Review: Love’s Faithful Promise – Susan Anne Mason

Susan Anne Mason. Love’s Faithful Promise. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2016.

The last several months have been particularly busy here at the Books and Biscuits Blog.  After overcoming a few scheduling and delivery challenges with some of the books, I am very excited to finally review Susan Anne Mason’s most recent novel, Love’s Faithful Promise.

Love’s Faithful Promise marks the dramatic conclusion of Susan Anne Mason’s Courage to Dream series, released by Bethany House Publishing.  In the years following World War I, Dr. Matthew Clayborne has made it his life’s work to help the wounded soldiers through the therapeutic practices that returned the use of his own wounded leg.  However, his Toronto-based practice slowly declines as more soldiers are finally healing and returning home.  When the matriarch of the O’Leary family suffers an unexpected stroke, the family will do anything to return her to health.  Deirdre O’Leary has succeeded as a nurse and finally has begun her own studies to become a pediatrician.  However, her mother’s health crisis forces Deirdre to travel to Toronto to persuade the one man who can help her mother.  Only after Dr. Clayborne’s daughter’s own health problems force him to leave the city does he travel to Irish Meadows, where he finds the love, peace, and healing that has the power to benefit both him and his daughter.  The novel also follows the many members of the O’Leary family introduced throughout the Courage to Dream series, offering a satisfying and heart-warming conclusion to this historical trilogy.

Love’s Faithful Promise extends Ms. Mason’s Courage to Dream series into the years following World War I, while further expanding upon the dramatic legacy of Irish Meadows and the O’Leary family.

Overall, I rather enjoyed reading Love’s Faithful Promise.  Within the Courage to Dream series, Ms. Mason shows her extensive growth as a writer, especially as evidenced in her latest novel.  She manages to create a complex groups of interconnected characters, building the O’Leary family legacy throughout the three novels.  Love’s Faithful Promise also illustrates Ms. Mason’s improved use of historical research to further augment her stories.  The historical details behind this most recent set of characters made for a significantly stronger and more realistic story.  Based on the excellent quality of this novel, I am very much looking forward to Ms. Mason’s future books within the Christian fiction genre!

Fans of Ms. Mason and her Courage to Dream series will definitely want to read Love’s Faithful Promise.  Readers who enjoy the books of Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller, especially in relation to their works related to Irish families in America, will also want to read this series.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of Love’s Faithful Promise!

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Review: Just a Kiss – Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter. Just a Kiss. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016.

It’s always sad to see a great book series end.  Just a Kiss wraps up Denise Hunter’s Summer Harbor series, which has become a fan favorite.  Fortunately, she managed to finish the series on a high note!

Riley Callahan and Paige Warren have been best friends throughout life’s most challenging moments.  As loveable characters throughout Ms. Hunter’s Summer Harbor series, their story finally takes precedence in Just a Kiss.  Riley arrives back from his military tour wounded and disabled, with no hope of finally confessing the truth about his feelings to Paige.  Oblivious to Riley’s emotional state, Paige is determined to help her best friend, even if it means nurturing him back to health in her own home.  Between the stress of caring for Riley and hoping to save her job, Paige must rely on the entire Callahan family to save the day.  However, both Riley and Paige soon discover that the help they need may require looking further than the family and friends of their small Maine town.

Ms. Hunter offers a heartwarming and enjoyable conclusion to the Summer Harbor series.  Readers will be thrilled with this last story of the Callahan brothers and their hometown.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Just a Kiss.  Ms. Hunter brings an approachable and engaging story, even with some relatively serious themes related to Riley’s physical and mental health, as well as Paige attempting to keep the animal shelter open due to funding challenges.  I was absolutely thrilled to also see a conclusion to Aunt Trudy’s story within this novel, which serves as an excellent subplot throughout the series.  Altogether, the Summer Harbor series, which also includes Falling Like Snowflakes and The Goodbye Bride, offers a compelling story of the Callahan family.  Readers who particularly enjoyed Susan May Warren’s Christiansen Family series and Becky Wade’s Porter Family series will find many similarities to the Summer Harbor series, although Ms. Hunter offers a marginally more serious tone to some of her books.  After reading this book, I am very curious to see where Ms. Hunter goes next with her upcoming books.

Fans of Ms. Hunter’s Summer Harbor series, including Falling Like Snowflakes and The Goodbye Bride, will definitely want to read Just a Kiss.  Readers who also enjoy books by Colleen Coble and Susan May Warren will also want to check out this series.

Special thanks to BookLook Bloggers and Thomas Nelson for the promotional copy of Just a Kiss!

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Review: Keep Holding On – Melissa Tagg

Melissa Tagg. Keep Holding On. Middletown, DE: Larkspur Press, 2016.

