Review: Her One and Only – Becky Wade

Becky Wade. Her One and Only. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2016.

It’s been quite a year for Christian contemporary fiction.  Earlier this year, Susan May Warren wrapped up the Christiansen Family series.  Now, acclaimed author, Becky Wade is releasing the final installment of the Porter Family series.

In the fourth and final novel of Ms. Wade’s celebrated Porter Family series, Her One and Only tells the long-awaited story of Dru Porter.  A former Marine and current executive protection agent (read: bodyguard), Dru has made her own mark on her profession, developing a name for herself away from her brothers and the world of the Whispering Creek Ranch.  Gray Fowler, the star tight end of the NFL’s Dallas Mustangs, is convinced that he is safe, in spite of mounting evidence of an active stalker.  When he is introduced to Dru as part of his security team, he can’t quite take her seriously.  However, as the threat increases, Gray soon finds himself fascinated by the pint-sized black belt at his side.  Can Dru keep Gray safe when she finds herself growing closer to the client she is obligated to protect, something that cost her years before?

Her One and Only offers a stunning and suspense-driven conclusion to the Porter Family series.  Dru and Gray’s story will leave readers cheering and anxious to see what Ms. Wade will come up with next!

I’ve been a huge fan of Ms. Wade’s books and the Porter Family series, in particular.  Throughout the novels, I always wondered how she would beat the excellence of her previous works and she has always come through.  However, I recognized that Dru Porter’s story would need to be absolutely unique and compelling to fit the character’s personality.  After reading an early release copy of Her One and Only, I can reassure readers that they will not be left disappointed.  Ms. Wade masterfully develops Dru’s story, while interweaving further details of the other Porter family members, especially Meg from Undeniably Yours.  This novel goes to prove why Ms. Wade has emerged as an award-winning author in the contemporary Christian fiction genre, as she once again pushes the boundaries of her own writing and character development to create a larger-than-life cast fit to order for a series set in the wide-world of Texas.

Fans of Ms. Wade’s previous novels, especially the Porter Family series, will absolutely want to read Her One and Only!  Additionally, readers who enjoy contemporary Christian fiction by such authors as Melissa Tagg and Susan May Warren or those with a Western/Texas setting will also want to try reading this novel.  Ms. Wade utilizes a very approachable writing style that makes for a relatively fast and light read.  In comparison to her other novels, this storyline has more suspense-driven action, due to the nature of Dru’s work as an executive protection agent and former marine.  It also incorporates some sports references, although non-sports fans will likely still enjoy the characters, too. :)

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for an advanced copy of Her One and Only!

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Review: Code 13 – Don Brown

Don Brown. Code 13. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016.

Exactly a year ago today, I wrote my first review of a Don Brown novel, Detained.  In the time since, I have searched through the local library and the state-wide interlibrary loan system to track down many of his other books.  With a more thorough understanding of Mr. Brown’s style and characters, I am excited to finally share the second novel of his Navy JAG series.

In Code 13, Don Brown returns his readers to the fascinating world of the illustrious JAG corps.  Caroline McCormick receives new orders that transfer her to a prized position with Code 13 in Washington, D.C.  She is eager to join her former boyfriend, P.J. MacDonald, on a series of assignments as a fellow JAG officer.  He shares with Caroline about his latest project, one in which he must determine the legality of a drone project shared between the Navy and Homeland Security.  However, P.J. is killed be a mysterious sniper before he can finish his legal opinion, soon followed by the death of another JAG colleague who also happened to be working on the project.  Caroline volunteers to take on the project, even as it places her at the center of opposing forces willing to kill to ensure that their interests in the project are preserved.

Mr. Brown captures the best elements of Christian suspense in this high-stakes military drama.  With guest appearances of several characters from his previous books, fans will be thrilled with this addition to the Navy JAG series.

Overall, I found Code 13 to be an enjoyable read.  As with other suspense novels, I only read particular authors who I have found to offer consistently interesting, but not gruesome, storylines.  Mr. Brown once again offers a unique look at the JAG corps, even while creating unpredictable twists and turns that will keep his readers continuously engaged with his writing.  This particular novel feels relatively removed from the previous storyline of Detained and his other works involving Zach Brewer.  However, Code 13 offers its own compelling characters, with Mr. Brown’s expert pacing and storyline development.  If anything, I would have appreciated a more developed ending to the book, as it seemed to wrap up the storyline in an exceptionally succinct manner.  I would have preferred to see a bit more detail than the relatively quick epilogue that Mr. Brown provided.

Readers who have enjoyed Mr. Brown’s previous novels will definitely appreciate this continuation of the Navy JAG Series.  Additionally, fans of Christian suspense novels, such as those by Dee Henderson and Davis Bunn, will also find Code 13 and Mr. Brown’s other books to be an interesting extension of the genre.

Special thanks to BookLook Bloggers and Zondervan for the advanced copy of Code 13!

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Review: Kissed by a Cowboy – Debra Clopton

Debra Clopton. Kissed by a Cowboy. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016.

