Sunday, October 30, 2016

Review & Giveaway: The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall


Be sure to enter both giveaways at the bottom of the post!

 Heidi Reads... The Cautious Maiden by Dawn Crandall

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

Violet Hawthorne is beyond mortified when her brother Ezra turns their deceased parents' New England country inn into a brothel to accommodate the nearby lumberjacks; but when Violet's own reputation is compromised, the inn becomes the least of her worries. In an effort to salvage her good name, Violet is forced into an engagement with a taciturn acquaintance; Vance Everstone. As she prepares for a society wedding, Violet learns that her brother had staked her hand in marriage in a heated poker game with the unsavory Rowen Steele, and Ezra had lost. Now Rowen is determined to cash in on his IOU. With danger stalking her and a new fiancé who hides both his emotion and his past, Violet must decide who to trust and who to leave behind.

My Review

I've been anxiously anticipating THE CAUTIOUS MAIDEN, the newest book in one of my favorite series, The Everstone Chronicles. Dawn Crandall has a unique writing style which lends a compelling voice to her characters. Her skills are once again manifested as she expertly transforms a former scoundrel into a believable hero and protector of feminine virtue without making him into a completely different person by reducing his passionate nature. 
 
Poor Violet! In the wake of her grief she is lonely and not confident in her relationships, not feeling like she fits in anywhere. With her compromised reputation, she feels she has no other option than marriage, to whomever will take her. Her emotions and loyalties are being pulled on by various parties, and all she can do is try to follow her heart, which is difficult when she's not sure that she's wanted. It was frustrating to experience the limits of a woman's rights and choices during the time period, but Violet bore it with grace.

As much as I disliked Vance in the previous novel he appeared in (The Bound Heart), I appreciated his redemptive path and dedication to live his life on God's terms. I was skeptical at first, but as Violet comes upon him more than once studying his Bible, and witnesses his strength of character, his regrets and repentance, I began to hope that he would find happiness. His protectiveness of Violet, even against himself, is endearing and heroic.

Her brother was kind of an ambiguous character- he only made an appearance in one scene, but so much of the plot revolved around his actions- placing his sister in danger, then damaging her reputation in an attempt to protect her; the physical separation between the two doesn't reflect his continued influence on her life. Because the story is told in Violet's voice, we only receive information as she does, which gave me a feeling of uneasiness and tension over the unknown parts of the plot I could sense.

The various members of the Everstone family make appearances as they gather for special events, but I missed seeing their personalities shine through while this book was entirely focused on Violet and Vance and their passionate relationship wrought with lack of communication, self-discipline, and dangerous circumstances. 

Readers of Sarah E. Ladd and Elizabeth Camden will fall in love with this intriguing and romantic historical series!


(Thank you to Whitaker House Publishing for a copy of the book; this is my honest review)

Don't miss the first three books in The Everstone Chronicles series...

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About the Author

Dawn Crandall is an ACFW Carol Award-nominated author of the award winning series The Everstone Chronicles, which consists of four books: The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart, The Captive Imposter and The Cautious Maiden which released October 4th, 2016.
Apart from writing, Dawn is also a mom of two little ones and serves with her husband in a premarital mentorship program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn't begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream. It didn't take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do.
Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and an associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter. She is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency.

Giveaways

Whitaker House has generously provided a copy of The Cautious Maiden for me to give away on my blog! Enter in the Giveaway Tools widget below. Author Dawn Crandall also has a wonderful blog tour giveaway that you can enter in the Rafflecoptor widget below.

 


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Friday, October 28, 2016

Review: Cole and Jillian by Jennifer Peel


Heidi Reads... Cole and Jillian by Jennifer Peel

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

Can a few hours really change your life?

Jillian Jones knows a thing or two about the country music scene, and she wants no part of it after divorcing her country singer ex-husband. But as fate would have it, she’s seated next to country legend Cole Pendleton on a red-eye flight home to Nashville from Las Vegas. Between her emotional state, her fear of flying, and maybe a little vodka, she finds herself taking comfort in Cole’s arms and lips during their four-hour flight.

