Review: “Let It Be Me” by Becky Wade

Book Selfie
I couldn’t resist a selfie with this one!

Today I’m reviewing author Becky Wade’s latest contemporary romance novel, Let It Be Me. This is the second in her Misty River Romance series set in the mountains of Georgia.

Book 1: Stay With Me

About the Book

Having graduated college at 18, Sebastian Grant has continued to leverage his intelligence and determination to become a pediatric heart surgeon. The more accolades he receives, the more he’s driven to pursue. Then he meets high school math teacher Leah Montgomery, and his fast-spinning world comes to a sudden stop.

Solving advanced math equations by the age of five, Leah has always wanted to pursue a PhD in mathematics. She willingly put that dream on hold to raise her brother. Now that he is of age, she’s set on avoiding any obstacles to her goal–including romance.

When Leah receives surprising news in the process of taking a test for tracking her ancestry, she asks Sebastian to help her comb through aged hospital records to learn more. Soon his presence isn’t so easily ignored. But when Sebastian learns his best friend also has feelings for Leah, he begins to question his resolve to win her. Attaining their deepest desires may require more sacrifices than they ever imagined.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Let It Be Me is going straight to my favorites list! This contemporary romance has everything I love about the genre, as well as the powerful storytelling of Becky Wade to recommend it!

Becky Wade’s characters are portrayed in a way that makes them deeply relatable. Their identities are fleshed out through personality, sense of humor, career, dreams, memories, and even a physical sense of how they move through a room to make them feel so REAL and realistic. The reader learns their POV and perspective when all this combines to see life, faith, decisions, and emotions through their individuality. This stirs empathy even when the reader experiences life in a completely different way.

Let It Be Me Quote

Sebastian and Leah’s dynamic is simply magnetic. Any time they are on the page together, their sparks and passion are palpable, even in a scene as innocuous as a conversation at a school fundraiser booth, it’s present (their banter! it sparkles!). While his attraction to her is instant, he recognizes and falls for her intelligence and compassion quickly. I love romance when the hero falls first and it takes a bit for the heroine to catch up. Challenges to their situation, though, allow for the story to develop at the perfect pace and for the reader to be rooting for them 1,000% by the time things turn more serious.

I have a few more things to say about the romance. No spoilers here, but they have plenty to work through with the Sebastian, Leah, and Ben situation. (note of relief: it is NOT a love triangle). But whew, when things do start happening of a more romantic nature, Sebastian’s determination and Leah’s I-don’t-do-romance mantra practically combust. I will just reiterate what I said about book 1 in this series: it’s a “prime example of how the inspirational romance genre CAN have heat and convey a real, respectful sense of desire without crossing any inappropriate lines.”

Both Sebastian and Leah have personal arcs outside of their changing romantic relationship that center on identity. For Leah, she grapples with surprises related to her heritage. And, she is fiercely independent. Sebastian upends her stability, which causes some friction and challenges her mindset in more than one way. For Sebastian, he carries baggage from living his own heartbreaking past. His arc, too, has to do with his determination, need of acceptance, and perfectionist tendencies. Her presence just might break through his barriers and cause him to reconsider his fears and emotional detachment, seeing all areas of his life with more of his heart. Sebastian’s relationship with the Colemans is an important part of his life, too. I really like his relationship with Ben Coleman and how it exemplifies true friendship in wanting the very best for one another.

From friendships to identity, forgiveness and honesty, many aspects combine to make this much more than a romance. It’s a meaningful story of growth for the hero and heroine. I can’t wait to get Luke’s story next year 🙂

Thank you to Bethany House Publishers for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “This Life” by Jennifer Rodewald

Happy almost book birthday to author Jennifer Rodewald for her latest “Murphy Brothers Romance” novel: THIS LIFE! (It releases tomorrow, y’all!) I’m reviewing it here on the blog today. It’s a blend of contemporary women’s fiction and romance 🙂 ; the fourth in a series yet each of them stand alone and focus on a different sibling.

Check out my thoughts on the previous books in the series: Always You | In Spite of Ourselves | Everything Behind Us

About the Book

They’ve been stripped of everything but a refurbished bus and each other. And it might be the best thing that’s ever happened to them.

