A Love Like Ours

A Love Like Ours Book Cover. Adapted from Baker Publishing Group, 2015.

Former Marine Jake Porter has far deeper scars than the one that marks his face. He struggles with symptoms of PTSD, lives a solitary life, and avoids relationships. When Lyndie James, Jake’s childhood best friend, lands back in Holley, Texas, Jake cautiously hires her to exercise his Thoroughbreds. Lyndie is tender-hearted, fiercely determined, and afraid of nothing, just like she was as a child. Jake pairs her with Silver Leaf, a horse full of promise but lacking in results, hoping she can solve the mystery of the stallion’s reluctance to run. Though Jake and Lyndie have grown into very different adults, the bond that existed during their childhood still ties them together. Against Jake’s will, Lyndie’s sparkling, optimistic personality begins to tear down the walls he’s built around his heart. A glimmer of the hope he’d thought he’d lost returns, but fears and regrets still plague him. Will Jake ever be able to love Lyndie like she deserves, or is his heart too shattered to mend? – Summary provided by Bethany House Publishers.

When I started to read this novel, I immediately felt a sense of familiarity and I wondered to myself why this was so. It wasn’t until I got further into the novel that I realized the characters in the novel belonged to a trio series called the ‘Porter Family’. Upon this realization, I settled into the novel and immersed myself into this fictitious world.  However, I still felt myself being drawn back to this sense of familiarity and finally the dots connected! This novel paralleled so strikingly to the novel My Stubborn Heart also written by Becky Wade. The main premise of both novels were pretty much the same; a man with emotional trauma who immerses himself in his vocational work; builds a world with no one else except for family and even the latter have no meaningful relationship with this man; the fiercely determined young woman comes into his life and eventually nurtures this wounded man back to health and wholeness.

I was disappointed because I felt as though I was reading version 2.0 of My Stubborn Heart but I forged on and once again Becky Wade’s exceptional storytelling captured me into Lyndie and Jake’s world.

This is a contemporary romance novel; it explored a very relevant topic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and its impacts on war veterans. I enjoyed learning Jake’s perspective because it opened my eyes to the challenges (asides from the transition to civilian life) that veterans face. I also enjoyed the character development of Lyndie and Jake and the side story of Will and Amber. In addition, I would have liked to see Jake have more interactions with his brother and see the dynamics of their relationships because now, two of the brothers love story had been written. It would have been unique to see Ty and Bo’s perspectives as married men not necessarily to see them give advice to Jake on relationships but just the brotherly conversations of work (i.e. horses) and helping Jake with his PTSD. However, Jake relationship with Lyndie’s mother made up for it (i.e. Jake conversing with another individual who can help with his PTSD) as it took on a patient-therapist role. It was great seeing the final sibling, Dru, be more involved in this novel. I have a feeling her story might be the last of the Porter Family series and it will be neat to see how her story unfolds!

Again, I didn’t like the fact that this novel had many similarities with My Stubborn Heart. Also, I was really confused with this statement that appeared often within the first half of the novel: “if you like that sort of thing”. This statement referenced a particular description of Jake made by Lyndie and thus the assertion the average woman may not like this sort of thing. I was trying to understand why Becky inserted this phrase multiple times…what was she trying to get at? Or maybe I already answered my question? Or maybe I only read it twice and extrapolated it to “multiple”(lol) it’s possible! However, if something is repeated more than once, it must have some significance, right? Anyways, it was also strange to see Amber commenting on Ty’s looks. Granted he was described as a good-looking guy in the second novel of the series but she mentioned it a few times and he’s married now, though (hmmmm). I would love to see a fourth and final series in the book of Dru’s story mixed in with Bo and Meg’s story on their infertility. I think the latter topic is so relevant and it will shed some light and give me as a reader greater insight of the struggles couples face.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel; I couldn’t put it down for longer than 10 minutes. Becky Wade is an exceptional writer and master storyteller. I can’t wait for her next book release!

I would like to express great thanks to  Bethany House Publishers for providing me with this free copy of A Love Like Ours by Becky Wade.

Taming the Wind

Cover Art

Taming the Wind. Adapted from Baker Publishing Group, 2014.

When Cassie Lowe goes to live with her sister in the years following the Civil War, she is reacquainted with a man who once saved her life, Tyler Atherton. But Cassie is no longer the lighthearted young woman he once knew. She is now a widow with a young daughter, and she is nursing the disappointments and hurts from a difficult marriage. Though she longs to open her heart again, she is bound by fear and mistrust.

