When You Look At Me


I've noticed that my favorite contemporary stories tend to have characters with great pain in their lives. Perhaps a few secrets hidden off to the side, too. I believe it's because they call out to me in the pain I have known, in the heartbreak and loss and things you can't just say out loud in front of everyone. In stories like this, it's the vulnerability and the hope that dares to shine through that gives me joy and leaves my heart feeling stronger for having spent time with these fictional people.

"It's the ones with the bruises and scars that have the most amazing potential for greatness."
Seven months previously Julia was the victim of date rape and is now preparing for the arrival of a baby who was the result of the attack. Her friends have mostly retreated, unsure of how to relate to Julia as a single mom and even doubting her claims on the baby's parentage. Thankfully she has a large and loving family to support her, and she keeps her days full with running her bakery and getting her great-aunt's home ready to sell.

"...Sometimes God uses what we least expect to bring us what we need the most."
Henry traveled to Appalachia to hear local flavor as he prepares to compose the score for an upcoming movie. This quiet British fellow is rather knocked off his feet by the loud and friendly country folk he meets - as well as the kind and gentle pregnant woman from whom he is renting a room. While his high society mother has always chided Henry for being an introvert, when he's around Julia they find deep ways to communicate, including through their shared love of music.

Julia's heart has been badly wounded, she carries haunting memories that make her hesitate at even the thought of a relationship, and she is dealing with the challenges of single motherhood. It doesn't seem like the right time to become romantically involved, yet there's something about Henry that draws her. Could God bring something beautiful out of the shattered pieces of her heart?

I loved how gently this novel dealt with several different heart-wrenching issues. Things like going to counseling were portrayed in a positive light. There is a whole cast of colorful side characters, but it's the soft hues of gentleness emanating from Julia and Henry that truly light up the story. This novel is a gem and proves that the best things in life are never easy, but God makes a way through rough paths, even if the destination is not what we ever expected.

Running along the deep emotional themes is a historic mystery in need of solving, and the most adorable meet cute I've ever read. There's lots to love here!
I recently read three stories from this novella collection, being on a western kick to end 2018, and thought I'd share my thoughts with you.

Witemeyer


"A Cowboy Unmatched" by Karen Witemeyer
Neill Archer left his home two years ago on a quest to prove himself. Now he's almost ready to return, but his trip is delayed when he is hired by an anonymous benefactor to repair the roof of a widow's house. He isn't prepared when the widow is young, very pregnant, part Comanche, and in a heated long-standing battle that may be more than she can win without his help.


Jennings


"An Unforeseen Match" by Regina Jennings

Grace O'Malley's world is disappearing - literally. With blindness encroaching, Grace has had to give up teaching and is trying to settle into the cabin that has been provided for her. Things sure would be easier if she didn't have to live by herself. When a passing cowboy agrees to help with a few things around the cabin, the two find they share a lot in common - including some surprising things that may drive them apart.


Connealy

"Meeting Her Match" by Mary Connealy
Life keeps jerking the rug out from under schoolmarm Hannah Taylor's feet. Hannah has taken great pride in being a discreet behind-the-scenes matchmaker, but now that she's in such a vulnerable place herself, the women of the town turn the tables and try to make sure Hannah is taken care of by someone who has long loved her from afar.
 Historical fiction is my favorite genre, so which books claimed favorite of the favorite status?

Daring Venture

A Daring Venture by Elizabeth Camden

In 1908 there are not many female biochemists, and none are catching more attention than Dr. Rosalind Werner as she seeks to prove that chlorine is safe for water treatment. You'll never read a more suspenseful or romantic book on eradicating waterborne diseases!


More Than Meets the Eye

More Than Meets The Eye by Karen Witemeyer

Logan Fowler is bent on getting revenge, until he meets gentle Evangeline Hamilton, whose mismatched eyes have made her a social outcast. How could he destroy her brother when he wants to protect this sweet young woman?


An Hour Unspent

An Hour Unspent by Roseanna M. White

Barclay Pearce is a fiercely loyal older brother and a reformed thief now working to help the British government during World War I. He's not going to let anything stop him from doing what he thinks is right... even if the woman he loves walks away from him.
Find out more thoughts on any of these stories by clicking on their titles.