Jacob Murphy always felt like the invisible brother…until he fell in love with and married the woman who dated his younger brother. Then he became the despised brother. Driven to prove himself worthy of respect, he gambled everything on becoming the successful brother, but with his property speculation business falling apart, he’s ready to admit defeat. He’s lost nearly every worldly good he’s acquired, and after years of disappointments and heartache, it looks like his marriage is about to go the same way.

Kate Murphy lied her way out of life in a trailer park—a life she felt both trapped in and ashamed of. Only Jacob knows the truth about her background. But keeping up appearances has slowly strangled her life and relationships, and even her marriage has become strained at best. In desperation, she makes a plan to escape from it all—ironically, in a skoolie. But there’s still a tender place in her heart for the man she married, and in a moment of compassion, she offers to take Jacob with her.

Stripped of pride and pretension and struggling to adjust to their new 160 square-foot mobile lifestyle, Jacob and Kate are forced to confront the deception, hurt, and loneliness that have plagued them both. Will their strained circumstances be the death knell for their marriage, or will they allow humility to usher in the healing they need to rebuild?

This Life is a tender love story of second chances in marriage, of romance and redemption

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

With This Life, author Jennifer Rodewald has tackled another story with married protagonists (shoutout to her novel Finding Evergreen!), and it is well done! The characters’ journey through brokenness toward a place of renewal and hope is relatable and poignant.

Jacob and Kate’s story finally reveals the truth behind a rift hinted at in the previous books — with some classic Murphy family humor and wisdom, of course! As a reader, I’m always drawn into Rodewald’s stories through her emotive style. One of the ways her style compliments the story of Jacob and Kate is through their natural progression of anger, guilt, renewal, forgiveness, and the honesty commitment requires. I was happy seeing how their history and friendship would transition into something fashioned of trials and influenced by faith. I rooted for them in the moments one of them stood up for the other, or shared a moment of pain or contentment.

This story brings the Murphys full circle through a circuitous route of travel and new friendships. (the idea of living in a skoolie reminds me of my childhood RV adventures.) I LOVE Bryce and the Salazars, influential new friends of Jacob and Kate who demonstrate selfless love and grace. They reinforce the thought that happiness is a choice — a fact that Jacob and Kate have to learn on their own, but find even more joy in when they figure out how to navigate life and happiness together.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “The Red Ribbon” by Pepper Basham

I’m happy to be sharing a review today of a book by one of my very favorite authors: The Red Ribbon by Pepper Basham. It is part of an ongoing “True Colors” series by publisher Barbour Books, featuring a different author for each standalone novel centered on a true story of American crime blended with a romance.

About the Book

An Appalachian Feud Blows Up in 1912

Step into True Colors — a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

In Carroll County, a corn shucking is the social event of the season, until a mischievous kiss leads to one of the biggest tragedies in Virginia history. Ava Burcham isn’t your typical Blue Ridge Mountain girl. She has a bad habit of courtin’ trouble, and her curiosity has opened a rift in the middle of a feud between politicians and would-be outlaws, the Allen family. Ava’s tenacious desire to find a story worth reporting may land her and her best friend, Jeremiah Sutphin, into more trouble than either of them planned.

​The end result? The Hillsville Courthouse Massacre of 1912.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Endearing characters (with a wonderfully sweet romance) are witness to real-life historical events The Red Ribbon, a brisk-paced, suspenseful look at history and culture in early 1900s Appalachia. Author Pepper Basham is her element with this enthralling tale, crafting a sweet interpretation of her signature romance skillfully blended with the drama of the year and customs of the mountain folk.

Basham has established herself with previous stories of historical romance with a dramatic flair and sweet contemporary romcoms. With The Red Ribbon, she proves her mettle in another facet of the genre, with a bit of romantic suspense! Basham carefully threads a story centered on her fictional couple but filled with real-life figures. Her patient research and heritage of story combines with her characters to paint a tale that’s both compelling and a beacon for belonging, yet still leaving the right amount of questions as to the truths and instigators of the real events.

One of my favorite things about this story is seeing the Ava through the Jeremiah’s eyes. Her feistiness and ever-capable personality are the perfect compliment to his quiet and steady ways. He recognizes this, and champions her heart for storytelling in the sweetest ways. She, in turn, realizes the blessing and place of “home” he wants to provide in her life. Beginning-of-chapter quotes from “family members” of both hero and heroine are another aspect that makes me smile and adds a hint of humor and wisdom to the story.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “When I’m With You” by Jennifer Rodewald

Today I’m reviewing the third novel in Jennifer Rodewald’s “Big Prairie” series, When I’m With You. I would highly recommend this small-town series to fans of Courtney Walsh, Melissa Tagg, and Denise Hunter. Each story can be read as a standalone, but the setting and side characters are enhanced with an understanding of the series in order.