Tyler has demons of his own. Still haunted by the knowledge that his father was murdered by Comanches, he puts all his focus on reclaiming his inheritance: the ranch stolen from his family as punishment for his fighting for the Confederacy. With his affection for Cassie growing, he longs to provide a home and future for her and her daughter.

Though yearning to pledge their love, both Cassie and Tyler struggle to conquer their fears. Will Indian attacks, post-war renegades, and the hardship of life on the Texas plains destroy their future? Or will they find the strength to surrender their wills to God…and embrace his perfect plan? – Summary provided by Bethany House Publishers

This novel was an solid read. For me, there was a familiarity that came with this novel. It’s a part of a series (three novels so far) so seeing the same characters from the first and second book made me feel more connected to the characters. This story tackled very serious issues such as unforgiveness, pain and hurt from broken hearts, and more. Even though it was mellow at some points, joy and laughter is brought forth from Carissa’s daughter. Her childlike honesty and carefree attitude brings light in the mellow times.

I particularly enjoyed that the men in the town left to go on the cattle drive because we were able to truly see a discipleship happen in each one of the women – especially in Carissa. They read bible passages together, they learnt, cried and prayed for each other and it was an incredible image! Allowing the men to physically leave made the women rely solely on God. The truths that Carissa learnt were what kept her courageous in the most difficult situations. There were ‘God moments’ all throughout the book which ultimately directed the reader to remember or understand that God is the orchestrator of what seems impossible.

Once again, Tracie demonstrates that a love story without the display of the faithfulness and goodness of God is one that is not worth telling. Thank you for continuously sharing of this message of the confident hope we find only in Jesus!

I would like to express great thanks to  Bethany House Publishers for providing me with this free copy of Taming the Wind by Tracie Peterson.

– Manuela

For me, Christmas has always been a season of getting together with family and friends – over food of course, haha! Lately, I have been rediscovering what Christmas is all about; because growing up in a Christian home my whole life has made me used to certain routines, patterns. At times, I find myself going through the motions, not really reflecting on the ‘reason for the season’ and as I was cleaning the other day, God reminded me of these three things.

First is that, this is a season of celebration! God wants us to celebrate the birth of His Son, Jesus. We must be filled with praise, and rejoicing because Jesus’ birth meant that God is with us – Immanuel! Our redemption and salvation couldn’t have happened if He wasn’t born.

Secondly, by allowing His Son to be born, God presented us with a gift – Jesus! This means we must also present ourselves back to God as a gift.

Finally, we must be oh so mindful that we don’t get caught up in the excessive (emphasis here) materialism and that we should give of our time; spending quality moments with friends and family. As someone said, it is not what you bring, but who you bring with you to heaven.

So, celebrate joyously, offer yourselves back to God as gifts, and love deeply in all the relationships you’re invested in. Share of this precious hope because the world needs to hear!

– Manuela 🙂

The Miner’s Lady

 
The Miner's Lady (Land of Shining Water #3)The Miner’s Lady. Adapted from Baker Publishing Group, 2013.
When Chantel Panetta’s younger sister claims to be in love with Orlando Calarco, Chantel knows there is no hope. The Panettas and Calarcos have been sworn enemies for decades, and young love cannot heal the deep wounds between the two iron-mining families. Yet, unable to resist Isabella’s pleas, Chantel agrees to help her sister spend time with Orlando…only to have a run-in with Dante, Orlando’s brother.Chantel can’t deny the attraction that flares when she’s with Dante. But when a tragedy occurs at the mine, is there any hope that the hatred that has simmered between these two families might be resolved? Or will Chantel and Isabella’s hope for love be buried amidst decades of misunderstanding? (Peterson, 2013)

I’ve come to look forward to every new book that release by Tracie Peterson because her stories are not only filled with romance, but suspense and intrigue as well.

In this novel, there was not only one love story but two! Both had their own unique identities – with Isabella and Orlando’s,  it was primarily adventure and passion that fueled their love. Even resorting to meet in risky (iron mine) and uncanny (back of conveniencestore) locations. Tracie stayed true to this plot line, as both Isabella and Orlando were 19, so their passion and adventurous nature was not unlike any couple who would be experiencing those same feelings. The urgency of the two having to get married added to the suspense of the plot line, which was a benefit to the story. But realistically speaking, I don’t think it was necessary for the two to run away and create all this drama however I do have to remind myself of the historical time period this was set in.

