A Last Goodbye

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Before I begin my critique, I want to express my sorrow at the recent passing of mystery writer P. D. James. The “Queen of Crime” was 94 and leaves us a lasting legacy of excellent prose by which to remember her. My thoughts and prayers go out to her loved ones. On to the business at hand…

Now that Thanksgiving is over, and you’re ready to trim the tree, are you looking for a short, lighthearted puzzle to get you in the Christmas spirit? J. A. Jance’s latest Ali Reynolds novella “A Last Goodbye” may be just the vehicle to do it! In the interest of full disclosure, however, I must admit that I was given a digital review copy by  Simon and Schuster, in exchange for my honest thoughts. My posts will never be anything but reflections of truthfulness.

When this story begins, Ali is finally ready to wed her long time significant other, B. Simpson. Las Vegas provides the perfect setting for a December 24th ceremony and everyone they hold dear is in attendance. However, it doesn’t quite go as planned. The day before the event, Mr. Simpson takes his new grandchildren shopping, where they rescue a charming miniature dachshund. Grandma doesn’t want to bring the new edition along on their honeymoon, so they search high and low for the dog’s owner. Unfortunately, no one has seen her recently. Can they track her down in time, or will the nuptials be postponed?

I would recommend this volume to anyone who enjoys a good mainstream sleuthing session with famous names such as Mary Higgins Clark and Linda Fairstein. This is Ali Reynolds # 9.5, so if you haven’t met these delightful characters, I would suggest starting at the beginning. The order is as follows:

“Edge of Evil” (Ali Reynolds #1)
“Web of Evil” (Ali Reynolds #2)
“Hand of Evil” (Ali Reynolds #3)
“Cruel Intent (Ali Reynolds #4)
“Trial by Fire” (Ali Reynolds #5)
“Fatal Error” (Ali Reynolds #6)
“Left for Dead” (Ali Reynolds #7)
“Deadly Stakes” (Ali Reynolds #8)
“Moving Target” (Ali Reynolds #9)
“A Last Goodbye” (Ali Reynolds #9.5)

It should be noted that the most recent addition to this series is currently ONLY available in electronic format. Those of you who prefer print will be forced to wait until  December 30th, when it will be included in the paperback edition of “Moving Target.” Sorry! I believe these books are intended for those sixteen years and older, with the usual amount of violence that is expected in a secular  mystery. The only other caveat being that there might be a few off color words, but it should not detract from the entertainment provided by the plot, unless you happen to be sensitive to that content. My rating for “A Last Goodbye” is five out of five stars. This one can be loaded on your device instantly, so head to your favorite online retailer soon! Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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The River

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One of the best things about writing this blog is that I get to read books by my favorite authors for free and then tell you what I think about them. This is the case with Beverly Lewis’ latest release “The River,” which Bethany House publishers granted me access to in exchange for this review. As always, I will give you nothing less than my true reaction.

This novel focuses on two women, Tilly and Ruth, who were raised Amish, but chose to leave that community and make their way in the modern world. With their parents’ silver wedding anniversary fast approaching, the  sisters decide a visit home is in order. Will they be able to make peace with the troubled past that caused them to flee, or will unresolved issues become an obstacle to the reconciliation they crave?

Fans of this veteran writer will not be disappointed. With this narrative, Mrs. Lewis brings fresh insight into what can sometimes be a predictable genre. It has the important Christian principles that are expected, which makes it accessible to everyone, but it will be best appreciated by those twelve years and older. I recommend this tale to people who like the works of Suzanne Woods Fisher, Leslie Gould, and Jennifer Beckstrand. Anyone who gets absorbed in complicated family dramas will also be drawn into this tale. The characters stay with you long after you’ve returned the volume to the shelf. My rating is five out of five stars. “The River” is available now, so go get it wherever Christian fiction is sold. Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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Becoming Bea

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To kick things off, I want to say a big “THANK YOU” to all the veterans out there! I have spent the time between posts delving into Leslie Gould’s “The Courtships of Lancaster County” books. One of the perks of being a reviewer is being gifted upcoming titles, and I received a copy of the fourth novel in the series from Bethany House publishers in exchange for writing down my sincere opinions. Each volume is an Amish romance inspired by one of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays. “Becoming Bea” recounts “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Bea Zook always competed with Ben Rupp, and, unlike most young women in her community, marriage has never been high on her list of goals. After spending time with each other helping on a neighbor’s farm, however, her thoughts begin to change. Might love be part of God’s plan for them as well? Or is that spark between them just irritation?

