Book Recommendation – Star Rising by Janet W. Ferguson

Book Description:

Star Youngblood has always been a fighter–a necessity after her mother married a monster of a man. Now, she’s finally on the path to the stable life she’s always wanted. Her employer, Priscilla Kelly, is a sweet woman ravaged by rheumatoid arthritis, and Star will do anything to help her. Even if that means going toe to toe with Mrs. Kelly’s neglectful son.

After being betrayed on the mission field and devastated by the tragic death of his father, Paul Kelly gave up on God. He lives life on his own terms, biding his time as a corporate pilot until he can save enough money to begin his own flight school closer to home. His mother is all he has left, and he wants to be near her. He just didn’t expect her health to decline so quickly. When he discovers his mother has taken in a stray—a woman he’s not at all sure can be trusted—his protective instincts kick into high gear. Paul’s handled a lot of turbulence, but he’s never gone up against a force like Star.

As Paul and Star strive to protect his mother in their own ways, they soon find their own hearts are at the greatest risk.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I enjoyed reading Star Rising and touring Ireland with the characters. Star is a survivor who has overcome the odds to get her life together. She’s a new Christian and believes her sobriety is anchored in her faith. Priscilla has been a lifeline for Star and has provided her with a much needed job. Star appreciates Priscilla and the people at the Re-Claimed ministry in St. Simons, Georgia, USA, who have helped her reclaim her life.

Priscilla’s son, Paul, is a corporate pilot based in Europe who works hard and plays hard. He kissed goodbye his faith and his youthful missionary dreams in Africa after being burned by hypocritical Christians. Paul lives for himself, hates his self absorbed and arrogant boss, and is saving money in order to return to the States and take care of his elderly mother.

Priscilla has health issues and has always dreamed of traveling to Ireland. With time against her, she makes a last minute booking to join a tour group in Ireland with Star as her companion and carer. Star and Paul do not get along at all when they first meet. I can understand why Star doesn’t have a high opinion of Paul and, like Star, it took me awhile to warm to his character. The journey to Ireland is hilarious because everything goes wrong. It’s those moments of stress where the polite social masks are removed that reveal a person’s true character.

Star and Priscilla are praying for Paul and his unbelief. The story has a strong faith element that is seamlessly woven in because the characters each have their own struggles in their faith journeys. Star and Paul are drawn to each other, a strong attraction simmers, and a holiday romance unfolds despite Star, in particular, having a list of reasons for why a long term relationship is an impossible dream.

Life is messy and the temptation to choose worldly pleasure over God’s best is not sugar-coated or downplayed in the story. I couldn’t put the book down because I had to know what happens next. I wanted to ride the rollercoaster of emotions with Star and Paul and discover how they’d achieve their happily-ever-after. Highly recommended for contemporary Christian romance readers who are looking for a story that deals with heavier topics in a realistic manner with lighthearted moments.

Book Recommendation – Hope for Love by Elizabeth Maddrey

Book Description:

A reformed playboy. A woman who trusts horses more than men. And a road trip gone wrong.

Royal Hewitt never expected to move to Hope Ranch, but his grandparents’ warm welcome makes it too appealing to turn down. All he needs now is to furnish his cabin on the cheap and convince Sophie Ellison to give him just one shot at a date.

If Sophie could figure out how to make teaching horseback riding to kids pay all the bills, she’d drop her day job in a heartbeat. Even if it meant more opportunities for Royal to hit on her. His good looks and easy flirtations leave her weak-kneed, but she knows better than to trust a guy like that.

Sophie’s skill at dodging Royal comes to nothing when she agrees to loan him her truck–and her driving services–to pick up some equipment. Surely she can hold out against his charm for just one day. But when the trip takes a turn for the worst, more than Sophie’s heart is at risk. Does she dare take a chance and hope for love?

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I really enjoyed reading Hope for Love (Hope Ranch Book 3) and read the whole book in an afternoon because I couldn’t put it down. Sophie is a relatable character and I understood why she struggled with insecurities and finding her place in the world. Her younger sister is the golden girl who can do nothing wrong, according to Sophie’s parents.