Cole Pendleton’s life changes the night he wakes up to his beautiful seatmate, Jillian. He doesn’t know what it is about her, but he’s drawn to her like no one before. As the night wears on he’s determined to do whatever it takes to get to know her better. He finds himself promising her he’ll come looking for her once they’re both ready to move forward with a relationship. But he has two problems, his profession and his past.

Jillian finds herself wanting to believe him, but can she trust his midnight promises? Or will the piano man be like her ex-husband and let his promises fade away in the light of day?


My Review

This is a fun story with plenty of emotion as Jillian is torn between her attraction to Cole and her fears of his past and career that stem from her past. I loved their chemistry and Cole's patience with her as he shows her that he can be trusted, one day at a time. I could really sense Jillian's conflict between hurt and hope... and Cole had enough hope for the both of them! I loved how he pursued her when the time was right. It was great to see Call from the previous book in the series as Jillian's best friend and the support and encouragement she gives Jillian. We also get to see Call's relationship with Beck progress and her music career begin to blossom. Rest assured that this is a clean romance- the term "midnight promises" doesn't have to do with the bedroom ;) This story seemed to move much more quickly than the first two in the series and there was a lot of Jillian rehashing her issues, but since it's written in first person it felt more like an inner monologue so it didn't bother me as much as if it had been in third person. Overall, completely enjoyable and I recommend this entire series to fans of clean contemporary romance!

(Thank you to the author for a copy of the book; this is my honest review)

Don't miss the first two Pianos & Promises novellas! 
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My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing

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Jaime Seger has two goals in life: marry her best friend, the man that owns her heart and soul, and buy her very own grand piano. But Christopher McKay, who has no idea Jaime's been in love with him since she was eleven years old, never gets the memo and marries someone else.

When Christopher's wife dies, Jamie finds herself helping him raise his young daughter. A year later, she is on the other end of a very unlikely proposal, promising everything she thought she ever wanted.

But will Christopher help Jaime finally realize both of her dreams, or will she only be left with broken promises?

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My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing

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What happens when a dashing Englishman and an almost famous pianist collide? Sparks. And lots of them.
Call’s life always seems to be on the cusp of working out, only to unravel at the last moment. For instance, when she meets the guy. The man she’s been fantasizing about from afar. The one who walks his beautiful Siberian husky around her neighborhood. Their first meeting is nothing like she hoped; in fact, she wishes she never met him.

Charles Beckett is in need of a good dog-sitter, but he gets more than he bargained for when a cheeky American bartender shows up at his house fifteen minutes late. The job interview quickly turns into a sparring match and Call leaves vowing to run him over with her truck the next time she sees him.

It’s up to their dogs now to bring the pair together.

Will Call finally have one of her dreams come true? Or will the Englishman be another checkmark in her long list of unrealized promises?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

E-book sale: Timeless Romance Anthology: All Hallows' Eve Collection


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Synopsis


Six Award-Winning Authors have contributed new stories to A Timeless Romance Anthology: All Hallows’ Eve Collection. Three historical novellas and three contemporary novellas, all with romance, thrills, and chills.

In Sarah M. Eden’s mysterious novella OF GHOSTS AND GARDENS, if Enid Pryce has one downfall, it’s that she talks to the ghost in her garden, which doesn’t make her too popular among society’s elite. In fact, she returns to her home in Wales after a Season in Bath with not one offer of marriage. Deeming herself a failure at the nearly-spinster age of nineteen, she is pleasantly surprised when an English gentleman shows up in her garden, apparently intent on finding out more about the ghost. Burke Kennard, grandson of an English marquess, quickly becomes utterly charmed by the young Welsh woman, but the ghost in the garden is more likely to push them apart than pull them together.

In Annette Lyon’s enthralling story IT’S YOU, when Charlie and Anna both see the ghost of Nanny Mae, they think they’re losing their minds. Anna tries to find out more about the ghost and uncovers a decades’ old family secret. One that separated two people in love. Now, the ghost of Nanny Mae must set her wrongs to right. As Charlie and Anna explore the past, and the truth of what happened, they discover that the mistakes of the past might lead to love of the future.