No One Ever Asked


No One Ever Asked by Katie Ganshert

Loosely based on real-life events, this story deals with a lot of deep and thought-provoking issues, including some that are often swept under the rug. School districts merge and tensions of every kind run high in the lives of three different women.


Who I Am With You


Who I Am With You by Robin Lee Hatcher

It's tempting to hide from the past when it is full of pain. Pregnant widow Jessica doesn't want anyone to know that before he died her husband was about to leave her, and Ridley is fresh off a political scandal. Poignant and captivating.


Falling For You

Falling For You by Becky Wade

There's one person Willow Bradford never wanted to see again, and that's the man who is now back in her life. While she carefully maintains a perfect exterior, it may be time to face the things she has kept so deeply buried.
I read a lot of good non-fiction books this year, but these three rose to the top and have stayed with me the most.

Almost Already


Almost Already by Jonathan Tony

No one's life turns out how they anticipate it will be, but what do we do when grappling with the dichotomy of our dreams and our realities? I appreciated the truth packed within this book, as well as its conversational style that lets us know we're not alone in our struggles. 



Party of One


Party of One by Joy Beth Smith

"The one thing I wish someone had told me when I was younger was, 'Even if you don't get married, you'll be okay.'"
It's incredibly difficult to be a single woman who wants to honor God and follow Him whether or not He fulfills the desires of our heart. Is He still good though the way is hard? Yes, He is!


Story Equation


The Story Equation by Susan May Warren

If you want to be a writer or a really savvy reader, I found this to be an excellent resource! Story crafting is explained in a way I'd never heard before, and I've found myself recognizing various techniques all over the place now that my eyes are open to them.
 Bride of Ivy Green


The Tales From Ivy Hill series concludes with this new release from Julie Klassen. Once upon a time we met Jane, a young widow who was stepping up to the challenge of being an innkeeper, and Mercy, a schoolteacher whose life took an unexpected turn. Will Jane and Mercy both find the happy endings their hearts long for?

Still trying to deal with her body's limitations, Jane hesitates to accept the offer of marriage that has been given to her. With the unexpected arrival of someone from her past, Jane ponders if it will change her future.

Now in reduced circumstances, Mercy considers becoming a governess in order to find a measure of freedom. She pines for the man who has caught her heart, but meanwhile she's caught the eye of a man who could give her every comfort.

Alongside the other Ivy Hill residents we've come to know and love, a new seamstress comes to town with the hope of making a fresh start. Her mysterious background becomes a source of much curiosity, and it turns out she may have more ties to the village than she even knows.

A wonderful wrap-up to a delightful series, The Bride of Ivy Green had me laughing, cheering, and crying by turns. If you enjoy stories reminiscent of Jane Austen or Elizabeth Gaskell, you'll want to add these to your reading list.

I received my copy of the book from the publisher. All thoughts in this review are my own.
Some of my friends love reading and discussing classic literature together. We usually do 4-5 group reads a year, though not everyone can participate each time. My selection of favorites for this year comes entirely from our group! 

Emily of Deep Valley


Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace

In 1912 Emily desperately wants to go to college with her fellow high school graduates, but family requirements keep her at home. This young lady has the choice to lose herself in self-pity or rise above and make the most of life right where she is. A beautiful and inspirational story!


Pollyanna


Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter

You've probably heard of Pollyanna and her Glad Game, but it's still endearing to read the story of the precocious orphan girl who changes the lives of everyone around her with her positive spirit. In a world in need of cheer, Pollyanna shows us how to light the way.


Silver Lake


By The Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Have Laura and family finally found a place to stay? A town is rising up on the South Dakota plains, and the Ingalls family is one of the founding members. It is always an adventure with Laura and company!
Novellas offer us a chance to see different sides of authors we enjoy. While occasionally I find the short form holds some drawbacks, there are other stories that rise to the top and leave their mark with the depth they are able to achieve. Here are three such that I read this year.

Click on any title for more information on each story.

