A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

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From the back cover: “Rosemary Gresham has no family beyond the band of former urchins who helped her survive as a girl in the mean streets of London. Grown now, they are no longer pickpockets–instead they focus on high value items and have learned how to blend into upper-class society. Rosemary is beginning to question whether she can continue in this life when she’s offered the challenge of a lifetime–determine whether a certain wealthy gentleman is loyal to Britain or to Germany. After all how does one steal a family’s history, their very name?

“As Europe moves ever closer to World War I, rumors swirl around Peter Holstein. Awkward and solitary, but with access to the king, many fear his influence. But Peter can’t help his German last name and wants to prove his loyalty to the Crown–so he can go back to anonymously writing a series of popular adventure novels. When Rosemary arrives on his doorstep pretending to be a well-credentialed historian, Peter believes she’s the right person to help him dig through his family’s past.

“When danger and suspicion continue to mount, both realize they’re in a race against time to discover the truth–about Peter’s past and about the undeniable attraction kindling between them.”


My Review (contains minor spoilers!):

This was my first Roseanna M. White novel, and I very much enjoyed it. She did a masterful job of transporting me to Cornwall on the brink of World War I, where, though yet untouched by the horrors of war, still tensions were high. White used that atmosphere wonderfully, painting a charming and fairly realistic portrait.

Fans of Downtown Abbey will find much to enjoy in A Name Unknown. Her blend of characters, ranging from street urchins to royalty, allows the reader to see Edwardian England from differing perspectives and gives a nobility to them all.

My favorite part (here comes the spoiler, but not too much…) was definitely the scene with Prince Edward. I snorted, very indelicately, while reading this scene surrounded by a group of Ultra4 Racers in Sturgis, SD, waiting for my brother to finish (he’s a race photographer). At least I only got a few raised eyebrows and a snicker or two, not the bump on my head that Rosemary received!

And I know this is a weird thing to like about a book, but I really liked her dedication page:

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Isn’t it lovely? And so fitting with the story.

I sincerely recommend that you pick up a copy of A Name Unknown. Then pour a cuppa and snuggle in for a charming read.

Many thanks to Bethany House for the copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

High as the Heavens by Kate Breslin

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From the author’s website:

“In 1917, Evelyn Marche is just one of many women who has been widowed by the war. A British nurse trapped in German-occupied Brussels, she spends her days working at a hospital and her nights as a waitress in her aunt and uncle’s café. Eve also has a carefully guarded secret keeping her in constant danger: She’s a spy working for a Belgian resistance group in league with the British Secret Service.

When a British plane crashes in Brussels Park, Eve is the first to reach the downed plane and is shocked to discover she recognizes the badly injured pilot. British RFC Captain Simon Forrester is now a prisoner of war, and Eve knows he could be shot as a spy at any time. She risks her own life to hide him from the Germans, but as the danger mounts and the secrets between them grow, their chance of survival looks grim. And even if they do make it out alive, the truth of what lies between them may be more than any love can overcome.”

Kate Breslin has crafted a lovely story that is rich with both historical detail and an intricate and engrossing plot. She is absolutely marvelous at building tension, throwing in plenty of unexpected plot twists to keep the reader on her toes.

But that’s just the half of it. She has also created a cast of multi-layered characters – the best kind of characters: the ones you both love and want to smack at the same time. Her main character, Evelyn Marche, was even inspired by real historical women from the First World War.

It is a tale of strength and fragility and how both are necessary to survive in the tough times. It is a story of guilt that cripples the soul and the freedom found only in redemption. It is a novel of how love can conquer all, even self-induced heartbreak. And it is a beautiful read. It is heart-pumping, heart-squeezing, and heart-warming.

Do yourself a favor and pick up your own copy of High as the Heavens, then snuggle in for a fascinating read.

Many thanks to Bethany House for the copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

Well, I missed my normal Monday review date. Sorry… It’s been a rough couple of weeks: between wretched allergies and the sudden loss of my beautiful Aunt Faith, I’ve gone through a ridiculous amount of Kleenex lately. However, the need to stay inside on these too warm, too windy, too pollen-filled days has given me the blessing of time to read (when my eyes aren’t too puffy to see!) and catch up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 🙂 I hope I’ll be back on schedule in a few days. So without further ado, here’s my review of Connilyn Cossette’s Wings of the Wind:

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From the book: Can vengeance give way to forgiveness when one woman’s destiny becomes entangled with the very enemies she sought to destroy?

“Motherless and raised alongside her brothers, Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting. When her father and brothers are killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

“Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, has spent his share of time on the battlefield and is shocked to find an unconscious woman among the casualties. Compelled to bring her to a healer back at the Hebrew camp, he’s unprepared for the consequences of what he intended as an act of compassion.

“In order to survive, Alanah must unite with her enemy. But will a terrible revelation drive her toward an even greater danger?”

Wings of the Wind is a sweeping historical drama, covering events from the last bits of the Exodus and the crossing into the Promised Land. Cossette does a beautiful job of bringing the biblical stories into new, fresh life, giving her readers a different perspective on the dramatic events recounted in Numbers 21 (the Bronze Serpent) and Joshua 2 (Rahab and the Spies), among others. I love historical fiction — especially when it makes you look at stories you already know in a new light, makes you really think about the rest of the story. Cossette definitely does just that and masterfully blends a ton of historical research with everything from thrills to romance, thoroughly fleshed and sympathetic characters, and even a giggle or two.

