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Book Review: A Rumored Fortune

15 Aug

Tressa Harlowe’s father did not trust banks, but neither did he trust his greedy extended family. He kept his vast fortune hidden somewhere on his estate in the south of England and died suddenly, without telling anyone where he had concealed it. Tressa and her ailing mother are left with a mansion and an immense vineyard and no money to run it. It doesn’t take long for a bevy of opportunists to flock to the estate under the guise of offering condolences. Tressa knows what they’re really up to. She’ll have to work with the rough and rusticated vineyard manager to keep the laborers content without pay and discover the key to finding her father’s fortune — before someone else finds it first.

 

Joanna Davidson Politano freelances for a small nonfiction publisher but spends much of her time spinning tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives. Her debut novel, Lady Jayne Disappears, releases October 3 from Revell. She lives with her husband and their two babies in a house in the woods and shares stories that move her at http://www.jdpstories.com.

 

My Impressions:

Joanna Davidson Politano again returns to Victorian England in her latest novel, A Rumored Fortune. Mystery and romance await the reader when they dig into this novel with a Dickensian feel. Strong characters and an atmospheric setting, along with a powerful message, make this one a highly recommended read.

Tressa Harlowe is an unwilling heiress after the death of her father. Tasked with taking over Trevelyn Castle and its vineyard, Tressa must also find a legendary treasure. Fortune seekers soon find her way to the castle’s door, and Tressa must decide who is for her and who is against her.

Characterization is strong in A Rumored Fortune. There are no stereotypes here — main and secondary characters are complexly writ with secrets and hidden motives. Of course the two mains are my favorites. Tressa is a determined young woman set on being true to her self and the convictions she holds. Donegan Vance, the vineyard manager hired by Tressa’s father before his death, is all things heroic — noble, long-suffering, and intensely loyal. He struggles with living a life of integrity and keeping the many secrets entrusted to him. Their relationship is one with many obstacles, not least among them their class differences. Mystery fans will love the search for the hidden fortune — there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. All the positives of this book are joined with a faith message that I think is the strongest element of the novel. A Rumored Fortune sometimes reads like a parable with powerful symbolism across several levels. Tressa regrets the surface relationship with her father, but comes to realize that even at her loneliest, she was never alone. One of my favorite quotes is:

“Instantly my thoughts pivot. Our Father, who art in heaven. The words landed on my heart afresh, soaking into what had begun to turn stony and hopeless, warming it to life again. I am, he seemed to say to my pleas. I am all those things you want. A statement directly, personally, to my wrung-out fatherless heart.” (p. 297.)

The vineyard itself is a powerful symbol of the connectedness that people yearn for in relationships with others as well as God. This novel would be great for book clubs; there’s just so much to discuss. An excellent discussion guide is included at the end.

On the surface A Rumored Fortune provides a wonderful mystery and romance. But the novel reaches into the heart of the reader, touching it with beautiful truths making it a highly recommended read.

Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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Book Review: Called to Protect

13 Aug

For the past year, Chloe St. John has been working as a K-9 cop with her German shepherd partner, Hank. After being dumped by her fiancé for another woman, Chloe has decided that Hank is just about the only male she likes. She’s over the whole romance thing and focuses her attention on doing her job. Because a serious case of human trafficking with connections to her missing cousin just landed in her lap.

When US Marshall Blake MacCallum’s daughter goes missing, he’s ordered to kill the judge he’s protecting and tell no one about his daughter’s disappearance or she will die. Blake races against the clock to rescue his daughter while Chloe and Hank are asked to be a part of the task force assembled to bring down the traffickers. Chloe finds herself attracted to the silent, suffering man, but thanks to her previous bad judgment, she wonders if she can trust him. And can Blake trust himself around this firecracker of a woman?

Award-winning, best-selling author, Lynette Eason writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line and for Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Her books have hit the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won numerous awards such as the prestigious Carol Award, the Selah, the Daphne, the IRCC award and more. Lynette is married, has two children, and lives in Greenville, SC.