In SOPHIA’S CURSE, a suspenseful novella by Heather B. Moore, Joan grows up in an abbey in France, believing that she is an orphan. A chance encounter with the foreboding owner of a neighboring estate, alters everything she’s understood about her parents. She discovers she’s an integral part of changing a decades-old curse, and that her life, as well as the handsome and intriguing Simon Rousseau’s life, are both in danger unless she makes an enormous sacrifice that will change the course of her dreams.

In Lisa Mangum’s haunting story THE SIRENS’ SONG, we meet recently widowed Oliver, the lead physician on a luxury cruise liner traveling to Greece. He hopes that the change of scenery will help ease his grief over his deceased wife, Cate. After falling overboard, though, he is captured by a siren and taken to a mystical island. Through the sirens' song, Oliver is able to relive his memories of Cate—both the good and the bad—as long as he gives away his memories of her. But can he sacrifice his best memory in exchange for one last chance to say good-bye?

In Jordan McCollum’s thrilling novella THE MAN OF HER DREAMS, homicide detective Alexandra Steen dreams about real murders before they happen, seeing the crime through the eyes of the killers. But the dreams never contain enough clues to save the victim before it's too late. Then one dream ends before a murder occurs—in a place she knows. She finds herself racing against time to prevent the deadly act, only to discover that the intended victim is a man she thought she’d never see again. Seven years might have passed since her breakup with Nick, but the years haven’t changed her feelings for him. Now, she must convince Nick that her dreams are real and find a way to prevent his death.

In Elana Johnson’s chilling story THE GHOST OF MILLHOUSE MANSION, Naomi knows her crush on Colt Jennings is unreasonable. When he invites her to his reclusive mansion to restore an old wooden rocking horse, Naomi can’t resist accepting the job. The more time Naomi spends touring his home, the more interested she becomes in Colt. Until she sees a man in the library who vanishes into thin air. She thinks she’s losing her mind until Colt tells her about the ghosts he’s been seeing for years.

Review: The Loyal Heart by Shelley Shepard Gray


Heidi Reads... The Loyal Heart by Shelley Shepard Gray

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it

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Synopsis

Robert came to Galveston to fulfill his promise to a dying man and look after his widow. He didn’t expect to find love in the unlikeliest of places.

Robert Truax, former Second Lieutenant and Confederate officer in the Civil War, made a promise to his comrade Phillip Markham. If anything happened to Phillip, Robert would look after his beloved wife, Miranda. She was his life, his world, his everything.

After the war, Robert is left to pick up the pieces and fulfill his pact. When he arrives at Miranda's home in Galveston, Texas, things are worse than he imagined. Phillip's name has been dragged through the mud, everyone in town believes him to be a traitor, and his widow is treated as an outcast. Even more disturbing is her emotional well-being. Miranda seems hopeless, lost, and so very alone.

Robert had thought his duty would be simple. He would help Miranda as quickly as possible in order to honor a promise. But the moment Robert laid eyes on her, his plans changed. He's mesmerized by her beauty and yearns to help her in any way he can.

He makes it his duty to protect Miranda, turn her reputation around, and to find some way to help her smile again. But it doesn't prove to be an easy task—Robert knows something about Phillip that could shake Miranda to the core and alter her view of the man she thought she knew so well.


My Review

This was an enjoyable historical novel set during Reconstruction, with some flashbacks to memories of the Civil War. The pace was slow but steady for the first part of the book, then picked up in the latter half when more things began to happen. There was a lot of telling of the characters' thoughts and feelings, and for some reason I didn't quite connect with them on an emotional level. The theme of unconditional loyalty to one's brothers in arms was well represented, and Robert and his comrades rallied around Miranda to protect her and solve the mystery of her harassment. I wasn't too impressed with Robert's or the sheriff's investigative skills. The story didn't show much of what they did to figure out the problem, and the solving of who was behind the threatening letters came about pretty easily. I was surprised by how simple the conclusion was; I expected it to be more complex.

