The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin; Bethany House Publishers ISBN 9780764217388

The Two of Us, a novel by Victoria Bylin, opens in a Las Vegas coffee shop where Mia Robinson is fascinated by a stranger, Jake Tanner, who is very adept at working a claw machine. He extracts an impressive collection of stuffed animals, one of which he gives to Mia along with an invitation for breakfast. We learn that they are both in town for a wedding. Little do they know, at first, that it is for the same one. What were the chances of this happening? And, this is just the beginning.

Every character in the novel has their own story. Mia has two broken engagements behind her. She struggles with trust issues. Jake Tanner, a former law enforcement officer, struggles with guilt over the death of his partner. His efforts to establish a camp for boys who have lost a parent has created a huge rift in his community. Only he can decide just how important his mission is. Jake’s mother’s Alzheimer’s disease is an important component of the book. Mia’s sister fears she is not strong enough to be a good wife and mother. Somehow, because of all their issues this group of people come together and draw strength from each other. Having met under unusual circumstances, Mia and Jake’s lives intertwine. They share faith and solid values. Will it be enough for them to lead them to a future together?

I found this to be a moving and well written book. The author deftly deals with important real life issues. She writes with clarity and sensitivity. This book is well worth reading. Highly recommended.

 

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

 

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To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander; Zondervan ISBN 9780310291084;

To Wager Her Heart, by Tamera Alexander, opens in Nashville in 1871. Alexandra Jamison and her family are members of Nashville society. Sylas Rutledge hails from Colorado Territory. He has traveled to Nashville for two reasons. One is to clear his father’s name and the other is to further his business interests. He is unfamiliar with the ways of southern society and after a chance meeting with Alexandra, he approaches her for help. It becomes clear early on that they both share the aftereffects of a tragedy. Alexandra agrees to tutor Sylas as her family has cast her out and she needs the money. The reason for her father’s anger with her is that she has accepted a teaching position at Frisk University which is a freedmen’s university. This is not what he wanted and demanded for his daughter. Neither Sylas or Alexandra was looking for a romantic relationship. Despite all the challenges and adjustments they encounter, a bond begins to form. Where will it lead?

 

The characters are well developed and have been given distinctive voices.   Alexandra is an intriguing character as she goes from being a young woman of privilege to one who makes sacrifices in order to find her purpose. Sylas, too, has strong positive attributes. When confronted with dilemmas, he acts with honor.   Even though a tragedy has cast a shadow, this remains a story of hope and faith. The book is emotionally stirring and takes readers back to a time in history that dealt with difficult social issues and a changing society. I found this to be a wonderfuly readable novel. Highly recommended.

 

 

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 

 

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Fault Lines by Thomas Locke; Revell ISBN 9780800724375

Fault Lines, a novel by Thomas Locke, is an exciting psychological thriller that opens in a community center in Florida. Charlie Hazard works in the risk containment business and is good at it. Out of nowhere comes Gabriella and she leads him on a journey that he never could have imagined. Gabriella and her team need his protection as they are working on a psychological project that threatens another group.     Gradually, we get to know the characters as the fast paced and intense story unfolds. Not knowing who to trust, protecting Gabriella proves to be quite an endeavor.

I found this to be a well written page turner. The author blends mystery, suspense and technology perfectly.

 

I received a complimentary copy from Revell. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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The Return (An Amish Beginnings Novel) by Suzanne Woods Fisher; Revell ISBN 9780800727505

The Return, a novel written by Suzanne Woods Fisher, takes place in the 1760’s in Pennsylvania. Two young Amish woman are living during a difficult time in history and find themselves connected by unforeseen circumstances and the love of the same man. Betsy Zook became the victim of a horrible crime. Thinking that Betsy is out of the picture, Tessa Bauer hopes that now Hans will fall in love with her. This may be more complicated than she thinks.

 

This well researched story presents a clear picture of what Pennsylvania was like during this time period. Immigrants and Indians did not always coexist in peace. Often there were tragic results. The Return is the story of what happened to Betsy and Tessa, as well as their families. The well drawn characters deal with serious issues that include prejudice, fear, selfishness and jealousy. In spite of this, some of them embrace honesty and tolerance. We also observe their growth and sense of community.

