Review: Heart on the Line – Karen Witemeyer

Karen Witemeyer. Heart on the Line. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

The summer marathon of new book releases continues!  This week, I’m thrilled to feature Karen Witemeyer’s most recent release, Heart on the Line.

Heart on the Line builds upon a set of characters and events first introduced in Ms. Witemeyer’s No Other Will Do, based in the fictional women’s colony of Harper’s Station, Texas.  While all of the women of Harper’s Station have their own reason for escaping their previous lives, Grace Mallory faces a direct threat on her life if she is ever discovered by those who murdered her father.  However, she has finally found peace and built a life for herself as the town’s telegrapher.  After hours, when the telegraph lines have otherwise gone quiet, she communicates with a fellow Texas telegrapher, Amos Bledsoe.  During one of their Morse code-based conversations, a late-night message arrives warning Grace that her location has been discovered by those who seek her.  While Amos has led a quiet life as a talented telegrapher and bicycle enthusiast, he rushes to his anonymous friend’s aid.  After arriving in Harper’s Station, he soon discovers that his fellow telegrapher may be the one person who can overcome his quiet nature and turn him into a daring man of Texan-sized legend.

As the second book in Ms. Witemeyer’s Ladies of Harper’s Station series, fans will eagerly welcome the return of this bunch of quirky and loveable characters.  Grace and Amos’ story fits perfectly into the collection of Ms. Witemeyer’s heroes and heroines, even as their quieter personalities set them apart from so many others found in the genre.

Overall, I found myself absolutely loving Heart on the Line!  Ms. Witemeyer always writes with an engaging and humorous style.  However, she manages to reach a new high with Grace and Amos’ story, as she builds upon her previous novel that first introduced the town of Harper’s Station and the delightful characters who live in and around the town.  Without having to include extensive introduction of those elements, Ms. Witemeyer is able to create an incredibly tight and enjoyable storyline.  The backstory of Harper’s Station also provides the perfect setting for the unique relationship between Grace and Amos, as they serve as foils of other characters living in the town that played a greater role in the previous novel.  In addition, Heart on the Line features an equally compelling secondary storyline and set of characters that make the novel feel more complete and complex, yet approachable for all readers.

Fans of Ms. Witemeyer’s previous novels, especially No Other Will Do, will definitely want to read Heart on the Line.  Additionally, readers who particularly enjoy Christian historical fiction with humorous elements will also find this novel to be well worth adding to their must-read piles.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of Heart on the Line!

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Review: The Captain’s Daughter – Jennifer Delamere

Jennifer Delamere. The Captain’s Daughter. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

When reading a new book, it’s always fun to discover a surprising detail in the plot or setting that truly sets the story apart from others.  These details can make or break a novel, or at least completely captivate the right reader, who shares the author’s fascination with that topic.

The Captain’s Daughter is the first novel in the London Beginnings series by Jennifer Delamere.  Rosalyn Bernay grew up in a British orphanage before becoming the companion of a wealthy woman.  However, Rosalyn must flee her situation when the woman’s new husband accuses her of stealing priceless family items.  Stranded in London without her luggage, Rosalyn fortunately lands a job at a theater featuring Gilbert and Sullivan’s most recent comic opera.  Along the way, she encounters Nate Moran, a wounded veteran who splits his time between his own job at a local stable and working backstage at the theater to maintain his injured brother’s position.  Nate insists that his time in London is only temporary, as he plans to return to his military career in India, once his own battle wounds heal.  Together, Nate and Rosalyn navigate the ever-dramatic life of the theater, even as they discover new possibilities for their lives and careers.

Ms. Delamere brings a new voice to Christian historical fiction, building on an ever-expanding number of recently-released historical novels set in Britain.  Fans of stories set in the Victorian era will be thrilled to read this tale of life in Gilbert and Sullivan’s theater.

Overall, I quite enjoyed reading The Captain’s Daughter.  In general, Ms. Delamere develops a plotline that feels surprisingly different from many other recent historical novels set in Britain.  Her focus on Gilbert and Sullivan’s theater and the behind-the-scenes moments featuring their productions are a true highlight of this work.  Additionally, readers looking for pleasant Christian historical fiction will find that many of the characters remain true to the nature of the genre, although they may not be overly complex and developed.  Without providing any spoilers, I would have liked to see a stronger ending to the novel, as it felt somewhat truncated and underdeveloped in comparison to the rest of the story.  As this is the first novel in the London Beginnings series, I am curious to see how Ms. Delamere continues this set of novels and which characters she chooses to develop further.

Fans of Christian historical fiction works set in Victorian Britain may find The Captain’s Daughter to be well worth reading.  Additionally, readers with an interest in Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operas may find particular enjoyment in this novel.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for the advanced copy of The Captain’s Daughter!