Where Isabella and Orlando’s romance developed from adventure and passion, Chantelle and Dante stemmed from intensity because of their sameness in personality. This makes their encounters heated with passionate debates and  sharp banter but love blooms out of their obvious attraction for each other.

The plot line is further developed with the introduction of Alfredo and Marco, brothers of Isabella and Chantelle. In particular, Marco and his mishaps with alcohol and gambling. It was very interesting to see his internal struggle on whether doing the right thing is always the best thing. This little side plot provided a good break from the romance aspect and gave the story depth from being a one dimensional, traditional romance story.

Tracie also tackles the issue of alcoholism by introducing Reverend Black who gave a long drawn tirade that drinking alcohol leads to more sins, physical and spiritual death and destruction. I agree that are times when rebuke is warranted and even necessary, however Rev Black’s speech came out of condemnation and judgement. It surprised me that Tracie was willing to talk about this prevalent issue, albeit in a historical context-  how it was dealt with then, and that it still exists today! I appreciated that Tracie was willing to invoke her own personal opinion in a subtle way but still get the message across of Jesus’ love, grace and mercy.

To conclude, I thoroughly enjoyed the faith of Nonna Barbota especially since it helped bring clarity, and perspective to this whole matter while unifying the overall plot of this story.

All in all, it was a fantastic read!

I would like to express great thanks to  Bethany House Publishers for providing me with this free copy of The Miner’s Lady by Tracie Peterson.  

– Manuela 🙂

Love in Disguise

Love in Disguise. Adapted from Baker Publishing Group, 2012.

Can she solve the crime before they uncover her true identity?

Jobless and down to her last dime, Ellie Moore hears about a position with the Pinkerton Detective Agency and believes it’s the perfect chance to put her acting skills and costumes to use. Reluctantly, the agency agrees to give her one assignment, one chance to prove herself. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie travels to Arizona to begin her investigation. When the need arises, she also transforms into the dazzling Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.

Mine owner Steven Pierce is going to lose his business if he can’t figure out who’s stealing his silver shipments. In his wildest dreams, he never expected to receive help from a gray-haired widow…or to fall in love with her beautiful niece.

Then the thieves come after Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn’t safe no matter which character she plays! Should she give up and reveal her true identity? What will Steven do when he realizes the woman he’s falling in love with doesn’t really exist? – Summary provided by Bethany House Publishers

When I received this novel, I was knee deep in summer studies so I had to postpone reading the novel and this review. But I have successfully finished summer school and reading this novel! After reading the summary online, I was actually very psyched to read Love in Disguise by Carol Cox, however that excitement faltered when I finished reading the novel and I realized that I was disappointed. The book was not what I expected, in fact I didn’t really enjoy or like it while I was reading and after I read.

These are the three reasons why:

– Confusion between Ellie playing two role – The character development was mediocre

– The deception Ellie creates – Leads to unrealistic reactions from Steven Pierce

-The story line lacked substance – It was hard to remember the details

In allowing the main character, Ellie to play two different roles, it made it very difficult to track the character development of Ellie. The author gives brief glimpses of her strong will and fiery spirit however this is all lost when the reader (me!) has to question whether this is her true self or just another facade for the role she plays. Also, we see Ellie immersing into her roles so much that at one point she begins to think as ‘Mrs. Lavinia Stewart’. This immersal makes it so hard to see who Ellie is as a young woman. Yes, we see her raw and natural in the beginning of the book, but it is through hard circumstances such as Ellie’s unemployment that we are able to see her grow into a much more mature self. Unfortunately, the roles of Lavinia and Jessie clouds the reader from seeing this development.

I was so so shocked when I read Steven Pierce’s reaction when Ellie confessed of her deception. There was absolutely no show of outrage, anger, frustration or hurt. He seemingly brushes the matter asides and shows no emotions of being affected. This attitude by Steven made me realize the lack of depth in what was supposed to be a delightful relationship between Steven and Ellie.

This all leads to the fact that this story line or plot lacked substance. The summary provided by the author alludes to excitement, suspense, and sweet romance all wrapped up in one novel but it wasn’t fun to read. I found myself skipping through certain portions because of the un-engaging plot. After reading Love in Disguise, I quickly forgot the key details of the novel, it wasn’t very memorable and there was nothing really special or unique about it. It really could have been a fabulous story, but the execution of this story is not well done.