As per the books back cover, the story is “inspired by true events”. The Author’s Note gives details on this and I found that to be informative. I found The Return to be a fascinating book. It is both well written and engrossing. Highly recommended.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason; Revell ISBN 9780800728847

Chasing Secrets, a novel written by Lynette Eason, opens with a tragedy. In Ireland it was in 1991 that a young child and her nanny hid in a closet while the child’s parents and her younger brother were slaughtered. Fast forward to twenty-five years later and the case is still unsolved. A detective has a personal connection to this cold case and his investigation takes him to America. Haley Callaghan is a bodyguard living in South Carolina. Suddenly she finds her life in danger and she has no idea why. A foiled purse snatching incident leads to her involvement with her would be assailant and his family. As if all this isn’t enough, there is more. Detective Steven Rothwell becomes involved in her life and together they try to get answers before things get worse.

This is an action packed and thrilling story. Readers will be engrossed from page one. Even though this is a mystery, it has bits of humor and many touching moments. The author skillfully presents well defined characters who know what is worth doing. Friendships, family and faith play major roles in this well crafted story. It is exciting all the way to the end. Well worth reading. Highly recommended.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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A Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren Revell ISBN 9780800727451

A Matter of Trust, a novel by Susan May Warren, is set in the mountains of Montana. Gage Watson had once realized his dream when he became a champion backcountry snowboarder. A horrific accident followed by a lawsuit and the loss of sponsors changed all that.   He made a new life by working on a mountain rescue team, but he can’t move past his previous mistakes or the memory of the woman who betrayed him, Senator Ella Blair. Ella has never gotten over the guilt she feels for the role she played in destroying Gage’s life. After three years she unexpectedly appears in his life again when she pleads with him to rescue her brother and his friend from a mountain peak-one that Gage knows all too well. Gage and Ella had experienced a deep bond quickly when they first met. That ended in a courtroom. Can Gage get past this and help her?

Both Ella and Gage have guilt. Ella’s is complicated by the secret she keeps and her family history. To undertake such a dangerous rescue  requires tremendous skill and just as important, trust and faith. It is not just the protagonists who have personal baggage. The secondary characters all have their own issues and their stories are seamlessly integrated into the main story. They are all people who know how to come together to do what is needed.

The author brings to readers a complex and multifaceted story of relationships that are hampered by secrets and regrets. The imagery of the setting is spectacular. Fast paced, suspenseful, packed with emotion and faith, A Matter of Trust is well worth reading.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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On Love’s Gentle Shore, A Novel by Liz Johnson; Revell ISBN 97808800724511

On Love’s Gentle Shore, a novel by Liz Johnson, is set on Prince Edward Island. Most find it to be a charming place, but for Natalie O’Ryan it is anything but that. She was the child of dysfunctional and dangerous parents and she had fled the island fifteen years ago expecting her best friend, Justin Kane, to follow her, but that is not what happened. She made a new life for herself in Nashville, all the while harboring hurt and anger toward Justin. Now engaged to Russell, her fiancé has arranged for them to be married in her old hometown. Even with all her apprehensions about returning to a place she has fought hard to distance herself from, she keeps quiet and tries to go along with the wedding plans. Rapidly, she realizes she can’t avoid Justin and the small minded town gossips. As a result, Natalie has to confront her troubled past in order to face her future. Justin, too, has lived with his own anger and hurt, but thought he had moved on once he accepted Natalie was really gone. Now that she is back his life changes. What they had once was special and important to both of them. Is it really gone?

 

The author has crafted well drawn believable characters. Their fragile and complex relationships are deftly presented. The reader is drawn into their lives as we watch them evolve into people who learn to face the truth about themselves and what paths to follow. The secondary characters are an interesting group and add much to the story. This is a story about choices, introspection, forgiveness and faith that all come together to make a memorable tale.

 

Beautifully told and easy to read. Highly recommended.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.

 

 

 

 

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