Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Making Of A Gentleman

by Ruth Axtell Morren
Historical Romance
Steeple Hill Books – 2008

London, 1812

Florence Hathaway is a volunteer at Newgate Prison. She attends all hangings. Today, Jonah Quinn is to be hanged. Just as the hanging starts, a group of men rush the gallows freeing Jonah Quinn. He takes Florence hostage and escapes.

The following day Florence was released by Jonah. She told him to come to her brother, the curate of a local church, and he could help him.

It was decided that Jonah was a victim of circumstances and not a criminal. The plan to help him was to train him to be a gentleman. This program was hard on everyone. Jonah was still an escaped prisoner.

This is a lively story filled with action, tension, and much faith. Ms. Morren has redeemed herself. This book was far superior to her other book I read. It's a good story and a good read!

The Loner

Geralyn Dawson
Historical Romance
Harlequin – 2008

When Luke Grey was five years old he had a rocking horse named Racer. He had red cowboy boots, a white felt hat, a leather vest and a pistol carved out of oak with an “L” on the handle.

One day the family left East Texas to attend a wedding in Louisiana. He felt they were in danger, probably from outlaws hiding in the trees. His parents never paid any attention when he had those feelings. They didn't this time either.

While fording Brushy Creek in a shallow spot, they were swept away by a flash flood. The family was all killed except Luke. His suspenders had caught on brush that held his head out of the water.

Ten days later, he was found sitting on a log rocking back and forth. He wouldn't say anything but “run Racer, run Racer, run Racer”. He was taken to an orphanage. He still wouldn't talk. When they gave up trying to find out his name. They decided that the “L” on his gun handle stood for “Lucky”.

He grew up and became a range detective. He was good at it. He married and had a daughter. His wife and child were killed in a revenge killing for some crook Luke had brought in.

Could a man who had lost two families still believe he could find love and happiness? He decided he couldn't and he's just have to be a loner. But, our Loner didn't seek counseling to help change his mind.

So then, on his own could he reach another conclusion? That's what this action packed, page turner is about. Get comfortable and enjoy this well written, fast moving book!

The Journey Home

Linda Ford
Inspirational Historical Romance
Steeple Hill Books – August, 2008

South Dakota – 1934

The depression is in full swing and the long drought continues with no end in sight. Kody Douglas is a half-breed who is searching for a place without prejudice.

Charlotte Porter is a young woman waiting for her brother to send for her.
The country is in turmoil and that makes everything more difficult.

Charlotte depends on God and stays close to Him in prayer. Kody's drifted away from God and he's resistant to changing that. Of course there are secrets too.

Kody refused to leave Charlotte alone in a cabin full of dust and with too little food. He insisted that she go with him. That started their adventure.

Kody was overly sensitive about his lack of acceptance. The book mentioned that he wore long braids. Seems like it might have been better if he cut off the braids. He might have blended in better. Of course, he might have been daring people to say anything. Sometimes we don't notice how we feed our own problems.

This book pulls no punches about how bad things were. It had to be dreadful! We can thank the Lord we don't have to go through this frightful time! Stick with it. You'll enjoy it. I'm sure you'll empathize with these people. They had no place to turn except to God.

Siren's Song

Trish Albright
Historical Romance
Leisure Books – 2008


The Stafford family was in the shipping business. Their home office was in Boston. However, they spent a lot of time in England. Alexandra was the only Stafford girl. She seemed to be one with the sea. Yet, all of her luck was not good. Unexplainable things happened to her. Why?

In Morocco, Joshua Leigh, Duke of Worthington, rescued Alexandra from being kidnapped by a white slave trader. Alexandra didn’t give him her correct name. But, she was in his dreams.

Their paths next crossed three years later. They each looked somewhat different and there was no immediate recognition. They set off on an adventure of intrigue and danger.

This book certainly doesn’t lack action! Fortunately it moves right along which helps to ease the tension. A good read that you'll enjoy!

Seaside Cinderella

Anne Schmidt
Inspirational Historical Romance
Steeple Hill – 2008

Nantucket Island

Emma and Colonel Hunter are retired at what had been their summer home on Nantucket Island. They've hired Lucie McNeil to help with the house and cooking but insist that she's not “hired help”.

The Hunter's were a prosperous family but had suffered severe setbacks. They were a couple still deliriously in love. They met just as the Civil War ended. She lived in Charleston, South Carolina and he was a Yankee officer. Their marriage produced one son, Gabriel. He was 29 years old and a businessman in Boston.

Lucie was an Irish immigrant. She and Gabriel seemed to have an immediate attraction to one another. She promptly judged that their backgrounds were too diverse for them to ever be together.

This is a story of family, problems, and a love that can withstand it all through faith, patience and caring. A good read with a feel good ending!

Heart of Fire

Kat Martin
Historical Romance
MIRA Books – 2008

Second in sensual Heart trilogy

Coralee Whitmore is a writer. Her sister drowned and it was called a suicide. She didn't believe it. She suspected the Earl of Tremaine. She went to Castle Tremaine posing as a poor, distant cousin. The adventure begins.

She finds a variety of wrong doing and is in danger. The Earl redeems himself.

This is a nail-biter with danger at every turn. It's also a passionate love story, always enjoyable when written by Kat Martin!

Gabriel's Lady

Charlotte Hubbard
Historical Romance
Leisure Books – 2008

Gabriel Getty, an orphan at eight, adopted by a wonderful family, earned a degree from law school, got an internship with a prestigious law firm, the senior partner has a beautiful daughter, he proposes, she accepts. Her parents, the Bancrofts, built them a home and all looks perfect as the wedding day arrives.