I’m always impressed by the sheer amount of variety found in the Christian fiction genre.  Between the different style of authors, their unique settings, and unique plots, it’s always exciting to pick up a new book.

Debra Clopton continues her Four of Hearts Ranch Romance series with Kissed by a Cowboy.  Cassidy Starr returns to Wishing Springs, Texas, to finally accept her inheritance, the farm and house where she once experienced her best childhood memories.  After surviving through the countless divorces and broken relationships of her parents, Cassidy hoped for a perfect marriage.  Instead, she finds herself divorced and determined to never fall in love again.  Unfortunately, her new next door neighbor also happens to be the boy she fell in love with as a child.  Now, Jarrod Monahan runs his family’s ranch, along with his other civic responsibilities around Wishing Springs.  With a bit of prompting by his brothers and friends, he soon finds himself fondly remembering the girl next door.  In spite of Cassidy’s determination to remain a spinster, she comes to discover that one determined cowboy has other plans.

Although I’ve seen Ms. Clopton’s Four of Hearts series novels, Kissed by a Cowboy is the first one that I’ve had the opportunity to read.  Overall, I found the book to be a pleasant read.  My typical preference within the Western-style genre more closely resembles the works of Becky Wade.  However, Kissed by a Cowboy offers an enjoyable look at small-town life, with a bit of romance and suspense thrown in for good measure.  In comparison to other books in the Christian fiction genre, I would not describe Ms. Clopton’s characters as being exceptionally complex.  Instead, she focuses on developing interconnected storylines around the many characters around the town of Wishing Springs.  For those who have also read the previous novels in the series (Betting on Hope and Counting on a Cowboy), I’m sure that Kissed by a Cowboy has plenty of additional details and connections that make it a more exciting read.  As a stand-alone novel, I thought that it offered a satisfying storyline with a fair number of amusing moments.

Fans of Western-inspired Christian romances will likely want to read Kissed by a Cowboy.  Among similar novels that I have read, I personally enjoyed the unique style and slightly faster pacing of Becky Wade.  However, I could see many fans of the genre greatly appreciating Ms. Clopton’s more laid-back approach to the genre.  Based on the formatting and editing style of the novel, readers who enjoy other contemporary fiction released by Thomas Nelson publishing will also find Kissed by a Cowboy to be a worthwhile read.

Special thanks to Thomas Nelson and the Fiction Guild for the promotional copy of Kissed by a Cowboy!

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Review: Like Never Before – Melissa Tagg

Melissa Tagg. Like Never Before. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2016.

Over the last year, Melissa Tagg has become a great friend to the Books and Biscuits Blog.  It all started with a fun review and quick note to Melissa about her book, From the Start.  A guest blog post, several emails, and countless Facebook comments later, I’m thrilled to finally review her newest release, Like Never Before.

For anyone who regularly reads Ms. Tagg’s Facebook and blog posts, Like Never Before is a long-awaited and much-anticipated addition to the Walker Family series.  Amelia Bentley is determined to save Maple Valley’s local newspaper from closing after her boss suddenly passes away.  Unbeknownst to anyone, the former newspaper owner willed the business to the most talented person ever in his employ, successful political speechwriter Logan Walker.  With the chance to work on a presidential campaign in his future, Logan returns to Maple Valley with the intent of selling off the newspaper to a corporate buyer. However, he never counted on the determination of Amelia to save her job and the small-town paper that has been her home for the past few years.  Together, Amelia and Logan find a story that just might save the paper, even as it changes the lives of everyone it touches.

Ms. Tagg shines in this novel about renewed hope in the face of adversity.  Building on the previous books of the Walker Family series, Like Never Before further expands upon the delightful town of Maple Valley and its quirky townsfolk.

Overall, Like Never Before surpassed my expectations, even in light of Ms. Tagg’s incredible build up to its release.  The novel fits seamlessly into the Walker Family series, while exploring new themes and characters that continue to push the boundaries of Ms. Tagg’s writing.  With Like Never Before, Ms. Tagg cements her position as a noteworthy contemporary Christian author, leading a generation of writers telling stories relevant to today’s up-and-coming readers.  Focusing on a younger generation of characters with complex roles as working professionals in a fast-paced era, Ms. Tagg brilliantly captures the foundational roles of faith, family, and home within her stories.  The challenges that her characters face leap off the page as relevant and timely, with just enough humor to make the novel a captivating and heart-warming read.

Fans of Ms. Tagg’s other novels, especially those in the Walker Family series, will definitely want to read Like Never Before.  Readers who enjoy light-hearted contemporary Christian fiction by such authors as Becky Wade, Rachel Hauck, and Susan May Warren will also want to check out this fun-filled novel.  Ms. Tagg utilizes a relatively light and fast-paced writing style that delves into the lives of a complex cast of characters.  Additionally, she contributes a uniquely Midwestern feel to her novels, as she brings small-town Iowa to life through the pages of the series.

Special thanks to Bethany House Publishers for an advanced copy of From the Start!

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