Saturday, December 27, 2014

Rachel Hauck Fires Up the Romance with “A Brush with Love” Kindle Giveaway!

"Fire" up the romance in the new year with Rachel Hauck's newest book, A Brush with Love, by entering her Kindle Fire giveaway! 

And be sure to catch a sneak peek of the soon-to-be-released How to Catch a Prince!

 One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • A Brush with Love by Rachel Hauck
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway only runs for a week, 12/30 – 1/5. Winner will be announced January 6th on Rachel's blog.

Rachel Hauck A Brush with Love


Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Purity Is Possible" Blog Tour

One in five Christian women use pornography. One in three visitors to a porn site is a woman. Many, many more women read explicit books like Fifty Shades of Grey. Even more than that write their own pornography - not on paper for publication, but in their heads for their own use.

But no one talks about it. Our churches are silent on it. There are very few books about it. It is the unspoken struggle of thousands of Christian women - perhaps you, and probably someone you know.

But no more. In this refreshingly honest, resolutely hope-filled and gospel-soaked book, Helen speaks the unspoken. In doing so, she shows how purity is better and more satisfying than fantasy and that, whoever you are and whatever your struggles, purity is possible.

 Amazon                            Publisher Website 
Title: Purity is Possible

The Good Book Company
November 4, 2014
My Take:
I love to read fiction - especially historical romances - but sometimes keeping my mind out of the daydreams of fiction and grounded in the reality of life can be difficult. My husband and I try to keep each other accountable for what we are reading and watching, and it definitely helps to discuss fantasy versus reality with him.
Just as men can get caught up in lust, women can just as easily fall into this trap. When it comes to fantasy, women might not be actively looking at pornography, but it can be just as dangerous to covet another man's husband - even one that is a character in a book.
In this small but gospel-packed book, Ms. Thorne takes an honest look at how women can fall into the sin of sexual fantasy - and how they can get out.
Purity Is Possible really gets to the heart of the matter and discuss the idols that keep someone from being pure and from being who God created her to be. This book was easy to read and made me realize even more the dangers of engaging in fantasy. It also gave much hope to anyone struggling with purity. There is forgiveness and newness in Christ, and that is a reason to rejoice!
I will still continue to enjoy my historical romances - but I will also keep my mind and heart alert to what is true and what is just fantasy.
I will give Purity Is Possible ... 4 BookWorms.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Good Book Company through Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, November 24, 2014

"Where Treetops Glisten" Blog Tour

The crunch of newly fallen snow, the weight of wartime
Siblings forging new paths and finding love in three stories,
filled with the wonder of Christmas
Turn back the clock to a different time, listen to Bing Crosby sing of sleigh bells in the snow, as the realities of America's involvement in the Second World War change the lives of the Turner family in Lafayette, Indiana.
In Cara Putman's White Christmas, Abigail Turner is holding down the Home Front as a college student and a part-time employee at a one-of-a-kind candy shop. Loss of a beau to the war has Abigail skittish about romantic entanglements---until a hard-working young man with a serious problem needs her help.

Abigail's brother Pete is a fighter pilot hero returned from the European Theater in Sarah Sundin's I'll Be Home for Christmas, trying to recapture the hope and peace his time at war has eroded. But when he encounters a precocious little girl in need of Pete's friendship, can he convince her widowed mother that he's no longer the bully she once knew?

In Tricia Goyer's Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Meredith Turner, "Merry" to those who know her best, is using her skills as a combat nurse on the frontline in the Netherlands. Halfway around the world from home, Merry never expects to face her deepest betrayal head on, but that's precisely what God has in mind to redeem her broken heart.

The Turner family believes in God's providence during such a tumultuous time. Can they absorb the miracle of Christ's birth and His plan for a future?

Purchase a copy:

TRICIA GOYER is a prolific author of nearly forty books, including Chasing Mona Lisa, and is a speaker and blogger. 

CARA PUTMAN is the author of twenty books including Shadowed by Grace. She is the winner of the 2008 Carol Award for historical fiction.

SARAH SUNDIN is the critically-acclaimed author of the Wings of the Nightingale series, the Wings of Glory series, and the forthcoming Waves of Freedom novels.