Bound and Determined


 Bound and Determined by Regina Jennings

She's determined to stop her father from bringing home a train of camels, but the Army officer assigned to assist her father has a lot at stake if the job is not accomplished. Two stubborn people and a group of unique animals - what a great cast of characters!


Unlucky in Love and Lyrics


Unlucky in Love & Lyrics by Tracy Joy Jones

Amelia Mayberry has been gifted with a beautiful singing voice, but the moment she steps on stage she cannot remember song lyrics. Can help come from an unlikely source? A fun story with a St. Patrick's Day theme.


Then Came You


Then Came You by Becky Wade

This was a very different kind of read, as it was written in epistolary form. Containing no traditional dialogue, interaction, or narration, it still captivates one's attention. Though not for young readers due to content, it really stood out for its uncommon approach.
I do love a good speculative story, and this year my favorite selection from this category was actually a re-read. It was a delight to go back through Sharon Hinck's Sword of Lyric series, to reacquaint myself with lovable, relatable characters and their wonderfully rich stories. Hinck's writing style is easy to read, and I would recommend these for readers of all ages.

Click on any title to read my full review of each book.

The Restorer

The Restorer


Susan Mitchell's suburban lifestyle did not prepare her for falling through a portal and discovering a world where she has special gifts and a divine calling.


The Restorer's Son


The Restorer's Son

This is my favorite book of the series, as it features a most unlikely hero who is sure that The One must be mistaken about what He's asking him to do.




The Restorer's Journey

Our story continues with things looking more dire than ever. Where is the love and direction of The One in times of such darkness and need?




The Deliverer

The One certainly has not forgotten His people, and in this conclusion to the series, a songkeeper will help light the way for the fulfillment of His promises.
 


Lieutenant Jack Hennessey has found himself thriving as he serves the Indian nations surrounding Fort Reno. He's learning their languages, earning their trust, and helping build bridges between the tribes and the troopers. Though his heart has always pined for his childhood friend Hattie Walker, he knows she has never really taken him seriously.

Pursuing her career as an artist has always been important to Hattie, and when her parents begin insisting it is time for her to leave it behind and find a suitable man to marry, Hattie decides to venture west to improve her scope of experience. Though one might mistake her determination for stubbornness, deep down Hattie is sweet and vulnerable. She is shattered when misfortune befalls her travels, and her only ray of sunshine is the man who is able to come to her rescue - her former schoolmate Jack.

Surprised to see her, Jack senses a chance to make a favorable impression on Hattie, but things go sideways when he finds out that the celebration he initiated ended with an Indian marriage ceremony to which neither of them consented! When he tries to untangle the mess, Jack is dismayed when his commanding officer says that due to his work with the tribes, it would be damaging and disrespectful to annul the vows spoken over them. How can he possibly break the news to Hattie that they are married, and even worse, that there will be no easy release from their union?

The predicament these two find themselves in is quite intriguing, and Regina writes with such a fun style that I often found myself laughing out loud. I liked the fact that Jack and Hattie had grown up together, giving an air of depth to their relationship when they must make a bargain about their unusual marriage. There are threads of mystery and danger woven in, and it was interesting to read about Jack's work with the Indians. I would highly recommend this story to all fans of historical romance. I could hardly wait to find out how it would come together in the end!

I received my copy of this book from the author. All opinions in this review are my own.



 Jody Hedlund's Orphan Train series comes to a close with the story of the youngest Neumann sister, Sophie. We first learned about eldest sister Elise and how she traveled on the orphan train to find employment as a cook along the railroad, then followed Marianne as she worked as a placing agent for the Children's Aid Society. The last we knew anything of Sophie, she had run away to try to save two young orphans whom she had been caring for. Though her sisters had long been looking for her, Sophie was nowhere to be found. 

In "Searching For You," we learn that Sophie managed to rescue Olivia and Nicholas and has been raising them with whatever means she could find. The streets of New York City in 1859 are not kind to orphans, and Sophie is barely old enough to pass herself off as an adult. When she gets mixed up with some of the Bowery Boys, she feels they may have found a home within the gang. Gangs come with violence, though, and soon Sophie realizes that she must run again if she wants to keep everyone safe.

