Monday, April 21, 2014

"A Sensible Arrangement" Blog Tour

A Lone Star Brides book.

Marty Dandridge Olson is ready to leave behind the pain of the past.

Answering an advertisement for a "Lone Star bride," she leaves her Texas ranch and heads to Denver to marry a man she doesn't know.

Jake Wythe is the man waiting for her.

Burned by love, he marries now simply to satisfy the board of Morgan Bank, which believes a man of his standing in society should be wed. Together Jake and Marty agree they are done with romance and love and will make this nothing more than a marriage of convenience.

When missing money and a collapsing economy threaten his job, Jake's yearning to return to ranching grows ever stronger, much to Marty's dismay. But a fondness has grown between them, as well, further complicating matters.

What will happen when their relationship shifts in unexpected ways . . . and dreams and secrets collide?

Purchase a copy here.

About the Author: Tracie Peterson is the award-winning author of over eighty novels, both historical and contemporary. Her avid research resonates in her stories, as seen in her bestselling Heirs of Montana, and Alaskan Quest series. Tracie and her family make their home in Montana.

Learn more about Tracie at:
My Take:
After Janette Oke, Tracie Peterson was the next Christian author that I really connected with once I started reading Christian fiction. Because of this, I kind of have a soft spot for her stories and might come away a little biased because of it.
That being said, I thought this book was nice and interesting and fell right into place with what I expect from this author and what drew me to Christian fiction in the first place. The writing in A Sensible Arrangement is easy to follow and makes for an enjoyable read. The plot of a marriage of convenience is a favorite of mine, and I thought that the way this one came about was different enough to make it an interesting main plot. There were also several subplots and secondary characters that, for the most part, kept the story moving.
Marty was an interesting main character, and I appreciated the realism that her character brought to the book. She was really struggling in her faith, and this aspect came across quite well. She was bitter for so many years and needed to open her heart to God once again. The novel also clearly presented how lies can destroy so much in a person’s life. While this storyline was realistic and was interwoven throughout, I felt the culmination of this part of the story at the end felt a bit rushed.
The relationship between Marty and Jake was done well, even if it was typical. The things that kept them apart were mostly due to lack of communication, but this plot point wasn’t as annoying as it sometimes is in other novels. It seemed more realistic, especially since it wasn’t completely based on misunderstandings.
I just wish that as the reader I could have witnessed more of their interactions with each other. This might have been accomplished by seeing things from Jake’s perspective more often rather than the majority of the book being from Marty’s perspective. I really liked Jake, and I wish that I could have gotten to know him better. I did like that Jake was a character from the previous “Striking a Match” series. That was a neat twist, but since it’s been so long since I read that series, I didn’t really remember much of his background.
I’m normally not very interested in reading about banking or other financial-type matters, but that historical aspect of this book was interesting. The panic of 1893 and the issues of gold versus silver standards along with increasing unemployment in the lower and middle classes felt somewhat similar to what has gone on in the U.S. the last few years and made the story that much more relatable.
While rather predictable and somewhat slow at times, A Sensible Arrangement is a sweet romance with a touch of suspense that made for an overall enjoyable book. Not everything is wrapped up at the end, however, so I will definitely be looking for the next book in this Lone Star Bride series.

I will give A Sensible Arrangement ... 3.5 BookWorms.

Welcome to the campaign launch for Tracie Peterson's 100th book!

A Sensible Arrangement launches Tracie's new Texas-based series, Lone Star Brides, that’s sure to please. As a special treat, devoted fans will be able to catch a glimpse of several popular characters from previous series.

Tracie is celebrating by giving away an iPad Mini and hosting a LIVE webcast event on 4/29.

One winner will receive:
  • An iPad Mini
  • A Sensible Arrangement by Tracie Peterson
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 29th.

Winner will be announced at the A Sensible Arrangement Live Webcast Event on April 29th. Connect with Tracie for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Tracie will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books, fun prizes, and gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of A Sensible Arrangement and join Tracie and friends on the evening of April 29th for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 29th!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House 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."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"A Captain for Laura Rose" Review

Laura Rose White, daughter of legendary steamboat captain Jacob White, was raised on steamboats, and she loved every minute of it. She feels at home on the water, and she has an instinct for the river that many men can not duplicate. When tragedy comes to the White family, Laura finds herself in an almost hopeless situation. She must make a successful journey on the steamboat that bears her name – the Laura Rose – from St. Louis to Fort Benton and back. It’s the only way to save her home and to somehow restore her family’s good name.