Book 1: When I Come Home Again | Book 2: When I Lost My Way

About the Book

He wants what he deserves, and this time he won’t walk away without it. Meeting Daisy Hopewell shouldn’t change a thing.

Lane Carson is sick of living like a wandering homeless man. When he receives a text message from a woman claiming to be his brother’s fiancée, nothing short of meeting her will convince him his reclusive older brother has worked up the courage to talk to a woman, let alone propose. And since he’s returning to Big Prairie, he’s determined to claim the inheritance that should have been his. As long as no one expects him to live up to his brother’s impossible standards.

Daisy Hopewell has found refuge in Big Prairie working as a hired hand at the Carson Ranch—an opportunity to prove that her worth goes much deeper than being a rich man’s daughter. Her haven is shaken, however, when the boss’s brother shows up. Lane Carson is nothing like his reserved, serious brother. And Daisy knows from experience that when you add massive flirt to good-looking, the result is heartbreak.

Meeting Daisy sidetracks Lane’s plans, especially when she turns out to be irritatingly immune to his charm. But after being caught with her in a devastating flood, Lane suddenly finds himself reevaluating his approach to everything. Daisy’s stubborn determination and unflappable kindness feed his burgeoning desire to be more than a reckless, selfish man, but the last thing Lane needs is to be deemed unworthy by yet another person in his world.

Daisy is discovering a depth to Lane she hadn’t expected, and with Daisy, Lane finds himself believing he could be a better man. But by the time he figures that out, it might be too late, because she’s determined never to play the fool again.

Can Lane and Daisy release the resentment they cling to from the disappointments of their pasts and step toward the possibility of being different—better—together?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

Jennifer Rodewald’s stories are always woven with truth. When I’m With You delivers on that front, with a realistic romance and a prodigal’s return. Like Rodewald did with the second novel in this series, this third one employs a fantastic technique with a slightly overlapping timeline, layering the story and offering a new perspective on some events.

First and foremost, this is a story of transformation. Of God’s ability to redeem flaws and His pursuit His children. This is seen through Lane’s homecoming, though tinged with bitterness at first, and with Daisy’s intentional steps toward emotional healing.

The romance is sweet and fun, as I hoped it would be! Lane is quite the flirt by all appearances, but Daisy sees through his exterior of bravado and bitterness to the true heart underneath that’s longing for home. Through their ups and downs, dramatic events, and one HILARIOUS chicken rescue, their relationship unfolds in a natural way — with honest doubts and insecurity, sparkling attraction, and friendship.

One of the things that intrigues me most about this story is the contrast between brothers Lance and Lane. They illustrate the contrast in people, how we can be different, struggle to understand each other, yet still find a closeness. They are a great example of the baggage and beliefs we project onto relationships and the beauty God can forge in restoration.

Thank you to the author for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “Set the Stars Alight” by Amanda Dykes

set the stars alight & nautical illustration

It’s been a few weeks since I read Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes. It has taken me this long to form a coherent review — all because it’s now one of my all-time favorite stories! If you enjoy stories of light, hope, redemption, and home, I highly recommend *running* to your nearest library or bookseller and obtaining a copy.

About the Book

Lucy Clairmont’s family treasured the magic of the past, and her childhood fascination with stories of the high seas led her to become a marine archaeologist. But when tragedy strikes, it’s Dashel, an American forensic astronomer, and his knowledge of the stars that may help her unearth the truth behind the puzzle she’s discovered in her family home.

Two hundred years earlier, the seeds of love are sown between a boy and a girl who spend their days playing in a secret sea cave, while the privileged young son of the estate looks on, wishing to join. As the children grow and war leads to unthinkable heartbreak, a story of love, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption unfolds, held secret by the passage of time.

As Lucy and Dash journey to a mysterious old estate on the East Sussex coast, their search leads them to a community of souls and a long-hidden tale that may hold the answers–and the healing–they so desperately seek.