I enjoyed the entire series, so while each story is perfectly capable of standing on its own, I think reading the whole group in order, will give you a greater understanding of the fictional environment. For those who wish to know, the chronology is as follows:
1.) “Courting Cate,” which is a clever retelling of “The Taming of the Shrew.”
2.) “Adoring Addie,” a different take on “Romeo And Juliet.”
3.) “Minding Molly” is “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” reimagined.
4.) “Becoming Bea is a new spin on “Much Ado About Nothing,” as I mentioned earlier.
I would recommend this whole saga to those who like authors in the same arena as Beverly Lewis and Suzanne Woods Fisher, but also to people who treasure classic literature. Knowledge of the original masterpieces isn’t required for appreciation. “Becoming Bea” has all the comforts of traditional Amish fare, like solid Christian values that cause it to be approachable by all ages, with a few unexpected twists thrown in. I believe people twelve and over will most enchanted by it. My rating is a solid five out of five stars, so if you’re looking for a lighthearted, charming love story to ward off the chill outdoors, go in search of “The Courtships of Lancaster County” now. All installments are available now, wherever you usually buy literature! Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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A Promise to Protect

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Need another suggestion for your “To Read” list? You’ve come to the right place! Okay, I know very few people who actually require more titles on that inventory, but a true bookworm can never resist, so here goes my latest opinion:
Very early this morning, I finished Patricia Bradley’s most recent addition to her “Logan Point” series, the follow up to “Shadows of the Past.” I received an advanced digital copy of this novel from the publisher through the “Revell Reads” program. In accordance with their guidelines, I acquired this work free of charge, in exchange for  my legitimate reaction.

In “A Promise to Protect,” Dr. Leigh Summerall’s main objective is to put in enough time at the local hospital to pay off her student loans, so she can leave Logan Point and she and her son can move on to bigger and better places. Life becomes a bit more complicated when she learns that her beloved brother, Tony, has been murdered. To makes matters worse, she discovers that Tony used his last breath to extract a vow from a local lawman to keep her safe. It doesn’t help that the man in question is Acting Sheriff Ben Logan, who also happens to be her old flame. Ben is determined to fulfill his obligation. Tony died on his watch, and now it appears that the villain who killed her sibling is now chasing the attractive single mother. However, Leigh is more concerned with keeping her heart, and her secrets, hidden. Can she find a way to trust Ben with both, or will her defenses put everyone she cares about at risk?

If Christian romantic suspense is your favorite genre, but you’ve digested every word written by Irene Hannon, Lisa Harris, Sandra Orchard, and Lynette Eason, fear not! Patricia Bradley is another author who can be can be counted on to deliver the plot twists you crave, while teaching about vital aspects of our faith. No questionable content exists in the story, so everyone can be exposed, but I think that those twelve years and older will gain the most from it. This installment can be read without the benefit of Ms. Bradley’s debut effort, but, having now read and opined on both, I can say they compliment each other, and minor characters do overlap. My rating is five out of five stars, so seek this series out the next time you have a free moment. Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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Deceived

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The latest literary masterpiece to cross my desk is Irene Hannon’s newest blockbuster, “Deceived.” This is the final installment in the “Private Justice” trilogy. Preceding titles in the series include book one, “Vanished,” and book two, “Trapped,” which have each been discussed in earlier write ups on this site. I acquired the conclusion through “Revell Reads, ” a program that gives fortunate bloggers like myself an early opportunity to peruse popular novels free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my upfront opinion.

In the beginning of this narrative, we meet Kate Marshall, a counselor, who is finally  winning the battle over the grief caused by the accidental death of her husband and young son in a boating accident three years earlier. On a visit to the local mall, however, she is stunned to encounter a little man who is the spitting image of the boy she lost. A body was never found. Is it possible he survived? Dismissed by every authority she approaches, the young mother’s strong convictions cause her to seek out the expertise of former Secret Service Agent turned Private Investigator Connor Sullivan. While her suspicions are bit out there, something in her manner convinces him to pursue the matter, and before long, they are both thinking this incident looks less like a mishap and more like murder. Will Kate be able to finally achieve the impossible dream of holding her offspring in her arms once again? Is the attraction sizzling between Connor and Kate merely a result of the emotionally charged situation, or is it a more permanent part of God’s plan?