Sophie decides they will take their chances with the orphan train, though she's determined that nothing will tear her apart from the children. If need be they can live on the streets again, as long as they are far away from New York City.

Reinhold Weiss grew up with the Neumanns, and now is working his own homestead in Illinois. He knows he inherited his father's explosive temper, and combined with the amount of work involved in running his farm, he is sure he could never subject a woman or family to this reality. He's shocked when his path crosses with Sophie, and faces a dilemma when she begs him not to tell her sisters her location. She promises that if he'll give her time she'll be able to get their lives straightened out so that she's worthy of a reunion.

Certain that she can handle anything life throws at her, Sophie schemes and plots. She'd rather hide than admit where she has failed. But a loving God and steadfast people won't leave her to her own inventions. Will Sophie ever learn to accept the loving help and guidance in her life, and will she ever agree to see her sisters again? You'll have to pick up this book yourself to find out!

Note: Please be aware that this story hints at child abuse and sexual assault, and there is a large portion of the book where the consummation of a marriage is discussed. I would urge caution for young or sensitive readers who may be bothered by this content.

I received my copy of the book from the author. All opinions in this review are my own.



Jessica Mason's world was turned upside down in the span of a few weeks. First her husband told her he wanted a divorce, then he and their 6-year-old daughter died in a car accident. A positive pregnancy test only complicated matters. She never had a chance to tell anyone about her husband's unfaithfulness, and now it's a burden that grows heavier with each month that passes.

Trying to escape a political scandal for which he took the blame, Ridley Chesterfield finds himself nearly off the grid in rural Idaho. Fixing up his parents' vacation home gives him a perfect excuse to hide from the world for a while. Ridley did not anticipate making any friends in the small town of Hope Springs, but he can't help but he drawn to his pretty and very pregnant neighbor.

Both weighed down by secrets, both with few reasons to trust others, both trying to find out what God is doing in their lives - I may not have found myself in their exact scenarios, but I am familiar with similar situations and emotions. I really appreciated how the author wove authentic hurt with the hope of healing and of seeing God work even in the midst of tragedies.

Mixed along with the contemporary setting of Jessica and Ridley's story is that of her great-grandfather Andrew Henning, whose Bible Jessica recently inherited. Brief scenes of his life during the Depression add another element to the plot, reminding us that the problems we may face today are not so different from the ones faced throughout time.

This character-driven book deals with deep emotions and spiritual truths which will touch your heart. I had a very hard time putting this story down, and felt a kinship with the uncertainties the characters were going through. We don't know how things will play out. We all need God's healing and help from one another. Robin Lee Hatcher reminds us that with God all our futures are full of hope, no matter what heartaches lie in our pasts.

I review for BookLook Bloggers






I received my copy of this book from the publisher. All thoughts in this review are my own.
 


"The Mark of the Raven" is the first in a brand new fantasy series from Morgan L. Busse. This was my first time reading this author, but as I thoroughly enjoyed my recent reread of Sharon Hinck's Sword of Lyric series, I decided to take a leap of faith that this might be up my alley, too.

Lady Selene is the heir to House Ravenwood, one of the seven Great Houses in this realm. Our story opens as Selene receives her gift - a secret ability that has been passed on to Ravenwood women for generations. It is the gift of dreamwalking, of being able to enter another person's dreams and thereby influence their thoughts and actions. Although she's trained her whole life to accept the role she will play in her family, Selene is surprised to learn exactly what the gift is and how things unfold as she begins experimenting with it.

It soon becomes apparent that House Ravenwood has kept its gift a secret for less than honorable reasons. Selene is horrified to find that her forebears have become experts at exploitation and even murder through their dreamwalking. Knowing the same will be required of her - or worse, of her sisters if she should refuse - causes Selene to wrestle with her purpose and her calling.

To the north of House Ravenwood is House Maris, where young Lord Damien must use his gift of controlling water to protect his people from invasion. Unlike some of the other Great Houses, Damien follows the Light and wants to see the Houses restored to unity as was originally intended. Damien calls together a meeting of house rulers, never imagining that such a gathering would be the perfect place for those working against him to infiltrate his dreams, as well as the dreams of others, for very different purposes.