But female steamboat captains are unheard of, and Laura must take on a second pilot in order to even be able to take on passengers and freight for the journey. Her only choice is to turn to Finn MacKnight, a friend of her brother’s with a less-than-stellar reputation.

With his two sisters, Fiona and Adele, in tow, Finn agrees to the trip. The journey up the Missouri River is both historic and risky, and it may lead them all to a future that they never could have anticipated.

The summer before I was to be a senior in high school, my parents and I went to Kansas City, Missouri, for a business trip/vacation. (Pretty much all of my vacations as a kid revolved around my dad’s business). While my mom and I were exploring the city, someone told us to make sure to check out the Steamboat Arabia Museum.

We were fairly skeptical about it, but we like museums, so we decided to visit. And were we amazed!

The Steamboat Arabia sank near Kansas City in 1856, and 132 years later it was recovered – with much of its cargo intact. If you are ever in Kansas City, it is a very neat place to visit – the author of this novel actually mentions visiting this museum during her research. I thought of our visit to the museum many times as I was reading this novel.

The steamboat in A Captain for Laura Rose almost becomes another character in this novel. I loved the word play on the title of this book, since Laura Rose is the name of the steamboat as well as the name of the main female character.

The story in A Captain for Laura Rose flowed smoothly, although towards the beginning I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to handle anything else going wrong for this poor girl! Fortunately, by the time the Laura Rose gets going on its main journey, things seemed to be looking up just a bit – enough for me to be able to continue with the story easily.

The romance in this novel is sweet and idyllic but also has more of a touch of reality to it than some. This is mostly due to the fact that the two main characters don’t really like each other in the beginning of the book. I have a friend who told me once that when she first met her future husband, they didn’t get along at all. They actually argued and were at odds with each other on more than one occasion. Somehow, that all got turned around, and now they are happily married with four kids.
This romance reminded me of that story about my friend. The two don’t always see eye-to-eye, and it’s definitely not a love-at-first-sight scenario. But over time, the two realize just how good they are together and just how much they feel for each other. What started out as somewhat strong feelings in the other direction somehow turned to love. That’s what made this romance a bit different from others I’ve read lately.

I appreciate, too, when the main male character is looking for more in a wife than just a pretty face, and Finn definitely fit this bill. I also like that Laura was a strong, independent female character that didn’t come off as reckless or annoying. She was confident without being conceited and was able to be her own person without being unbelievable. The witty banter between Laura and Finn doesn’t hurt, either.

I also like the secondary characters in this story. Secondary characters are sometimes hard to get just right because they either are written too well (and you end up liking them better than the main characters), or they become cardboard cutouts. I thought the secondary characters in A Captain for Laura Rose and their stories were a perfect t compliment to the main characters and their story. I was interested in the other characters’ plotlines, especially Adele’s, but it didn’t detract from the main storyline. I thought that the growth in the sisterly relationship between Fiona and Adele was especially heartwarming. I really liked all of the extra things that the secondary characters and their storylines added to this novel.

The spiritual portion of this novel was well-integrated into the storyline and didn’t seem too preachy to me. However, I wish that a couple of the characters had gone through more of a salvation experience during a specific point in time rather than that part being somewhat glossed over.

While the setting of this story is unique – especially the time spent aboard the steamboat – I sometimes got bogged down in the steamboat travel and language. But just when I was feeling as if the story was beginning to drag, something would happen to keep me from feeling that way.
A Captain for Laura Rose is a sweet romance with a unique setting that is very well-written. And Finn MacKnight is the most romantic name I have come across in many, many years of reading romance novels.

I will give A Captain for Laura Rose … 4 BookWorms.

A Captain for Laura Rose
by Stephanie Grace Whitson
Publication date: March 4, 2014

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from FaithWords. 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."

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"Guiltless Living" Blog Tour

From Ginger Hubbard, author of Don’t Make Me Count to Three!

Through captivating stories, edgy humor, and shocking confessions, Ginger Hubbard drops the act and gets real in this brutally honest look at the seldom admitted, rarely talked about sins of the heart. Removing her “good Christian” mask, Ginger opens the dark chapters of her heart in order to share about the glorious grace of God toward repentant sinners. Get ready to laugh. Get ready to cry. Get ready for a deeper, more authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. This is what real Christianity is all about.

Includes a Seven-Week Bible Study ideal for small groups.