See what other reviewers are saying here:

Landing page:

My Take:

When I found out that two of my favorite authors were teaming up with a new-to-me author to write a book of three historical romance novellas taking place at Christmastime, I was so excited. Add that to the fact that the stories were to take place in my hometown, and I was literally jumping up and down!

Sarah Sundin has quickly become one of my favorite historical fiction authors over the last few years that I have been doing book reviews. Her attention to the historical details is the best, and she always writes a story in which the characters experience a tremendous amount of growth. I also enjoy reading books by Tricia Goyer, and her “Big Sky” series is one of the best I have ever read. Cara Putman is an author who is new to me, but I was excited to find out that she lives in Lafayette, Indiana! (OK – so I am technically from West Lafayette, but it’s just right over the river!!!) 

I think one of the best things about this book was how each story fit together with the others. You could tell that each was written by a different author, but the book as a whole was seamless. It is just amazing to me that three authors with varying styles could come together and create three stories that fit together so nicely.

I don't know if I could say which of the three novellas was my favorite. I liked the detailed setting of Lafayette in Cara Putman’s White Christmas,  I appreciated the growth of the characters in Sarah Sundin’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas, and I adored the right-in-the-thick-of-things storytelling in Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. But if I had to choose -- I think I liked Cara Putman's story the best. It set up the rest of the book so well, and her detailed description of Lafayette really sold it for me.

On the whole, this book was really good, and it was perfect for Christmastime. I will admit that I am a bit biased towards it since I live in West Lafayette. I know that fact affects my review and rating at least a little bit. These stories are very much on the romantic side and could even be considered hokey by some. While there are some realistic components and excellent historical details, the stories are definitely fiction. Of course everything is wrapped up nicely with a big Christmas bow at the end. But isn't that what we all want with a collection of Christmas novellas anyway?!

Where Treetops Glisten has all of the things that I love about Christmas stories – a great setting, interesting characters, and the warmth and love of the holiday season.

I will give Where Treetops Glisten … 4.5 BookWorms*




 *Extra half rating given because of the setting of Lafayette, Indiana! J
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Litfuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"The Christmas Cat" Blog Tour

He felt his face flushing as Cara opened the door. Wearing a garnet-colored knit dress and with her dark hair pinned up, she looked even prettier than he remembered. Suddenly he wished he'd thought to bring a hostess gift. Like a cat.
After years abroad, Garrison Brown finds himself at the home of his beloved grandmother who has just passed away. He must sort out her belongings, including six cats who need new homes. While he hopes to dispense with the task quickly--especially since he is severely allergic to cats--his grandmother's instructions don't allow for speed. She has left some challenging requirements for the future homes of her furry friends.

Can he match the cats with the perfect new owners? And is it possible that he might meet his own match along the way?

Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over two hundred books with sales of more than six million. She is the author of several Christmas books, including the bestselling The Christmas Bus, The Christmas Dog, and Christmas at Harrington's, as well as The Christmas Pony and A Simple Christmas Wish. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including the Diary of a Teenage Girl series and Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at

My Take:

I’m not normally one who likes to read the sappy Christmas novel that reminds you more of a Hallmark movie than a book. But I really liked one of Ms. Carlson’s previous Christmas novellas – The Christmas Pony – so I decided to give this one a try.

Overall this was a nice, sweet story, but it also had some interesting aspects to it as well. There were a couple of times when I laughed out loud over something a character said or did. That always makes for a great story in my book. I thought it was funny that Garrison’s grandmother was so particular about what should happen with her cats, but it was sweet as well.

Having the story be told from Garrison’s perspective was an interesting aspect and one that really fit with the overall tone of the book. Stories of this type are not usually told from the point of view of just the main male character, and it was a nice change of pace.

Since this is a novella, there wasn’t a lot of time to develop the main characters, but I actually felt as if I got to know Garrison very well. I thought his relationships developed a bit quickly and that the ending felt very rushed, but that is to be expected in this short of a story.

One thing that I thought was odd in this novella was that it was a bit unrealistic for Garrison’s allergies to seemingly disappear once he got “used” to the cats. It was almost as if his allergies ended up being all in his head, and that is just not the case with true allergic reactions.

While The Christmas Cat would definitely make a good Hallmark movie, it was still an interesting story and a nice tale for the holiday season.

