Love Blooms at Highland Hall

Julia Foster is a missionary who is forced to return to England because of her father’s failing health.  To support the family, she finds a job as a governess to Sir William Ramsey’s two children as well as two teenage girls (William’s cousin’s children) at Highland Hall, a nearby estate.  But unexpectedly, love blossoms, and hearts are torn by difficult decisions.  Will Sir William lose Julia or his beloved estate?

I enjoyed this book, although I didn’t read it in one sitting.  It took several weeks for me to finish, since there wasn’t enough suspense to drive me to read it quicker.  But I suppose it is mostly a romance, so suspense doesn’t really play into the story very much, although at times there are some tense moments.  There are a few parts that seem unreal, but that’s probably because I don’t live in England in 1911.  Still, I enjoyed this book.

I don’t know that much about life in England in this time period, and I’ve never seen Downton Abbey, but as far as I can tell the author seems to have done her research, and fans of the show Downton Abbey would probably like this book.  There is just a little suspense, several different romances, and quite a few subplots going on, which makes for an interesting read.  While the ending is predictable, the plot is more unique.  It’s a good book if you like historical Christian romance with a British flair.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Blogging for Books for the purpose of this review.

1378752_554861447918406_175458665_n

A Harvest of Gold

In this story, which continues where Harvest of Rubies left off, Sarah and Darius continue adjusting to married life while in the king’s service. Soon they find themselves heading to help Nehemiah rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. This is a story filled with secret plots, hidden messages, and Biblical fiction with a little romance thrown in for good measure.

Harvest of Gold continues the story of former scribe Sarah and her husband Darius.
Frankly, I thought Darius was a total jerk for most of this book, which irritated me. He continually has Sarah tell him that she loves him, but he tells her he will not say those words in return until he feels them. Yes, he has issues because of his past, but that’s no excuse for treating her like a possession. No wonder she keeps secrets from him!

I’m giving this book four stars because I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first book in this series. I read Harvest of Rubies in one sitting, but Harvest of Gold took me several weeks because I couldn’t stand Darius. Granted, he is pretty stuck up in the first book, but it’s worse in this one. If you want to find out what happens to Sarah and Darius, it’s an okay read. And in the end Darius does come around, but he behaves like a spoiled child until the last section. Still, the book is well-written, with realistic details about the time period, and it is an interesting read. While I didn’t enjoy it as much as the previous one, I won’t give up on this author yet.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

HarvestOfGold_Rd3

It’s No O’Malley, but Unspoken is Okay

Charlotte Graham was kidnapped as a teenager and rescued after four years. Now she has an enormous inheritance hanging over her head. The only problem is that to claim it, she has to marry. And she doesn’t really want that. Will Charlotte and Bryce have a future together, or will the past claim yet another victim?

I am a huge fan of Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series. They’ve been on my bookshelf for years, and I have read and re-read the prequel (Danger in the Shadows) and the first three over and over, although the last three weren’t my favorites. Sadly, I have yet to read one of her recent novels that lives up the standards set in the O’Malley series. Unspoken is better than the last few books I’ve read from Ms. Henderson, but it still leaves something to be desired.

I never grew attached to Charlotte like I did to Sara, Kate, Shari, and Lisa in previous books. I actually sympathized more with Bryce than I did Charlotte! She seemed very closed off, and I never broke through her walls enough that I actually cared that much about her. Also, the plot is a little far-fetched. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, but Charlotte is super rich. Like millions and millions just to give away rich. I’m certainly not even close to being comfortably wealthy even, so I had a hard time imagining this plot actually taking place in real life. And as other reviewers have noticed, there is an awful lot of coin talk that is unnecessary at times, although it does show that the author has done her research.

While Unspoken is certainly better than Full Disclosure, it lacks the heart and soul that Ms. Henderson’s earlier books (such as Danger in the Shadows) contain. I debated whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars, but I finally settled on 4 because it was an interesting book, just not up to the standards of Ms. Henderson’s early works. I really don’t know if I’d actually buy a copy or not, but if you’re looking for a clean, decently interesting Christian romance, this book might be for you.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley.

