A Lady Unrivaled, by Roseanna M. White

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Amid the Unforgettable Cotswolds, the Final Grasp for the Fire Eyes Diamonds Could Threaten Them All

Lady Ella Myerston can always find a reason to smile–even if it’s just in hope that tomorrow will be better than today. All her life everyone has tried to protect her from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well how the dangerous Fire Eyes diamonds have haunted her brother and their friends, and she won’t wait for peril to strike again. She intends to take action . . . and if that happens to involve an adventurous trip to the Cotswolds, then so much the better.

Lord James Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he’s determined to live a better life . . . but that proves complicated when old acquaintances pull Cayton into their desperate attempt to seize the jewels. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger, but the stubborn girl won’t budge. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her–and his daughter–from those intent on destroying them all?

First Thoughts:

This is the final book in White’s Ladies of the Manor series. I’m hoping for a resolution to the mystery of the Fire Eyes jewelry plot. Since it’s set in 1913, I wonder if there will be any mention of tension in Europe. Looking at the cast of characters, it appears part of the storyline might be set in Paris.

My Take:

The final book of Roseanna M. White’s Ladies of the Manor series sees the Fire Eyes rubies changing hands again, former enemies becoming friends, and a path to redemption for a woman who thought she was beyond saving. There’s also murder, theft, and blackmail. Familiar characters reappear, and Cayton and Ella will also be familiar to readers of the previous books. There are new characters, including Kira who’s sent to spy on one of the supposed owners of the rubies. A Lady Unrivaled becomes as much Kira’s story as Ella’s and I think I preferred her tale.

There’s a lot packed into this book. I read an electronic copy and was surprised when I realized I was only halfway through it since there’d already been so much going on. The second half seemed to go quicker as the tension ratcheted up. There aren’t many plot twists, but there was one I definitely hadn’t seen coming. There is a happy ending for most of the characters, although one of them did meet the only end possible after all was said and done. And yes, the Fire Eyes plot is suitably resolved. I will say, however, that even though A Lady Unrivaled can be read as a standalone novel I wouldn’t recommend it.

Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary electronic review copy of A Lady Unrivaled.

Have you read A Lady Unrivaled? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Author Q & A

Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 13 September 2016

Page Count: 416

Read more on:   Roseanna M. White’s Website   Bethany House’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

Saffire, by Sigmund Brouwer

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

For President Teddy Roosevelt, controlling the east-west passage between two oceans mattered so much that he orchestrated a revolution to control it. His command was to ‘let the dirt fly’ and for years, the American Zone of the Panama Canal mesmerized the world, working in uneasy co-existence with the Panamanian aristocrats.

It’s in this buffered Zone where, in 1909, James Holt begins to protect a defenseless girl named Saffire, expecting a short and simple search for her mother. Instead it draws him away from safety, into a land haunted by a history of pirates, gold runners, and plantation owners, all leaving behind ghosts of their interwoven desires sins and ambitions, ghosts that create the web of deceit and intrigue of a new generation of revolutionary politics.  It will also bring him together with a woman who will change his course—or bring an end to it.

First Thoughts:

While I’ve heard of Sigmund Brouwer I’ve not read any of his previous novels. I’m intrigued by this novel because of the plot information and the exotic setting. I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything set around the building of the Panama Canal.

My Take:

James Holt is sent to Panama as a favor to an old friend. He doesn’t know the reason for the trip but plans to spend no more than 24 hours in the fledgling country. A chance meeting persuades him to stay marginally longer, but he regrets every minute spent away from his North Dakota ranch. Little does he know a perfunctory search for a missing woman will turn into a dangerous investigation into sabotage and political intrigue. After a nasty run in with the National Police, Holt isn’t sure who else he can trust besides the unassuming clerk T.B. Miskimon.

The plot of Saffire is complicated at times, with several twists and turns. Some clues are easy enough to piece together while other information has to almost be forced from the pages. There’s a multinational cast of characters from the eponymous Saffire to the aforementioned Miskimon, but I found it difficult to remember who some of the minor characters were in relation to the plot and each other. I couldn’t work out how old Saffire was: I get the feeling she was younger than she appeared. Miskimon is introduced as being “prissy” but he grew on me and reminded me of a mix of Bertie Wooster’s Jeeves and Batman’s Alfred. I was surprised to later learn this particular clerk was an historical character. He’s not the only historical figure to appear in the book either.

Saffire is a fascinating portrayal of America’s Panama exploits, with plenty of detail of life in the Canal Zone. There’s also something about it that I can’t quite describe, a certain je ne sais pas if you will. The one aspect I didn’t care for was the romance, which could’ve been left out in my opinion. Overall, Saffire isn’t a mind blowing book but it is one I enjoyed reading.

Thank you to Blogging for Books for my complimentary uncorrected proof of Saffire.

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


Publisher: Waterbrook (an imprint of Penguin Random House)

Publication Date: 16 August 2016

Page Count: 336

Read more on:   Sigmund Brouwer’s Website   Waterbrook’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com

Mary Chosen of God, by Diana Wallis Taylor

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Mary is ordinary girl from Nazareth. She helps her mother with household chores, she daydreams about a handsome carpenter’s son named Joseph, and at night she lies on the roof and contemplates at the stars. But one evening, a heavenly visitor comes with unexpected news—and her life is changed forever. 

Experience the life of the Messiah from the perspective of his mother, who must place her trust and obedience in Adonai, the Most High, as he fulfills centuries of anticipation in the middle of her daily life. Walk with Mary as she witnesses Yeshua grow, mature, minister, and even crucified—and then raised again, to the kindling of her new faith. 

First Thoughts:

I was disappointed with Taylor’s previous novel, Ruth, which I felt had some Biblical inaccuracies. I hoped this was more in keeping with her previous titles, which I’d enjoyed

My Take:

In Mary Chosen of God, Diana Wallis Taylor takes the well-known nativity story and humanizes Mary on a level I’ve not previously seen. She writes extensively about the cycle of life in a small Galilean town, focusing on some of Mary’s more mundane activities. After all, the mother of God was also the mother to several other children, ran a busy household, and had parents to look after as well. I thought it was interesting that she portrayed Mary and Joseph as being similar in age as I’d always thought Joseph was at least a decade older. We see Mary trusting God regarding Jesus (who is called Yeshua here), but also fearing for her son. She wonders what the angel meant when it said that Yeshua would reign over Israel forever; does it mean that Yeshua will overthrow the Roman occupation?

We also read of Mary’s presence in Jerusalem when her son is arrested and crucified and then as she experiences the resurrection. Taylor attempts to show us how Mary might’ve felt watching her beloved son go through all that. Mary Chosen of God finishes on an ambiguous note: the book finishes after Pentecost and, with no mention of her in the Bible after that time, Taylor doesn’t attempt to imagine the rest of Mary’s life.

I found Mary Chosen of God easy to read and it turned a couple of my presumptions on their collective heads. Taylor takes license with small details such as the names of Jesus’s sisters, but the story as a whole is an accurate representation of the Gospel accounts. As we approach the Advent season, this would be a good insightful novel of Jesus birth to read.

Thank you to Celebrate Lit and Whitaker House for my complimentary copy of Mary Chosen of God, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

This review is part of a Celebrate Lit blog tour

Enter the Mary Chosen of God giveaway.

Have you read Mary Chosen of God? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Whitaker House

Publication Date: 01 September 2016

Page Count: 320

Read more on:   Diana Wallis Taylor’s Website   Whitaker House’s Website

Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million   Christianbook.com