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

I’m absolutely speechless at the beauty of this story. Set the Stars Alight is one of those rare books that speaks of timeless truth and light through the familiar refrain of story. It is one that will cause the reader to see the world differently. To see the intertwining Hope that binds humanity from creation to the cross with its message echoed in every longing for home and every story of redemption.

Through two equally compelling (and brilliantly intertwining!) stories, Amanda Dykes draws the reader in with her lyrical style. Lucy and Dash, in the present day, embody friendship, connection, and home. Their grief and longings feel relatable and realistic as they struggle with reconnecting, the consequences of missed communication, and the strength of their shared history. One that incorporates the tiniest hint of a fairytale played out in “real life” through shared story, light, stars, and seas

The historical thread of Frederick Hanford’s story and life twists its way through the pages with overarching themes of friendship, brotherhood, and sacrifice. To speak of the depth and meaning of his role in an act of selfless love would be too revealing. I’ll only say that his character is surprising and the most emotionally moving part of the story.

Through Lucy and Dash’s renewed connection and newfound countryside friendships, the legacy of Frederick comes to light; as does the inheritance of story and wonder Lucy’s own father has left in her heart.

With bright secondary characters and myriad layers of meaning connecting every element of every chapter, Set the Stars Alight has earned its place on my all time favorites list. I can recommend it to any reader as a tale both heart-wrenching and healing, incorporating adventure, intelligence, romance, and dreams with an overarching message of redemption.

Thank you to the publisher for the digital copy. I purchased my own print copy. This is my honest review.

Review, Giveaway & Blog Tour: “The Gentleman Spy” by Erica Vetsch

Join me today to talk about Erica Vetsch’s latest novel, The Gentleman Spy, the second in her “Serendipity & Secrets” series! Read on for my review and a chance to enter the blog tour giveaway.

About the Book

He only wanted a duchess for a day–but she’s determined to make it a marriage for life

When his father and older brother suddenly pass away, the new Duke of Haverly is saddled with a title he never expected to bear. To thwart the plans of his scheming family, the duke impulsively marries a wallflower. After all, she’s meek and mild; it should be easy to sequester her in the country and get on with his life–as a secret agent for the Crown.

But his bride has other ideas. She’s determined to take her place not only as his duchess but as his wife. As a duchess, she can use her position to help the lowest of society–the women forced into prostitution because they have no skills or hope. Her endeavors are not met favorably in society, nor by her husband who wishes she’d remain in the background as he ordered.

Can the duke succeed in relegating her to the sidelines of his life? When his secrets are threatened with exposure, will his new wife be an asset or a liability?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

The Gentleman Spy is a fantastic Regency story that brings together elements of intrigue, romance, and secrets. The Regency era comes to life with Erica Vetsch’s voice, complete with a grasp of society and vivid word choice and custom that suits the era.

Amidst the tradition and courtship of the romance plot, the reader sees Marcus and Charlotte grow as a result of their changed circumstances and each other’s influence — though begrudgingly on Marcus’ part! I enjoyed his character’s transformation to comprehend how the elements of his life could not be contained in neat boxes. Their romance is up against many challenges and secrets, but the integrity, faith, and fortitude at the core of each of their personalities remains wonderfully steadfast.

The mystery plot adds action and interest to the story — and propels Charlotte and Marcus together in ways they could not have anticipated. Story threads from book one are continued and tidied with more secrets of Marcus’ spy work revealed. A secondary yet universal issue is brought to light featuring the need and calling to help those less fortunate. I love how this plot genuinely fits into the story and is an added way for Charlotte to assert her role.

One of my favorite aspects of this story is how BOOKISH Charlotte is, and how Marcus understands that part of her identity. When he could relegate her to feminine (and societal) limitations, he instead chooses to encourage and recognize her outspoken intelligence as the spark of his attraction and an asset to her character.

The Gentleman Spy reads as a standalone novel. However, readers of book 1, The Lost Lieutenant, will be happy with glimpses of Evan and Diana as parents (!!!) and as good friends to Marcus and Charlotte.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate. 

Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.

Learn more about Erica Vetsch and her books at www.ericavetsch.com. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Click here to visit the giveaway page and enter to win the prize pack.

Review: “When I Lost My Way” by Jennifer Rodewald

I’m thrilled to share with you about an indie-published new release ~ When I Lost My Way by Jennifer Rodewald. It’s the second story in her Big Prairie romance series, though it can be read as a standalone. Some characters from book one make an appearance, though, so it is fun to know the context of their story, too!