(Thank you to Zondervan Publishing for a copy of the book; this is my honest review)

Spotlight & Giveaway: Cowboys and Calico (box set) by Kirsten Osbourne, Amelia Adams, Cassie Hayes, Kristin Holt, Margery Scott





"Five bestselling Western romance authors come together to bring you one collection of all-new stories that will sweep you off your feet!

MAIL ORDER MIDWIFE by Kirsten Osbourne - Widowed midwife Patsy Lawrence spent too much time working and not enough with her young daughter. She knew Emily's childhood would be over before she realized it, so she responded to an ad for a mail-order bride, hoping for a better future for them both.
Dr. Wesley Hardy needed a wife to complete him, so he sent a letter to a mail-order bride agency back East, hoping to find someone compatible. When he received a letter from a widow with a young daughter, he was thrilled with everything but her profession. Could he live with the fact that his new bride was a midwife? Or would they be destined to live without love for the rest of their days?

A BROKEN WING by Amelia C. Adams - Bored beyond all reason while riding a train from Missouri to Colorado, Trinity Scott amuses herself by imagining things about the passengers around her, including the handsome man sitting across the aisle. With his dark curly hair and warm brown eyes, he’s certainly intriguing, and the fact that his arm is in a sling makes him all the more a curiosity.
But when three dangerous men board the train, her desire for adventure and excitement takes a sinister turn, and she must call on her inner strength to do what’s needed to survive.

THE MARSHAL’S REBELLIOUS BRIDE by Cassie Hayes - U.S. Marshal Curtis ‘Griff’ Griffith is on the trail of a wanted man. The last thing he needs is to be distracted by the newest resident of the Dalton Brothers Ranch. So why does he keep returning? It’s certainly not to see the beautiful-but-bullheaded Catherine James.
Catherine has no interest in men or marriage, but there aren’t many choices for single ladies to earn a living on a remote Texas ranch. When she discovers that she holds the key to capturing the outlaw — and collecting some of the reward — she doesn’t hesitate to force Griff’s hand.
Will they kill each other before they find the murderer, or will they risk their damaged hearts for a shot at a new life?

COURTING MISS CARTWRIGHT by Kristin Holt - Courtship, by the book, is supposed to be easy…
As the daughter of an unwed mother, Felicity Percival is accustomed to rejection. Her mother was her only family ... until she is summoned to the reading of her father's will. To learn he was a married preacher with a second daughter horrifies her. The stipulations attached to her inheritance infuriate her. The last thing she expects is the emergence of truths that destroy her life-long beliefs. The last thing she wants is to feel the blush of first love for a man she can't have.
The road to Happily Ever After should not be rocky, especially for level-headed, rule-following Rocky Gideon. His courtship of the minister’s daughter is successful and on track, surviving everything life throws at them … except the appearance of the preacher’s other daughter. Felicity asks too many questions, forces him to evaluate his carefully constructed plan, and somehow steals his heart.
Rocky desperately needs a solid marriage that will go the distance … so why does he yearn for the wrong sister?

WANTED: THE PERFECT HUSBAND by Margery Scott - Sybil Franklin needs a husband—fast! In order to keep her ranch, she must be married within thirteen days. Devin McGregor meets all her requirements and comes highly recommended, but he has no interest in marriage.
Devin McGregor had a ranch once, a fiancée, a future. He made a mistake, and it cost him everything. Now, even though he’d love to own his own land again, he’s afraid to risk failure.
Sybil decides to post an advertisement for the perfect husband. As Devin tries to protect her from being taken advantage of, his feelings for her grow, but his fear of failing her won’t let him accept her proposal.






Kirsten Osbourne, USA Today bestselling author, knows how to write romance. Each book is an experience that transplants the reader, indulging them in decadence, intense emotion and sweeping love.
Hailing from the state of Wisconsin, she has lived in Texas for over thirty years as a mother, writer, and wife. Married to the love of her life for more than fifteen years, she knows that true love exists and shares that vision with the world. 
 

