this. However, there were no explicit descriptions but more the couple’s reactions to what happened. To me this just confirmed their total innocence of such things and their embarrassed reactions were so very natural.

I thoroughly enjoyed “An Uncommon Courtship” and adored its characters. I can’t wait for Kristi Hunter’s next novel!

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book that was provided by Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Lord Trent Hawthorne couldn’t be happier he is not the duke in the family. Free to manage his small estate and take his time discovering the life he wants to lead, he has grand plans of someday wooing and falling in love with the woman of his choice. When he finds himself honor bound to marry a woman he barely knows, his dream of a loving marriage like his parents’ seems lost forever.

Life for Lady Adelaide Bell was easier when she hid in her older sister’s shadow–which worked until her sister got married. But even with her socially ambitious mother’s focus entirely on her, the last thing she expected was a marriage of convenience before she’s been introduced to society.

With nothing going as expected, can Trent and Adelaide’s marriage of obligation survive their own missteps and the pressures of London society to grow into a true meeting of hearts and minds?

READ AN EXCERPT HERE.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in computer science but always knew she wanted to write. Kristi is the author of the Hawthorne House series and a 2016 RITA Award winner and Christy Award finalist. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at www.kristiannhunter.com.

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