Review: Then Came You – Becky Wade

Becky Wade. Then Came You: A Bradford Sisters Novella. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017. E-novella.

An increasing number of authors and publishers are producing e-novellas to introduce new series or expand upon characters and stories.  While many of these stories are eventually released in collections, they are periodically released as stand-alone novellas, including this week’s featured book.

Becky Wade releases the first novel in her new Bradford Sisters series this May.  To kick off this series, she has recently released a novella (in electronic and print formats) entitled Then Came You, which offers some of the backstory related to the Bradford sisters’ parents and their history.  Garner Bradford will inherit the Bradford Shipping empire, but he is convinced that day will arrive far into the future.  First, he faces his own personal challenges, as he finds himself suddenly thrust into the position of single father.  After rapidly gaining responsibilities as both a family man and eventually the head of the corporation, he must face his past to become the man he needs to be for all of the people depending on him.  Along the way, he meets Kathleen Burke, a woman interested in moving up in her career, in spite of the efforts of her family and their wishes for her to take on a role in the family business.  When Bradford Shipping faces dark days, Garner and Kathleen must work together to solve the business’ challenges, as well as those that keep them apart.

Ms. Wade utilizes a combination of correspondence types to tell Garner and Kathleen’s story.  Filled with heartbreak, hope, and redemption, Then Came You offers a fascinating introduction to the Bradford Sisters series.

Overall, I thought Then Came You was well worth the read.  While I initially had mixed feelings about the structure of the story, it does offer compelling and integral history of the Bradford family, particularly the parent figures of the series’ main characters.  At 158 pages in the printed edition, Then Came You remains firmly grounded in the novella length and format.  However, the writing style and pacing varies widely, based on the style of correspondence used in each section, which varies between journal entries, phone calls, letters, and other forms.  After reading True to You, the first novel in the series, I would highly recommend that readers of the series also read the novella.  While True to You and the rest of the series may be able to be understood without the novella’s backstory, Then Came You provides rather vital information for the series and its characters to be best appreciated by readers.

Fans of Ms. Wade’s other novels and novellas will likely enjoy reading Then Came You.  Readers of the Bradford Sisters series will particularly appreciate the backstory offered in this prequel to the series.

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Review: The One True Love of Alice-Ann – Eva Marie Everson

Eva Marie Everson. The One True Love of Alice-Ann. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2017.

On a very rainy, early spring day, it’s always nice to curl up with another great Christian fiction novel.  While my grandmother, aunt, and mum initially started me in on these types of stories, I now find myself in the fascinating role of regularly recommending novels to them.  Fortunately, there always seems to be more great stories being released that I know they will enjoy.

Eva Marie Everson releases her newest novel, The One True Love of Alice-Ann, this month.  While the novel takes place primarily during the early part of World War II, Alice-Ann’s story begins in the days just before the war.  As a budding sixteen-year-old, Alice-Ann has a crush on her older brother’s friend and plans to share her feelings with him at her birthday party.  However, the events at Pearl Harbor devastate the people of her small Georgia town, even as they send the young men of the area to the nearest enlistment office.  Desperate to share her feelings with Mack, Alice-Ann promises to write him until he returns, in spite of him not sharing any mutual feelings.  After years of correspondence, Mack’s letters suddenly end without warning, causing Alice-Ann to wonder about the true state of their relationship.  Meanwhile, the war has already taken its toll on the local families, including another of her brother’s friends, Carlton.  Alice-Ann finds her spare time taken up helping Carlton to recover from his war wounds, even as it forces her to face the realities of adulthood in a time of war.  Ultimately, Alice-Ann must choose between her dreams of one man and the reality of another, all in hopes of finally wearing her aunt’s wedding dress for the man she loves.

Ms. Everson writes a compelling story of emerging adulthood in a time of war.  Alice-Ann’s story will capture the hearts of readers who enjoy character-driven novels set during the World War II era.

Overall, I surprisingly enjoyed reading The One True Love of Alice-Ann.  While I have had mixed reactions to some of Ms. Everson’s previous work, I found this novel to be exceptionally well written, with even pacing and character development throughout.  She does a great job of showing the influence of the World War II period on a small Georgia town and the surrounding rural areas, through the inclusion of fascinating historical detail derived from her family’s past and additional research.  Additionally, the novel maintains a significant focus on Alice-Ann and the people in her life, offering a compelling narrative that many readers will enjoy without overly graphic descriptions of the war itself.  Based on Ms. Everson’s themes, writing style, and accessible pacing of the novel, I would highly recommend this story to those who appreciate captivating historical Christian fiction.

Fans of Ms. Everson’s previous works will definitely want to read The One True Love of Alice-Ann.  Additionally, readers who enjoy character-driven stories of the American homefront during World War II will also find this novel to be well worth reading.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Tyndale House for the advanced copy of The One True Love of Alice-Ann!