Perhaps your opinions may differ from mine. If you have read this novel, please feel free to share your thoughts on why you think otherwise 🙂

– Manuela

I would like to express great thanks to  Bethany House Publishers for providing me with this free copy of Love in Disguise by Carol Cox.

Love on the Line

In 1904 Texas Ranger Luke Palmer arrives in Brenham, Texas, with one goal–to capture the gang of outlaws led by Frank Comer. Undercover as a telephone repairman, he uses his days on the range to search, not realizing there’s another pair of eyes watching him.

Georgie Gail, switchboard operator and birder, heads out on a birding expedition, but instead of sighting a painted bunting, her opera glasses capture her telephone man, armed and far away from telephone lines. Palmer is forced to take this alluring troublemaker into his confidence and unwittingly puts her in harm’s way. The closer he comes to the gang, the further she works her way into his heart–and into trouble. Soon it’s more than just love that’s on the line. – Summary provided by Bethany House Publishers

It was a real delight to read another novel by Deeanne Gist. If you’ve checked out my About Me Page, you will notice that she is one of my favorite authors who introduced me to the world of historical fiction novels – which I love! The novel Love on the Line is expertly written with a great development of characters, accuracy to the time period as well as providing a true insight into the world of bird-watching!

We are introduced to an avid bird watcher, Georgie Gail who is so passionate about her birds that when she realizes hats are being sold with bird feathers, she literally becomes sick to her stomach! Instead of allowing Georgie to be the typical pitiful woman after an incident like this, Deeanne rather expands her to a bold and mission-filled character. We readers, realize that Georgie is not your typical 19th century woman; not only does she work as a switchboard operator, but when she is faced with such great threat to her life, she is still able to maintain a calm composure. We also see this development present in Luke Palmer. His character begins as an angry and cautious man, but as he comes to terms with the undeniable attraction between himself and Georgie, we see him opening up, the walls coming down, and real good personality inside!

Finally, the world of bird-watching. Wow wow, this is the first time that I’ve read any author who is able to interweave a characters love of nature and make it one of the primary focus of their novel. I absolutely loved it!

Now, I sometimes find myself looking at the most beautiful birds and wishing that I could just figure out their names! Can anybody tell me what this one is?! LOL. 🙂 So my honest opinion…Every novel that I read by this author has always been very informative and I am given a real descriptive insight into the time period, however in this novel I didn’t feel so informed. Yes every now and then we are reminded of Luke being a Texas Ranger, and how Georgie manages the switchboard but I feel as though this historical aspect could’ve been better expanded. However, I really enjoyed the aspect of the birds, and like the children in the novel,  I enjoyed Georgie’s lessons about them!

– Manuela

His Steadfast Love

It isn’t until the Civil War comes to her doorstep that Amanda Bell must choose between love and family.

It’s the spring of 1861 on the Gulf Coast of Texas. Amanda never thought she would marry because of a promise she made to her dying mother, but her attraction to Captain Kent Littlefield is undeniable.When Texas secedes from the Union, her brother Daniel aligns with the Confederate States, while Kent remains with the Union troops.Her heart is torn between the two men she is closest to and the two sides of the conflict. Amanda prays to God for direction and support, but hears only silence. Where is God in the atrocities of war-and whose side is He on? Amanda senses her life is at a turning point. She must trust God to deliver her family through the chaos of war with her heart and her faith intact. – Summary provided by Thomas Nelson Publishers

Reading this novel again was certainly a treat! I really loved the cover design of the novel, and it was one of the main reasons why I was attracted to read this book in the first place.

In terms of the development of characters, Amanda Bell was the sole character who grew in the situations she faced throughout the novel. She is a caregiver to her three sisters and when she discovers love with another man, she struggles to remain faithful to the promise she made to her deceased mother and yet still experience the sweet love she has found. Although, the growth in Amanda is well shown, minor characters unfortunately do not experience that – like Captain Kent Littlefield who is shipped off to fight the war. I especially liked the fact that author Golden Keyes Parsons was not shy at all in exploring the issue of slavery. I was given a very accurate and informed view of the late 1800’s, the Civil War and the abolitionists.

In my honest opinion, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Even though in the beginning I was not very familiar with Civil War time period, this novel helped me learn and understand more about it. For those who are avid history buffs and want a book that is primarily focused on that very fact (history lol), go out and read this book! :).

I would like to thank Bethany House for providing me a free copy of His Steadfast Love by Golden Keyes Parsons. 

– Manuela