Royal is Skye’s twin (see Skye’s story in Book 2 – Hope for Tomorrow) and the nominated Hewitt sibling to try and help their unconventional parents deal with the fallout from a big family secret reveal. Royal likes Sophie and he hangs around the ranch when she’s giving the kids horse riding lessons. He’s determined to do relationships God’s way and not fall back into old habits.

Sophie is a tough nut to crack and Royal is looking for more than friendship. The more time Sophie spends getting to know Royal, the more she realises he’s a changed man. Their mutual attraction simmers, and stressful circumstances simultaneously draw them together and push them emotionally apart. A fun romance develops, and I loved journeying with Sophie and Royal as they negotiated and overcame the issues in their path to happily-ever-after. Highly recommended.

Book Recommendation – If for Any Reason by Courtney Walsh

Book Description:

Emily Ackerman has traveled the world, her constant compass and companion a book of letters her mother left for her when she died. With no father in the picture, her mom’s advice has been her only true north. But when professional failure leads Emily back to Nantucket to renovate and sell the family cottage she inherited, she wonders if her mom left advice to cover this . . . especially when her grandmother arrives to “supervise.” And especially when her heart becomes entangled with Hollis McGuire, the boy next door–turned–baseball star who’s back on the island after a career-ending injury.

As sparks fly between her and Hollis, Emily is drawn to island life, even as she uncovers shocking secrets about the tragic accident that led to her mother’s death. With her world turned upside down, Emily must choose between allowing the voices from her past to guide her future or forging her own path forward.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I enjoyed reading If for Any Reason and visiting the picturesque Nantucket island in Massachusetts, USA. Emily’s grandfather has passed away and she’s inherited the family beach cottage in Nantucket. The cottage is in a state of disrepair due to her family abandoning their summer vacations in Nantucket eighteen years earlier after Emily’s mom died in a car crash on an island road.

Emily’s mother left her a notebook full of letters she wrote for Emily ‘just-in-case’ she wasn’t around to see Emily grow up. The notebook is Emily’s most treasured possession and her source of wisdom when it comes to making life decisions.

Hollis was Emily’s childhood holiday friend from when she vacationed in Nantucket. He’s now a retired baseball superstar who’s struggling to build a meaningful relationship with his daughter. He’s always cared for Emily and was devastated when her family abandoned their summer vacations in Nantucket. Emily and Hollis reconnect as friends who could be more-than-friends when they discover they’re now living next door to each other at the beach for the summer.

Emily’s family background and relationships are complicated, and she’s determined to learn the truth about what happened to her mother eighteen years ago. She hires a contractor to repair and renovate the cottage and she ends up directing a summer kids theatre musical project at the town theatre that launched her childhood tv career and love for theatre.

During the story we also journey with Emily’s mother and father back to the summer of 1989. The family secrets that are revealed in the story challenge Emily’s faith and life choices. A fun and satisfying romance unfolds as Emily and Hollis wrestle with the big issues of life and the many obstacles in their path to happily-ever-after. The story has all the feels and includes many memorable kisses and romantic moments. If for Any Reason is a lovely summer beach read. Highly recommended.

ACFW New Releases: February 2021

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website

Historical Romance:

The Paris Dressmaker by Kristy Cambron — From fashion to desperation and haute couture to the perils of humanity, The Paris Dressmaker weaves a story of two worlds colliding years apart—where satin and lace stand between life and death in the brutal underbelly of a war-torn world. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson and Zondervan))

A Change of Scenery by Davalynn Spencer — A motorcar accident on a rainy Chicago night steals Ella Canaday’s fiancé as well as her ability to ride. Clinging to the remnants of her independence, she cuts her hair and her ties with her wealthy father and takes a train west as the seamstress with a moving-picture company. Colorado offers the change of scenery she needs. But she doesn’t expect the bold cowboy who challenges her to reclaim both the loves she thought she’d lost forever. (Historical Romance from Wilson Creek Publishing)