I will give The Christmas Cat … 3.5 BookWorms.

The Christmas Cat
by Melody Carlson
Revell Publishing
Publication date: September 9, 2014
176 pages

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell Publishing through Revell Reads. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, November 14, 2014

His Kids United Christmas Vol. 1 - Blog Tour

His Kids United Christmas, Vol. 1

Tailor-made just for kids ages 5-14, this highly anticipated His Kids United volume features young voices bringing a renewed energy to holiday classics along with four contemporary originals. Includes "Away In A Manger," "Jingle Bell Rock," "Light of Christmas," and more.

Product Information
Format: Compact disc
Vendor: Capitol Christian Music Group
Publication Date: 2014

Find out more about His Kids United here -

My Take:

This is my first time getting to review an album, and I really enjoyed it! It was especially fun to review a Christmas album, especially since Christmas decorations are going to be going up very soon in my house.

My first impression of this album was that it was kind of all over the place genre-wise. There were so many different genres of music represented all in one album – pop, hymns, jazz, techno, and even rap. While this does tend to give everyone something they might like, I thought it was a little much, especially the synthesized style of some of the songs.

Here are a few words about each song on the album:

Here We Come a Caroling – Nice traditional song. It was well-done, but I didn’t really like the ritardando on the chorus.

Light up the World – Catchy; a more upbeat, pop sound, but it was pretty good.

Jingle Bell Rock – felt as if the singing wasn’t as well done on this one as on the other songs. I don't know if it was because they were intentionally sliding their voices or if they were not quite on pitch, but it was not as clear as the other songs. This song has a techno feel to it, and overall it was OK.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – one of my favorite Christmas songs. This version kept to the traditional hymn and was very good. I really liked the arrangement of this one, and it is my favorite song on the album.

All I Have to Give – A little bit too pop/Hallmark Christmas special for my taste. I prefer the more traditional Christmas songs.

Light of Christmas – I’m sure some kids would like this, but I am just not a fan of rap at all, especially in a Christmas song. Even so, it was very catchy and upbeat.

Jingle Bells – Probably the most techno version of Jingle Bells that I have ever heard! I’m also not a fan of this version being pretty much in half time compared to what we are all used to (at least on the verses). And I realize that people think it is so cute to have a really little kid (who can’t carry a tune) sing on children’s CDs, but I just find it annoying. There are plenty of really young kids out there who sound young and cute but who can actually sing.

No Better Holiday – Very pop-sounding, which is not my favorite, but the lyrics were encouraging, and the singing was well-done.

Away in a Manger – This one was good, nice arrangement. Should have had one of these kids sing the solo part for Jingle Bells.

Christmas Time Is Here – A very familiar song of the Christmas season made famous by the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. This version was pretty well done and stuck to the original.

I Hope This Gets to You – I was not fond of the “love song” style of this song. I don’t think it is the best thing for pre-teens to be constantly thinking about dating and “love” and the flirty-type things that were in this song. I’m not really sure how this fit with the rest of the album.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing – I prefer a traditional version of this song. This one was too techno for my taste. The singing was good, though.

Overall this album might appeal to the 9-12 set, but (apart from the three traditional carols) it was too over-the-top for the grown-ups in my house and had too many unfamiliar songs for my 5-year-old.


I will give His Kids Christmas Vol. 1 … 3 BookWorms.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Capital Christian Music Group through Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

"The Christmas Promise" Blog Tour

Title: The Christmas Promise

The Good Book Company
November 4, 2014

A captivating retelling of the Christmas story showing how God kept His promise to send a new King. Superb illustrations by Catalina Echeverri and faithful, Bible-centered story-telling by Alison Mitchell combine to make this a book that both parents and children will love.
A long, long time ago so long that it's hard to imagine God promised a new King. He wasn't any ordinary king, like the ones we see on TV or in books. He would be different. He would be a new King; a rescuing King; a forever King!
This book helps pre-school children discover exactly how God kept His Christmas Promise.
Amazon                Publisher Website

