Liar’s Winter, by Cindy Sproles

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Lochiel Ogle was born with a red-wine birthmark–and it put her life in jeopardy from the moment she entered the world. Mountain folks called it “the mark of the devil,” and for all the evil that has plagued her nineteen-year existence, Lochiel is ready to believe that is true. And the evil surely took control of the mind of the boy who stole her as an infant, bringing her home for his mother to raise.

Abused and abandoned by the only people she knows as family, Lochiel is rescued by a peddler and given the first glimpse of love she has ever known. The truth of her past is gradually revealed as is the fact that she is still hunted by a brother driven to see her dead. Unsure if there’s anyone she can truly trust, Lochiel is faced with a series of choices: Will she continue to run for escape or will she face her past and accept the heartbreaking secrets it reveals? Which will truly free her?

Set in the wild and beautiful Appalachian Mountains of nineteenth-century East Tennessee, Liar’s Winter is an unflinching yet inspirational exploration of prejudice and choice. 

First Thoughts:

This novel sounds like it’ll be difficult to read. But I read Sprole’s debut novel a couple of years ago and it turned out to be amazing.

My Take:

When I read Cindy Sproles’ debut novel a couple of years ago I found it easy to give it five stars. Second novels are either equally as brilliant or fall flat in comparison. I wasn’t sure which I’d get with the next of Sproles’ Appalachian novels, but I’m happy to say I was not disappointed. Lochiel (pronounced Low-Kill) has encountered very few people in her 19 years, having been kept hidden away by her adoptive parents. She thinks their treatment of her is normal and, therefore, something she should expect from others; that’s if they don’t run screaming from her first. When she’s rescued by strangers – and continues to be helped by them – she wonders what they want in return. Instead, they introduce her to a loving and trustworthy God, one she’ll turn to when all seems lost.

Liar’s Winter was an engrossing read from the beginning. It’s written in the first person, and Lochiel’s ‘voice’ came through clearly. She was heartbreakingly ignorant of the world around her and I recognized a form of Stockholm Syndrome every time she said that the Ogle family had treated her well and that she felt guilty for “leaving them.” There were moments in this book that left me momentarily stunned, breathless with the turn the narrative had taken. The tears were streaming down my cheeks as I finished the final page.

Thank you to Kregel for my complimentary copy of Liar’s Winter, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read Liar’s Winter? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Kregel Publications

Publication Date: 27 June 2017

Page Count: 264

Read more on:   Cindy Sproles’ Website   Kregel’s Website

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


These Healing Hills, by Ann H. Gabhart

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Francine Howard has her life all mapped out–until the man she loves announces his plans to bring home an English bride from war-torn Europe in 1945. Devastated, Francine seeks a fresh start in the Appalachian Mountains, training to be a nurse midwife for the Frontier Nursing Service.

Deeply affected by the horrors he witnessed at war, Ben Locke has never thought further ahead than making it home to Kentucky. His future shrouded in as much mist as his beloved mountains, he’s at a loss when it comes to envisioning what’s next for his life.

When Francine’s and Ben’s paths intersect, it’s immediately clear that they are from different worlds and value different things. But love has a way of healing old wounds . . . and revealing tantalizing new possibilities.

First Thoughts:

I’ve always liked an Ann Gabhart novel. I expect to enjoy this new title by her just as well.

My Take:

Ann Gabhart takes us back to her beloved Kentucky for a story of redemption and new life. There’s an unwritten rule that the women in the Frontier Nursing Service should maintain a respectful distance from the people they serve, but Fran develops a rapport with young Woody Locke on her first day. That soon extends to his family, including his mother, younger sister, and older brother Ben. Geographically challenged on the forested trails, she comes to rely on the Locke family for guidance and they also introduce her to the various mountain traditions. Her primary duty is that of midwife, but she treats everything from coughs to gun shots.

These Healing Hills is a lovely book, with descriptions over which I wanted to linger. It details the change of seasons, from the heat of July when Fran arrives to the blizzards of her first winter. There are sharp contrasts between the Ohio city, where Fran grew up, and the remote location of her calling. It’s represented in the people: her mother is pretentious and disdaining of those not in their class, while Grammy Em lives simply and uses natural resources for her medicinal remedies. One thing that struck me was that, while the novel takes place in 1945, the area appeared stuck in the Depression. Poverty was widespread, with homes little more than shacks and shoes being a rarity.

If there was anything in which I was disappointed, it was the ending. I felt it was somewhat abrupt, as though all that mattered was a resolution of the romantic angle. But I wanted to know more, which I can’t detail here because that would spoil the story line for you. Nevertheless, I enjoyed These Healing Hills and can recommend it.

Thank you to Revell for my complimentary copy of These Healing Hills, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read These Healing Hills? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 05 September 2017

Page Count: 368

Read more on:   Ann H. Gabhart’s Website   Revell’s Website

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

My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley, by Andrea Boeshaar

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Journey into the Shenandoah Valley of 1816 where…
With Very Little Left of the Family Farm, Lily May be Forced into a Loveless Marriage.

Captain McAlister “Mac” Albright has purchased land in the Shenandoah Valley. However, the land belongs to Lillyanna Laughlin—or so she erroneously thinks. Mac sets her straight and despite a poor start, the two become friends. . .if only he were financially stable to offer her more.

When Lily’s life is threatened and his whole future goes up in flames, Mac truly becomes a man without means, and Lily is forced to make the impossible choice between a loveless marriage with a man twice her age or the man who has shown her what true love could be. How can she choose between love and economic security? Her family is depending on her. Is her heart destined to break?

Journey into Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley of 1816 where a woman’s dreams and future happiness are on the line.

First Thoughts:

I’m currently reading Andrea Boeshaar’s Civil War series which is also set in the Shenandoah Valley. It’ll be interesting to read something by her set in the same place but over 30 years earlier.

My Take:

If you’re looking for a light-ish historical romance, please allow me recommend the My Heart Belongs series from Barbour. New books in the series are released every other month, and each is set in a different state. The latest offering takes place in Virginia, shortly after the end of the War of 1812. Mac is a veteran of the war and probably has what we would now call PTSD. When he meets Lily’s younger brothers who have romanticized the idea of seafaring, Mac must temper their dreams while facing his nightmares. Lily, meanwhile, is faced with the reality that the land she’s been tending has been sold out from under her feet and that she could also become homeless if she doesn’t acquiesce to the wishes of a local businessman.

The initial plot point regarding the land ownership is resolved early on and from there the plot focuses mainly on Lily and Mac trying not to be attracted to each other. They are joined on the pages by Lily’s brothers and spinster aunt, and Mac’s former shipmate who’s still trying to find his land legs. There’s a villain in the form of the businessman and class-conscious family members. There is some darkness within, with discussions about slavery and impressment (which could be considered a form of slavery carried out by the Royal Navy.) Despite these difficult subjects, however, I still found this to be an easy read.

Actually, I found this installment of the My Heart Belongs series to be shorter than what I’m used to reading. The story left me wanting more. I especially wanted to know about two characters whose futures were left somewhat up in the air. I could envision a Shenandoah Valley family saga except Boeshaar already has one in progress, albeit one set during the Civil War.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Have you read My Heart Belongs in the Shenandoah Valley? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Barbour Books

Publication Date: 01 September 2017

Page Count: 256

Read more on:   Andrea Boeshaar’s Website   Barbour Books’ Website

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