The Book of Lost Friends Lisa Wingate


I honestly don’t even know how to begin a review for The Book of Lost Friends. As a long-time fan and influencer for Lisa Wingate, I obviously wanted to review this book but due to my mind being distracted by a prolonged family crisis, I had absolutely no clue as to its contents. I went into the story totally blind. As some other reviewers mentioned, it began fairly slow but I knew that the author tends to build her stories one layer at a time and the next thing I know I find myself hooked. That was the case with this beautiful tale. It didn’t take me long to wonder why I thought it could be at all slow.

A split time novel, readers are taken back and forth between post-Civil war Louisiana and 1987 Louisiana with freed slave Hannie and a teacher with her very first assignment. Interspersed between the chapters are actual historic newspaper ads from Hannie’s era of people who have written in search of their family members or friends. These ads played a huge role in the story as Hannie and two other young women traveled to Texas in search of her former master. Hannie’s tale is filled with danger and tragedy yet a small spark of hope pushes Hannie to continue searching for her own family members who were sold years before.

Benny soon finds herself in over her head with the high school students she is expected to teach. An avid reader, Benny hopes to instill a love of books into her pupils but most of them have absolutely no interest in the only book available to them. An unexpected discovery prompts Benny to develop a project that requires the students to dig into their own backgrounds.

I loved the way the author ties the characters of the two eras together. It was fun reading a name in a newspaper ad or in Hannie’s story and then find the same name among Benny’s students or residents of Augustine, Louisiana. Sometimes poignant yet filled with hope, The Book of Lost Friends brought me a new understanding of the slaves displaced by their owners or the war. It is a story with a little bit of everything – action and adventure, secrets and mystery, faith and hope, with just a touch of romance for good measure. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to everyone.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by the author. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours comes a new historical novel: the dramatic story of three young women searching for family amid the destruction of the post–Civil War South, and of a modern-day teacher who learns of their story and its vital connection to her students’ lives.

Bestselling author Lisa Wingate brings to life startling stories from actual “Lost Friends” advertisements that appeared in Southern newspapers after the Civil War, as newly freed slaves desperately searched for loved ones who had been sold away.

Louisiana, 1875: In the tumultuous era of Reconstruction, three young women set off as unwilling companions on a perilous quest: Hannie, a freed slave; Lavinia, the pampered heir to a now destitute plantation; and Juneau Jane, Lavinia’s Creole half sister. Each carries private wounds and powerful secrets as they head for Texas, following roads rife with vigilantes and soldiers still fighting a war lost a decade before. For Lavinia and Juneau Jane, the journey is one of stolen inheritance and financial desperation, but for Hannie, torn from her mother and siblings before slavery’s end, the pilgrimage west reignites an agonizing question: Could her long-lost family still be out there? Beyond the swamps lie the limitless frontiers of Texas and, improbably, hope.

Louisiana, 1987: For first-year teacher Benedetta Silva, a subsidized job at a poor rural school seems like the ticket to canceling her hefty student debt—until she lands in a tiny, out-of-step Mississippi River town. Augustine, Louisiana, is suspicious of new ideas and new people, and Benny can scarcely comprehend the lives of her poverty-stricken students. But amid the gnarled live oaks and run-down plantation homes lie the century-old history of three young women, a long-ago journey, and a hidden book that could change everything.

Order a copy here.


Lisa Wingate is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Before We Were Yours, which remained on the bestseller list for fifty-four weeks in hardcover and has sold over 2 million copies. She has penned over thirty novels and coauthored a nonfiction book, Before and After with Judy Christie. Her award-winning works have been selected for state and community One Book reads throughout the country, have been published in over forty languages, and have appeared on bestseller lists worldwide. The group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa and six others as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life. Booklist summed up her work by saying, “Lisa Wingate is, quite simply, a master storyteller.” She lives with her husband in North Texas. More information about her novels can be found at where you can also sign up for her e-newsletter and follow her on social media. 


Lisa’s website:





Greeting cards with Lisa Wingate quotes. Buy a Card, Feed a Child.

A Reluctant Belle by Beth White


Beth White has become another author on my “Must Read” list. I particularly enjoy her skill at merging history with a darn good story. It also helps that her books have a Southern setting.

In the second book of White’s Daughtry House series, sister Joelle Daughtry is the featured heroine. When she’s not helping her sisters convert their family plantation home into a resort hotel, Joelle spends her time teaching former slaves and writing articles for the local newspaper, hoping to gain support for a school for former slaves. Although no one knows Joelle is writing the articles because they are written under an assumed male name, the articles stir up those in the community whose sympathies lie with the KKK. Caught in a weak moment, Joelle agrees to marry the local pastor who has been courting her although her heart is not in it, probably because she feels drawn to her childhood antagonist Schuyler Beaumont.