Review of Book 1: When I Come Home Again

About the Book

Their whirlwind romance takes the hard road toward happily-ever-after as disaster tests their love for each other and their faith in God’s goodness.

Sophie Shultz smiles at her future, even when she doesn’t feel like it, but when a country drive leaves this city-girl stranded in the mud, the cowboy who stops to help gives her plenty to smile about. For real. Lance Carson is tall, handsome, and kind, if a little on the quiet side—not to mention the owner of Big Prairie’s celebrated vineyard.

Lance has always had a decided preference for solitude, but when he rescues Sophie he develops a whole new appreciation for companionship. It doesn’t take long for him to lose his heart as she fills the aching void life’s disappointments have left behind. But a family issue has put him in a hard spot, pushing him to a decision that will ruin his relationship with many of Big Prairie’s citizens—and devastate Sophie, who adores her newly adopted hometown. Before he can figure out how to tell her, someone tattles on his plans.

As their relationship is put to the test, conflict presses in from every side. Can this rapidly grown romance sink its roots deep enough to weather the storms, or will Lance and Sophie both lose their way?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

When I Lost My Way is a beautiful story of romance, grace, and trusting in God’s strength.

I loved Sophie and Lance SO MUCH. Their rapport, from their slight humor to the almost-flirting and deep heart conversations, is natural and realistic. Their romance is sweet and selfless, highlighting how really knowing someone takes time and a desire to understand the other person’s motives and choices. I appreciate how they face their trials head on with honesty, even when it’s painful. One timely issue Jennifer sensitively sheds light on within their relationship is judgement and its ill effects, all in the context of relationship choices, identity, and skin color, referring to Biblical truths to shed light and draw the reader to a place of empathy.

I will be thinking about the deeper threads of this story long after the last page. Through the challenges, Sophie relies on God in an admirable way. Her trust in uncertainty and the way she seeks wisdom from scripture, her parents, and a respected friend is something to aspire to. Lance’s growth is relatable yet more dynamic as he is learning how God wants a personal relationship with him as he learns to pray and listen for His voice. The concept of loneliness in contrast with God’s ever-present strength is contrasted in Lance, and his journey reflects surrender to God’s will.

Jennifer Rodewald is a must-read inspirational author for fans of Courtney Walsh, Carla Laureano, and Lindsay Harrel for her stories of sweetly engaging romance and deep emotional themes.

Thank you to the author for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Revew + Blog Tour: “Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey” by Abigail Wilson

Welcome to my review post in the HFVBTBlogTours.com Tour for Abigail Wilson’s new Regenecy romance: Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey! That title is a clever play on words — this marriage of convenience (one of my favorite tropes!) comes with many secrets, some hidden identities, and concealed truths that all come to light with an enthralling mystery. Read on for more about the book, my thoughts, and enter the giveaway for a chance at a paperback copy of the novel.

Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey by Abigail Wilson

Publication Date: May 26, 2020 by Thomas Nelson Historical/Regency/Christian    

 

 

In this new Regency romance, Elizabeth knows she must protect her heart from the charm of her new husband, Lord Torrington. She is not, however, prepared to protect her life.

When the widowed Lord Torrington agreed to spy for the crown, he never planned to impersonate a highwayman, let alone rob the wrong carriage. Stranded on the road with an unconscious young woman, he is forced to propose marriage to protect his identity and her reputation, as well as his dangerous mission.

Trapped not only by her duty to her country but also by her limited options as an unwed mother, Miss Elizabeth Cantrell and her infant son are whisked away to Middlecrest Abbey by none other than the elder brother of her son’s absent father. There she is met by Torrington’s beautiful grown daughters, a vicious murderer, and an urgent hunt for the missing intelligence that could turn the war with France. Meanwhile she must convince everyone that her marriage is a genuine love match if her new husband has any hope of uncovering the enemy.

Determined to keep her son’s true identity a secret, Elizabeth will need to remain one step ahead of her fragile heart, her uncertain future, and the relentless fiend bent on her new family’s ruin.

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound

Review

Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey is a Regency romance and mystery that will have you turning the pages late into the night to figure out its secrets. I was rooting for the hero and heroine through all their action-filled escapades (that were also, somehow, SUPER romantic) to embrace their newfound friendship and solve quite the twisting puzzle.