She writes contemporary and historical romance as well and also ventures into the realm of paranormal romance. She invites you to join her in her world of fantasy, love, and make believe, no matter the location, where there is always a happily ever after at the end.

Amelia C. Adams is a wife, a mother, and a novelist. She spends her days dreaming up stories and her nights writing them down. Her biggest hero is her husband, and you might just see bits and pieces of him as you read her novels.

She loves all things historical and enjoys learning about days gone by, but she's glad she was born more recently (she won't say how recently or not recently) because the Internet is awesome, and she's glad she doesn't have to wash her clothes by hand in a galvanized tub. She has hit Amazon bestseller status twice, once for A Clean Slate and once for A Clear Hope.

Cassie Hayes, Bestselling author, grew up pretending she was Laura Ingalls (before that pesky Almanzo arrived on the scene) in the middle of Oregon farm country. She writes sweet stories about love and adventure in the Old West and lives with her husband and cat on the Pacific Ocean.
Website - Facebook - Goodreads - Pinterest - Newsletter


Kristin Holt, USA Today Bestselling Author, writes Sweet Romances (G- and PG-rated) set in the Victorian American West. While secular in nature, her titles are "Appropriate for All Audiences" and appeal to selective readers and fans of Christian historical romance.

Readers are welcome to contact Kristin on her website with questions, feedback, comments, or just to say hello. She enjoys connecting with readers and replies to every (reasonable) email. Her site offers links to social media, previews of upcoming releases, book lists, an ever-growing cache of articles about all things "Old West", and more!

Follow her on Amazon here


Margery Scott is the author of more than twenty romance novels, novellas and short stories. She lives on a lake in Canada with her husband, and spends as much time as possible travelling in search of the perfect setting for her next book. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her wielding a pair of knitting needles or a pool cue. She loves to hear from readers. 


Interview With Author Cassie Hayes

1. Describe yourself in 50 words or less.
Smart (at least I like to think so), sassy (just ask my husband) and seriously fond of cheesecake.

2. What do you love most in the world?
Family, of course. But besides family, I would say cheesecake. Definitely cheesecake.

3. What do you fear most?
Cheesecake. Seriously, though, the thought of losing my loved ones terrifies me.

4. What is your largest unfulfilled dream, and what are you doing to reach it?
That’s a hard question for me to answer because I feel like I’m living my dream every day. I have a wonderful husband, live in my version of paradise and have the best ‘job’ in the world. But since I’m sitting here wracking my brain, I guess I wouldn’t mind getting a contract with Montlake Romance.

5. What is the hardest thing you've ever done?
Making life choices that I knew my parents wouldn’t be happy about. I’ve always done my best to make them proud, but there are times when a gal has to do what’s best for her, even if others don’t like it.

6. Now that we've gotten to know each other, tell me a story. It can be long or short. From your childhood or last week. Funny, sad, or somewhere in between. Just make sure it's yours. What's your story?
You know how you have that ONE educator in your life who made a difference, who treated you like you were something special, even if you didn’t quite believe it? For me, that person was Mr. D, my middle school vice principal. The quiet support Mr. D showered on me as a goofy kid with big teeth and and even bigger hair had a profound effect that carried me through many hard times, long after middle school was a distant memory.
 I’ve been long gone from my hometown, but my parents still live there. Mom volunteers at the little art gallery in the city hall building and one day Mr. D came in. They got to chatting and he asked for my address so he could write me a note. That spurred a years-long correspondence with the wonderful man who was so influential in my life, and I will be forever grateful for that…for him.

Sadly, he passed away last year. I was devastated to lose such a kind-hearted man, a man who I’m so happy I had the chance to call ‘friend’ in later years. I was unable to attend his memorial but my parents said the auditorium was packed and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. He was loved that much.


