Monday, July 27, 2015

My review - Hope Harbor

5 out of 5 stars
HOPE HARBOR by Irene Hannon is a departure from the romance/suspense novels I’ve come to expect from Hannon, but HOPE HARBOR is a genuine story of two people taking a second chance at love.
Tracy Campbell is focused on the family cranberry farm in the coastal town of Hope Harbor. After the tragic loss of her husband, she has no intentions of repeating her mistakes. Though she struggles to make ends meet—and is pulled in a hundred different directions—Hope Harbor still brings her the peace she desires, no matter what struggles come her way. When Tracy runs into Michael Hunter, all she sees is a self-absorbed tourist. But as their paths continue to cross, Michael strikes a chord near to her heart. She struggles to compartmentalize her feelings, not willing to be hurt again, but Michael is not a person she can keep at arm’s length.
Michael Hunter arrives in Hope Harbor wanting to feel a connection to the wife he loss. It was the trip he promised her but never followed through with. While there, he’s optimistic he can figure out the direction of his future. When he runs into Tracy Campbell—literally—the coastal winds of change begin to wash over him. There is something about Tracy that intrigues him, even though he has no intentions of getting tangled up in a relationship. But the friendship that grows between them deepens, challenging him to take a second chance.
HOPE HARBOR is a story of second chances. Both Tracy and Michael are struggling with guilt over their lost loves. Though to many, that would be the issue that solidifies their decisions not to become involved with each other, to Tracy and Michael it seems to be the common ground that draws them closer.
I really enjoyed HOPE HARBOR. It was a good departure from the romance/suspense I usually read. Miss Hannon is at her best, as usual, bringing life and depth to her characters. The secondary characters in the story round out a rich cast of players and add to the back drop of Tracy’s and Michael’s journey of discovery. Though there were no spikes in suspense or mystery, HOPE HARBOR was still a book that you won’t want to put down.
Book provided for review purposes.
Available July 2015 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

My Review - Center of Gravity

5 out of 5 stars
Disclaimer: Though published by Thomas Nelson, CENTER OF GRAVITY is not what I would consider a Christian novel. Blue language is used throughout the book and could prove to be a stumbling block to more conservative readers. Also, I never got the impression any of the main characters had a relationship with God. It could’ve been in there, but it wasn’t strong enough for me to understand the character’s belief systems. That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the non-traditional style of Laura McNeill.
Ava Carson’s life is being turned upside down. Though the life she’s led with her husband, Mitchell Carson, has not turned out the way she expected, nothing prepares Ava for the shocking path Mitchell takes to erase her from his life and the life of their children. The power her husband wields and the deceptions he orchestrates to paint Ava as an unfit mother, convinces her Mitchell is dangerous and she has to do something to protect their two young boys. Hiring Graham Thomas as her attorney is a step in the right direction, but when Mitchell’s behavior escalates to violent proportions, she realizes he will stop at nothing to have his way. When Ava digs into her husband’s history—hoping to find skeletons to use against him in a custody battle—she is devastated to find out everything she thought she ever knew about her husband is a lie. A lie fabricated by a very dangerous man.
CENTER OF GRAVITY is gripping. It pulls you in with a magnetism that won’t let go. I thought the unorthodox first-person writing style was going to be an obstacle for me, but it only fueled my desire to continue reading and understand the next person’s point of view. Following up on my disclaimer regarding language, I felt at times the language choices were not needed. Though I am an advocate for breaking the barriers that seem to pigeonhole some Christian writers and Christian publishing houses—and have been a vocal proponent for more realism in Christian fiction, especially where the use of language is concerned—even I felt some of the language choices were unnecessary in furthering the story along. But overall, I congratulate both Laura McNeill and Nelson Thomas for taking that bold step. Maybe it will open the door to other Christian authors like myself who don’t want to sanitize their stories just for the sake of a publishing deal.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Review - To Capture Her Heart

3 out of 5 stars
TO CAPTURE HER HEART is the second in the Southold Chronicles, and though I liked it better than A PLACE IN HIS HEART, I found the story moved slowly and didn’t fully grab my attention.
Heather Flower, an Indian princess’ happiness has been cruelly ripped away by an opposing tribe. On her wedding day, her intended is killed in front of her eyes and she is kidnapped and later left to die. When Dutch Lieutenant Dirk Van Buren rescues her—and treats her with such tenderness and compassion on the long journey home—she finds herself drawn to the man, even though she is mourning the loss of her fiancĂ©. When she is delivered into the hands of Benjamin Horton, an Englishman her people have long been friends with, she feels safe and protected. Heather knows that Ben has always felt affection for her, and her people would be pleased if she was united with him, but she is mourning the loss of her beloved and her minds continues to drift to the Dutchman that treated her with much kindness.
As time wears on, Heather finds herself torn between two men and the wishes of her family. She cares for Ben deeply and would never want to hurt his feelings or wound her relationship with his family, but her heart’s desire remains with Dirk.
TO CAPTURE HER HEART was an enjoyable read with fascinating characters, but its slow pacing, and at times, the lack of real emotion from the parties involved worked against it. Actually what I enjoyed most about this book was the new portrayal of Barnabas Horton, one of the main characters from book one. While reading A PLACE IN HIS HEART I developed a strong dislike for Barnabas, and in the end, felt like he was undeserving of Mary’s affection. Book two portrayed him as a changed man and a loving husband. In TO CAPTURE HER HEART, I felt sorry for Ben. He was a great guy who’d already missed his chance at love once before and you don’t want to see that happen again. But the chemistry between Heather Flower and Dirk was definitely their even though their scenes together were few and far between. I guess maybe in the back of my head that was one of the problems I had with the plot. Heather Flower is portrayed as being absolutely devastated by the loss of her fiancĂ©. Then how could she have develop such a strong attraction to Dirk during those first few days of rescue? She should’ve been in shock and withdrawal, going through the motions, not falling in love. I think it would’ve been more believable if her marriage had been more along the lines as an arranged marriage so that her heart could easily be affected by her rescuer. That’s just my opinion.
Book provided for review purposes.
Available July 2015 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