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Amazon – The Captain’s Daughter

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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Amazon – To the Farthest Shores

Review: Behind the Scenes – Jen Turano

Jen Turano. Behind the Scenes. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017.

Some of my favorite and most compelling moments of reading Christian fiction have come in the form of humorous stories and characters.  Jen Turano’s novels are always an enjoyable blend of history and comedy that transport her reader to another time and place, in spite of their circumstances.

In Behind the Scenes, Ms. Turano builds upon a set of characters first introduced in her e-novella, At Your Request.  As the first full-length novel in the Apart from the Crowd series, Behind the Scenes follows the non-traditional social wallflower, Permilia Griswold.  Growing up travelling through American mines with her businessman father, Permilia finds that she shares his mind for business, in spite of her step-mother’s determined efforts to launch her into proper society.  Instead, Permilia has found a role for herself as “Miss Quill,” an accomplished society columnist for one of the New York newspapers.  During one particularly eventful society event, Permilia overhears a threat on the life of Asher Rutherford, one of New York’s most reputable gentlemen and a successful department store owner.  Out of necessity, they form an unlikely partnership to discover the source of the threat, even as they find an unexpected source of acceptance and future possibilities in one another.

Ms. Turano creates a compelling set of characters and situations that will have her readers crying out for more incredible and humorous tales.  Behind the Scenes offers a fascinating introduction to a great new historical series.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Behind the Scenes!  Ms. Turano’s characters are surprisingly varied, even as they feel comfortable and familiar within their historical setting.  I especially enjoyed seeing how Ms. Turano built upon these characters and others first introduced in her novella, At Your Request, while offering a few sneak peaks at those that will continue to play a part in her forthcoming novels.   While some sections of the novel felt unevenly paced, as a significant portion of the story is spent at a single social event, Ms. Turano uses this structure to introduce many of the novel’s significant characters and events.  By the end of the novel, readers will be left highly satisfied with a fun and fascinating tale that breaks the mold of romantic fiction set in New York high society.

Fans of Ms. Turano’s previous historical Christian novels and novellas will definitely want to read At Your Request.  Likewise, readers who enjoy historical Christian fiction with a relatively light and humorous style will also want to check out At Your Request and the other stories in Ms. Turano’s Apart from the Crowd series.  The next novel in the series, Out of the Ordinary, will release in November 2017!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Bethany House Publishing for the advanced copy of Behind the Scenes!

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Amazon – Behind the Scenes

Review: At Your Request – Jen Turano

Jen Turano. At Your Request: An Apart from the Crowd Novella. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2017. Ebook.

 Books covers are always meant to catch readers’ attention.  With the recent wintry weather, the beautiful cover of Jen Turano’s e-novella, At Your Request, definitely seems appropriate to the season!

Ms. Turano begins her new Apart from the Crowd series with a free e-novella, At Your Request.  The novella follows Wilhelmina Radcliff as she navigates the world of society’s wallflowers, those young ladies who have been generally ignored by the fashionable members of society at balls and events.  Facing their own set of social rules and expectations, a chance encounter soon leads to chaos among these women, as well as a much-needed second chance.  Without her father’s previous fortune, Wilhelmina accepts her role as a social secretary, in order to help provide for her family.  When her childhood best friend, Edgar Wanamaker, returns to town with his own fortune in hand, Wilhelmina may have a chance at an entirely different future.  In spite of the shame inherent to Wilhelmina’s position as a wallflower, Edgar is determined to reverse her answer to his long-rejected marriage proposal.

Filled with Ms. Turano’s signature humor and wit, At Your Request offers a great introduction to a quirky set of characters.  The series offers a very different perspective on late nineteenth century society, even while remaining true to its roots as a compelling piece of historical Christian fiction.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading At Your Request!  In general, the novella felt quite short, even in comparison to the length of similarly-formatted stories released by Bethany House.  However, it offered a fascinating introduction to the characters and situations that will make up the Apart from the Crowd series.  Additionally, the e-novella offers an extensive sneak peak at Ms. Turano’s forthcoming novel, Behind the Scenes, which will be released in April 2017!  Altogether, the novella and excerpt offer a compelling sampling of Ms. Turano’s writing style and pacing, which are incredibly approachable to a wide and varied audience of readers.  Likewise, she showcases her humorous style and firm grasp of historical details that have made her previous works an absolute delight.

Fans of Ms. Turano’s previous historical Christian novels and novellas will definitely want to read At Your Request.  Likewise, readers who enjoy historical Christian fiction with a relatively light and humorous style will also want to try out this new series.

P.S. At Your Request is currently available for free on Amazon.  Just click on the link below!

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Amazon – At Your Request