In recent years, I have become a huge fan of book series, especially those that feature families or other close-knit groups of people.  Melissa Tagg has spent the last several years building out the town of Maple Valley, Iowa, into the much-loved home of the Walker family and their neighbors.  I am thrilled to be able to review her newest novel, even before the release of the e-book version of the novel. :)

In this newest novel in the Walker Family series, Ms. Tagg features the youngest Walker son, Beckett, and his journey home to Maple Valley, Iowa.  When Beckett receives word that his life-long dream of becoming a JAG officer might finally come true, he leaves his job as a lawyer in Boston to finally resolve a long-ago incident in his hometown.  Beckett’s plan goes awry when he is arrested within minutes of his arrival.  His previous crime can be resolved with community service hours, but that means that he must stay in Maple Valley much longer than he intended.  Fortunately, Beckett’s childhood best friend, Kit Danby, desperately needs free manpower to save her family’s orchard.  After working as a horticulturalist at one of Britain’s universities, Kit arrived home to a deserted family farm and a crop of apples that may already be doomed to fail.  With a lifelong love of her ancestral home, Kit is determined to save the farm and finally make a profit, in spite of her family’s lack of confidence in the farm or Kit’s abilities.  However, they vastly underestimate the combined inspiration of these two best friends as they fight to save the orchard and discover their life purposes along the way.

Ms. Tagg brings her signature humor and heartfelt characters to Keep Holding On.  Fans of Maple Valley and the entire Walker family will be thrilled to read the continuation of this series.

Overall, I was absolutely thrilled with Ms. Tagg’s newest release!  Keep Holding On remains true to Ms. Tagg’s delightful characters and setting, while taking her writing to a whole new level.  Readers will find themselves laughing and crying throughout this story of friendship, determination, and faith.  Ms. Tagg continues to reach multiple generations of readers with this series, including Keep Holding On, as it tells the story of the entire Walker family and their quirky neighbors and friends.  Even as an independent novel released by a different publisher than the previous books of the Walker Family series, this novel remains true to the quality and caliber of Ms. Tagg’s other stories.  If anything, Keep Holding On proves once again that Ms. Tagg manages to surpass expectations and continues to grow as an exceptionally talented author of Christian fiction.

Fans of Ms. Tagg’s previous novels, especially the Walker Family series, will absolutely want to read Keep Holding On.  Readers who enjoy light-hearted, contemporary Christian fiction, such as written by Becky Wade and Susan May Warren, will also want to read this delightful book.

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Review: Twilight at Blueberry Barrens – Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble. Twilight at Blueberry Barrens. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2016.

After reading Colleen Coble’s Mermaid Moon, I was curious to see how she continued the Sunset Cove series.  Fortunately, I was able to access an early copy of Twilight at Blueberry Barrens well in advance of its September release.

As the third novel in Ms. Coble’s Sunset Cove series, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens follows the story of Kate Mason, a regular character from the previous two books.  Kate finds herself with a failed blueberry crop, forcing her to find alternative income.  Fortunately, Drake Newham has come to town after the death of his brother and sister-in-law, needing to rent Kate’s cottage and utilize her incredible skills caring for his two nieces.  When strange events start intruding on Kate’s home and Drake’s cottage, they must work together to stop the threat to both of their families.

Twilight at Blueberry Barrens builds on the previous books of the Sunset Cove, finally telling the story of Clare Dellamare’s twin sister, Kate.  Ms. Coble utilizes her signature style of romantic suspense to bring the town of Colly Shoals, Maine, to life.

Overall, I thought that Twilight at Blueberry Barrens remained true to the style of the other books in Ms. Coble’s Sunset Cove series.  Most of the series has been relatively enjoyable to read.  However, I found this particular novel to be somewhat unbelievable, due to the sheer density of “suspense” events and number of characters who were all threatening Kate and Drake’s families.  In general, Ms. Coble’s contemporary works are admittedly slower and darker than many of the other books that I read.  Regardless, she remains one of the most popular writers in the Christian romantic suspense genre.  This is in large part due to her well-developed storylines and broad cast of characters that make for generally intriguing novels.  Likewise, her ability to build compelling and inter-related novels makes her a fan favorite among Christian fiction readers.

Fans of Ms. Coble’s other works, particularly those in the Sunset Cove series, will definitely want to read Twilight at Blueberry Barrens.  Readers who typically enjoy Christian fiction with romantic and (significant) suspense elements will also find this novel to be a worthwhile read.  As a result of the genre of this book, the story has a darker tone than other contemporary Christian fiction works by such authors as Denise Hunter and Rachel Hauck.

Special thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for an advanced copy of Twilight at Blueberry Barrens!

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