This is actually the third book in Connilyn Cossette’s Out from Egypt series. I have not read the first two (Counted with the Stars and Shadow of the Storm), but that certainly didn’t dampen my enjoyment of this story. In fact, I plan on reading those first two books as soon as I can. 🙂 And I’d certainly suggest you grab your own copy of Wings of the Wind.

Many thanks to Bethany House for the copy of this lovely book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own! 🙂

The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green

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From the publisher: “After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.
“When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne’s brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?
“With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king’s mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.”

A whole lot happens to Julianne and those she loves throughout this novel. Sometimes a plot like this can get too ambitious – to the point of being ridiculous. Yet, I didn’t find that to be the case here. I felt that Green did a marvelous job of maintaining the adventure and tension of Julianne’s story, while keeping it plausible enough that I didn’t have to roll my eyes with each new twist.

I did, however, find my eyes doing other things…like tearing up. The depth and range of emotion Green manages to fill the pages with was absolutely lovely. And her characters were wonderfully variegated, speckled with intricacies that brought them to life. Fear, love, redemption, terror, joy, desperation…so much in one novel.

I really did enjoy this sweeping historical drama. It was a welcome diversion while it snowed, then rained, then blew like mad, then snowed…ugh! I would recommend you snatch up a copy.

Many thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for the chance to read this novel. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own. 🙂

The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrie Anne Noble

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Orphaned as infants, Clara – brought by a stork, Maren – found in a seashell, and O’Neill – left under an apple tree, have always known their lives were not particularly ordinary. Clara and Maren live on Llanfair Mountain with Auntie Verity, a lovely woman who tells stories almost as well as she mixes herbal remedies. O’Neill travels the land with Scarff, selling fantastical tales and the goods that go with them. But when Clara notices that her sister, Maren, has begun to change, to grow iridescent scales and long for the ocean, Clara and O’Neill must set out on a wild adventure to save Maren by taking her to the sea. Beset by troubles, Clara and O’Neill worry that it will be too late for Maren. And through it all Clara wonders, “If my sister is a mermaid, then what am I?”

What a remarkable story! The instant I saw this book, I knew I wanted to read it, so I treated myself to a copy. Then, it won two awards at the RealmMakers conference – the Genre Award for Young Adult Literature and the first ever Realm Award for overall awesomeness (my description of the award)! And it definitely is fantastic!

The characters are wonderfully unique, yet she draws them so well, they are familiar and comfortable to be with at the same time. Even her villains are multi-layered and intriguing. Absolutely magical, for young adults and the forever young-at-heart! Grab yourself a copy, snuggle up with some hot black tea with honey and cinnamon (Spoiler Alert!! Make sure you make the tea yourself!!), and dive into Carrie Anne Noble’s lovely tale. I most highly recommend it.

And, seriously, now I want my own Osbert the wyvern. Where can I get one?????

Courageous by Dina L. Sleiman

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The young Lady Sapphira has been given a vision from God: she is to inspire others lead herself and a group of kids to help set captives free in the Holy Land. Rosalind of Ipsworth and Sir Randel Penigree have both decided to join this crusade, but for their own very complicated reasons. Both are running from pasts that continue to haunt them, but will running halfway across the known world hide them from their demons? God will find them wherever they are, yet they will need to make the decision to listen to Him or to their own fallible hearts.

Courageous is book three in the Valiant Hearts series (following Dauntless and Chivalrous). I have not read either of the first two books in the series, yet, but that certainly did not hinder my enjoyment of the story. It is a terrific tale of love, redemption, strength of spirit, and learning to hear and trust the will of God.

Sleiman does a marvelous job of revealing both the triumph and the tragedy of the Crusades, showing how not everyone who went on Crusade did so with pure motives and not every Muslim bore hatred toward the Christians they encountered. I truly enjoyed getting to know her characters and watching them strengthen or soften as God worked through each of them.

I so enjoyed reading Courageous and would definitely recommend you pick up a copy. And I think I’ll go back and read the first two books in the series as well. Happy reading! 🙂

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers for the free copy of this book for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own!

Delilah: Treacherous Beauty by Angela Hunt

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You know the Bible story: Samson, judge of Israel, falls in love with Delilah, who then betrays him to his enemies, the Philistines. While the Bible tells us the basics, you have to know that there is more to this story: who was Delilah, where did she come from, and why would she betray Samson?

Angela Hunt does a marvelous job of remaining faithful to the events laid out in the Bible while filling in possible details of what could be the truth behind the story of Samson and Delilah. Instead of portraying Delilah as the traditional evil woman out to destroy Israel, Hunt gives her a plausible back story and realistic motives for what she did. She also manages to make Samson more than just the strongman of Israel.

And beyond that, Hunt’s writing brings to life the Holy Land during the 1100s B.C. and fills it with a cast of flawed, yet empathetic characters. It is simply a great story made greater by Angela Hunt’s talent.

I highly recommend you grab a copy. And while you are at it, don’t forget that there are two other novels in the series (Esther: Royal Beauty and Bathsheba: Reluctant Beauty).

Many thanks to Bethany House Publishers for the free copy of this novel for review purposes. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my very own!! 🙂