Review: A Royal Christmas Wedding – Rachel Hauck

Rachel Hauck. A Royal Christmas Wedding. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016.

Admittedly, the end of October seems rather early for a Christmas story.  However, several publishers are already releasing their Christmas books, well before I would think to buy them.  Fortunately, Rachel Hauck happens to be among my list of favorite authors, which makes any story of hers (Christmas or not) well worth reading!

In A Royal Christmas Wedding, Ms. Hauck returns for one last story featuring the characters of her acclaimed Royal Wedding Series.  First introduced in Once Upon a Prince, Avery Truitt has grown up from simply being the kid sister of the King of Brighton’s wife, Susanna.  Avery made a name for herself as a college volleyball star before an unfortunate injury forced her to the sidelines, just in time for her to find a career of her own after graduation.  In the wake of her husband’s death, Avery and Susanna’s mother wishes to travel with Avery to spend the Christmas season in Brighton.  Travelling back to Brighton means that Avery will inevitably encounter Prince Colin, the one man who broke her heart five years ago.  However, time has not left Prince Colin unchanged, as he finds himself regretting the loss of Avery, even as he has begun a successful career himself.  Both Avery and Colin must choose between continuing to pursue their current paths or finally coming back to each other, hopefully in time for a centuries-old Brighton tradition of the prince marrying on Christmas morning.

Fans of Ms. Hauck’s Royal Wedding books will be delighted with this Christmas-themed conclusion to her acclaimed series of novels.  While the novel brings together many characters introduced earlier in the series, it also serves as a worthwhile stand-alone Christmas story.

Overall, I was exceptionally pleased with A Royal Christmas Wedding!  Even as a shorter-form story (supposedly a novella), it offers a compelling and complete plot with a surprising amount of character development.  As indicated in the author’s acknowledgments, Ms. Hauck received countless requests for a satisfying conclusion to Avery and Colin’s story.  After reading A Royal Christmas Wedding, Ms. Hauck certainly fulfilled that request!  This book offers plenty of extra detail and development that will leave fans with many more of their questions answered, as well as a better sense of what happens to the various families in the years following the series.  Granted, I’m sure that any of Ms. Hauck’s readers would also be just as happy to hear of future novels in this vein.

Readers who particularly enjoyed Ms. Hauck’s Royal Wedding Series will definitely want to read A Royal Christmas Wedding.  Likewise, fans of great contemporary Christian fiction, especially with a Christmas emphasis will also find this to be a satisfying read.

Special thanks to BookLook Bloggers and Zondervan for the advanced copy of A Royal Christmas Wedding!

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Review: Wild Montana Skies – Susan May Warren

Susan May Warren. Wild Montana Skies. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2016.

Earlier this summer, I reviewed an e-novella by Susan May Warren that kicked off her newest series, Montana Rescue.  After reading that story, I absolutely could not wait to read the series’ first full-length novel, Wild Montana Skies.

Following the events of the e-novella, If Ever I Would Leave You, Wild Montana Skies serves as the first full-length novel of Ms. Warren’s Montana Rescue series.  Ben King returns to Mercy Falls, Montana, three years after the start of the Peak Rescue squad.  As a successful country music star, he has tasted fame and fortune, but finds himself as the sole caregiver of his injured father.  Kacey Fairing also returns to her hometown as the temporary helicopter pilot for the area’s search and rescue team.  After twelve years in the military, she looks forward to flying around Glacier National Park and finally spending time with her thirteen-year-old daughter.  However, she never expected to run into Ben, who she managed to avoid since their failed engagement at the end of their high school years.  When catastrophic floods hit the area, Ben and Kacey must set aside their differences to save lives.  Along the way, they find rescue from their own mistakes as they join forces with the heroic men and women of Peak Rescue.

Fans of Ms. Warren’s Team Hope and Christiansen Family series will be absolutely thrilled with her Montana Rescue novels.  She masterfully bridges adventure, romance, and Christian elements to create a highly-entertaining story filled with a great cast of characters.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Wild Montana Skies. Ms. Warren remains true to her award-winning style and flair for great storytelling.  Likewise, her characters jump off the page as realistic and captivating individuals, who offer keen insights and evidence of Christian life at its core.  Readers who enjoyed the characters introduced in If Ever I Would Leave You will be excited to see the continued development of Ian Shaw and his assistant, Sierra, as well as the rest of the Peak Rescue team.  The search for Ian’s niece continues as a secondary storyline in this novel, which will likely build throughout much of the series.

Fans of Ms. Warren’s contemporary series will definitely want to read Wild Montana Skies.  The Montana Rescue series includes many elements reminiscent of her Team Hope, Deep Haven, Christiansen Family, and Noble Legacy series.

Ms. Warren will release the next book in the Montana Rescue series, Rescue Me, in January 2017!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Revell for the advanced copy of Wild Montana Skies!