Unspoken_mck.indd

An Indian Legend to Enjoy

One night Listener the Otter receives a strange message from Spotted Frog.  A great flood is coming soon, and Otter must build a raft if he is going to survive.  But when Otter warns the other animals of the impending disaster, none will listen.  How will the animals survive?  Will Listener be the only survivor?

This story is a retelling of an Indian legend, although it seems to be a bit of a spin-off on the story of the flood from Genesis.  It certainly has some interesting twists, although it is a little confusing at times.  But the illustrations are certainly lovely, and if you enjoy reading origin myths and legends from other cultures, this is certainly a wonderful book.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley.

Jacket Otter the Spotted Frog and the Great Flood

A Dozen is 13?

Have you ever wondered why the baker’s dozen is 13 instead of 12?  Wonder no longer, because this book tells the delightful story of how this came to be.

Van Amsterdam is a baker, and he’s very successful.  That is, until a little old lady visits his shop one cold day.  When he refuses her request, she leaves, but not before telling him that he’ll be sorry.  And he is.  From then on, nothing goes right.  Will his shop go out of business, or will Van Amsterdam learn his lesson?

This is the story of the baker Van Amsterdam and his St. Nicholas cookies.  It’s a story about giving an extra measure, a sort of retelling of the golden rule in a creative way.  But there’s another lesson to be learned, a lesson about greed and how it destroys hopes and dreams.

This is a wonderful story that young children will certainly enjoy.  If you like this book, I recommend “The Woman Who Flummoxed The Fairies,” another folk tale with lovely illustrations and a sweet, entertaining story.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley.

THE BAKERs DOZEN

Fairies and Cake Crumbs

Long ago, under cover of darkness, fairies with rainbow wings would creep into people’s houses.  Why?  To dance on the tables and eat cake crumbs!  But the fairies never ever had a taste of the cakes made by the bakerwoman living at the edge of the forest.  Her cakes were so delicious that nothing was ever left, not even the crumbs!  This made the king of the fairies very angry.  How angry?  So angry that he hatched a plan to kidnap the bakerwoman!  Will the bakerwoman outwit the fairy king or will she be trapped forever?

It’s a Scottish folk tale about fairies!  Need I say more?  Of course, this is a picture book for young children, but I still loved it.  The illustrations are perfect, the story is well-written, and the plot is funny enough that young children will enjoy it.  I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves folk tales or a good children’s book.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through Net Galley.

book_flummox_lg

The Dawn of Christmas

When Sadie’s carefully laid plans fell apart, she sought refuge in her mission trips to Peru.  But years later when everything around her begins to crumble again, will she have the strength to go on?  Is Levi a part of her future, or will her bitter past steal him away too?

From the start, Sadie is faced with a difficult choice; one that will change her life forever.  Throughout the book she grows closer in her relationship to God, and it was a joy to see her spiritual journey unfold.  For me, this wasn’t the kind of book you read in one sitting.  Instead, it is more of a chapter-by-chapter process.  I grew fond of Sadie and Levi over time, but it didn’t happen right away.  Instead it took several chapters before their personalities and struggles won me over.  There were a few parts I found hard to get through, but there were also some chapters I didn’t want to end.  It’s a pretty short book to cover the amount of information, but it doesn’t feel rushed due to the length either.

This was an interesting book with a rather distinct premise, although like most romances it was somewhat predictable.  This is not really a fast paced book; it’s more of a slow-but-steady romance.  It was not completely centered on Christmas as the title leads you to believe, but Christmas does factor into the storyline somewhat.  All in all this was a sweet, shorter romance.  It’s a book I would recommend if you like Amish fiction.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

cover

For more information visit:

http://www.cindywoodsmall.com

http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?work=226490

http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/files/2013/06/SneakPeek_DawnofChristmas.pdf

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times and CBA best-selling author of numerous works of fiction and one of nonfiction. Her connection with the Amish community has been featured widely in national media. She lives in the Foothills of the North Georgia Mountains with her family. – See more at: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/author-spotlight.php?authorid=72213#sthash.ByAp3HWz.dpuf