A Dance in Donegal by Jennifer Deibel — All of her life, Irish-American Moira Doherty has relished her mother’s descriptions of Ireland. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira decides to fulfill her mother’s wish that she become the teacher in Ballymann, her home village in Donegal, Ireland. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Vanessa’s Replacement Valentine by Linda Shenton Matchett — Engaged to be married as part of a plan to regain the wealth her family lost during the War Between the States, Vanessa Randolph finds her fiancé in the arms of another woman weeks before the wedding. Money holds no allure for her, so rather than allow her parents to set her up with another rich bachelor she decides to become a mail-order bride. Life in Green Bay, Wisconsin seems to hold all the pieces of a fresh start until she discovers her prospective groom was a Union spy and targeted her parents during one of his investigations. Is her heart safe with any man? (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin — Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession and to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country—or worse. If she does not report truthfully, she’ll betray the oppressed and fail to wake up the folks back home. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Contemporary:

The Orchard House by Heidi Chiavaroli — Two women, one living in present day Massachusetts and another in Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House soon after the Civil War, overcome their own personal demons and search for a place to belong.
2001
Abandoned by her own family, Taylor is determined not to mess up her chance at joining the home of her best friend, Victoria Bennett. But despite attending summer camp at Louisa May Alcott’s historic Orchard House with Victoria and sharing dreams of becoming famous authors, Taylor struggles to fit in. As she enters college and begins dating, it feels like Taylor is finally finding her place and some stability . . . until Victoria’s betrayal changes everything.
1865
While Louisa May Alcott is off traveling the world, Johanna Suhre accepts a job tending Louisa’s aging parents and their home in Concord. Soon after arriving at Orchard House, Johanna meets Nathan Bancroft and, ignoring Louisa’s words of caution, falls in love and accepts Nathan’s proposal. But before long, Johanna experiences her husband’s dark side, and she can’t hide the bruises that appear.
2019
After receiving news of Lorraine Bennett’s cancer diagnosis, Taylor knows she must return home to see her adoptive mother again. Now a successful author, Taylor is determined to spend little time in Concord. Yet she becomes drawn into the story of a woman who lived there centuries before. And through her story, Taylor may just find forgiveness and a place to belong. (General Contemporary from Tyndall House)

The Way it Should Be by Christina Suzann Nelson — After years of estrangement, the lives of Zara Mahoney and her twin sister, Eve, are suddenly and completely intertwined again. Eve’s troubled lifestyle causes the state to take custody of her two children and contact Zara and her husband, asking them to consider foster care. Newlywed Zara thought she’d finally been given a fresh start and feels wholly unprepared to care for a niece and nephew whose existence she wasn’t even aware of.
Meanwhile, Eve may have a real chance to start over this time with the help of Tiff Bradley, who’s dedicated to helping women everyone else has given up on after facing a heartbreaking tragedy in her own family.
Over the course of one summer, all three women’s hearts and lives hang in the balance as Eve desperately works toward a new life. Can they redefine their expectations of how life should be to find the hope they–and those they love–so desperately need? (General Contemporary from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)

Bridges by Deborah Raney — Facing an empty nest for the first time since the death of her husband, Dan, three years ago, Tess Everett immerses herself in volunteer work for the Winterset public parks, home of the famous covered bridges of Madison County, Iowa. But when former resident J.W. McRae shows up at one of the bridges with paintbrushes and easel, sparks fly—because J.W. was once married to Tess’s late friend Char. Worse, J.W. was a deadbeat dad to Char’s son, Wynn—then a college student—who Tess and Dan took under their wings after his mom’s death. (Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)

Mystery:

Death and a Crocodile by Lisa E. Betz — Sensible women don’t investigate murders, but Livia Aemilia might not have a choice. Rome, 46 AD. When Livia’s father dies under suspicious circumstances, she sets out to find the killer before her innocent brother is convicted of murder. She may be an amateur when it comes to hunting dangerous criminals, but she’s determined, intelligent, and not afraid to break a convention or two in pursuit of the truth. (Historical Mystery from CrossLink Publishing)

Thriller/Romance/Suspense:

Tides of Duplicity by Robin Patchen — Private investigator Fitz McCaffrey went to Belize on a case, bringing his teenage sister Shelby along with him. They have no good reason to leave the resort and hurry back to the harsh New England winter. They lost their parents, he lost his job as a cop, and they both need time to heal. Besides, when Fitz meets and spends time with the beautiful and charming Tabitha Eaton, he falls hard. But minutes after Tabby’s flight leaves, Fitz is summoned by a mobster who believes Tabby broke into the hotel safe the night before and made off with half a million dollars’ worth of jewels. The clock is ticking as Fitz scrambles to recover the jewels. If he succeeds, it’ll cost the woman he’s come to care for. If he fails, it’ll cost his sister’s life. (Thriller/Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Glimmer in the Darkness by Robin Patchen — Cassidy Leblanc worked hard to shake off her tragic childhood. As a foster child with a mother in prison for murder, she was an outcast in her small New Hampshire town until she met James. But she and James’s sister, whom she was babysitting, were kidnapped. She escaped, but Hallie didn’t survive, and everybody assumed Cassidy killed her. Like mother, like daughter, after all. With public opinion and the authorities united against her, young Cassidy fled. Now, a decade later, another little girl has been kidnapped, and Cassidy may be the only person who can find her.  (Thriller/Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Obsession by Patricia Bradley — Natchez Trace Ranger and historian Emma Winters hoped never to see Sam Ryker again after she broke off her engagement to him. But when shots are fired at her at a historical landmark just off the Natchez Trace, she’s forced to work alongside Sam as the Natchez Trace law enforcement district ranger in the ensuing investigation. To complicate matters, Emma has acquired a delusional secret admirer who is determined to have her as his own. Sam is merely an obstruction, one which must be removed. (Thriller/Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Ben in Charge by Luana Ehrlich — Operation Concerned Citizen will be Ben’s first assignment as the primary officer in charge of a mission. When Titus learns it’s a simple mission with a clear objective but requires a complicated plan, he questions whether Ben will be able to handle it. When he discovers there are underlying circumstances, he questions whether he’ll be able to let Ben handle it. When the simple mission proves difficult, Titus discovers he’s not the man he thought he was, and he’s not the man he wants to be. He’s a man learning to live out his faith while living in the shadows, and sometimes those shadows aren’t shadows at all. (Thriller/Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Amish Romance:

The Heart Knows the Way Home by Christy Distler — Janna and Luke, a widower struggling to balance business and family responsibilities, reacquaint as Janna assists his grandmother and cares for his son. Her self-protective independence and his conservative principles put them at odds, but the difficulties they face draw them closer.When long-lost friendship rekindles into unexpected love, will either be willing to make changes so they can be together? (Romance: Amish from Avodah Books)

Book Recommendation – Cherish Me (A Chapel Cove Romance Book 3) by Autumn Macarthur

Book Description:

All she ever wanted for herself was to be loved.

When her beloved aunt’s sudden illness sends Nai back to Chapel Cove to manage the town’s bookstore, her successful, independent, organized life in Texas seems a million miles away. Between a book-hoarding aunt, a leaky roof, unruly pets, wobbly faith, and flaky bookstore staff, the last thing she wants is to have to rely on local cop Mateo Rodriguez for help. Not when he’s the guy who broke her heart, convincing her to focus on her career, not romance.

Mateo, returned to the Cove to help his aging grandfather, never forgot his first love Nai or the one sweet kiss at sixteen that sent her running. Normally confident and capable, being around each other shoots them both back into their teenage shyness and insecurity. 

They’ll need to overcome soul-deep hurts, lies they believe about themselves, learn to trust in God, and risk being vulnerable enough to accept their second chance at love at forty. Will a crisis bring them together — or tear them apart?

A sweet and quirky second-chances/ opposites attract / seasoned couple romance, with a plain heroine and a scarred hero.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I really enjoyed reading Cherish Me and visiting with the fascinating cast of characters in the Chapel Cove community. Nai is a single and successful career woman who only returns to her home town to assist her beloved Aunt Ivy. It’s Nai’s first visit to Chapel Cove since she left years earlier, vowing never to return. Nai’s orderly life is thrown into chaos by the craziness of running her aunt’s book store and cafe plus looking after two dogs, a cat, and a parrot. Nai has plans to return to Austin, Texas, when her Aunt Ivy’s health improves.