Fans of Ms. Hannon,  rejoice! She has once again created an adventure worthy of the sleepless night that can still be shared unreservedly with everyone, both young and old. There is no objectionable material, and the Christian faith content is profound, but understated, so it does not overpower either the reader or the storyline. Audience members twelve years and older will be enthralled. This tale can be appreciated by itself, but I encourage you all to start at the beginning, in the order outlined above. You won’t regret it! I recommend this whole series to anyone who compulsively digests the fiction of Lynette Eason, Lisa Harris, and Terri Blackstock. My rating is five out of five stars, and all the volumes are available right now, wherever you usually indulge your passion for literary shopping. I suggest you carve out a substantial chunk of your weekend schedule to get lost in this piece. Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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Love’s Fortune

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Today I am reviewing “Love’s Fortune,” by Laura Frantz, book three in the “Ballantyne Legacy”  trilogy. I received this title free of charge from the publisher through the “Revell Reads” program. My end of the deal involves writing this post, which will contain nothing less than my candid feelings about this release.

This episode features Rowena “Wren”  Ballantyne, a woman raised in a quiet Kentucky hamlet, far removed from Pittsburgh high society. When her father is summoned back into the family fold, Wren accompanies him, finding herself unwittingly swept into a world of balls,  gowns, and gossip. Can she somehow navigate in place where position supersedes passion at every turn? Will she make the “proper” match some of her upper crust relatives demand, or will she follow God’s leading to discover a husband who values her for more than the dowry she possesses?

If you like your Christian historical romance laced with a lot of tension and touch of intrigue, you have found a perfect fit with this drama. Technically, each volume can be read independently of each other, but I endorse all three, with “Love’s Fortune” providing a satisfying conclusion to a spectacular saga. These stories have a solid biblical basis, and would be appropriate for all to listen to, but I think people twelve years and older will be most spell bound. This is perfect for fans waiting for the new Julie Lessman or Karen Witemeyer tale. If you’re so inclined, the order is as follows:
Love’s Reckoning
Love’s Awakening
Love’s Fortune
Stunningly deep characterizations round out the reasons for my rating of  five out of stars, so check out this series today. All of them are available now wherever literature is sold. Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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Nowhere to Turn

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I just finished Lynette Eason’s latest novel “Nowhere to Turn, ” which is the second book in her “Hidden Identify” series, after “No One to Trust.” This title was given to me free of charge by the publisher through the “Revell Reads” program. My end of the bargain is to write an honest review for everyone to see.

This Christian romantic suspense tale centers around Danielle Harding and her eleven year old son, Simon. Dani thought she’d conquered a challenge when she fled her abusive husband, Kurt, and felt an odd sense of relief when their tormentor is killed the same day. Just as their new life begins, however, she finds that the terror isn’t over. It seems her spouse made at least one powerful enemy by taking something that they want back. They have deduced that Dani has the item and will stop at nothing to retrieve it. What is it? Who’s after her? Unwilling to put her confidence in Kurt’s  law enforcement colleagues, she seeks out the protectors of Operation Refuge. Immediately drawn to handsome former U.S. Marshal Adam Buchanan, uncertainty overwhelms her. The single mother made a big mistake once. Will it be any different this time? Can Adam overcome the guilt from his past to keep her safe?

If you like your reading experience to be an intense thrill ride that includes a heavy dose relationship tension, you should definitely get this one.  The solid but subtle lessons of Christian faith allow for no objectionable content, making it suitable for anyone who wants to listen. However, it will probably best entertain people twelve years and older. I recommend this volume for individuals who appreciate the writing of Lisa Harris, Irene Hannon, Sandra Orchard, and Patricia Bradley. It is not strictly necessary to have indulged in the previous installment, but there are recurring characters and it is an excellent story, so I endorse partaking of them in order. My rating is five out of five stars. This would be a spectacular addition to your list. Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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Clam Wake

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There have been a few bumps in the road lately, but life has calmed down a bit now, so I’m back. The novel I just finished is “Clam Wake,” by local author Mary Daheim. This mainstream cozy mystery is  number 29 in the popular “Bed and Breakfast series, following 2013’s “Gone with the Win.” I received an early copy of this publication free of charge from the writer herself, with the understanding that I would give everyone who looks at this my honest opinion.

At the beginning of this tale, we find amateur  detective Judith Flynn fighting a severe case of the January Blues, until she and cousin Renie are asked to spend a few days at their Aunt and Uncle’s island house while their relatives are out of town. All that is required of them is to attend a community meeting and cast a by proxy vote. Sounds simple enough, but wherever these two go, can murder and mayhem be far behind? Fans will not be disappointed. All they have to do is set foot on the beach, and they practically trip over the body of a local man. True to form, the death is ruled a homicide. Can Judith and Renie team up once again to uncover a killer, or will one of them become the next victim?