My Take:
It's the first week in November, and already the Christmas music can be heard in my house. This is mostly due to my husband who would gladly put our Christmas tree up in October if I would let him!
Though I give him a hard time about loving Christmas so much, I was really excited to start receiving Christmas books to review this year. And I love reviewing children's books so much - and so does my daughter! We immediately read this one, and we have read it several times since it arrived at our door.
What I like most about this simple book is that it is packed with truth. My five-year-old daughter really liked it, and I think it would be good even for toddlers. The writing is straightforward and engaging, and the pictures really make the story come alive.
I absolutely love the Bible passage references at the back of this book. So often children's books about the Bible don't even reference the Bible! I think it is great to have story books about the Bible for children, but if we never direct our children to read from the ultimate source of truth - the Bible, God's Word - then I feel we are doing them a disservice.
The only thing slightly negative that I have to say about this book is that some of the print was a bit hard to read since it was black ink on a dark background. Overall, though, The Christmas Promise is an excellent addition to our library of children's books.
What a great reminder that Jesus is the King.
The New King...
The Rescuing King...
The Forever King!
I will give The Christmas Promise ... 5 BookWorms!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from The Good Book Company through Cross Focused Reviews. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"The Daughter of Highland Hall" Blog Tour

The Daughter of Highland Hall
What if the title, the estate, the life of security and splendor . . . what if it isn't enough?

Strong-willed and beautiful, debutante Katherine Ramsey feels ready to take the London social season by storm, and she must. Her family estate, Highland Hall, has been passed to older male cousin Sir William Ramsey, and her only means of securing her future is to make a strong debut and find a proper husband. With her all-knowing and meddling aunt as a guide, Katherine is certain to attract suitors at the lavish gatherings, sparkling with Great Britain's elite.
When a shocking family scandal sidelines Katherine, forcing her out of the social spotlight, she keeps a low profile, volunteering with the poor in London's East End. Here Katherine feels free from her predictable future, and even more so as a friendship with medical student Jonathan Foster deepens and her faith in God grows. But when Katherine is courted anew by a man of wealth and position, dreams of the life she always thought she wanted surface again. Torn between tradition and the stirrings in her heart for a different path, she must decide whom she can trust and love---and if she will choose a life serving others over one where she is served.
Book 2, Edwardian Brides (Waterbrook Multnomah, October 2014)

Learn more, purchase a copy, and read an excerpt:

About the author: 
Carrie Turansky is an award-winning author of more than a dozen novels and novellas. She has written contemporary and historical romances, women's fiction, short stories, articles, and devotionals. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, Scott, and they have five adult children and four grandchildren.

Find Carrie online: website, Facebook, Twitter
My Take:
When I requested this book for review from Litfuse, I was not aware that it was book two in a series. Fortunately, the author gave enough background information in this book that I never felt totally lost. There were times when I would think - "I feel as if I would know that character better if I had read the first book." - But for the most part, it was fine.
I thought the setting for this book was really interesting. I had no idea that there was still so much emphasis placed on status and society in England during this time period (Edwardian era - around 1901 - 1910). The pomp and circumstance associated with Katherine's debut and the details surrounding that part of the book were done well. It was easy to envision all of the events that were taking place.
I also thought that the spiritual side of this book was something that was well-written. It's not easy to weave faith throughout a story without it coming off as preachy, but I thought. Ms. Turansky accomplished this feat. It is also a huge pet peeve of mine when a Christian book seems to have absolutely zero Christian elements to it. Thankfully, this was not the case with The Daughter of Highland Hall.
This novel has a very Upstairs/Downstairs, Downton Abbey feel to it, which I feel will appeal to many readers. There are so many story lines going on in this novel! At first I didn't really like that the book came at you from so many angles. Towards the end, however, it kind of grew on me, and I was able to appreciate the various storylines, which did seem to keep the novel moving.
The romance in this novel is sweet - I liked Jon as a character, especially - but some of the things that kept them apart were kind of old plotlines that were a tad contrived. I'm sure that it's difficult as an author to mix in something new to a romantic plotline. After all, humans are humans, and there is really "nothing new under the sun." Even with the somewhat predictable romantic storyline, the main characters did experience growth throughout the novel - as individuals and as a couple - which redeemed it overall for me.
Ms. Turansky is a new author for me, and I enjoyed my first foray into her stories. I might just have to go back and read the first book in the Edwardian Brides series!
I will give The Daughter of Highland Hall ... 3.5 BookWorms.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Multnomah Books through Litfuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Monday, September 22, 2014

"Love's Fortune" Blog Tour

Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew.