Mateo is Nai’s childhood sweetheart who’s now a policeman in Chapel Cove. He’s more than happy to help Nai when things go wrong – which happens a lot! Mateo has feelings for Nai, despite their many decades apart. They reconnect as friends, and a sweet romance unfolds that challenges their faith and life choices.

Mateo’s grand gesture doesn’t go according to plan, but Mateo and Nai do manage to negotiate the many obstacles, misbeliefs and past history that stands in the way of their happily-ever after. Highly recommended for contemporary romance readers who enjoy fun and lighthearted stories with quirky characters and adorable pets.

Book Recommendation – My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

Book Description:

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks Kate to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance, takes a leave of absence from her job as a social worker, and the two of them set off.

Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man her grandmother has hired to renovate the house. From the first moment she meets Matt, Kate can’t help but be attracted to him–he’s got a combination of good looks and charisma that draw and tug at her. But she knows there’s zero chance of a romance between them. Matt’s in love with his dead wife, and even if he weren’t, Kate realizes that she’s way too ordinary for him. For Matt Jarreau is no ordinary guy. Kate discovers that he was once a great NHL hockey player who left the sport when his wife–an honest-to-goodness former Miss America–was diagnosed with brain cancer. Matt’s been hiding from people, from God, and from his past ever since. Yet Kate is absolutely determined to befriend him, to try to reach him, to help him in some small way.

No, Kate’s not looking for love. She knows better than that by now. But when the stilted, uncomfortable interactions between Kate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I enjoyed reading My Stubborn Heart and journeying with Kate and Matt on their rocky path to happily-ever-after. Kate is single, on the wrong side of thirty, and looking for a new challenge. The stately home of her ancestors in small town Pennsylvania needs a lot of work and a lot of love. She’s drawn to Matt when they first meet, despite his polite but aloof manner. She recognises the pain in his eyes and feels prodded by God to befriend him.

Matt is the contractor hired by Kate’s grandma to complete the home renovations before they return to Texas for Christmas. Kate’s grandma reconnects with her old friends in town, and the seniors in the story are hilarious. I understood why Kate was happy to hang out with her grandma’s friends.

Matt has survived the tragic loss of his beloved wife. He has erected mile high emotional barriers to keep everyone away and protect his heart from being hurt again. Kate’s stubborn heart refuses to give up on Matt, and she prays for guidance in how to negotiate their fragile friendship.

A fun and tender friendship, with a strong and undeniable attraction simmering, challenges both Matt and Kate to consider their faith and what’s important for their life and future. Highly recommended.

Book Recommendation – Love Me (A Chapel Cove Romance Book 2) by Alexa Verde

Book Description:

The biggest disaster of her life or the beginning of something wonderful?

A single dad, opposites-attract faith-filled romance to warm your heart!

Growing up, Kristina Vela never imagined she’d meet her fortieth birthday divorced by her cheating, manipulative husband, and without a house, degree, or career. Back in her hometown, Chapel Cove, to start anew, she’s given up on men. Then she meets grieving widower Greg Matthews and his adorable five-year-old daughter and helps them renovate a house. Just when Kristina feels she can love again, her ex gives her an ultimatum. Can she choose between her own happiness and Greg’s?

Former snowboarder Greg Matthews is moving to Chapel Cove so his daughter can be close to her grandparents. After his wife died, his heart closed to romance. As caring and compassionate Kristina helps him repair his house and his life, he might be falling for her. But if she decides to leave, will he survive a second heartbreak?

Welcome to Chapel Cove, Oregon, where life begins at forty.

As their fortieth birthdays loom, three childhood friends return unexpectedly to their home town. Stunning coastline, a harbor against life’s storms, and a welcoming community await them. Hurt by challenges, disappointments, and failures; reminded of their unfulfilled hopes and dreams, they’re offered a fresh start. And, if they’re brave enough to accept it, a second chance at love. Will they allow God to safely anchor them in their hearts’ home, or will doubt and uncertainty drive them to repeat their old mistakes

Discover this small town filled with love, hope, and faith, in Chapel Cove Romances, a series of sweet and clean standalone Christian stories from three bestselling authors.

