A Stolen Heart, by Amanda Cabot

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

The future she dreamed of is gone. But perhaps a better one awaits . . .

From afar, Cimarron Creek seems like an idyllic town tucked in the Texas Hill Country. But when former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford steps onto its dusty streets in 1880, she finds a town with a deep-seated resentment of Northerners–like her. Lydia won’t let that get her down, though. All will be well when she’s reunited with her fiancé.

But when she discovers he has disappeared–and that he left behind a pregnant wife–Lydia is at a loss about what to do next. The handsome sheriff urges her to trust him, but can she trust anyone in this town where secrets are as prevalent as bluebonnets in spring?

First Thoughts:

A Stolen Heart is the first in a new historical series by Amanda Cabot. I’ve enjoyed Cabot’s previous novels so I’m looking forward to reading this one.

My Take:

Tensions still run high in a small Texas town 15 years after the end of the Civil War and Lydia knows about it before she’s even arrived in search of her fiancé. But even though one of the town’s Confederate veterans persists in calling her the ‘Cursed Enemy,’ she soon learns the war isn’t the only cause of division. Lydia has two men vying for her attention, and two brothers are rivals for their father’s praise. She’s also accused of a rash of thefts taking place in the town, even though she’s also a victim. Her chocolate creations do much to win over the townsfolk, but could they also be responsible for murder?

There’s a nice little map of Cimarron Creek at the start of the book and I referred to it often. Since Travis (the “handsome sheriff”) has a large extended family, the included family tree also came in useful. The narrative itself is a mixture of romance and suspense. The crime story builds steadily, sharing space with the romance although playing second fiddle to it. I gradually worked out who might be responsible but the culminating scene is tense and heart pounding. I didn’t know how it would end up. Lydia is also fortunate to develop some close friendships with a variety of women, some of which are unexpected, and these help her as she comes to terms with her fiancé’s actions.

A Stolen Heart is the first title in the Cimarron Creek Trilogy. A sneak peak of book two, involving one of Lydia’s new friends, is included but it won’t be published until next year. Based on this novel, I’ll look forward to its release.

Thank you to Revell for my complimentary copy of A Stolen Heart, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read A Stolen Heart? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 14 March 2017

Page Count: 352

Read more on:   Amanda Cabot’s Website   Revell’s Website

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

Redeeming Grace: Ruth’s Story, by Jill Eileen Smith

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

One devoted woman is about to discover the power of love

When famine visits Bethlehem, some hold out hope for rain, while Naomi and her family make a long journey to Moab in search of greener pastures. The harvest there is plentiful, and for a time it appears the Lord is blessing them. But when calamities strike, one after another, Naomi is left alone in a foreign land with only her widowed daughters-in-law for comfort.

Downhearted and destitute, Naomi is determined to return to Bethlehem alone. But her daughter-in-law Ruth refuses to leave her side. Despite the fact that she and Naomi will almost certainly live out their days in widowhood and poverty, Ruth holds out hope for a better future . . . and maybe even a second chance at love.

First Thoughts:

It’s an honor to review any novel by Jill Eileen Smith. I’ve been highly impressed with many of her previous titles and they’ve often helped me look at the featured Bible story with fresh eyes. I’m hoping for the same with her interpretation of Ruth.

My Take:

Once again, Jill Eileen Smith has taken a well-known Bible story and brought it to life. The story of Ruth begins with her future mother-in-law assisting Boaz’s wife in childbirth. It establishes Naomi as a woman who is familiar with Boaz and his family, placing Boaz as her husband’s cousin and creating a brother-in-law as well to act as the relative closer to Naomi than Boaz.

After reading Redeeming Grace I had to review Ruth’s story for a Bible study. Thanks to this novel, I saw the story with new eyes. We don’t know why she was so willing to leave her home and everything that she knew to go with Naomi. Here, Smith has given her a realistic reason, as well as an interesting theory on how and why Naomi’s sons might’ve died. It was refreshing to see Ruth portrayed as a Moabite, as some authors I’ve read have gone out of their way to ignore this aspect of her character. Ruth was a foreigner, although it’s acknowledged that her people were descended from Abraham’s nephew, Lot.

I found Redeeming Grace difficult to put down. As well as being entertaining, it was also thought provoking. For example, why did God let Naomi’s husband and sons die? Was it punishment for moving away from the Kingdom of Judah? The final paragraphs hint, however, of what was to come from Bethlehem and the line of Boaz and Ruth: the Messiah Himself.

Thank you to Revell and the author for my complimentary copy of Redeeming Grace: Ruth’s Story, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

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

Excerpt

Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 14 February 2017

Page Count: 368

Read more on:   Jill Eileen Smith’s Website   Revell’s Website

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

A Moonbow Night, by Laura Frantz

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Her wilderness survival skills are without rival.
But her greatest talent is keeping other people’s secrets.

After fleeing Virginia, Temperance Tucker and her family established an inn along the Shawnee River. It’s a welcome way station for settlers and frontiersmen traveling through the wild Cumberland region of Kentucke–men like Sion Morgan, a Virginia surveyor who arrives at the inn with his crew, looking for an experienced guide.

Though he balks when Tempe is appointed to lead his team through the wilderness, it isn’t long before Sion must admit that her abilities may outmatch his own. But can the tenuous tie they are forming survive the dangers waiting just around the bend?

With her signature sweeping style and ability to bring the distant past to vivid life, Laura Frantz beckons you to join her in a land of Indian ambushes, conflicting loyalties, and a tentative love that meanders like a cool mountain stream.

First Thoughts:

I’ve always enjoyed Laura Frantz’s novels. This one starts in 1777, in the middle of the American Revolution. Will we read about how this event impacts locations away from the battles?

My Take:

A Moonbow Night opens with a bleak scene of a survey party in a snowstorm. They’re on a treacherous trail through the wilderness and threatened by both nature and man. This sets the mood for the novel which, throughout the majority of its pages, is depressing. Although this is a romance, it isn’t a happy story. Tempe spends large amounts of time thinking about death and the fiancé murdered by Indians. Her brother, an Indian attack survivor, is scarred both mentally and physically. It’s a tense narrative where danger lurks around every corner. In spite of all this, however, I found it oddly compelling. There had to be a happily ever after, surely, but how?

I’m not sure I could’ve lived on the frontier like the women portrayed in this book. Life on the frontier is described at its harshest. Untimely death is reality and, in more than one occasion, comes in bluntly detailed passages that take the breath away. Disagreements exist between settlers, surveyors, and Indians. The Revolution to the east has infected the soil here as well: the Indians carry British weapons and there’s division between loyalists and patriots. But in between the times of fear and sadness, there is still the odd occasion to play a merry tune on a fiddle. There is the beauty of the moonbow, which appears on certain nights at the falls near Tempe’s home. And some of the characters maintain a resolute faith in Christ even in the worst of times.

Is this an enjoyable book? Not really, not with so much despair in it. But it is a good book and a powerful book, and it’s one I’m glad to have read.

Thank you to Revell for my complimentary copy of A Moonbow Night, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read A Moonbow Night? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 03 January 2017

Page Count: 384

Read more on:   Laura Frantz’s Website   Revell’s Website

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