A Reluctant Belle is a true page-turner with its love triangle, an assassination, unexpected revelations, and plenty of action and danger. Joelle and Schuyler were almost bigger than life and I enjoyed watching their relationship develop through its ups and downs. The story was a revealing look at the turbulent history of Mississippi during the years following the Civil War. As a born and raised Southerner, I am proud of my home but regret the ugly history from its past.

I highly recommend A Reluctant Belle as well as all other books by this author to readers who enjoy Historical fiction, especially that with a Southern setting.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


Joelle Daughtry has a secret.

By day, the impoverished Southern belle has been helping her sisters in their quest to turn the run-down family plantation into a resort hotel after the close of the Civil War. But by night and under a male pseudonym, she has been penning articles for the local paper in support of constructing a school for former slaves. With the Mississippi arm of the Ku Klux Klan gaining power and prestige, Joelle knows she is playing a dangerous game.

Loyalties shift when Schuyler Beaumont, childhood enemy and current investor in the Daughtry House renovation, takes over his assassinated father’s candidacy for state office. Joelle finds that in order to protect her family and her home, she and Schuyler will have to put aside their longstanding personal conflict and develop a united public front. The trouble is, what do you do when animosity becomes respect–and even love–if you’re already engaged to someone else?


Beth White‘s day job is teaching music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama. A native Mississippian, she writes historical romance with a Southern drawl and is the author of The Pelican Bride, The Creole Princess, The Magnolia Duchess, and A Rebel Heart. Her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers’ Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. Learn more at

A Love to Behold by Sharlene MacLaren


It has been awhile since I have read a book by Sharlene MacLaren but I have always enjoyed them. I also have not read the previous books in this series but that did not take away my enjoyment or understanding of this excellent novel that easily stands on its own merits.

With vivid imagery and strong characterization, the author offers an intimate look at the era following the Civil War in Charleston, South Carolina including a glimpse of the early days of the Ku Klux Klan. Teacher Lydia Albright follows her calling to teach a school for children of former slaves and meets with more opposition than anticipated including threats against her life. Nevertheless, between her own determination to follow the Lord’s leading and a group of strong supporters, Lydia refuses to back down even in the face of repeated violence.

I thoroughly enjoyed A Love to Behold and the history behind it. Plenty of action and danger, a bit of a love triangle, and a strong thread of faith kept me steadily turning the pages. I may just have to pick up the previous books of this series to see what I missed.

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


Title: A Love to Behold

Author: Sharlene MacLaren

Genre: Christian romance, historical

Release date: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Whitaker House

Two years after the Civil War, Lydia Albright, 27, is an established teacher in Boston when she senses God’s call to leave the comfort and security of her job and go south. She accepts a position to teach in a school for former slaves in Charleston, South Carolina. A church there that’s affiliated with the American Missionary Association offers support, along with room and board at the parsonage.

The Ku Klux men are hell-bent on seeing that the new school fails. Lydia’s life is threatened, and the parsonage, church, and school are vandalized.

But they haven’t contended with a strong, determined woman like Lydia before. It also helps that she has a couple potential suitors on her side.

A Love to Behold is a tale of people who grow strong in the face of adversity and a church that learns love, compassion, and acceptance, even in the face of cruelty and hatred.

Click here to purchase your copy!


Born and raised in west Michigan, Sharlene MacLaren attended Spring Arbor University. Upon graduating in 1971 with an education degree, she taught second grade for two years, then accepted an invitation to travel internationally with a singing ensemble for one year. In 1975, she came home, returned to her teaching job, and married her childhood sweetheart. Together, they raised two lovely daughters, both of whom are now happily married and enjoying families of their own. Retired in 2003 after thirty-one years of teaching, “Shar” loves to read, sing, travel, and spend time with her family—in particular, her adorable grandchildren!

A Christian for over fifty years, and a lover of the English language, Shar always enjoyed dabbling in writing. She remembers well the short stories she wrote in high school, and watching them circulate from girl to girl during government and civics classes. “Psst,” someone would whisper from two rows over, always when the teacher’s back was turned, “pass me the next page.”
In the early 2000s, Shar felt God’s call upon her heart to take her writing pleasures a step further, and in 2006, she signed a contract for her first faith-based novel, Through Every Storm, thereby launching her writing career. With eighteen published novels now gracing store shelves and being sold online, she daily gives God all the glory. She dedicated her last novel, Their Daring Hearts, to Jesus.
Shar has done numerous countrywide book signings and made several television appearances and radio interviews. She loves speaking for community organizations, libraries, church groups, and women’s conferences. In her church, she is active in women’s ministries, regularly facilitating Bible studies and other events. She and her husband, Cecil, live in Spring Lake, Michigan, with their beautiful white collie, Peyton, and their ragdoll cat, Blue.