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I enjoyed reading Love Me, book 2 in A Chapel Cove Romance multi-author series by Alexa Verde. Kristina has spent years in a miserable marriage to a divorce lawyer who didn’t love or respect her. Once their twins are settled in college, he divorces her. Kristina is devastated that one of her twin girls blames her for the marriage breakdown and cuts her off. She returns to Chapel Cove feeling lost and missing her girls. She decides to help her twin brother, Roman, with his house renovation business.

Greg is grieving the loss of his beloved wife. He has moved to Chapel Cove at the request of his five-year-old daughter, Chelsea’s, maternal grandparents. He buys a house in Chapel Cove and contracts Roman to do the renovations.

An adorable meet-cute between Kristina, Greg and Chelsea involving chocolate cake sets up this sweet and heartwarming romance story. Chelsea chose Kristina to be her mommy, and I enjoyed journeying with Greg and Kristina as they drew on their faith to overcome obstacles on their bumpy road to happily-ever-after. Highly recommended.

ACFW New Releases: January 2021

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website

Contemporary:

A Future for His Twins by Susanne Dietze —Will these children get their greatest wish? A battle over a building could lead to a mother for his twins. Tomás Santos and Faith Latham both want to rent the same building in town, and neither is willing to give up the fight. But Tomás’s young twins want a new mom—and they’re sure Faith’s the perfect fit. Can these little matchmakers inspire Tomás and Faith to put their differences aside and become a family? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

For the Love of Joy by Janet W. Ferguson — Is he married or isn’t he? Years ago, a Dear John letter and then an IED explosion overseas rocked Davis Donnelly’s world and left him unclear about his marital status. He’d signed divorce papers, but broken mentally and physically, he’d never bothered to find out if his marriage actually ended. Now that he’s about to start a new position as an outreach minister, it’s time to settle things once and for all. At the moment he tracks down his wife—or former wife?—she takes a tumble while chasing a little boy. Her son. And that’s when life flips upside down. Joy Jennings Donnelly made her share of mistakes. But one thing she never considered a mistake was her child, and she’ll do anything to protect him. Even keep his paternity a secret. When she’s suddenly injured with not a soul to help her or her son, Joy is forced to rely on the man who has the most reasons to hate her. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

An Unexpected Arrangement by Heidi McCahan — Changing your life is never simple… He needed a fresh start, but twin babies weren’t part of the plan… Hoping to start over, Jack Tomlinson intends to leave his hometown—until twin babies are dropped on his doorstep. He needs help, and the best nanny he knows is Laramie Chambers. As they bond over the babies, Jack can’t help but feel drawn to Laramie. But proving he’s not just her friend’s irresponsible brother could be a bigger challenge than suddenly becoming a dad… (Contemporary Romance, Love Inspired [Harlequin])

An Unlikely Proposal by Toni Shiloh — Their friendship can survive almost anything… For two best friends, marriage could be their greatest test yet… Trinity Davis must not have heard firefighter Omar Young correctly. Did her handsome widowed best friend just suggest they get married? Omar needs a mom for his adorable little girls, and it’ll fix Trinity’s financial woes. But saying “I do” isn’t just business. Especially when the only vow they’re in danger of breaking is their promise to not fall in love… Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Historical:

All Through the Night by Tara Johnson — When Joshua and Cadence unearth the workings of a secret society so vile, the course of their lives, and the war, could be altered forever. If they fight an enemy they cannot see, will the One who sees all show them the way in the darkest night? (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)

Books Afloat by Delores Topliff — Blaming herself for her childhood role in the Oklahoma farm truck accident that cost her grandfather’s life, Anne Mettles is determined to make her life count. Will she go it alone? Or will she team with the unlikely but (mostly) lovable characters? One is a saboteur, one an unlikely hero, and one, she discovers, is the man of her dreams. (Historical from Scrivenings Press)

Night Bird Calling by Cathy Gohlke — With war brewing for the nation and for her newfound community, Lilliana must overcome a hard truth voiced by her young friend Celia: Wishing comes easy. Change don’t. (Historical from Tyndale House)

Mystery:

