Starving Hearts, by Janine Mendenhall

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Since her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage. But she yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God’s existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way… 

Mr. Peter Adsley is joining the clergy, and he desires a godly wife by his side. After a failed attempt to obtain one, he engages in a clandestine meeting with the bewitching young woman who keeps crossing his path. But she is so unsettling.

Destined for disappointments, Peter and Annette both endure disgraceful situations. Will Peter s faith sustain him through overwhelming setbacks? Can Annette overcome her doubts? Or will their starving hearts yield to the machinations of a mad man?

My Take:

By the end of the 18th century, Great Britain was a world leader in slave trading. Goods manufactured in Britain would be taken to Africa where they would be sold or exchanged for new slaves. These slaves were then shipped to the Americas, including the Caribbean, and sold to plantations. With this slave labor, the plantations produced sugar, cotton, tobacco and other items which were then shipped back to the British mainland. Despite its popularity in business, however, more people were becoming aware of the practice and campaigning for its abolition. Families, such as the fictional Adsley family in Starving Hearts, were often divided over the issue.

Starving Hearts Janine MendenhallStarving Hearts is a mix of romance, melodrama and near horror. There’s a heartbreaking scene set on a ship during the middle passage stage of the triangular trade. Peter witnesses the inhumane treatment of slaves during a storm when excess cargo is tossed overboard. The characters are complex, with secrets that make you change your opinion of them. As readers, we are privy to the thoughts and emotions of the villain. When there’s a sudden twist in the tale, we experience it from his perspective and I found myself sympathetic towards him.

This is the first novel in Janine Mendenhall’s Triangular Trade Trilogy. The next book in the series is called Never Past Hope. From the preview I’ve seen, it will continue the story of the characters from Starving Hearts and the title implies it might not be too late for redemption for one of them. There’s no scheduled release date, but I’m looking forward to reading it when it becomes available.

Thank you to Heritage Beacon Fiction and Litfuse Publicity for my complimentary copy of Starving Hearts, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

This review is part of a Litfuse Publicity blog tour

Have you read Starving Hearts? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Heritage Beacon Fiction (an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Publication Date: 16 May 2016

Page Count: 300

Read more on:   Author’s Website   Heritage Beacon Fiction’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million

The Loyal Heart, by Shelley Shepard Gray

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

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 Take:

In January 1865, a group of Confederate soldiers made a vow to look out for each other once the war was over. At the time, they were prisoners in the Johnson’s Island POW camp in Ohio. Although the war would end just three months later, not all of them would leave the camp alive. One of the deceased was Lieutenant Philip Markham, who had spoken often to the group of his wife and made the men also promise to look out for her. Two years later, Miranda is not in a good place. Her in-laws want her out of the family’s home, the townspeople accuse her of running a house of ill repute, and Philip’s reputation is so bad his name is left off the town’s war memorial.

This is the setting for Shelley Shepard Gray’s latest novel, and it’s the start of a new historical series set in Texas about this group of POWs. From its bleak opening, you get a real sense of how the war and its ending impacted both Confederate soldiers and the inhabitants of the rebel states. Some were pragmatic about the loss while others saw it as a huge blow to southern pride. There’s a cast of varied characters, and it’s hard to tell who may or may not be behind the plot to make Miranda’s life such a misery. I particularly liked Miranda’s maid, Belle, and would’ve liked to have known more of her backstory. Galveston is elegantly described although the hurricane of 33 years later was on my mind as I was reading. Finally, the plot is such that just when you think everything has been resolved there’s a new development that could endanger everyone!

Thank you to TNZFiction and BookLook Bloggers for my complimentary copy of The Loyal Heart, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read The Loyal Heart? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Zondervan (a division of HarperCollins Christian)

Publication Date: 12 July 2016

Page Count: 320

Read more on:   Author’s Website   TNZFiction’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million

Dana Mentink’s ‘Fetching Sweetness’ Prize Pack Giveaway

A recipe for love and loss, merriment and mayhem, fun and faith in the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest can only be found in Fetching Sweetness by Dana Mentink. It should have been so simple for Stephanie Pink: Retrieve a reclusive author’s valuable new manuscript and be promoted to a full-fledged literary agent. But when the author’s canine companion, Sweetness, makes a break for it and Stephanie has to track Sweetness down, she meets Rhett Hastings. They’re in for a surprising string of adventures and misadventures.

Celebrate the release of Fetching Sweetness with Dana by entering to win the Sweetness Unleashed Prize Pack!

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One grand prize winner will receive:

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Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on August 24. The winner will be announced August 25 on Dana’s blog.

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