As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

With her signature attention to historical detail, Laura Frantz brings 1850s Pennsylvania alive with a tender story of loss, love, and loyalty. Fans will cheer for this final installment of the Ballatyne saga.

About the Author: Laura Frantz is a lover of history, is the author of The Frontiersman's Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, and The Colonel's Lady, and currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons.

Available September 2014 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Find out more about this title here -

My Take:

After reading the first two books in this series, I was interested in reading the third because of the characters and the legacy if not for the stories themselves, which I thought were too drawn out. (You can read my reviews of the first two novels in the series here – Love’s Reckoning and Love’s Awakening).

In this installment, I was once again drawn to the characters and to the legacy of the Ballantyne family rather than the actual events that were taking place in their lives.

However, the characters that drew me in were not necessarily the ones to whom I was supposed to be drawn - at least I don't think that was to be the case.

The main characters – James and Wren – were not my favorites. They were often contradictory, and they did not always come across in the way in which they were portrayed. The reader is told and shown in some ways that James is strong and capable and able to stand up to anything. But he is unwilling to tell the woman he loves how he truly feels. The reader is told that Wren is independent and unwilling to bend to the pressures of society – that her heart is pure and that her love is true. But she constantly goes against who she is in order to please society and some of the members of her family, and she lets her assumptions take the place of reality. It was very wearying after a while to read about a character being described one way yet acting another.

Another thing that was contradictory was how some members of the Ballantyne family (the “good” ones) overlook the horrible things that other members of the family (the “bad” ones) do as if there is nothing they can do about it. It is as if those “good” members of the family are just constantly saying, “Oh, well, there’s nothing we can do about him or her. We’ll just ignore it.” – without ever speaking truth to them. There is even a case of possible murder by one of these “bad” characters in this book, and the “good,” supposedly Christian, characters never really make much mention of it. It’s as if the book comes from the view that some people are bad and will never come to repentance, rather than coming from the view everyone - even the "good" ones being in need of a Savior.

The interesting thing is that even though the two main characters in this novel – and some of the other Ballantyne characters from the past novels – were not terribly engaging in this book, some of the more minor characters were. I absolutely fell in love with Izannah and Mim and even Malachi Cameron. I almost think this book would have been better if it had focused more on Izannah and Malachi, since they were interesting characters that pretty much stole the show, in my opinion.

While the overall story in this novel was decent and some of the minor characters were good, the book itself was once again just too long. There were some bright spots in the story here and there – the visits to the orphanage, the descriptions of Pittsburg and the steamboats, the continuing abolitionist plotline, the violins – but most of the book seemed to be high-society filler. I appreciate that the author was probably trying to make the reader feel as if she had been thrown into Pittsburg high society right along with Wren, but it was just too much.

Ultimately the two main characters do finally live up to the manner in which they were drawn, but it just took way too long to get there, and it was jarring when it did.

I will give Love’s Fortune … 3 BookWorms.

Love's Fortune
by Laura Frantz
Ballantyne Legacy #3
Revell Publishers
Publication date: September 16, 2014
400 pages

Love's Fortune - Behind the Cover video.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of
Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, September 19, 2014

"A Vine-Ripened Life" Blog Tour

The grace that stimulates the fruit and maturity of a sanctified life comes to us through Jesus Christ. We bear much fruit only as we abide in Him.
In A Vine-Ripened Life, author Stanley Gale points us to Jesus, the Vine of life of John 15, in whom we, as branches, must live and grow to bear the fruit of a grace-grown life. He explains, “Having begun in Christ we remain in Christ, continuing to draw our life from Him and maturing in grace.” With pastoral sensitivity and an engaging style, Gale teaches readers both about the fruit of Christian character and how to cultivate it.
Questions at the end of each chapter make this an ideal study for individuals or groups.
About the Author: Stanley D. Gale serves as senior minister of The Reformed Presbyterian Church, West Chester, Pennsylvania. He is the author of numerous books and articles, leads seminars on various topics, and is the founder of Community Houses of Prayer (

Book Information:
My Take:

My Kindle has a "voice-to-text" feature, and I absolutely love to use it when I am at the gym or doing housework. The robot-sounding voice is not extremely engaging, but for non-fiction books it does quite well and is a great way for me to fit in some extra Bible study time. I have "read" many non-fiction Christian books this way, and I they have always kept my interest, even with Mr. Robot reading it to me.