This book was hard for me to get into. For one thing, I felt like Selene was underdeveloped. We received little backstory on her, and what we did was not congruous with how she was presented on the page, making her motivations confusing. Damien was a more well-drawn character, easily understandable and accessible to me as a reader. I also had issues with some of the plot choices, and a few technical complaints about the writing itself.

This story did not really seem to take off until about 200 pages in. The best thing about the book, and the reason I would be interested in reading Book 2 when it releases, was the way the Light drew Selene whenever she came into contact with Damien. This was fascinating and I cannot wait to see how it continues developing. It was an excellent reminder of the Light we hold within us.

I received my copy of the book from the publisher. All thoughts in this review are my own.
Just The Way You Are


Eisley Barrett gets a break from her three children and her difficult real life when she takes a dream trip to England in order to research the novel that her dying uncle is writing. The effervescent Eisley has been invited to stay with an older couple with whom Uncle Joe has been corresponding, and they are perfectly charming. Unbeknownst to her, they also happen to be the parents of one Christopher Wesley Harrison, a famous British actor with quite the playboy past. A bit starstruck, Eisley rather embarrasses herself at their first meeting and feels like she made a very poor first impression.

Highly suspect of his parents' house guest, Wes is sure Eisley is visiting for more reasons than novel research. Now that he has gotten right with God and reformed his ways, Wes hasn't dated anyone in two years, and he is certain the American visitor is not going to break his resolve. Until he suddenly decides that Eisley is guileless and genuine, and then he full-out pursues her, much to her consternation.

She doesn't want to be involved with someone with his kind of past. Not when it so resembles the past that made an ex of her husband. Yet the new Wes has a genuine joy and peace about him which can't help but draw her to him, and the two decide to become friends.

I did take issue with a few things in this novel. I knew from the first chapter that this book was way more straight-up romance than I prefer to read. I strongly considered not continuing because it was not my style. But the characters had so much potential, with Eisley healing from betrayal and Wes proving he is not bound by previous mistakes, that I decided to stick with it. There's a lot of silliness with how many people try to convince these two they are perfect for each other, which is far from anything I've encountered in real life. Additionally, due to content I would not recommend this to readers under age 16.

From an editing perspective, I was distracted by missing words or quotation marks, character names inconsistently spelled (using McKelroy and MacLeroy on the same page was particularly noticeable), and other goofs like the scene where Eisley's stated hairstyle changes from being in a ponytail to being loose to being in a ponytail again. I realize these things happen and that some readers truly do not mind, but they are big detracting factors to me and it would be unfair not to address it when I've taken other books to task for similar issues.

All that being said, I did think the author did a good job making use of her characters' potential. The complexities of the relationship star in the final third of the book, with each working through obstacles both expected and surprising. Overall I liked it enough that I would try this author again, and I realize it's not the book's fault that it isn't in my preferred genre. Sometimes it takes more than one try to click with an author, and maybe that will be the case here.
With Every Breath


In another page-turning historical romance, Elizabeth Camden takes us to our nation's capitol in 1891. Kate Livingston is a savvy young widow who helps support her parents' boardinghouse. When she receives a job offer to work as an analyst in a research hospital, the last thing she expects to find is that the position comes to her by way of her old nemesis from school days, Trevor Kendall. She and Trevor battled their wits in the classroom for years, and he's the last person she ever wanted to see again.

Kate is intrigued by the research being done at the hospital and is anxious to get out of her current dead-end job. Even so, it's a bitter pill to see the emotionless, insufferable Trevor every day. As she begins to learn more about his work on curing and eradicating tuberculosis, Kate finds the work fascinating and the patients affable.

Things become unpredictable when they realize that someone is after Trevor, sending him reminders of failed medical experiments in the past and clearly wanting him to fail in the present. Kate becomes somewhat obsessed with finding out what Trevor has been doing in the twelve years since they graduated high school, and the way he keeps his personal life under a tight wrap only fuels her curiosity. When Trevor refuses to buckle under mounting pressure, the mysterious aggressor turns their attack on Kate and her family.