 

My Impressions:

If you like the TV show Blue Bloods, then you are going to love Lynette Eason’s Blue Justice series. The second installment, Called to Protect, follows Chloe St. John the K-9 officer who is part of a large family with ties to multi-agency law enforcement. As a team, Chloe and Hank can ferret out illegal drugs or track missing persons or fleeing suspects. Their expertise is integral to the investigation that includes human trafficking and threats against a judge. I loved this action-packed romantic suspense novel and give it a recommended rating.

A number of St. John siblings and cousins are involved in Called to Protect, but Chloe is the main focus of this book. I really like the ensemble cast of characters and enjoy getting an in-depth look into one or two with each book in the series. Chloe joins Federal Marshall Blake MacCallum in this intense and highly personal case. There’s a lot going on — assassination attempts, missing girls, and bad guys galore — keeping the characters and readers on their toes as the plot twists and turns. There are plenty of surprises to keep you guessing. Called to Protect is romantic suspense, but I appreciate the way the author takes it slow. The relationship between Chloe and Blake evolves naturally and realistically, especially in light of the seriousness of the subject matter. The main characters are Christians, and their faith is also realistically portrayed.

Called to Protect can definitely be read as a standalone, but I recommend reading it after book 1, Oath of Honor. That way you’ll be all caught up when book 3, Code of Valor, releases in January 2019. I am eagerly anticipating another thrill ride with the St. John family.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Revell for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Book Review + Giveaway! — A Promise Forged

9 Aug

About the Book

Book Title: A Promise Forged

Author: Cara Putman

Genre: World War 2 Romance

Release date: Originally released in 2010, Re-released in 2017

Kat transformed in front of him. Her chin came up, her fingers stopped twitching with the fabric of her gown, and a real sparkle bubbled in her eyes. It was like watching Snow White come to life when the prince kissed her.

A heartwarming WWII historical from award-winning author Cara Putman:

Kat Miller has dreamed of playing baseball her entire life. When she earns a spot on a team in the All-American Girls Professional Softball League, she finds that things aren’t as glamorous as she imagined. She struggles with long road trips, grueling practices, and older teammates who are jealous of her success. And to top it all off, an irritating reporter is constantly getting under Kat’s skin.

Events in Jack Raymond’s career have left him cynical and distanced from God. He never wanted to write at a small paper, and he certainly didn’t want to be assigned to something as inconsequential as a women’s softball team. Then Kat walks into his life. The fiery, young softball player somehow climbs the walls around his heart and makes him want to hope again.

When lies fly and the league appears to fail, will Kat and Jack’s new love survive?

Click HERE to purchase.

About the Author

Since the time she could read Nancy Drew, Cara has wanted to write mysteries. In 2005 she attended a book signing at her local Christian bookstore. The rest, as they say, was history. There she met a fellow Indiana writer Colleen Coble. With prompting from her husband, Cara shared her dream with Colleen. Since those infamous words, Cara’s been writing award-winning books. She is currently working on book 30 and 31.

Cara Putman is an active member of ACFW, and currently serves on its Executive Board. She has also been the Indiana ACFW chapter president and served as the Area Coordinator for Indiana.

Cara is also an attorney, lecturer at a Big Ten university, active in women’s ministry, and all around crazy woman. Crazy about God, her husband and her kids that is. She graduated with honors from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Huskers!) and George Mason Law School, and Krannert School of Management. You can learn more about Cara at www.caraputman.com.

 

My Impressions:

Move over boys, the girls of summer take center stage in Cara Putman’s WWII romance, A Promise Forged. Putman reimagines the All-American Girls Professional Softball League’s inaugural season in this standalone novella in her Buckeye Promises series. I loved the nostalgic feel of this book — a time of great turmoil, yet filled with hope and and faith. This is a sweet romance set on the homefront.