Shar loves hearing from her readers. If you wish to contact her as a potential speaker for a church function or would simply like to chat with her, please feel free to send her an e-mail at She will do her best to answer in a timely manner. You may also find her on Facebook.


My dear readers,

It has indeed been my great privilege and pleasure to write this series set in Civil War times. What a thought-provoking, amazing, and heart-wrenching era in American history.

If you read all three books in the “Forever Freedom” series—Summer on Sunset Ridge, Their Daring Hearts, and A Love to Behold—you will have gotten some history lessons regarding the Religious Society of Friends, also known as Quakers; Abolition; the Underground Railroad, which the Quakers were instrumental in launching; life as a Union soldier in the Civil War; the Freedmen’s Bureau; and Reconstruction, that period following the war when the south had fallen into great dis-repair. Also prevalent in this third book is a bit of history regarding the origin of the Ku Klux Klan, a hate group that formed during the Reconstruction period.

Although I did not appreciate history as a young girl, as an older adult, I’m quite fascinated by it. History itself is a great teacher. Learning about it can be everything from exhilarating to depressing, challenging and yet exciting. It is my prayer that as you read my books, you’ll not only find them entertaining, but also inspiring and uplifting. I aim to encourage, not discourage. Much of history—if we dwell on it—can be disheartening, but focusing our hearts and minds on Christ gives us courage and confidence. Let us learn from history, but let us look to the future with hope in our hearts.

With love and a prayer for God’s best blessings,



Reading Is My SuperPower, January 22Maureen’s Musings, January 22

Jeanette’s Thoughts, January 23

Genesis 5020, January 23

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, January 24

Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, January 24

Splashes of Joy, January 25

Blossoms and Blessings, January 25

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 26

Mary Hake, January 26

Godly Book Reviews, January 27

Daysong Reflections, January 27

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 28

Robin is Bookish, January 28My Devotional Thoughts, January 29

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 29

The Becca Files, January 30

For the Love of Literature, January 30

Texas Book-aholic, January 31

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 31

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 1

Janices book reviews, February 1

A Baker’s Perspective, February 2

Bibliophile Reviews, February 3

Carpe Diem, February 4

Bigreadersite, February 4


To celebrate her tour, Sharlene is giving away a grand prize of a $20 Starbucks gift card!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

A Rebel Heart by Beth White


Having read Beth White’s previous series, The Gulf Coast Chronicles, I was delighted to receive a review copy of A Rebel Heart, first book in her latest series. It was everything I expected and more. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading White’s historical fiction about the South that contains an intimate view of the lives and experiences of people who lived during a tumultuous period in our country.

A Rebel Heart gets off to a speedy start with a disastrous train derailment and a daring rescue in which the primary characters Selah and Levi meet. Their paths cross later and the two of them eventually end up working together in a scheme to save her family’s damaged plantation home in Mississippi. The characters come alive in a plot wrought with action, danger, secrets, misunderstandings, suspense, and romance. I liked seeing how they had to learn to depend upon each other and their faith in order to survive and thrive during the difficult days of post Civil War reconstruction.

I look forward to the rest of this series because I can’t wait to learn what happens with Selah’s two sisters and their cousin. I hope you will give this excellent book a chance too.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


“Full of intrigue, grit, and grace, A Rebel Heart is Beth White at her finest.”Jocelyn Green, award-winning author of A Refuge Assured

Five years after the final shot was fired in the War Between the States, Selah Daughtry can barely manage to keep herself, her two younger sisters, and their spinster cousin fed and clothed. With their family’s Mississippi plantation swamped by debt and the Big House falling down around them, the only option seems to be giving up their ancestral land–until a hotel management agent for the railroad offers her hope for the future.

If she’ll turn her home into a hotel, Levi Riggins says, he can all but guarantee it will be saved. Selah isn’t sure she entirely trusts the handsome Yankee. Yet what other options does she have? She’ll have to stay on her guard . . . but she never expected to have to guard her heart.


Beth White‘s day job is teaching music at an inner-city high school in historic Mobile, Alabama. A native Mississippian, she writes historical romance with a Southern drawl and is the author of The Pelican Bride and The Creole Princess. Her novels have won the American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award, the RT Book Club Reviewers’ Choice Award, and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. Learn more at

Love Held Captive by Shelley Shepard Gray


I have enjoyed Shelley Shepard Gray’s Lone Star Hero’s Love Story series so I was happy to have the opportunity to review the latest book in the series, “Love Held Captive”. I was not disappointed. In fact this book actually provides the reader with two different love stories.

