A.W. Tozer

I love the writings of A.W. Tozer. They have been personally meaningful to me in the past, so I was immediately interested when I saw that Bethany House was putting out a new compilation of his sermons. When I saw the subtitle for this book was "Finding and following God's will for your life," I had a feeling deep down that this could be a 'for such a time as this' book in my life, and that proved to be true in more ways than expected.

Tozer preached this series of sermons as God began leading him to leave his prosperous Chicago church to take a smaller pastorate in Toronto. These messages sprang from his own desire to follow God's will, and some of my favorite quotes from the book reflect on how God prepares us for His will, makes a way for us, and provides faithfully for everything He ordains. Our responsibilities are to keep ourselves close to God and to obey even when we can only see the next step. God doesn't ask us to understand the whole plan - He asks us to trust, walk in faith, and to receive His blessings. The way may not be easy, and is often incredibly difficult and leads us to destinations that we did not expect, but following Him allows for a life which can be rich in peace and joy despite the trials.

There were a few things Tozer touched upon which were new concepts to me, or at least phrased in ways I understood in a clearer light, and I've been mulling them over and discussing them with friends. One of them is the fact that God's grace is not about us and our weaknesses, it's about Him and His character. "What God has for us not based on who we are, but rather on who He is" (Chapter 8). Another section talks about our enemies, and how our enemies are no obstacle in God's eyes. In fact, they are opportunities for Him to work especially in our behalf! "...When I see my enemy from God's point of view, my heart is filled with rejoicing because that enemy only reveals to me the amazing grace of God in my life" (Chapter 11).

I thought a pivotal part of the book was when Tozer discusses belief versus unbelief. We can believe in God's power and His blessings and still not believe they are for us, for our specific lives. "God is the God of today and tomorrow as well as yesterday. However, to most Christians, God is the God of yesterday alone. They believe in everything that was but cannot rise to believe for today, let alone tomorrow" (page 121). Oh, that is so true! As Tozer says in Chapter 5, "If God said it, then it must be true, and if it's true, then it's true now, and if it's true for someone else, it's also true for me."

Reading this book brought strength to my life and faith. It sparked worship and refreshment in my spirit. Even writing this review has brought Chris Tomlin's song "Good Good Father" to mind, because Tozer really does focus on our wonderful almighty God who will lead us with the cloud and fire if only we will keep our hearts turned to Him. I would recommend this book for believers everywhere.

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

 Up From The Sea

If you enjoy stories with a vintage feel, debut author Amanda Dykes is one to add to your list. The tone of this story reminded me of early twentieth century writers like Eleanor Porter and Maud Hart Lovelace, which is a very positive connotation!

The year is 1925 and Savannah Mae Thorpe comes to live with her wealthy aunt and uncle after the death of her parents. Though she is nearly old enough to claim her mother's land as an inheritance, her uncle threatens to sell it and invest the money. When Savannah declares she can find more value in the land, he insists that she prove it. With the help of a quiet young lumberjack, Savannah faces the mountain with a heart to discover her personal history and unravel a local legend that stretches back to the Revolutionary War.

Weaving in the true account of the King's pines, Amanda Dykes gives us a story about family, honor, and atonement. I only wished this prequel novella was longer, but that means it did its job! I eagerly await the release of Whose Waves These Are coming later this month.
 Shelter of the Most High

I recently read my first Connilyn Cosette book - and I was hooked! I was thrilled to read this second book in her Cities of Refuge series, and now eagerly await the third one coming out in July. 

Sofea was captured from her home across the Mediterranean Sea when marauders raided their coastal village. She, along with her cousin Prezi, are the only known survivors of the attack. The two girls manage to escape from the pirate ship and wash ashore a Canaanite beach, where they are found by Israelite spies and brought to the refuge city of Kedesh.

Unable to speak the Hebrew language, Sofea and Prezi make assumptions about the Israelites based on the lives they knew on the island of Sicily. Sofea's father was the priest of their people, which further shapes her thinking as she learns of the Hebrews' devotion to their One God. The ways they mistake or misunderstand customs adds a very natural feeling to the story.

Although he is not technically confined within the borders of Kedesh, Eitan is nevertheless bound by actions and promises made when he was a child. He wants to be a soldier and help Israel establish itself in these final years of leader Joshua's life, and eventually he is able to take part in training exercises. A need to be free of his past thunders through his veins.