Tuberculosis research has never been so fascinating! I had a hard time putting this book down. At times Kate and Trevor both got under my skin, their dogged competitive natures and stubbornness far surpassing my own. Overall, however, I found this another thoroughly captivating and informative novel from an author I've come to trust as an authority in historical fiction.
Christmas Remedy


Holly Zook has respectfully pressed beyond the Amish social norms to become a pharmacy tech, and she is even pursuing further education with the support of her bishop. She sees the need for her people to realize that consistent medical care can save lives and reduce physical suffering. Understanding that this strange passion may lead her to a life of singleness, since working outside the home is frowned upon once a woman marries, Holly is willing to make the sacrifice.

Working at Greene's Pharmacy has been fulfilling for her, not just because she's able to help people, but also because pharmacist Lyle Greene has become a father figure in Holly's life after her own father's early passing. As our story opens Lyle is facing a health crisis of his own, and the complications that come with it may mean that the pharmacy has to permanently close its doors.

While fighting for her friend and the business close to her heart, Holly must work with Lyle's son Brandon, who is on the verge of receiving his pharmacist's license himself, and Joshua Smucker, a young Amish man from a neighboring district who has liked Holly from afar. As Christmas approaches, can they save Greene's Pharmacy and bring better awareness of medical care to Holly's beloved Amish people?

I appreciated Holly's determination to help her community and her willingness to push past tradition. I confess I found it hard to get into this book at first for a few reasons, but the more I got into the story the more I enjoyed it. I liked that the obstacles our characters faced all carried weight and were not easily overcome, because it gave the story a level of reality as they worked for a good outcome through all the trials.

If you enjoy heartwarming Amish fiction or holiday stories, this might be one for you to pick up!

I received an advanced reading copy from the publisher. All thoughts in this review are my own.


 
This Christmas novella collection was excellent company over my recent travels. The stories were engaging but short enough that I felt I could read significant portions of them in small snatches of time while in a vehicle or before falling asleep in a hotel room. These novellas feature one family's treasured heirloom as it passes from one generation to the next, beginning in Regency Era England and ending in current day Washington state. 

"Legacy of Love" by Kristi Ann Hunter
Sarah Gooding works as a companion to the elderly Lady Densbury, whose grandson Randall she secretly admires from afar. When Lady Densbury's health begins failing and her family is not respecting her wishes, Randall may be Sarah's biggest ally in making sure the woman's final holiday is full of joy and peace.

"Gift of the Heart" by Karen Witemeyer
From Regency England to 1800s Texas, our heroine is now Ruth Fulbright, a widow with a young daughter who hopes to support herself by moving to a resort town and getting a job as a cook. She's forced to pawn her family heirloom in order afford housing, and as she gets to know the town's reclusive banker, finds that her second chance in life may hold more than she ever imagined.

"A Shot At Love" by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Fleeta Brady is not like most girls in 1950s West Virginia. She's loved hunting and sportsmanship as long as she can remember, and she's been saving to purchase her own gunsmith shop. Through twists, turns, and an unexpected friendship, Fleeta finds that there may be more love in life than she expected with her orphaned background.

"Because of You" by Becky Wade
In modern day Washington, Maddie Winslow is paired up with widower Leo for a church holiday project - which is both wonderful and terrifying because she's had a crush on him for a long time. Working closely together for the benefit of others will force them to reevaluate if their friendship is growing to mean more to each other as well.

Easy to read but overflowing with the delights of the season, The Heirloom would be a nice addition to your holiday reading list.

I received my copy of the book from the publisher. All thoughts in this review are my own.
No One Ever Asked


As far as I am concerned, Katie Ganshert is in a class by herself when it comes to tackling sensitive issues in fiction. If you haven't read her books yet, please consider checking them out!

"No One Ever Asked" tells the story of three women whose lives are connected by the merging of two school districts. Camille Gray is a go-getting mom of 3 whose life seems to be unraveling by the seams. Her husband is pulling away, her oldest is about to drive her to distraction, and when she speaks up at a school meeting she is branded as a racist.