I am always thrilled to embark on yet another adventure with Ms. Daheim, as the cousins always deliver. This episode is no exception, especially if you like humor mixed in with your who-dunnit. The violence is kept to a minimum for those of you who are squeamish. There are a few swear words sprinkled throughout, but I think it is appropriate for those sixteen and over. Though it technically could be enjoyed on its own, I would encourage people who have yet to explore this delightful series to begin with the first title, ” Just Desserts,” and continue on chronologically from there. I recommend these volumes to anyone who likes Carolyn Hart or others who craft stories in that vein. My rating is five out of five stars, so delve into this one now. Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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A Bouquet of Love

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Do the woes of your week leave you in need of a light hearted chuckle? Janice Thompson’s romantic comedy novels may be just the ticket to snap you out of your funk. I was given her latest, “A Bouquet of Love,” as part of the “Revell Reads” review program. The publisher furnished me with this title in exchange for a post containing my up front opinion and nothing more. This book is the fourth outing in the “Weddings by Design” series.

In this installment, we meet Cassia Pappas, a young with a dream to use floral arrangements to enhance important events in people’s lives. When she moves to Galveston with her large family, it looks like she might finally get a chance. Will her obligation to pitch in at her father’s restaurant rob of her of the opportunity to pursue a position at a flower shop, taking with it her shot at true love? Can our heroine trust God to orchestrate a happily ever after for her like the ones she’s glimpsed in Judy Garland films?

This piece is refreshing change from my usual fare. If you enjoy your heart pounding romance laced with a liberal dash of laughter, you should check this one out. While it has a fanciful feel, this tale contains a subtle foundation of substance seamlessly woven in. You will get a substantial dose of Christian principles, almost without realizing it. I found this story suitable for general audiences, but it will probably appeal most to women twelve years and over. “A Bouquet of Love” can certainly be seen as stand alone entertainment, but if you would like to start at the beginning, the series was released in the following order:
Picture Perfect
The Icing on the Cake
The Dream Dress
A Bouquet of Love
My rating is a hilarious five out of five stars, so feel free to treat yourself today. You can find this work and all of its companions at your favorite retail spot tomorrow, August 19th. I hope to be able to tell you more about this incredible storyline in the future. Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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In Perfect Time

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Are you enchanted by the cinematic exploits of Jimmy Stewart and all his leading ladies? Do you need a break from all the gloom and doom the 24 hour news cycle of today brings with it? Have I found a series of books for you! I was privileged to get an advance digital copy of Sarah Sundin’s “In Perfect Time,”  which is the last installment in the “Wings of a Nightingale” trilogy. I was given this title as part of the “Revell Reads” review program, with no expectations from the publisher beyond a truthful analysis.

This novel continues the story of a squadron of World War II flight nurses, with the focus of the latest adventure on Lieutenant Kay Jobson. Kay breaks hearts as fast as she fixes up other parts of men’s bodies, but is there pain behind the flirtatious smile? Can a pilot with a past as broken as hers show her true love through Jesus Christ? Or will the cruelties of battle tear her and Roger apart?

I approached this tale with equal measures of anticipation and trepidation. Before embarking on this chapter, I read the previous episodes of this saga, and I worried it wouldn’t do the others justice, but that quibble was unfounded. The narrative remained solid from beginning to end, with equal parts romance and drama.  Christian theology was a subtle yet powerful element , giving people lots to think about long after finishing. The characters felt very real to me and I am a little sad that this is the last outing because I want to know what happens next for them. Realizing that the plot contains events that revolve around life and death struggles, I think the subject matter was handled with great sensitivity, so it is a fun way for those twelve years and over to learn about little known facets of the past. I’m confident that a broad spectrum of individuals will find themselves absorbed in these books, even if they normally gravitate towards other periods in times gone by. While “In Perfect Time” is a treasure in itself, to understand the fullness of the writer’s vision, it is best to enjoy them chronologically, so the order is as follows: “With Every Letter,”  “On Distant Shores,” and “In Perfect Time.” My rating for the end piece is five out of five stars, so go out in search of the complete “Wings of the Nightingale” set today, because they are all available at your favorite literary establishment now. Until we meet again…
Happy Reading,
Carolyn

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