One for the Road by Mary Ellis — Staying at an estranged relative’s B&B, Jill’s plan to uncover what makes the state’s bourbon tours so popular goes awry when she discovers a body at one of the distilleries and quickly becomes a suspect in a brutal murder. Can she navigate high-stakes bourbon rivalries, centuries-old family feuds and ill-fated romance to catch a killer? (Cozy Mystery from Severn House)

Romantic Suspense:

Texas Witness Threat by Cate Nolan — She saw something she shouldn’t have… Assistant US Attorney Christine Davis is positive she witnessed a murder, but with no body, the police aren’t convinced. Now someone wants her dead, and Texas Ranger Blake Larsen is the only one who believes her. For Blake, protecting Christine must stay more important than their growing feelings for each other. But can he keep her safe from an unknown enemy who wants her silenced. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Thriller/Suspense:

Every Good Plan by Urcelia Teixeira — Good fortune was always his best friend. Until it became his enemy! Adam Cross is back in another gripping Christian Suspense that will have you strapped to your favorite reading chair until you turn the very last page! (Thriller/Suspense, Independently published)

Young Adult:

Heart of the Crown by Hannah Currie — The last place Lady Wenderley Davis ever expected to find herself after swearing off princes forever was living in a palace with two of them. Even if it is only temporary. And she did agree to it. Kind of. Against her better judgement. (Young Adult from WhiteFire Publishing)

Tuesday Book Chat – Australasian Christian Writers | 5th January 2021

Today I’m hosting the Tuesday Book Chat on the Australasian Christian Writers (ACW) blog. Each Tuesday we discuss a bookish question of the week.

Our question for this week: Have you set a reading challenge for 2021?

Stop by the ACW blog to join in the conversation.

https://wp.me/paAL5b-13c

Book Recommendation – Once Upon a Silent Night by Kimberly Rae Jordan

Book Description

Unwilling to fulfill her parents’ expectations for her, she left behind a comfortable life in pursuit of her dream.

Alessia Talbot had been raised with the expectation that she’d go to law school and join the family law firm, but that isn’t what she wants for her life. Determined to achieve her dream of a career in music, she strikes out on her own. Her new life away from her family is a reality check, and she soon finds her life on a downward slide.

Two years on, her dream is still out of reach, and she’s nearing rock bottom. With hope nearly gone and feeling no joy in the season that was once her favorite, Alessia wanders into a church in search of warmth and some quiet.

He gave up his life in order to bring his brothers to justice.

Gio Morgan (formerly known as Giovanni Moretti) was born into a mob family, but he’d never fit in. When he made the decision to testify against his mob boss brothers, he knew it meant the end to that life.

He now lives in New Hope Falls in order to be close to his half-sister, Cara. He is trying to build a new life for himself, and part of that is participating in the church’s 24 hour a day open door ministry for the month of December.

Will a connection forged in the quiet of a church during the early morning hours be the start of something new? Or will it lead to heartbreak if the draw of a dream is too powerful to resist?

Narelle’s Thoughts:

I enjoyed reading Once Upon a Silent Night, Book 4.5 in Kimberly Rae Jordan’s New Hope Falls series that can be read as a stand-alone story. The minor characters from the previous stories, and the hints regarding their unique backgrounds, were intriguing. I want to read more books in the series and spend more time with the characters in New Hope Falls.

We meet Alessia in early December when winter is setting in and she’s sleeping in her car. I was surprised to learn that she came from a wealthy family, had a college degree, and her circumstances had effectively forced her into homelessness. Alessia epitomises the plight of the working poor. She has a job in a bar but she doesn’t earn enough money to pay for a roof over her head, despite living in a small Washington State town. Alessia is stubborn, resourceful, and starting to question the big sacrifices she has made in pursuit of a seemingly elusive singing career.

Gio’s background is fascinating and he has a maturity gained from surviving tough situations. He volunteered to do the graveyard shift at his church’s open door ministry, and figured he’d likely be alone for most, if not all, of his shift. Alessia turns up in the early hours of the morning and he’s curious to learn her story. She becomes a regular visitor during Gio’s shifts, and an unexpected friendship develops that has potential for more.

Once Upon a Silent Night is a sweet romance with depth and strong faith elements that explore the true meaning and blessings of Christmas. Highly recommended for contemporary Christian romance readers who like Christmas stories.