The first person POV of Elizabeth creates empathy and understanding for the reader while it conveys the likability of Lord Torrington (Adrian) and an almost-tangible sense of the doubts, secrets, and questions about the well-plotted mystery.

The marriage of convenience trope is done wonderfully by Abigail Wilson in this instance. Time for a list (!!!) of things I love about Adrian: his humorous, personable nature; his trust and confidence in Elizabeth; the way he cares for his family. Elizabeth, too, is a very likable heroine whose revelations enlighten the mystery thread and inform her own character of the freedom to trust others and offer forgiveness freely.

I really appreciated that Elizabeth and Adrian are older than your average Regency romance couple– him moreso with his almost-grown daughters. This sets up a deeper romance plot because they are in a position to have grasped life lessons and experience already, allowing for moments of intention and emphasis of choice in their love story.

 

Thank you to HFVBT and the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

About the Author

Abigail Wilson combines her passion for Regency England with intrigue and adventure to pen historical mysteries with a heart. A registered nurse, chai tea addict, and mother of two crazy kids, Abigail fills her spare time hiking the national parks, attending her daughter’s gymnastic meets, and curling up with a great book. In 2017, Abigail won WisRWA’s Fab Five contest and in 2016, ACFW’s First Impressions contest as well as placing as a 2017 finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a cum laude graduate of the University of Texas at Austin and currently lives in Dripping Springs, Texas, with her husband and children.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Tuesday, May 26 Review at Bitch Bookshelf | Review at The Green Mockingbird

Wednesday, May 27 Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit

Thursday, May 28 Review at Gwendalyn’s Books

Friday, May 29 Review at Heidi Reads | Review at Amy’s Booket List

Saturday, May 30 Feature at Journey in Bookland | Feature at What Is That Book About

Sunday, May 31 Review & Excerpt at Robin Loves Reading

Monday, June 1 Review at Probably at the Library | Interview at Jorie Loves A Story

Tuesday, June 2 Feature at I’m All About Books | Feature at Just One More Chapter

Wednesday, June 3 Review at Rhodie Girl Reads | Review at Rejoice in Reading

Thursday, June 4 Review at Jessica Belmont | Review at A Chick Who Reads

Friday, June 5 Review at View from the Birdhouse | Review at Foals, Fiction and Filigree

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour, we are giving away 5 paperback copies of Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on June 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Paperback giveaway is open to the US only. Only one entry per household. All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud will be decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.

Enter the giveaway here!

Review: “Stay With Me” by Becky Wade

It’s been a little bit since I’ve shared a review! I have been enjoying some great stories, so expect more bookish talk in the coming days.

Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Stay With Me by Becky Wade, her recent contemporary novel in a new “Misty River Romance” series. I already know this is going to be one of my favorites of the year!!

About the Book

Loving her is a risk he can’t afford . . . and can’t resist.

When acclaimed Bible study author Genevieve Woodward receives an anonymous letter referencing her parents’ past, she returns to her hometown in the Blue Ridge Mountains to chase down her family’s secret. However, it’s Genevieve’s own secret that catches up to her when Sam Turner, owner of a historic farm, uncovers the source of shame she’s worked so hard to hide.

Sam has embraced his sorrow, his isolation, and his identity as an outsider. He’s spent years carving out both career success and peace of mind. The last thing he wants is to rent the cottage on his property to a woman whose struggles stir his worst failure back to life. Yet can he bear to turn her away right when she needs him most?

Goodreads | Amazon

Review

I’m blown away by this book! Touching on a full range of emotions at a heart and faith level, Stay With Me is a stunning, grace-filled story of romance and redemption. This is one of my “Becky Wade” favorites, ranked up there with True to You. (And can I say how fun it is that Becky is not afraid of using exclamation marks!!!)

Both Gen and Sam are realistic characters with relatable quirks. Their journey is a heartfelt, page-turning one with their friendship at the center. Gen and her struggles are completely relatable, even if some of her particular issues aren’t familiar ones for some readers. (I can’t say more because spoilers!) But I will say the challenge to stay “on top” and to thrive, especially if a public image is a concern, was a brave and timely aspect for Becky Wade to explore at great depth. The family history Gen starts to uncover, too, is riveting and interesting!