Find out more by clicking here

Read a sample here -

About the Author: Ginger Hubbard, founder of Preparing the Way Ministries, is the author of Don’t Make Me Count to Three! and Wise Words for Moms. She is a contributing author to several books and many magazines. She has been interviewed on television and radio shows, including The 700 Club, The Harvest Show, Primary Focus, Family Life Today, Revive our Hearts and Focus on the Family. While Ginger enjoys reading, writing and spending time on Lake Martin with her husband Ronnie, her primary passion in life is to glorify God. Ginger is a veteran home schooling mom of two fabulous children, and stepmom to two much adored sons.

Find Ginger on the web at

My Take:

When I first started reading this book, I quickly realized that it wasn't exactly what I had expected. I guess I should have read the summary more carefully - I am not usually one who is drawn in by "shocking confessions."

However, as I kept reading, I realized that the forgiveness of our sins through Christ and living in that freedom from sin controlling us is a main theme. This book seems to come from the angle that we all sin in grievous ways, so we shouldn't feel guilty and that it is in the confessing of those sins to others that the guilt will be removed.

Overall I enjoyed this book and think that it has some great applications to daily living in Christ. I can't completely embrace the concept of confessing all sins to others (there are some things that need to be kept between God and me), but I do think that Christians should be open and honest when dealing with each other, and that includes letting others know the real me.

The format and flow of this book was easy to read, and the content was very identifiable. The author acknowledges that sin is a very serious issue, but sometimes the feel of the book came off as comical rather than serious. I have a very good sense of humor, and I do appreciate the ability to laugh at yourself for doing silly things. But it's also not good to make light of very serious sins, even if it "makes you feel better" to do so.

There were a few things, obviously, that I didn't agree with, but overall it was a great reminder of the love and grace that Christ has for us. I also agree with the put-off/put-on method of confessing sin and then the characteristic of God that address that sin. ("The Controlling Serial Sinner and The Sovereign Grace of God" or "The Selfish Serial Sinner and The Serving Grace of God"). This is such a great way to get the focus off of ourselves and onto God and others.

I will give Guiltless Living ... 3.5 BookWorms.

"Critical words begin with critical thinking. Critical thinking begins with a heart that lacks thankfulness for the goodness of God." -- Ginger Hubbard, Guiltless Living

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Shepherd Press 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, April 9, 2014

"A Promise Kept" Review

Allison Kavanagh never thought it would happen to her. A marriage that began as a fairy tale is now over in the most-definitely-not-a-fairy-tale of ways: divorce. Allison was so sure that God had promised to heal her marriage, and she wonders what went wrong.

Now on her own, Allison retreats to a cabin that her great aunt Emma left to her in the mountains of Idaho. While living there, she discovers many years’ worth of diaries that her aunt Emma wrote. Through the pages of those diaries, Allison discovers that she had more in common with her great aunt than she ever knew.

While adjusting to small town life and to a life after divorce, Allison must come back to the path from which she strayed – the path that leads to God and His grace and His healing.

I have always been a fan of contemporary novels that also go back in time to tell a historical story, and that part of A Promise Kept was the highlight of the book for me. Aunt Emma’s story was so complex and heartbreaking, and I remained interested throughout that storyline. I also liked how Emma’s story and Allison’s story were so closely related.

The relationships among the characters in this book were also enjoyable. Allison had a great relationship with her daughter, which is always an encouragement to me. The other members of the small town, too, were nice and helpful and were there for each other. They celebrated together, and they mourned together, and that was a very refreshing part of this novel.

The way the plot moves forward in this novel is mostly through character development. I will admit that I like my stories to be developed more through action, but for the most part, this storytelling device was handled well. I thought it moved a bit too slowly in places, and I got tired of knowing every detail of Allison’s daily life (what she was wearing, how she operated her washing machine), but the parts that were truly focused on character development were much stronger than those other little details.

Although I didn’t relate to Allison personally – I have not been in her life situation – I was able to understand what she was going through and be able to sympathize with her. Since this is a semi-autobiographical novel, I was able to feel what the author went through during this time in her life which made the novel very real.

I was confused, however, at Allison’s insistence that God had promised to heal her marriage. Even the tag for this book claims this: “God was going to save her marriage, Allison was sure of it. But neither her husband nor her marriage had been saved. What had become of His promise?”

Throughout this entire novel, the focus is on Allison wondering if she had heard God correctly when he promised to save her marriage. By the end she realizes that God had kept His promise to her but not in the way she was expecting.  I felt, though, that Allison was holding onto a “promise” that had come to her audibly from God rather than relying on His Word. Feelings and emotions can get tangled up with truth inside our hearts, and I like to be cautious – even in light of a fiction book – that I don’t take what I think I hear from God as a promise from Him or as truth. Everything needs to be viewed through the lens of scripture, and Allison didn’t seem to always do this.