Danger lurks in this city of refuge - some seen, some unseen. There are people wanting to destroy Eitan and his family, and they are willing to use his growing fondness for Sofea to get to him. Twists and turns mark their paths, and difficult decisions must be made. Cossette once again uses this unique time frame and setting to bring us a wonderful story of hope and redemption. 

If you enjoyed "A Light on the Hill," you'll be happy to know the characters of Moriyah and Darek play large secondary roles in this novel. That was a fun bonus for this reader. I would highly recommend this author to anyone who enjoys Biblical fiction, or would like to add Biblical fiction to their reading repertoire.
 A Desperate Hope

Eloise Drake is one of the few female CPAs in 1908. She's sought all her life to belong, and finally in the ordered world of numbers and figures she can earn her own rightful place. Unfortunately, her competence has landed her in the path of the one man who could undo everything - Alex Duval,  whom she loved wholeheartedly when they were teenagers.

Now mayor of Duval Springs, Alex has been fighting for his town's survival. New York City needs water, and the State Water Board has declared eminent domain on the entire valley, intending to remove all structures and build a reservoir to meet their needs. When the experts and accounts descend upon the town to begin evaluating property and distributing payouts, Alex is shocked to see Eloise again. He has never stopped caring for her, despite the way her guardian forced an end to their relationship.

Alex is determined to save Duval Springs despite whatever the state may say, and Eloise is the only one who can help him. For her part, she always loved his big dreams and risk-taking personality. But is his wild idea truly something that can be accomplished, or merely a desperate hope that will end with the disillusionment of the entire community? Is it foolish to work closely with the man who stirs up so many feelings from the past?

Determination, inspiration, and a large dash of intrigue lead the way in Elizabeth Camden's new release. I love how she found three truly fascinating water-related tales and wove them together in this Empire State series. I would recommend this story to all historical fiction fans! Click for my reviews of Book One and Book Two.

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

Catherine Duval is the daughter of a French father and Mohawk mother. Her Indian name is Stands-Apart, for she has always tried to straddle both worlds. Now in 1759, in the middle of what we know now as the French and Indian War, Catherine must take a side - and her actions may change the fate of a nation.

Near Montreal, Catherine and her father run a trading post. Because of Catherine’s connections she often uses Mohawk traders to smuggle goods into and out of New England, an advantage not shared by many around them. People are starving all throughout New France as the war has taken away all the able-bodied men.

The return of Samuel Crane, now a ransomed British captive but formerly Catherine’s fiance, drastically changes things. Samuel insists he has information that can turn the tides of the war, though he needs Catherine’s help in getting to Quebec, and she may not be willing to give it. Choosing to help Samuel would mean potentially losing everything if she is caught and branded a traitor, but at the same time it might actually help her country if they can bring an end to the conflict.

This book is as deep and wide as the St. Lawrence river, which the story often revolves around. To tell you much about the plot would give away the secrets locked within. Jocelyn Green always presents the reality of historical life - the tragedies may outnumber the triumphs by far, but there is still joy to be found. There’s no fluff here, and the story itself takes a while to launch due to backstory needing to be covered, yet within the pages a lot of beauty can be found as characters draw strength from the Creator God while facing incredible hardship.

My favorite quote from the book came from Chapter 30. Catherine has been asked who she is now after all that has transpired in the previous pages. She responds: “[We’re] two people trying to bring order from chaos, yet held steadfast by a God who loved us before we loved Him.” I don’t know about you, but as someone who is currently going through some uncertain waters, there’s great peace in knowing we are held by God’s love.

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

 A Light on the Hill

In recent years I’ve heard great things about Connilyn Cossette’s Biblical fiction, and she was on my list of authors I hoped to try in 2019. I was thrilled to pick up this first book in her Cities of Refuge series, and it did not disappoint.

Our story opens with Moriyah, an Israelite woman who lives a fairly solitary life due to an event in the past having left her face with a horrible scar. Moriyah wears a veil whenever she is in public and mostly keeps to herself. Now that her father is getting older he has decided it’s time to find a husband for Moriyah, and she will need to be brave and vulnerable in building the relationship.

Things quickly become complicated when she meets the man who has agreed to the betrothal, and furthermore when an accident claims the lives of two young boys.

This book’s setting is fascinating. Not just the focus on the Cities of Refuge, but the look at how things might have been for Israel under the leadership of Joshua as the tribes went in to conquer the Promised Land. This book is post-Jericho but before the Israelites were fully settled in Canaan.