Once again, Confederate officers who spent time in the same prison camp are featured. Both Ethan Kelly and Devin Monroe are heroes in this novel and they both meet women who have managed to survive the war on their own despite many hardships. Both women have also been mistreated by a despicable man who had also spent time in the prison camp with them. Will Ethan and Devin become the true heroes Lizbeth and Julianne need?

I thoroughly enjoyed “Love Held Captive”. Although it did touch on some very adult subject matter, I personally thought it was handled tastefully and discreetly with no explicit intimate scenes. Some readers may still prefer to pass on this book and that is their choice.

The plot is well written and moves along steadily with some flashbacks to the prison camp that helps set a background for the relationships between the men. As in the previous novels, I was impressed by the strength of their friendships and their determination to be there for the others when needed. I have loved this series and am hoping this will not be the last book.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Amazon Vine. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.


After the War Between the States, a Confederate officer longs to heal the heart of a beautiful woman—but first he’ll have to right the wrongs that were done to her.

Major Ethan Kelly has never been able to absolve himself of the guilt he feels for raiding a woman’s home shortly before he was taken prisoner during the Civil War. He is struggling to get through each day until he once again crosses paths with Lizbeth Barclay—the very woman he is trying to forget.

Life after the war is not much different for former Captain Devin Monroe until he meets Julianne VanFleet. He knows she is the woman he’s been waiting for, but he struggles to come to terms with the sacrifices she made to survive the war.

When Ethan and Devin discover that their former colonel, Adam Bushnell, is responsible for both Lizbeth’s and Julianne’s pain, they call on their former fellow soldiers to hunt him down. As the men band together to earn the trust of the women they love, Lizbeth and Julianne seek the justice they deserve in a country longing to heal.


Shelley Shepard Gray is a “New York Times” and “USA Today” bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Find out more about Shelley at



An Uncommon Protector by Shelley Shepard Gray


“An Uncommon Protector” is the second book in Gray’s  Lone Star Hero’s Love Story series. During their imprisonment in a Yankee camp on an island in Lake Erie, several Southern officers promised to always be there for each other. Since this volume features Thomas Baker, the second of those officers, I assume (and hope) that future installments will feature each of the other men.

Thus far, life has not been overly kind to Thomas Baker. In fact it has been a huge struggle. Poor choices after the war left him without money and even in jail. His only hope was for a local rancher to hire him for a year but he sure wasn’t expecting to be hired by the lovely Laurel Tracey who was attempting to run her family’s ranch on her own. Laurel’s kindness and determination quickly brings Thomas to the realization that he will do anything it takes to protect and help Laurel.

I absolutely loved this book, especially the way Thomas’ character was portrayed. His humility was endearing but also a bit sad. It was so difficult for him to believe what others saw in him – his integrity, his skill with horses, and the way he cared for others. It was wonderful to read about the emotional healing that he received through his relationships with Laurel and his officer friends. I liked Laurel also and admired her caring and forgiving spirit. I also enjoyed spending a little time with the men I met in “The Loyal Heart”. Flashbacks to Thomas’ time in the prison camp helped to add some insight into his character and the strong bond between the officers.

“An Uncommon Protector” can easily stand alone but I believe it was so much better after reading “The Loyal Heart”. Either way, if you enjoy historical fiction with a Texas setting, you cannot go wrong with this series.

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


Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of running a ranch on her own, Laurel Tracey decides to hire a convict—a man who’s just scary enough to take care of squatters and just desperate enough to agree to a one year post.

The years following the war have been hard on Laurel Tracey. Both her brother and her father died in battle, and her mother passed away shortly after receiving word of their demise. Laurel has been trying to run her two hundred acre ranch as best she can.

When she discovers that squatters have settled in her north pasture and have no intention of leaving, Laurel decides to use the last of her money to free a prisoner from the local jail. If she agrees to offer him room and board for one year, he will have to work for her to pay off his debt.

Former soldier Thomas Baker knows he’s in trouble when he finds himself jailed because he couldn’t pay a few fines. Laurel’s offer might be his only ticket out. Though she’s everything he ever dreamed of in a woman—sweet and tender-hearted, yet strong—he’s determined to remain detached, work hard on her behalf, and count the days until he’s free again.

But when cattle start dying and Laurel’s life is threatened, Thomas realizes more than just his freedom is on the line. Laurel needs someone to believe in her and protect her property. And it isn’t long before Laurel realizes that Thomas Baker is far more than just a former soldier. He’s a trustworthy hero, and he needs more than just his freedom—he needs her love and care too.


Shelley Shepard Gray is a “New York Times” and “USA Today” bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Find out more about Shelley at