A Trip to Modern-Day Prince Edward Island: Review of The Red Door Inn

reddoorinn Book InformationThe Red Door Inn

Author – Liz Johnson

Publication Information – Revell (March 2016, $14.99 print, $8.92 digital)

Reading Challenge book? No.

I like – or even love – a lot of the books I encounter. However, with some, the dream just doesn’t match the reality.  Unfortunately, that was the case for me with The Red Door Inn. I really wanted to enjoy this novel, but it just didn’t come together and gel well for me.

I picked this book up at first because of its Prince Edward Island setting. I love L.M. Montgomery’s books and stories, and I was curious to see the place through a modern author’s eyes.  And in this respect, Johnson did deliver. Not surprisingly, there is more to Prince Edward Island than Anne of Green Gables, and I enjoyed learning more about the traditions of the place and some of the real difficulties of life there. If I ever make it up to PEI, I’m sure I will spend plenty of time daydreaming about favorite characters, but this novel outlined some of the natural beauty, folk art and other draws of the place as well.

So, what exactly is this book all about?  Well, as the novel opens, we meet Marie Carrington. She’s completely broke but determined to get to the island. Luckily, she encounters a kindly older man named Jack Sloane who helps pay her way across. She finds herself a job decorating Mr. Sloane’s soon-to-open B&B. Continue reading

Looking for a Regency Read? Review of The Matchmaker’s Match

matchmaker Book Information – The Matchmaker’s Match

Author – Jessica Nelson

Publication Information – Love Inspired Historical (September 2015, $5.99 print, $4.99 digital)

Reading Challenge Book? No.

As I read it, I could tell that The Matchmaker’s Match would be a standout read. I’ve encountered some Christian romances that read very much like the worst of secular romances, complete with lust and unrealistic relationships, but with a thin veneer of religiosity. This book, however, is quite different.

The lead characters have a story that many readers will find achingly romantic, but there is also a strong focus on God and His leading in their lives. The hero, after all, once had a slightly roguish reputation that is only hinted at in the text. We learn fairly early on in the book that he spent time in America and during his travels, came to repent sincerely of his earlier ways and to become a Christian. Throughout the book, it’s a calling he takes seriously, seeking the Lord’s direction in many things, but most especially in his choice of bride.

Continue reading

A Sweet Confection – Review of Your Heart’s Desire

yourheartsdesire Book InformationYour Heart’s Desire

Author – Melody Carlson

Publication Information – Center Street(2016, $9.99 digital, $13.99 print)

Reading Challenge Book? No.

Your Heart’s Desire is a sweet postwar story that opens just after Christmas in 1946. Caroline Marshall lost her husband early in the war, and now the young widow is leaving her home in Minnesota to move in with her sister in California.

Her hope is that she will be able to find a good job to support herself and her young son, and that she can also help her sister with her growing family.

Upon arrival in California, Caroline discovers a basement apartment in her sister’s home that is less than ideal. However, she is happy to see her sister and her sister’s husband seems like a good man.

As Caroline fixes up her meager apartment and sets about looking for work in the local chocolate factory, we learn a lot about her. We can see as she furnishes the apartment that she is frugal, but knows how to make the best of what she has. Caroline works hard, but places her family first in her considerations. She also comes across as being bright and optimistic. Best of all, the author conveys all of these traits simply by showing Caroline in action rather than by telling the reader outright.

Caroline quickly comes to the attention of a man she meets in town and later sees in church. As it turns out, he is also the head of the chocolate factory where she lands her first job as a secretary. Their romance starts off very slowly first as mutual respect that then deepens into friendship.  Caroline had not counted on ever marrying again, but Terrence Gordon just might offer her a second chance at love.

Carlson’s book is a short read, and a truly sweet little romance, just in time for Valentine’s day. In terms of inspirational content, I would say that it’s fairly light. It’s obvious from the book that both Caroline and Terrence are regular churchgoers who take their faith seriously. However, there is not deep exploration of that within the story, which makes sense for a short novel that is lighter in tone.

If you’re looking for a sweet romantic story, Your Heart’s Desire is an endearing one. I love reading about the WWII generation both in fiction and nonfiction, and this is an adorable story. Grade: 4 stars.

A Suspenseful Turn of Events – Review of Headline: Murder

headlinemurder

    Book Information

Headline: Murder
Author – Maggie K. Black
Publisher – Love Inspired Suspense(July 2014 $5.99 paperback, $4.99 digital)

I’ve not read Maggie K. Black’s novels before, but if they’re like this one, I might want to try reading her again. Headline: Murder is incredibly suspenseful and since the author starts her novel by throwing readers into the heart of the action, I found myself turning pages compulsively.

The novel opens in a Canadian courtroom, as a crown attorney(prosecutor) announces that a construction company owner accused of having stolen from both the government and his own employees will now walk free. Reporter Olivia Brant is in court for the hearing and waits for the defendant in the garage to get a statement. Worried about her career, she’s anxious to write a big story that will land her name on the cover of her paper.

In the courthouse garage, she gets more than she bargains for. Just as she starts speaking with the company owner, masked men storm the area and gun him down. Things look grim for Olivia as well until the mysterious Daniel Ash saves her and spirits her away from the scene. Continue reading

Review – A Heart Most Worthy

heartmostworthyBook Information: Title – A Heart Most Worthy

Author – Siri Mitchell

Publisher – Bethany House (2011, $5.38 digital, $16.00 print)

Though the story has romantic elements, A Heart Most Worthy is more of an ensemble piece. It tells the story of three young Italian immigrants working in an elegant Boston dress shop. Julietta,Annamaria, and Luciana spend their days in the world of the upper class, but as they make fine dresses, they are only observers in this world. Mitchell does a wonderful job in this book of showing the gulf that existed between the upper class and the impoverished Italian neighborhoods to which these young women returned home each night.

We get glimpses into each of their lives, and we see bits of romance starting to blossom. In some ways, Luciana’s story is the most romantic, as she catches the eye of Billy Quinn, a young man from a wealthy family. Mitchell treats the social divide between the two with sensitivity, but there’s still something of a Cinderella-meets-her-prince feeling about this part of the plot. The manner in which Luciana tries to care for her grandmother also made her an incredibly sympathetic character. Continue reading

Review: A Mother for His Children

motherforhischildren I got A Mother for His Children as a stocking stuffer, and am just now getting around to reading it. After seeing the cover, I went into this book expecting it to be a light, gentle romance. However, it’s really more of a family story, with the greater plot emphasis being on how the household works and how this motherless family come to accept a newcomer.

Ruthy Mummert, a young Amish woman from Pennsylvania, has accepted a job to serve as a maidle, a kind of cook/housekeeper/nanny, for an Amish widower in Indiana. She took the position after her intended broke their betrothal as she simply could not handle the stress of remaining in her small community after he married another woman and seems bent on starting a family of his own.

While Ruthy knew that her job would entail caring for children, she had no idea Levi Zook had 10 children ranging in age from the nearly adult Elias to 5 year old Samuel. Her amazement at the beginning completely makes sense and as the story goes on, I suspect readers will enjoy seeing her get to know the children. Continue reading