Katherine Kat Miller is a seventeen year old girl who just wants to play softball. She gets her chance, but there’s more involved than action on the diamond. Charm school, uniforms with short skirts, chaperones, and rules galore are the price of admittance. Her young age and the jealousies of teammates for perceived special treatment make for loneliness and the challenge to shine her light for God. I loved Kat’s character. She is a determined young woman faithful to God, yet with realistic doubts, fears, hopes and dreams. Her faith speaks loudly, even to those who don’t really want the message it proclaims. Jack, the journalist assigned to get the story on the hometown team, is also realistically portrayed. His frustration with his job comes through loud and clear. Putman does a great job with the evolution his character. Historic details make this a fun, fun read. The romance is indeed sweet, though I had a hard time with a relationship between a seventeen year old and a twenty-five year old. I had to keep reminding myself that the 1940s were a different time. And Kat is certainly not like many teenagers today. She is mature in her beliefs, attitudes, and convictions.

All in all, A Promise Forged was an entertaining read. It captured an interesting point in American history while providing a satisfying romance. Recommended.

Recommended.

Audience: older teens to adults.

(Thanks to Celebrate Lit for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Guest Post from Cara

Each of my books starts with a hook that engages my interest, and then as I play with it, I think it will engage readers. A Promise Forged was no different. For this book I was writing a series of three World War II novels for Barbour. I already had two historical hooks that fascinated me: children evacuated from London to Ohio, a top secret project to break Engima in Dayton, but I needed one more. I knew the lead characters were going to be siblings, but I wasn’t sure what to do with the kid sister. Then I remembered the All-American Girls Professional Softball/Baseball League.

And I started thinking.

What would it have been like to desperately want a chance to play a sport you loved professionally?

And to be part of the nascent league when no one was sure whether it was a good or bad idea?

I decided that was the perfect place for Kat. She was the kid sister with fire and passion. She wanted a chance to prove herself, and this would be the perfect place. Then she needed a hero worthy of her. One who could go toe-to-toe with her and still see who she could be.

He came in the form of Jack, a cynical reporter who is disappointed to be assigned to cover girls’ baseball. But then he gets to know Kat and some of the others. And he sees something in her that she doesn’t see in herself. It’s the beginning of fireworks that he doesn’t think can go anywhere because she has to go home to her senior year of high school.

As I began researching the history of the league, I learned that the AAGPS/BL archives were kept at a small museum in South Bend, a couple hours from where I live. I spent a day there talking with the curator and exploring all the records. Because the league wasn’t expected to last there weren’t many records from the first year. That meant I had to guess about some things like schedules based on what happened in the years after.

A Promise Forged became a book I loved writing. Kat was feisty, Jack was cynical, and baseball provided a great setting. I can’t believe this football loving woman can admit that!

Blog Stops

History, Mystery & Faith, August 4

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, August 4

Among the Reads, August 4

The Power of Words, August 4

C Jane Read, August 5

The Christian Fiction Girl, August 5

Christian Bookaholic, August 5

Texas Book-aholic, August 5

Reading Is My SuperPower, August 6

Genesis 5020, August 6

lady ansel book vibes, August 6

Kat’s Corner Books, August 7

Carpe Diem, August 7

proud to be an autism mom, August 7

Janices book reviews, August 7

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, August 8

A Baker’s Perspective, August 8

Blossoms and Blessings, August 8

Mary Hake, August 8

By The Book, August 9

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, August 9

Simple Harvest Reads, August 9 (Guest Post from Mindy Houng)

