The Promise of Breeze Hill, by Pam Hillman

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Natchez, MS; 1791
Anxious for his brothers to join him on the rugged frontier along the Mississippi River, Connor O’Shea has no choice but to indenture himself as a carpenter in exchange for their passage from Ireland. But when he’s sold to Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation, Connor fears he’ll repeat past mistakes and vows not to be tempted by the lovely lady.

The responsibilities of running Breeze Hill have fallen on Isabella’s shoulders after her brother was found dead in the swamps along the Natchez Trace and a suspicious fire devastated their crops, almost destroyed their home, and left her father seriously injured. Even with Connor’s help, Isabella fears she’ll lose her family’s plantation. Despite her growing feelings for the handsome Irish carpenter, she seriously considers accepting her wealthy and influential neighbor’s proposal of marriage.

Soon, though, Connor realizes someone is out to eliminate the Bartholomew family. Can he set aside his own feelings to keep Isabella safe?

First Thoughts:

This is the first in a new series by Pam Hillman. I don’t recall having read anything by her previously.

My Take:

Mississippi is known for slavery, but it isn’t a black man on the auction block in the opening pages of The Promise of Breeze Hill. Connor O’Shea is white Irish and an indentured servant. Freedom would be nice, but it won’t get him the money he needs to give his brothers a new start in life. The night after Isabella buys him, however, he makes a vicious enemy. A man whose pride has been wounded can be dangerous, especially when he’s in the employ of someone with their own reasons for wanting Connor out of the way.

The historic and foreboding Natchez Trace is central to this new series by Pam Hillman. Breeze Hill is situated alongside and, therefore, there are many scenes set on it. Much of the book, though, is taken up with Connor attempting to resist any romance with Isabella while also keeping her out of danger. He fails at both more than once, but he makes a good impression on her father and a slave at a neighboring plantation. The latter will prove advantageous at a pivotal moment of the narrative. The neighboring plantation families are a mixed bag and their morals contrast sharply with ours, especially where slavery is concerned. There is some violence, mostly against slaves, although there’s also a barroom brawl and an indication of what might face Isabella during one of the times she’s in peril. Overall, The Promise of Breeze Hill was a breeze of a read and I’ll probably read the next in the series if it becomes available to me.

Thank you to Tyndale for my complimentary electronic advance reader copy of The Promise of Breeze Hill, which I downloaded via NetGalley.

Have you read The Promise of Breeze Hill? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Tyndale

Publication Date: 08 August 2017

Page Count: 416

Read more on:   Pam Hillman’s Website   Tyndale’s Website   The Natchez Trace

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

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Bread of Angels, by Tessa Afshar

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Purple. The foundation of an influential trade in a Roman world dominated by men. One woman rises up to take the reins of success in an incredible journey of courage, grit, and friendship. And along the way, she changes the world.

But before she was Lydia, the seller of purple, she was simply a merchant’s daughter who loved three things: her father, her ancestral home, and making dye. Then unbearable betrayal robs her of nearly everything.

With only her father’s secret formulas left, Lydia flees to Philippi and struggles to establish her business on her own. Determination and serendipitous acquaintances—along with her father’s precious dye—help her become one of the city’s preeminent merchants. But fear lingers in every shadow, until Lydia meets the apostle Paul and hears his message of hope, becoming his first European convert. Still, Lydia can’t outrun her secrets forever, and when past and present collide, she must either stand firm and trust in her fledgling faith or succumb to the fear that has ruled her life.

First Thoughts:

I really enjoyed the first novel I read by Tessa Afshar, so I’m looking forward to her characterization of Lydia.

My Take:

What do we know about Lydia? Her story is encapsulated in just three verses in the 16th chapter of the Book of Acts. She’s described as a seller of purple, from the city of Thyatira. When she met Paul, she was in Philippi. She must have doing reasonably well in her business, enough that the home to which she invites Paul is described as being hers. In Bread of Angels, Afshar paints a vivid picture of life in Philippi during Lydia’s time and includes a varied cast of characters, from Roman generals to slaves.