Jen Covington's dreams of motherhood finally came true when she and her husband brought home their daughter from Liberia, but being Jubilee's mom is more difficult than anything she could have imagined. Was international adoption really the right choice for them?

Anaya Jones is just beginning her career as a teacher, and feels like she's turning her back on her father's legacy by accepting a position at a more upper class, mostly white school. She wonders if she can find her voice and make a difference or if she'll be marginalized and unheard.

This story deals with a lot of deep and delicate issues. How race is perceived in America. Adoption. Violence. Assumption of guilt. Marital problems. Sexual harassment. This is not a book to curl up and read on a rainy day. It's a book that will make you think, that will make you weep over divisions and preconceived notions between people. It's a book that aims to tear down walls and facilitate both self-reflection and discussion. 

This is a book everyone should read. And then let it make a difference in their lives.
Deliverer


The fourth book of the Sword of Lyric series brings a hopeful, inspiring conclusion for the world and characters we've grown to love. Though the author left a few threads dangling with the option of returning to the People of the Verses someday, this is the planned end to the series.

Susan feels strongly that she needs to return to this alternate world, and as she walks her path she confronts all the pain she has faced since her first visit. She's such a strong, relatable character. She's gone through a lot, and it's appropriate that she takes time to address it with The One.

Meanwhile, we finally receive the point of view I've been eagerly anticipating as Linette, the songkeeper, takes center stage. She's been helping Kieran spread the message of The One in the pagan land of Hazor, but he also harbors a dangerous secret that if found will put all their lives in danger. Linette's journey is full of heart-pounding suspense, her gentle but sustained faith, and the undercurrent of romance that we've been picking up on for several books now. 

Has The One sent His promised Deliverer into this world at last? I had wondered how Hinck would tackle the topic, and while it wasn't what I expected, I thought she did a good job with it.

It has been fun to reread this series, and to read The Deliverer for the first time. I will definitely revisit this world in the future! Hinck has a new fantasy series debuting next year, and I will be on the lookout to find a copy as soon as possible!


We first fell in love with London's premier family of thieves in A Name Unknown, and continued following their adventures in A Song Unheard. Now oldest brother Barclay finally gets his turn to star on the pages, and he cuts quite a dashing figure as he tries to help Mr. V and the Admiralty with anything they need while the Great War rages.

Barclay has worked hard to build their family - a collection of orphans who have banded together to escape life on the streets. He is fiercely protective of each one of them, and even though he's now reformed from his life of stealing to earn bread, there is still an element of his background coming into play in his honest work for the British government. Barclay is assigned to attain the design of a gear that is being developed by a local clockmaker, and Barclay approaches him with honesty rather than the subterfuge that would once have marked his steps.

The clockmaker's daughter, Evelina Manning, has tried hard to fight for her independence, both personally with her recovery from a childhood bout of polio, and also politically as an active suffragette. She is passionate about issues close to her heart. Her world receives a serious setback, however, when her fiancee breaks their engagement and enlists in the war. She was on the cusp of attaining a higher place in society to better proclaim her social ideals, but now she's relegated to being at the mercy of her demanding mother and aunt once again.

Evelina's spark draws Barclay towards her, and for her part, the alluring and somewhat mysterious Barclay makes an excellent diversion from her current unpleasant reality. His family is also highly intriguing. Their friendship will be tested as it becomes apparent that the Admiralty isn't the only one interested in Mr. Manning's gear, and German zeppelins begin their bombing raids over London. It's a dangerous time to live and love, and Roseanna M. White brings it to life beautifully in this engrossing story.

I loved Barclay. His all-out passion for his siblings is something I understand, as well as his lonely musing about romance: "Maybe... Barclay [was] destined to spend his life with children aplenty but no wife by his side to care for them." As a sister and a teacher, that's a sentiment I relate to! I thoroughly enjoyed his story, and I hope Roseanna decides to write another series about this unusual family - there are enough of them to carry us readers through for quite a while!

I received my copy of the book from the publisher. All thoughts in this review are my own.

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