Kaylee’s Kind Of Writes, August 10

Lighthouse Academy, August 10

Remembrancy, August 10

Jeanette’s Thoughts, August 10

D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, August 11

100 Pages per Hour, August 11

Luv’N Lambert Life, August 11

Bigreadersite, August 11

Godly Book Reviews, August 12

Cafinated Reads, August 12

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, August 12

A Reader’s Brain, August 13

a good book and cup of tea, August 13

Book by Book, August 13

All-of-a-kind Mom, August 14

Maureen’s Musings, August 14

Daysong Reflections, August 14

The Morning Chapter, August 15

amandainpa, August 15

Inklings and notions, August 15

Connie’s History Classroom, August 16

All 4 and About Books, August 16

Bibliophile Reviews, August 16

Pause for Tales, August 17

Tell Tale Book Reviews, August 17

For the Love of Books, August 17

Giveaway

a promise forged(1)

To celebrate her tour, Cara is giving away a grand prize that includes the movie League of Their Own, a box of cracker jacks, M&Ms and a $20 Amazon gift card!!

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

https://promosimple.com/ps/d2ac/a-promise-forged-celebration-tour-giveaway

Book Review: Falling for You

8 Aug

Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is taking a temporary break from her hectic schedule to work as the innkeeper at her family’s small-town bed-and-breakfast. She was enjoying the peace of her hometown, Merryweather, Washington, right up until she came face-to-face with Corbin Stewart, the man she loves to hate. A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin–and suffered the consequences when it all fell apart.

Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants . . . except where Willow Bradford is concerned. Unable to forget her, he’s never stopped regretting what happened between them. When their paths unexpectedly cross again, he’s determined to make her give him a second chance.

When a decades-old missing persons case finds Corbin and Willow working together, they’re forced to confront their past and who they’ve become — and whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

 

Becky Wade is the Carol and Christy award winning author of heartwarming, humorous, and swoon-worthy contemporary inspirational romances.

She loves to connect with readers via her web site, http://www.beckywade.com, and via her Facebook author page, http://www.Facebook.com/AuthorBeckyWade.

 

My Impressions:

If you want great contemporary romance fiction, Becky Wade is your author. The second installment in her Bradford Sisters series, Falling for You, is another must-read for fans. With complex characterization, a mystery to solve, and a faith message right on point, this novel checked all the boxes for me. It gets a highly recommended rating.

The two main characters in Falling for You seem to have everything — beauty, wealth, fame — but charmed lives are not always so charming when you dig beneath the surface. Willow struggles with being good enough and the fear of abandonment, even as she knows her parents, sisters, and God love her without condition. Corbin seems to have it all, even following a career-ending injury. But an insecure childhood impacts his adult life. These two beautiful people are really broken (just like all of us) and are in need of a God who specializes in healing and restoration. I liked that Wade showed the reality behind Willow and Corbin’s lives. With the all the glitz and glamor surrounding them, it’s easy to forget that celebrities have struggles and losses just like the rest of us. The two’s romance surely was rocky, mostly due to their own poor choices. But even when Willow is unapproachable and Corbin is being a jerk, I couldn’t help cheering them on. They are just so likable. Wade brings the two back together after years apart with the mystery of a missing person. Corbin’s young cousin, the adorable Charlotte, gets the two cooperating in the investigation and adds her own sparkle to the story. The mystery is a secondary plot line, but I found it extremely intriguing. I loved how Corbin and Willow doggedly searched for the truth and brought about closure for a hurting family. Wade always weaves a realistic faith message throughout her books, and Falling for You is no exception. She deftly handles the subjects of sexual impurity and its consequences on relationships, as well as the task of Christians unlearning old habits and accepting God’s forgiveness as a free gift. There’s also the reminder that God is the one who makes miracles — we just need to be faithful to do our part.

Falling for You can certainly be read as a standalone, but I recommend reading book 1, True to You first. There’s also a novella that goes back to the beginning of the Bradford family story. So you’ve got three books to read — it may help you withstand the waiting until the next book is released in Springn 2019. As for me, I will be impatiently waiting to dive back into the lives of the Bradford sisters.