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Review: To the Farthest Shores – Elizabeth Camden

Elizabeth Camden. To the Farthest Shores. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

I’m particularly excited to share this week’s review, as it has been a long time in coming.  Due to a series of delays, my copy of Elizabeth Camden’s most recent novel just arrived, even though it was supposed to release in February.  Fortunately, I’m a fast reader and the Blog had an available slot this week to feature this excellent book!

Ms. Camden’s novels regularly feature a wide variety of historical settings and locations across the United States.  Her most recent book takes readers to the coast of California in the years bridging the turn of the twentieth century.  Jenny Bennett works as a nurse at Presidio Army Base, where she happens to meet an intriguing naval officer in the months prior to the Spanish-American War.  However, Lieutenant Ryan Gallagher’s illness set back his secret mission for the U.S. government and he must once again leave the country, in spite of his feelings for Jenny.  Without an explanation for Ryan’s departure, Jenny continues her nursing career for another six years before rumors of his return accompany his arrival on the base.  Ryan’s homecoming to the United States follows six years of regrets and heartache, even as it places a continuing military mission at risk.  While Ryan has a plan for the overseas mission to succeed, he will have to convince Jenny to assist him and finally admit the truth behind his abrupt departure so many years ago.

Ms. Camden once again brings her award-winning research and writing skills to this story of forgiveness and second chances.  To the Farthest Shores will delight readers with a new cast of fascinating characters that could only be created by the brilliant mind of Ms. Camden.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading To the Farthest Shores.  While most of Ms. Camden’s previous works have taken place on the eastern coast of the United States, this novel’s California-based setting presents a marked contrast to her other books.  However, fans of her other work will find themselves right at home with this new cast of characters, as Ms. Camden continues to build stories around unique and intelligent individuals who seem to step out of the pages of history.  This novel’s focus on early attempts at international military intelligence, as well as the scientific study of pearls, presents fascinating historical subject matter for consideration, even beyond the scope of the book’s plotline.  In comparison to Ms. Camden’s last couple of novels, I found this story to have a slightly slower pace and more serious tone.  However, To the Farthest Shores fit well within the overall canon of her work, as a captivating example of Christian historical fiction.

Fans of Ms. Camden will absolutely want to read To the Farthest Shores.  Likewise, readers who enjoy expertly-researched historical fiction, even beyond the scope of Christian fiction, will definitely want to explore this novel.

Ms. Camden will release her next novel, A Dangerous Legacy, in October of 2017!

Special thanks to Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of To the Farthest Shores!

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Review: The Elusive Miss Ellison – Carolyn Miller

Carolyn Miller. The Elusive Miss Ellison. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2017.

In reading and reviewing books for the Books and Biscuits Blog, I have enjoyed learning about other readers’ preferences and approach to the Christian fiction genre.  Specifically, quite a few readers focus their attention on books being released from a specific author, publisher, or even those stories set in a specific historical period or place.

In The Elusive Miss Ellison, debut author Carolyn Miller brings the Regency era to life.  Lavinia Ellison has dedicated her life to helping the poor in her small village, as an extension of her father’s parish.  When the new Earl of Hawkesbury arrives in the area, Lavinia is determined that he should take responsibility for his tenant’s welfare and the condition of his properties.  After barely surviving his military service, Nicholas Stamford seeks peace and quiet, rather than his newfound responsibilities as earl.  Lavinia’s insistence on his caring for the villagers soon becomes the voice of reason in his head, even as it clashes with the social expectations thrust upon him by his mother and his social equals.  When Lavinia’s efforts for good place her in danger, Nicholas must choose between society’s expectations and doing right by her.

Ms. Miller writes a compelling and heartwarming Regency era story that readers will greatly enjoy.  Lavinia and Nicholas, as well as the townspeople of St. Hampton Heath, will leave readers wanting more of Ms. Miller’s stories in the Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace series.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Elusive Miss Ellison.  While quite a few authors have written Regency era stories, Ms. Miller’s work feels true to the place and period.  In addition, the novel remains firmly grounded in the Christian fiction genre, with extensive references to Christian themes that are a natural extension of Ms. Miller’s characters and plotline.  After reading this novel, one is left to wonder why more novels in the genre do not succeed in including that level of Christian references in such a seamless manner.  While The Elusive Miss Ellison is published by Kregel Publications (a publishing house with which I am relatively unfamiliar), the novel is very well polished, edited, and produced.  In all honesty, I was surprised that this book was not released by one of the larger Christian publishing houses, due to the sheer caliber of the story.  While it may be slightly more challenging for some readers to find, I believe that this novel is well worth the effort to track down through a local library or bookstore.

Readers who enjoy great Regency era stories, especially those released by Christian publishers and authors, should definitely check out The Elusive Miss Ellison.  Fans of Julie Klassen, Georgette Heyer, Lori Wick, and Kristi Ann Hunter will find this novel to be well worth reading.

Ms. Miller will continue the Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace series with The Captivating Lady Charlotte in June 2017!

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