Although this was the first book in a new series, it frequently referenced people and events from Cossette’s previous series. I did not have trouble following along, but I feel it might be even more enjoyable if you have read her Out From Egypt books. Overall I’d recommend this for anyone who enjoys Biblical fiction, and look forward to reading more from this author myself.

Tailor-Made Bride

Hannah Richards has dreamed of the day she could open her own dress shop. She arrives in Coventry, TX, with great joy and anticipation. She'll have to live frugally until she's accepted in the community, but she is ready to to give it a go.

The last thing Coventry needs, according to one J.T. Tucker, is a newcomer selling fancy goods that will entice women to discontentment and a desire to live above their means. Having watched his mother leave his father for a wealthier man, J.T. wants to avoid that kind of heartbreak and humiliation for other families. He has nothing against Miss Richards, and in fact he can't quite match his preconceived prejudices with her open manner and the way she can make friends with anyone, but he has every objection to her chosen profession.

The community is slow to do business with a newcomer, but Hannah is determined to win them over. She develops a close friendship with J.T.'s sister Cordelia, which frustrates the liveryman even more. She can't figure him out - he's helpful and conscientious but they also seem to fall into an argument each time they meet.

Soon it becomes clear that someone with more nefarious motives wants Hannah out of town. Can she keep herself safe and find acceptance in the community even with all the challenges?

I enjoyed the interplay between the two main characters a lot, their differing viewpoints offering a lot of room to explore the issue of enjoying everyday beauty versus being strictly practical in all things. Both Hannah and J.T. have a lot of strengths, including a dedicated faith and shows itself in the way they live their lives. This was an excellent debut novel for Karen Witemeyer in 2010, and I'm glad I had the chance to go back and read it here in 2019!
 Bride For Keeps

Everett Cline has tried this mail-order bride thing more times than he cares to admit. Each time something happens that prevents the women from actually marrying him, and he's done. No matter how much it would help to have a wife as he continues establishing his Kansas homestead, he's not going to go that route again. When a good friend goes behind his back and orders one for him, Everett must decide if he's going to give it a shot or pass on her the way the other women have always passed on him.

Fleeing bad memories and the ache of an assault, beautiful Julia Lockwood hopes to find a fresh start in Kansas. Because of her family's medical history and her own personal experiences, she hopes she can find a man who will agree to a marriage in name only. She catches plenty of attention when she arrives in town, but the one man who seems most disinterested is the only one she came that great distance to meet.

Both Everett and Julia try to hide the things they are most ashamed of from their past, but things that have happened to us have a way of butting into the present until we take the time to deal with them. 

I appreciated that both of these characters are dealing with a great deal of shame, but the way they failed at basic communication really bothered me. Also the way Everett became rather obsessed with developing the physical side of their relationship despite their agreement made me uncomfortable - that's the kind of behavior that sends up red flags. There's not a whole lot of action in this novel aside from the unnecessary tension of two people who won't talk to each other, so it was rather disappointing on many levels. I'm willing to give this author another try, but as someone for whom communication is a really big deal, the lack of it is really grating to me.

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.


"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.


"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.


"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.
 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.
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.

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.

"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.
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.

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.

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.
Letter Perfect

Ruth Caldwell is a puzzle. She has been kicked out of one finishing school after another, her natural clumsiness making her a hapless conundrum. When Ruth is sent home again, she is devastated to learn her mother's health is failing. Even more surprising, she learns that her mother has contacted her father, whom Ruth has never met, and asked him to take Ruth in after she passes. When the time comes, Ruth boards the stage and heads off to California for a very unknown future.

Her situation is even more complicated when she arrives to find out that her father has passed away as well. His property is now home to his partner's family. They graciously take Ruth into their home while they try to figure out the inheritance.

A new location hasn't made Ruth any less prone to blunders, but the West does provide fewer expectations and more room to shine just as she is. She befriends a young woman who struggles with reading and is able to help her with tailored lessons, and she catches the eye of two different young men.

Yet not everything is as it seems, and when it becomes apparent that sinister things are happening, Ruth must trust her new friends to help her figure out where the danger lies and how they can keep everyone safe.

This is an older novel, but I enjoyed it tremendously. There were elements of the plot that really took me by surprise, and the main characters had a real emphasis on building one another up through Scripture and prayer. I'll be reading more books by this author in the future!



April 2019

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