Highly recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

 

Book Review: Murder at The Flamingo

2 Aug

“Maybe it was time to land straight in the middle of the adventure…”

Hamish DeLuca has spent most of his life trying to hide the anxiety that appears at the most inopportune times — including during his first real court case as a new lawyer. Determined to rise above his father’s expectations, Hamish runs away to Boston where his cousin, Luca Valari, is opening a fashionable nightclub in Scollay Square.  When he meets his cousin’s “right hand man,” Reggie, Hamish wonders if his dreams for a more normal life might be at hand. 

 

Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, heir to a New Haven fortune, has fled fine china, small talk, and the man her parents expect her to marry. Determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she’s seen in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures, Reggie runs away to Boston, where she finds an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari. But as she and Hamish work together in Luca’s glittering world, they discover a darker side to the smashing Flamingo nightclub.

When a corpse is discovered at the Flamingo, Reggie and Hamish quickly learn there is a vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots in 1937 Boston — and that there’s an underworld that feeds on them both. As Hamish is forced to choose between his conscience and loyalty to his beloved cousin, the unlikely sleuthing duo work to expose a murder before the darkness destroys everything they’ve worked to build. 

Rachel McMillan is a keen history enthusiast and a lifelong bibliophile. When not writing or reading, she can most often be found drinking tea and watching British miniseries. Rachel lives in bustling Toronto, where she works in educational publishing and pursues her passion for art, literature, music, and theater.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

My Impressions:

A new historical mystery set in the 1930s? I’m in! What I got from Murder at The Flamingo by Rachel McMillan, though, was beyond my expectations. This smart whodunit has a depth not often found in the genre. It is a highly recommended read!

From the outset, I knew this novel would be different. Main characters Hamish DeLuca and Regina Van Buren defy stereotypes of historical mystery fiction. These two came alive within the pages of Murder at The Flamingo and continued to develop and grow into dearly loved characters. Hamish is unusual in his challenges. He suffers from an anxiety disorder that has been misunderstood for years. And McMillan gets everything right about Hamish since she herself suffers from the same disorder. Kudos to McMillan for bravely shining a light on a once taboo subject. Perceived weaknesses are shown as strengths as Hamish gains perspective and a sense of self. Regina (Reggie) is the perfect compliment to Hamish with her New Haven upbringing and quest for independence. The novel develops slowly; the murder occurs well after half the book is read. But the great lead-up is what gives the book its depth of context and characterization. The reader comes to believe in all that occurs. The setting of the novel, Boston in 1937, is as much a character as Hamish, Reggie, and the others that populate its streets and squares. Hamish fell in love with the city, and you will too as you visit Charlestown, the North End, Scollay Square and Fenway Park all through Hamish and Reggie’s eyes. The mystery is fascinating and kept me on my toes. There’s plenty of glimpses of a criminal underworld beneath the glitz and glamor of the Flamingo. I loved how McMillan left a few things unanswered — hopefully that means many more adventures for Van Buren and DeLuca.

Fans of McMillan’s earlier Herringford And Watts mystery series will love references to favorite characters, however, Murder at The Flamingo is the start of a brand new series. I loved it and am eagerly looking forward to more from the intrepid detecting pair.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Thomas Nelson for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Blog Tour:

Monday, July 23rd: Reading Reality

Tuesday, July 24th: Book by Book

Wednesday, July 25th: Jessicamap Reviews and @jessicamap

Thursday, July 26th: Fiction Aficionado

Friday, July 27th: Blooming with Books

Friday, July 27th: Broken Teepee – spotlight

Monday, July 30th: Black ‘n Gold Girl’s Book Spot

Tuesday, July 31st: Running Through the Storms

Wednesday, August 1st: What is That Book About – guest post/Q&A

Wednesday, August 1st: Fiction Aficionado – author Q&A

Thursday, August 2ndBy the Book

Friday, August 3rdCheryl’s Book Nook

Monday, August 6thReader’s Cozy Corner

Tuesday, August 7thReflections from my Bookshelf

Wednesday, August 8thWrite Read Life

Friday, August 10thFrom the TBR Pile

Friday, August 10thThe Lit Bitch

Monday, August 13thBooks & Bindings

Tuesday, August 14thEncouraging Words from the Tea Queen

Wednesday, August 15th@ladyofthelibrary

Book Review: The Heat Is On

30 Jul

When western Alaska erupts in a devastating fire, the elite firefighting crew of the Jude County Smokejumpers is called in to save the day. They’ll do anything to stop the fire, including fighting alongside a crew of local prisoners.