The tale opens with a prologue set in AD51. Lydia is writing a letter in her mind and two sentences immediately spoke to me. “How laughable our plans sometimes seem in the light of eternity. How blessed when they are destroyed.” People who know me have often heard me groan when plans don’t go as they should. How often I’ve had to remind myself about God being in control. The narrative then takes the reader back to AD25 and we are formally introduced to Lydia, the motherless daughter of a well-known purple merchant. An injury to her father causes Lydia to meet a Roman citizen who seemingly takes a shine to her. Knowing from the overview that Lydia was to face betrayal, I felt a sinking in my stomach when his mother offered to financially assist Lydia and her father.

The overriding theme of Bread of Angels is about placing your full confidence in God and trusting in Him to provide. Lydia learns to see His provision daily, not just for her but for those around her. Her guide is a young Jewish woman named Rebekah and, it is through her, that Lydia becomes the Godfearer she’s described as in Acts. The title comes from a description of the manna God provided during the Exodus after the Hebrews complained of hunger. He gave them the manna, but they had to look to Him to provide it. In the New Testament, Jesus spoke of it as being “that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” He then went on to say that he was the bread of life, which Lydia ultimately received when she met Paul.

Thank you to Tyndale and the Tyndale Blog Network for my complimentary copy of Bread of Angels, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read Bread of Angels? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Tyndale

Publication Date: 06 June 2017

Page Count: 416

Read more on:   Tessa Afshar’s Website   Tyndale’s Website

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

The One True Love of Alice-Ann, by Eva Marie Everson

book cover Alice AnnPublisher’s Overview:

Living in rural Georgia in 1941, sixteen-year-old Alice-Ann has her heart set on her brother’s friend Mack; despite their five-year age gap, Alice-Ann knows she can make Mack see her for the woman she’ll become. But when they receive news of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Mack decides to enlist, Alice-Ann realizes she must declare her love before he leaves.

Though promising to write, Mack leaves without confirmation that her love is returned. But Alice-Ann is determined to wear the wedding dress her maiden aunt never had a chance to wear—having lost her fiancé in the Great War. As their correspondence continues over the next three years, Mack and Alice-Ann are drawn closer together. But then Mack’s letters cease altogether, leaving Alice-Ann to fear history repeating itself.

Dreading the war will leave her with a beautiful dress and no happily ever after, Alice-Ann fills her days with work and caring for her best friend’s war-torn brother, Carlton. As time passes and their friendship develops into something more, Alice-Ann wonders if she’ll ever be prepared to say good-bye to her one true love and embrace the future God has in store with a newfound love. Or will a sudden call from overseas change everything?

First Thoughts:

I’m not sure about the title, as it sounds a bit cutesy for my liking, but I loved the last book I read by Eva Marie Everson.

My Take:

On Alice-Ann’s 16th birthday, Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor. Although over 2000 men were killed, Alice-Ann can only think about how her birthday party has been ruined. She’d had big plans for that day, including telling her brother’s friend how much she loved him. She finally got her way, but he promised her nothing except that he’d write to her. During the next three years, Alice-Ann got older, finished high school, began working at the bank, helped out on her family’s farm, helped teach Sunday school, and wrote to Mack.

As much as this is a novel about a young woman, this is also a tale about a small town at war forced to change. Life did go on in some respects: young people got married and babies were born. But many of the young men left to join the military, which meant women taking their jobs in various occupations. A POW camp opened and the townspeople had to occasionally interact with ‘the enemy.’ And then there were the tragedies: a local boy was killed in action, and another came home severely injured. What was life like for those left ‘at home?’

The message of this book is that life never goes how you think – or hope – it will. It might even work out for the better. Sometimes, something amazing can even come out of the direst of circumstances. I wanted to flip to the back to get to the ending, but I didn’t want to be spoiled! Because, really, learning the identity of Alice-Ann’s ‘true love’ is as much as the journey as it is the destination.

Thank you to Tyndale House for my complimentary copy of The One True Love of Alice-Ann, which I received in exchange for my honest review.

Have you read The One True Love of Alice-Ann? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.

Excerpt

Publisher: Tyndale House

Publication Date: 01 April 2017

Page Count: 432

Read more on:   Eva Marie Everson’s Website   Tyndale’s Website

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