I found this was the case for the most part with the book A Vine-Ripened Life. It uses many Scripture references to explain how the various fruits of the Spirit are to be manifested in the life of a Christian through The Vine - Jesus Christ. Each "fruit" is given its own chapter as well as there are chapters dedicated to humility and grace.

While I was mostly attentive to this book, there were times I did find my mind drifting while I was listening to it. (Maybe I need to re-read the chapter on self-control?!) While some of the stories and metaphors were engaging, some of them seemed to be a bit of a stretch. I think I would have gotten much more out of this book if I had done it as a group study rather than just reading it straight through, especially with the great study questions at the end of the chapters.

Overall, I really loved how everything in this book always pointed back to Christ and the gospel. This book abounded in Scripture references, and it reminded me a little of the book by Jerry Bridges - The Discipline of Grace - especially how it repeatedly made the point the apart from Christ, we can do nothing.

I will give A Vine-Ripened Life ... 4 BookWorms.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Reformation Heritage Books through Cross Focused Review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Secrets of Sloane House" Review

Rosalind Perry came to Chicago to be a housemaid at the lavish Sloane House, home to one of the most influential families in all of Chicago. But what the Sloanes don’t know is that Rosalind has another reason for being there – to determine what happened to her sister, who was also employed at Sloane House but who seems to have vanished into thin air.

Reid Armstrong is the only son of an up-and-coming family among Chicago’s elite. Since his family is not from “old” money, Reid is expected to marry up. Veronica Sloane should fit the bill just fine, but Reid suspects that not all is as it seems at Sloane House, and he is curiously attracted to one of the Sloane House maids – Rosalind Perry.

When Reid discovers the real reason that Rosalind is at Sloane House, the two begin to work together to discover the truth. But the secrets of Sloane House may be more frightening than either of them could ever have imagined.

With a backdrop of the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, Secrets of Sloane House explores the lives of both the sophisticated elite and those who are there to serve them.

Shelley Gray is a new author to me, and I was interested to read another book based around the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. After a bit of a slow and repetitive start, I was able to become more interested in the story as Rosalind became more accustomed to her surroundings and began to work with Reid a bit more to search for the truth about what happened to her sister.

The best part of this story was how Rosalind grew over the course of the novel. Even though at times this growth seemed to leap ahead rather quickly, it was still substantial and really added to the story overall. When she first comes to Sloane House, she is scared of her own shadow, but as the story moves on, she becomes so much stronger and more self-reliant. She really gains a confidence that was nice to see in a housemaid during this time period.

Unfortunately, the other parts of the story were not quite as cohesive. The search for Rosalind’s sister is pretty much the only story being told, and any other bits thrown in didn’t always seem to fit or were not explored deeply enough. Reid and his family come across as contradictory, and the romance between Rosalind and Reid was fairly flat. They didn’t seem to spend much time together to really get to know each other before their thoughts were turning to love.

As for the mystery element to this novel, it was fairly convincing. Wondering what happened to Rosalind’s sister was definitely the thing that kept me reading to the end of the book. It was also interesting to read about the different classes – the “elite” and the “help” – and I thought this novel clearly portrayed those relationships, however cruel they might have been.

While Rosalind does experience growth over the course of this novel, the spiritual aspect still felt a bit lacking. Rosalind credits her growth and strength to God, but I didn’t feel any passion behind her thoughts on this matter. The overall spiritual aspect could have gone much deeper, especially considering all of the things the characters encountered.

Some of the secondary characters in the novel were actually quite interesting, but they didn’t always seem to be explored deeply enough either. There was a jolting shift in point of view three-quarters of the way through the book to a minor character that actually ending up being one of the most interesting parts of the book. Fortunately, this character is the main character in the next novel in the series, which does pique my interest in continuing the series.

I will give Secrets of Sloane House ... 3 BookWorms.

Secrets of Sloane House
by Shelley Gray
"Chicago World's Fair Mystery" #1
Zondervan Publishers
Publication date: July 8, 2014

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."