The last thing they expect is a jailbreak and when the prisoners disappear into the forest with one of their own, they’ll have to fight not only the fire, but for the freedom of their friends…during the Summer of the Burning Sky.

Book 2: The Heat is On

FBI Agent Rio Parker is tired of playing the bad guy, even if it is for a good reason. Undercover with a group of prisoners to babysit a federal informant, he can’t believe he’s been enlisted to fight a forest fire…or sucked into a prison break. Worse—a female smokejumper has been kidnapped. Now, he’ll have to protect her from a rapist, keep his informant from escaping, and stay out of the gunsights of the US Marshal hot on his trail.

Smokejumper Skye Doyle knew trouble was brewing when the group of prisoners joined the firefight. She never expected, however, to be kidnapped during their breakout. But can she trust a hardened felon to keep her safe? Except, Rio is not who he seems, and when his identity is uncovered, she must decide if she can trust a man who has been lying to her…

But staying alive on the run isn’t their only problem, they’ll have to learn to trust each other if they hope to survive in book 2 of the Summer of the Burning Sky.

 

With over 1 million books sold, critically acclaimed novelist Susan May Warren is the Christy, RITA and Carol award-winning author of over forty-five novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill and Summerside Press. Known for her compelling plots and unforgettable characters, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic-suspense, thrillers, rom-com and Christmas novellas.

With books translated into eight languages, many of her novels have been ECPA and CBA bestsellers, were chosen as Top Picks by Romantic Times, and have won the RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice contest and the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year award. She’s a three time RITA finalist and an eight time Christy Finalist.

Of her books, Publisher’s Weekly has written, “Warren lays bare her characters’ human frailties, including fear, grief, and resentment, as openly as she details their virtues of love, devotion, and resiliency. She has crafted an engaging tale of romance, rivalry, and the power of forgiveness.”

And Library Journal adds, “Warren’s characters are well-developed and she knows how to create a first rate contemporary romance…”

Susan is also a nationally acclaimed writing coach, teaching at conferences around the nation and winner of the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Mentor of the Year award. She loves to help people launch their writing careers and is the founder of http://www.MyBookTherapy.com and http://www.LearnHowtoWriteaNovel.com, a writing website that helps authors get published and stay published. She’s also the author of the popular writing method, The Story Equation.

 

My Impressions:

The action continues in Susan May Warren’s second book in the Summer of The Burning Sky series. The novella length of The Heat Is On may be short on pages, but it is long on adrenaline-laced suspense and sizzling romance. The story takes up somewhere in the middle of book 1, but this time the focus is on Skye, a smokejumper, and Rio Parker, one of the men in the prison work detail. As they are drawn into the prison-break, they must join forces to stay alive.

Not everything is as it seems with Rio Parker. Skye senses that and feels sure that a light lives on deep inside. Readers will love the hot, hot chemistry between the two. Rest assured that The Heat Is On is Christian fiction (no graphic or inappropriate behavior), but there is definitely heat between the two. Both characters live with regrets that influence their current actions. Skye lives with the regret of unforgiveness and Rio with past actions he believed justify the end results of justice. As the danger increases, they come to rely on each other and on God. Psalm 23 and the pursuit by God is the message that runs throughout. The suspense keeps the reader on the edge of her seat; I loved every minute of it! A lot of the storyline introduced first in book 1 and continued in The Heat Is On is resolved. But . . . enough is left leaving me eagerly awaiting book 3, Some Like It Hot, releasing August 2018.