God does promise in His Word that he will never leave us or forsake us, and Allison was able to learn this and rest on this truth during the hard times in her life, which is always a great reminder.

I will give A Promise Kept … 3 BookWorms.

A Promise Kept
by Robin Lee Hatcher
Thomas Nelson Publishers
Publication date: January 7, 2014

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson 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."

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"The Dancing Master" Review

Julia Midwinter has felt trapped in the tiny village of Beaworthy for as long as she can remember. Smothered by an overprotective mother and ignored by an uncaring father, Julia longs to be free to tour the world and experience all life has to offer.

When Alec Valcourt arrives in Beaworthy, Julia is intrigued, especially when she finds out that he is a dancing master. Dancing has been forbidden in Beaworthy for twenty years, ever since Julia’s Uncle Graham was killed in a duel during the May Day Celebrations. Julia’s mother, Lady Amelia, has never been able to reconcile the events that led to her brother’s death; thus, dancing is something that is not done in Beaworthy.

Julia wonders if there is more to the circumstances surrounding her uncle’s death than her mother has told her. Alec, too, is running from his own family secrets – reasons that explain why he and his mother and sister have come to Beaworthy.

As more and more secrets are revealed, Alec and Julia are drawn to each other. But with so many things in their way, will they ever be able to help restore life – and love – to the village?

When I first read the summary and saw the cover for this book, I was immediately intrigued. I sometimes think Regency-era and Gilded Age novels get bogged down in the endless telling of gowns and balls and dances, but for some reason this novel seemed to promise more.

Unfortunately, what the novel promised on the outside didn’t quite seem to hold true on the inside.

I have been so impressed with past novels by Julie Klassen. They each had a bit of mystery and an interesting romance and a fascinating plot that kept me reading. But this one seemed to revolve almost solely around the dancing and the descriptions of dances. It was almost as if the book was written more to teach about dancing masters and their significance during this time period rather than to tell a story. Even the secrets surrounding Julia and her parentage were not enough to keep me interested for very long. I figured out the “mystery” to it very early on, which left little suspense for the rest of the novel. Because of these things, the plot of the novel just moved too slowly for me.

I will say, however, that the romance between Julia and Alec was realistic and didn’t take the sometimes-used road of misunderstandings keeping them apart. It was perfectly believable to me that Julia and Alec would not be able to court, considering his profession and Julia’s mother’s hatred of all things pertaining to dancing. They also were able to spend time talking together and developing a friendship, if nothing else, instead of just mooning over each other (which is a romantic plot device that is fast becoming a pet peeve of mine).

I also enjoyed how the relationship between Julia and her mother developed and matured over the course of the novel. I didn’t connect very well with Julia, since she was extremely headstrong and childish for much of the novel, but it was interesting to see the growth that did take place in the relationship between mother and daughter throughout.

The spiritual aspect of this novel came through fairly clearly overall. It didn’t quite have the depth that I was expecting in relation to Julia’s character. It felt a bit forced. But there was an underlying element of grace and redemption throughout the novel, especially in relation to John Desmond, the one who was responsible for Lady Amelia’s brother’s death all those years ago.

I also feel as if I need to address the similarities to the movie Footloose that is in this book. When I first began reading, it was really hard to shake the comparisons between this book and the movie. A guy who is a master at dancing coming to a town where dancing is forbidden…dancing in this town is forbidden because of the death of a young member of the community…the daughter of the leader of the village getting involved with the dancing guy…it was just too much. At one point some young people in the village, including Alec and Julia, go to a dance in a neighboring town. But as I kept reading, those similarities became less and less. By the end of the book, I was more able to appreciate the novel for what it was rather than as a comparison to a 1980s movie with Kevin Bacon.

(SPOILER: Although the Footloose feel did come back a bit at the end of the book when two certain people dance on May Day in the town square).

I really, really, really wanted to like this book as I have Ms. Klassen’s other books, but the overall presentation was just too slow and repetitious. Even though the history surrounding English country villages and dancing was appealing, and the romance was realistic, the plot wasn’t quite as exciting as I was expecting.

I will give The Dancing Master … 3 BookWorms.

The Dancing Master
by Julie Klassen
Bethany House Publishers
Publication date: January 7, 2014