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Review: Waves of Mercy – Lynn Austin

Lynn Austin. Waves of Mercy. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2016.

As someone who lives in the great state of Michigan (I admit, I’m biased), I am always excited to find authors and books that are based in the state.  Fortunately, Michigan-based Christian author, Lynn Austin, just released a wonderful book that takes place in Holland, a unique town in western Michigan.

Waves of Mercy tells the story of two women, separated by generations, who experience the joys and pitfalls of their faith.  Anna Nicholson breaks up her engagement when her fiancé refused to allow her to attend a different church from their Chicago-based socialite crowd.  Anna and her mother retreat to Hotel Ottawa, allowing them the chance to step away from social expectations and, instead, enjoy Lake Michigan and the unique town of Holland.  At the hotel, Anna regularly encounters Derk Vander Veen, a young hotel worker who is studying for the ministry.  As he learns more about Anna’s newfound faith and fears, he is reminded of his elderly neighbor, Geesje de Jorge.  Geesje experienced her own challenges as a young woman immigrating from the Netherlands as part of the generation that established the town.  When Anna must choose between returning to her fiancé or pursuing a different path, Geesje’s story becomes a beacon of hope in an ocean of uncertainty.

Ms. Austin writes a compelling story of faith over the generations, while painting a gorgeous picture of the western Michigan landscape.  Fans of great Christian historical fiction will be absolutely thrilled with this riveting story and its exceptionally realistic characters.

Overall, I was absolutely fascinated by Waves of Mercy.  Ms. Austin masterfully develops a storyline that draws together the narratives of two very different generations through the universal experiences of growing faith and love.  As a huge fan of A Woman’s Place, I was very excited to see Ms. Austin once again combine the unique stories of such different characters, resulting in an incredible historical tale that functions independently of the classic romance plotlines.  In addition, Ms. Austin’s focus on her home state of Michigan incorporates incredible historical and local details that remind fellow Michiganders of home, while revealing its hidden treasures to a national audience.  Altogether, Waves of Mercy may be one of the year’s most impressive historical novels, as it sets itself apart in terms of historical research, compelling characters, and the exceptional quality of Ms. Austin’s writing.

Fans of Ms. Austin and her previous novels will absolutely want to read Waves of Mercy.  Likewise, readers who enjoy excellent Christian historical fiction should definitely read this novel, as well as Ms. Austin’s other works.

Special thanks to Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of Waves of Mercy!

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Review: When Love Arrives – Johnnie Alexander

Johnnie Alexander. When Love Arrives. Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2016.

Many fans of Christian fiction particularly appreciate relaxing and enjoyable stories that focus on fascinating characters.  Those readers will definitely welcome Johnnie Alexander’s most recent release, When Love Arrives, the second book of her Misty Willow series.

Following the events of Where She Belongs, When Love Arrives focuses on the story of Brett Somers.  Based on the positive influence of his cousin, Brett is seeking forgiveness for his past actions, even while actively making changes to his once questionable lifestyle as a confirmed bachelor.  When he encounters Dani Prescott, he finds a kind heart and someone who makes him want to be a better man.  Unknowingly, he manages to befriend the one woman who was most hurt by his former life in the news.  Under the positive influence of Brett and his family, Dani soon begins to find healing from her own scarred past, even as she must choose whether or not to bring her connection to Brett to light.  Together, Brett and Dani consider the price of their secrets and fears, even as they discover the Truth that may offer them both a second chance.

When Love Arrives serves as a close sequel to Where She Belongs, continuing the Misty Willow series and the story of its much-loved characters.  Readers will particularly enjoy the continued narrative focused around the history of Misty Willow and the family of characters at its heart.

Overall, I found When Love Arrives to be a relaxing read.  Without a series of strong external events, much of the novel focuses on character-driven plotlines.  As a result, the book has a slightly slower pacing than many of the other novels that I typically read in the genre.  However, I really appreciated a nice, clean novel, especially during a series of cold, wet days.  Ms. Alexander builds upon her core cast of characters from Where She Belongs, even as some new readers to the series may feel slightly lost without the detailed explanations found in the previous book.  Fans of the previous novel will be very pleased to see that Ms. Alexander continues to include a significant focus on Misty Willow’s history and related characters, as the historical components have previously been a strength of her other stories.

Readers who have enjoyed Ms. Alexander’s Misty Willow series, including Where She Belongs, will find When Love Arrives to be a worthwhile read.  Likewise, fans of contemporary Christian fiction with a strong focus on character development and related plots will also find this to be a good book.

Ms. Alexander will release the next book in the Misty Willow series in the summer of 2017!

Special thanks to Revell Reads Blog Tour for the advanced copy of When Love Arrives!

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Amazon – When Love Arrives