The Heat Is On is the perfect accompaniment for a weekend of fun reading. Make sure to read book 1, Light My Fire, first though. You won’t want to miss out on any of this series.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Before I Saw You

30 Jul

Folks are dying fast as the ash trees in the southern Indiana town ravaged by the heroin epidemic, where Jaycee Givens lives with nothing more than a thread of hope and a quirky neighbor, Sudie, who rescues injured wildlife. After a tragedy leaves her mother in prison, Jaycee is carrying grief and an unplanned pregnancy she conceals because she trusts no one, including the kind and handsome Gabe, who is new to town and to the local diner where she works.

Dividing her time between the diner and Sudie’s place, Jaycee nurses her broken heart among a collection of unlikely friends who are the closest thing to family that she has. Eventually, she realizes she can’t hide her pregnancy any longer―not even from the baby’s abusive father, who is furious when he finds out. The choices she must make for the safety of her unborn child threaten to derail any chance she ever had for hope and redemption. Ultimately, Jaycee must decide whether the truest form of love means hanging on or letting go.

 

A long-time believer in the power of story to change lives, Amy K. Sorrells’ diverse writing career includes over two decades of freelance writing including medical journal publications and a popular op-ed newspaper column.

Praised by reviewers for the way they both poetically and accurately portray real life hardship and hope, Amy’s novels are inspired by social issues which break her heart and the Bible stories which reflect God’s response to those issues. Her first novel, How Sweet the Sound, was written as a response to the personal questions she had for God about how He redeems the pain of sexual abuse. The driving mission behind all her writing is to bring words of hope to a hurting world.

Amy’s novels have been short-listed for various fiction awards, and How Sweet the Sound won the 2011 Women of Faith Writing Contest before it was acquired by publishers. Since then, she has published two more novels, Then Sings My Soul, and Lead Me Home.

When she’s not writing, Amy loves doting on her husband, three young adult sons, and their golden retrievers at their home in central Indiana. If there’s leftover time after that, she enjoys up-cycling, gardening, binge reading, exercising, and Bible journaling.

 

My Impressions: 

If reading two of Amy K. Sorrels’ novels (How Sweet The Sound and Lead Me Home) hadn’t already cemented her as a must-read author, her latest novel, Before I Saw You, certainly does. I don’t know how she does it. This author takes difficult subjects and portrays them realistically, but with a large measure of mercy and grace that leaves the reader feeling blessed at the last page. Before I Saw You was an emotional read for me. No, I have never experienced the troubles that the main characters faced, but its universal message met me where I live. All I can say is read this book! It deserves a very highly recommended rating.

Before I Saw You is set in the small southern Indiana town of Riverton. The town has seen its share of hardships  — cholera epidemic, factory closings — but the ravages of heroin use has left it almost bereft of hope. The story is told in the first person voice of Jaycee Givens, a girl hanging on by the barest of threads. Tragedy seems to have followed her even before her birth, but she is doggedly determined to make better choices than others in her community. Jaycee is a wonderfully-drawn character, real and relatable. She struggles, doubts, and second-guesses herself and God. Her family consists of Sudie, an elderly wildlife rehabber/cemetery custodian, Carla, her boss at the local diner, Gabe, a newcomer to town and co-worker, and a host of others who stand with her in the darkest times. I loved the picture of church family that Sorrells portrays — grace-filled and mercy-led. Jaycee sees real religion in action. Two of the themes are learning to give things to God and trusting Him with the many what-ifs in life. I really, really needed to read those truths. It is incredible how a story many years in the making can arrive at just the right time for a reader. My reading experience was indeed God-orchestrated.

Before I Saw You is beautifully written, and takes its place as my favorite of all Sorrells’ novels (at least until I read the next one 😉 ). I laughed, I cried (ugly cry too), I rejoiced, and I found hope while in its pages. My only regret is that I did not read this book for book club. It is one I would love to talk about.

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)