My Review - Abandoned Memories

5 out of 5 stars
ABANDONED MEMORIES follows the settlers of New Hope, a confederate colony trying to put behind their failures and short-comings as they strike out in the jungles of Brazil. But what they find is an evil far worse than they left behind.
Angeline Moore is looking for a fresh start. Forced to live a despicable life and wanted by the law, America has nothing for her. Unfortunately, another passenger on the voyage to Brazil knows exactly who she is and what she’s done. As she keeps her distance from this nemesis, she finds herself drawn to James Callaway, the colony’s preacher. Knowing she could never live up to his expectations, she keeps her feelings to herself. But, when James reveals he has feelings for her as well, Angeline doesn’t know what to do. She wants nothing more than to have a loving relationship with a man that would cherish her, but knowing how James feels about her kind, she knows once he finds out the truth about her past he will cast her aside like every other man in her life.
James Callaway feels he is a two-time failure. A doctor afraid of blood, and a preacher that has allowed immorality to taint his life, he wants for nothing more than a fresh start. He desires to be the spiritual leader of New Hope and make sure illicit women and wicked vices never infect this new colony. As his affection for Angeline Moore grows, he is convinced she is just the kind of pure-hearted woman he wants at his side as he leads the people of New Hope.
As Angeline and James, along with the other settlers struggle with their own inner demons, a supernatural evil is slowly overtaking the new colony. Infestations, floods, fires, horrible visions, and the murder of one of their own, plague New Hope. The discovery of an ancient temple and a tattered Hebrew book holds the key to the oppression that terrorizes them. They must decipher what this book is telling them if they are to take the evil captive before it can destroy them.
ABANDONED MEMORIES surprised me with the amount of supernatural/Sci-Fi influences in the story, but instead of dissecting it, I allowed myself to get immersed in the adventure because I knew MaryLu would bring the focus back to the Lord. With a large cast of characters—some who were fleshed out in books one and two in this series—there was plenty of action, angst, and heartache. With pirates, greed, and blackmail thrown into the already oppressive battles the people of New Hope had to fight, ABANDONED MEMORIES was a book that though not my normal cup of tea, I certainly couldn’t put down until I knew how the story ended. Another page-turner from Ms. Tyndall.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

My Review - Gone Without a Trace

4 out of 5 stars
GONE WITHOUT A TRACE continues the Logan Point series and does not disappoint.
Homicide detective Livy Reynolds has had her foundation shaken. After blaming herself in the accidental shooting of a teen, then freezing up during a firefight that gets her partner shot, Livy doubts herself and loses her confidence.  At the same time that Livy is struggling with what her future holds, she meets private investigator Alex Jennings. Alex is working on a case similar to the unexplained disappearance of Livy’s cousin that happened more than two years ago. Though Livy has an instant dislike for Alex, she decides to take a leave of absence and help him out on his case, but only because of the similarities it has to her cousin’s disappearance. Livy plans to use the time away from her job to reevaluate her future. What she doesn’t plan for is the chemistry that builds between her and Alex.
Alex Jennings is trying to make his own way in the world. Though his father and grandfather are pressuring him to follow in their footsteps and become a lawyer, Alex wants to be a private detective—a job he’s good at. Solving the case of Samantha Jo Woodson’s disappearance will not only bring closure to her family, but prove to the patriarchs of his family that being a private investigator is not only challenging but rewarding. He is more than willing to have Livy Reynolds team up with him. She’s an experienced homicide detective and his attraction to her makes the partnership all the more worthwhile.
Equal parts suspense, mystery, and romance made GONE WITHOUT A TRACE an intriguing read. I enjoyed catching up with some of the previous characters from the other two books in the series, and I especially enjoyed watching the attraction between Livy and Alex build. I don’t think I completely bought off on the reason Robyn stayed away so long and why, but I was willing to put that aside and enjoy the rest of the mystery while it unfolded.
Book provided for review purposes.
Available July 2015 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group