To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our Official Event page 



Monday, October 24, 2016

Review: The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White


Heidi Reads... The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it

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Synopsis

Brook Eden has never known where she truly belongs. Though raised in the palace of Monaco, she’s British by birth and was brought to the Grimaldis under suspicious circumstances as a babe. When Brook’s friend Justin uncovers the fact that Brook is likely a missing heiress from Yorkshire, Brook leaves the sun of the Mediterranean to travel to the moors of the North Sea to the estate of her supposed family.
The mystery of her mother’s death haunts her, and though her father is quick to accept her, the rest of the family and the servants of Whitby Park are not. Only when Brook’s life is threatened do they draw close—but their loyalty may come too late to save Brook from the same threat that led to tragedy for her mother.


As heir to a dukedom, Justin is no stranger to balancing responsibilities. When the matters of his estate force him far from Brook, the distance between them reveals that what began as friendship has grown into something much more. But how can their very different loyalties and responsibilities ever come together?
And then, for a second time, the heiress of Whitby Park is stolen away because of the very rare treasure in her possession—and this time only the servants of Whitby can save her.


My Review

I really did myself a disservice by reading the Ladies of the Manor series out of order! I started with the second book, the Reluctant Duchess (my favorite of them all), then read the third, A Lady Unrivaled, and only now got the first one read. Because there is a continuing plot thread between them all, I knew for the most part what would happen in The Lost Heiress and found myself skimming through much of the introduction of the various family members and cousins and their drama. I was mostly interested in the relationship between Brook and Justin, and how they went from best friends to in love. I was a bit disappointed with their transition since there were so many other distractions keeping them apart, but once they give in to their feelings and trust each other their romance is pretty amazing. Partway through the book the rare red diamonds known as the Fire Eyes come into play, which amps up the suspense and tension as villains stop at nothing to discover them. I especially enjoyed the closeness between Brook and her father after their reunion and was glad that she had someone steady to rely on.

(Thank you to Bethany House Publishing for a copy of the book; this is my honest review)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Review & Giveaway: An Amish Family Christmas by Shelley Shepard Gray


Heidi Reads... An Amish Family Christmas by Shelley Shepard Gray

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it

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Synopsis

In Shelley Shepard Gray’s fourth book in her Charmed Amish Life series, an unlikely Amish romance reveals that Christmas is a time for family, miracles—and love. 

Ever since his father died in a tragic fire, Levi Kinsinger has felt adrift. Newly returned to Charm, Ohio, Levi is trying to fit into his old life, only to discover he seems to have outgrown it.

But when Julia, his young widowed neighbor, asks for his help with a Christmas project, Levi finds a sense of purpose for the first time in months. She and her daughter are new to Charm and could use a friend, a job Levi takes personally. Soon enough, friendship grows into attraction, but Levi can’t help having doubts. There’s something about Julia that doesn’t ring quite true…

Like Levi, Julia Kemp has survived her fair share of hardships—but only by hiding the truth of her past. Being an unmarried mother in an Amish community was unthinkable. Feeling hopeless, Julia did the only thing she could do: she moved to a new town and pretended to be a widow. But meeting Levi, she’s hopeful for the first time. Little by little, she begins to imagine telling him her darkest secret, and eventually…perhaps even sharing her life with him.

Christmas is a time for family, and as the holiday draws closer, Julia and Levi will have to face their pasts together…in order to find the healing, support and love they so desperately desire.


My Review

A wonderful and finale to the Charmed Amish Life series! I loved seeing Levi work his way back into the community and his family, even though he doesn't quite feel like he fits in while he's struggling with his intense grief over his parents. He's so different from the accusatory hothead that abandoned his family in the first book. His compassion for Julia and her daughter is endearing and brings a special light into their lives.

We see a few scenes from the point of view of Tess, Simon's sister, and her work establishing a community resource center for abused women and children. My favorite part of the book actually was her fumbling beginnings of a relationship with a local cop who finds her irresistible. The nervous tension from them both created a sweet anticipation of good things to come. Just loved it!

This book was a bit different from the others in that there is a villain worked into the plot that creates some suspense as he gets closer to destroying the life Julia has built in Charm. The siblings from the previous books and their spouses play a significant role in helping Levi and Julia feel at home in their community. Highly recommend to fans of Amish fiction and those who enjoy following family members in a series.

(Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for a copy of the book; this is my honest review)

To enter the author's giveaway click on the picture below!

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