Now it’s time to talk about SAM. Sam talks to plants, he’s Australian (which means an adorable accent), and HE BAKES. If that doesn’t make you fall in love with him, his gentlemanly actions and kindness will! He notices Gen’s quirks, virtues, and negative traits. He sees the big picture where she’s concerned. I feel like Sam’s perception of Gen elevates Stay With Me in the genre because it captures real-world details like this in many aspects: with Sam and Gen’s romance, with Gen and her family, with the friends and supporting characters. Gen’s zest for life draws Sam out of the shadows of his own choosing — I loved seeing that happen, too.

I appreciate how the romance, especially in Becky Wade’s unique voice, is sexy yet clean. This is a prime example of how the inspirational romance genre CAN have heat and convey a real, respectful sense of desire without crossing any inappropriate lines.

Becky Wade deals with hard truths with a balance of grace and honesty in all of her novels. This honesty, in Stay With Me‘s case, confronts things like pride, accountability, grace in our failings, and even guilt and loss. This list is not something that’s ticked off here and there. Instead, the story embodies these themes as naturally as Sam and Gen’s romance grows; steadily and like second nature.

I have to give a shoutout here to Genevieve’s sister, Natasha, and her “Year of living Austenly” she’s attempting in the novel. Yes, Austenly like Jane Austen and no television. Hobbies like knitting. I *really* need a short story set at Christmas about Natasha and her husband, Wyatt. With all the Austen things. Knitted gifts and drawing room card games. Tea and brown paper packages.

I’m very excited for the rest of the series, and seeing this special group of friends interact and grow closer!

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.

Review: “The Joy of Falling” by Lindsay Harrel

The joy of Falling cover

I’m featuring a review today of an amazing women’s fiction novel that brings all the emotions and hope: The Joy of Falling by Lindsay Harrel.

About the Book

Eva and Angela must learn to live again. One step at a time.

It has been fifteen months since Eva and Angela lost their thrill-seeking husbands in a scuba diving accident. Both women are trying to navigate their way through the grief, but neither one is making much progress. Angela is barely making ends meet, angry at her husband for leaving her to raise three children on her own. Meanwhile, Eva is stuck, unable to move forward after losing the love of her life and her source of inspiration.

But then Eva gets a life-changing phone call. Before Brent and Wes died, they had signed up for a race of a lifetime—an ultra-marathon in beautiful New Zealand. Eva begs Angela to run the race with her in their husbands’ place, and Angela finally agrees, hoping to finally understand her husband’s choices.

Training is exhausting, and the race is even more demanding. Their journey grows more complicated by the presence of two men—Marc is Brent’s best friend who is running the race with Eva and Angela, and Simon King is a writer who is covering their inspiring story. With every step, Eva and Angela must ask themselves questions that they haven’t had the courage to ask before. As the women literally put one foot in front of the other, they wonder: Is it possible to find their way forward in hope?

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Review

The Joy of Falling is an amazing story of grief and healing, joy and triumph, and the importance of relationships in every aspect of life (family, friendships, romance). Oh, and a little armchair adventure in New Zealand happens along with ALL THE FEELS.

I believe anyone who has experienced grief can relate to this story. While these characters lose their husbands, their journey of grief shows how it manifests uniquely to each person and is simultaneously universal. I appreciate how Harrel clearly communicates that with this story – giving these characters permission to grieve differently, showing its stages and waves in a relatable way.

While the weightier aspects of grief and fear are a part of this story, its bright JOY and honesty are the best parts. Eva and Angela each grow and benefit from their relationships in this story, both as sisters, daughters, and, in Angela’s case, as a parent. The importance of friendship is spotlighted, as are a couple tentative friendship-and-romance relationships. These are developed carefully and with a refreshing honesty in the face of the emotional trials both Angela and Eva are experiencing.

This emotional and enlightening journey plays out for the characters in a most vivid setting: New Zealand. Harrel has captured the place wonderfully, in a setting-as-a-character manner. Its varied terrain is a catalyst and metaphor for the perseverance Eva, Angela, and Marc must prove in their marathon and in their season of change.

It was a blessing to read this story at this moment in my life: its message of joy as an overarching theme and anchor, as opposed to fleeting happiness, becomes a constant for the characters and a reminder we all need in this world.

I’ll end my thoughts with one of my favorite quotes from the novel:

“How was it possible to feel so much love and hope in the midst of tragedy?”

-The Joy of Falling

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.