As the first shine of marriage began to fade away, Gabe began to notice how frail Letitia was. Also, she didn't care for sex. And, her mother, an apparent man-hater, spoiled and hovered over Letitia in excess. Gabe, also noticed that Letitia took laudanum with regularity.

Billy Bristol was Gabe's best friend and best man. He and his family had come to the wedding as “Gabe's family”. He was a loving man who loved his wife and babies dearly. His mother and dad were also at the wedding with their three daughters. All three girls, ages 9-13, had crushes on Gabe especially Solace. Of course, to Gabe she was just Billy's kid sister. Gabe even danced with Solace, who was 11. Solace was sad because she planned to grow up and marry Gabe. She thanked Gabe for the dance and cherished the dream material it furnished. She loved horses and wanted to be a trick rider. Billy's family left after the reception to return to their homes some miles west of St. Louis.
Six years later he was at the cemetary for Letitia's graveside service. It brought back memories of when he was eight years old and his parents and sisters were massacred by indians. He was so frightened he couldn't talk for months.

Mrs. Bancroft was hysterical and blamed Gabe for her daughter's death. She said her daughter died because Gabe insisted on having children despite her fragile frame. Gabe felt that he was an outsider and always felt that way around the Bancrofts.

He told Mrs. Bancroft that he was sorry and that he'd be out of their lives by weeks end and that no one had loved Letitia more than he.

Letitia had died an opium addict. She had increased her use when she learned she was pregnant. The thought of losing her 19” waist panicked her. Her mother, the enabler, supplied her with the drugs.

While packing his things, Agatha Vanderbilt, the headmistress of the Academy for Young Ladies, dropped by to offer her condolences. She was upset and outspoken about Mrs. Bancroft's selfish, vicious harang at the cemetery. She told Gabe she was sorry for him! She opened her arms and he rushed into them. He cried and cried. She told him there was a room ready for him at the Academy for as long as he needed it. She even offered him a job teaching at the Academy in the fall. He thanked her and felt love and warmth for the first time in quite awhile.

Gabe got a letter from Billy asking him to come visit him and his family. He also asked him to escort his sister, Grace, to his home where she was going to be governess to his three children. It sounded like just what he needed.

Gabe and Grace arrived by train. Billy picked them up and they talked all the way to Billy's horse ranch. Gabe relaxed and felt surrounded by love and acceptance. He could hardly remember that feeling.

At the house Gabe met Billy's three children – redheads all. Olivia, Owen, and Bernadette. Olivia was bossy, Owen was ornery and Bernadette mute from birth. They all gathered around the dinner table. Owen rushed to sit by Gabe. Everyone settled for the blessing asked by Olivia.

The plate of ham was passed to Grace and about the same time she jumped up saying “oh, my” and backing away from the table as fast as she could. Old Asa grabbed a plate and took the garter snake off the table. Owen was delighted and in trouble. His father invited him behind the barn for a chat after dinner. Gabe loved the normalcy of it all.

Solace was at Billy's ranch to help train the horses. When dinner cleanup was over, Solace got her writing materials and went out to the swing by the lilac bushes. She pulled a letter out of her portfolio and read it again. It was to Sol Juddson, her pen name, from her publisher.
It announced that they would publish all three of her submissions. They included a check and a request for anything else she wrote.

She started a new story. The words just poured out of her pen. She chuckled smugly. Lily might be a princess and Gracie a saint, but she was a writer! No one else knew. It was her secret.

Billy and Gabe went out to look at Billy's operation. It was very impressive. While leaning on a fence, they talked about things that had happened since they'd been together six years ago at Gabe's wedding. They talked about Letitia's death for as long as Gabe could tolerate .

About then, two boys came running out of the barn with Solace with them and Rex, the dog, too. Gabe was very impressed with Solace as a horse trainer. “This is absolutely incredible” he whispered to Billy. Just then a voice from somewhere said, “She's a woman like no other. A woman you could love, Gabe.”

He looked around, but the voice hadn't come from anyone he could see. Billy was right next to him and hadn't heard anything. It felt wrong to have such thoughts about a woman so soon.

Billy called his attention to the trick that Solace was going to do with a gun. He told Gabe he'd be amazed and he was.

After dinner cleanup, everyone gathered back at the table to recite the twenty-third Psalm. They paired off child and adult. Owen picked Gabe fast. Gabe hoped he could get thru it and he did.

Everyone was busy and Gabe felt like he didn't belong. He realized that Solace didn't belong either. Her talents set her apart from Lily and Gracie. Lily and Gracie did not accept her talents and always found fault with her.

He saw the white of the dog and followed him. He found Solace on the swing pushing papers into her portfolio. She talked about this being the time of day when Bernadette painted with her mother in her studio. Solace pulled out a paper with a painting on it and showed it to Gabe. “This is one of Bernadette's paintings.” Gabe couldn't believe it. But Solace reiterated that Bernadette was the artist. And that she was very bright.

Her portfolio fell to the ground and papers scattered everywhere. They both picked up papers and one in Gabe's hand said “Daddy was a Desperado”. He asked about it. She swore him to secrecy and showed him the letter from the publisher.

Gabe's interest in Solace grew. They seemed to be a perfect fit. Enjoy this warm, loving story about grief, pain, forgiveness, understanding, patience, and caring. It's a winner!

Family Of The Heart

Dorothy Clark
Inspirational Historical Romance
Steeple Hill Books – September, 2008

Cincinnati, Ohio – 1838

Sarah Randolph took a job as a nanny for Nora. She came from a wealthy family and didn't need the money, but, she needed a place to grieve. Her fiance had been killed in a storm that took his ship and his life. Sarah was grief stricken and she felt that God had forsaken her.

Clayton Bainbridge was Nora's father. He never referred to her by name. He wanted to never see the child. His wife had died as a result of having Nora and Clayton was not dealing with his grief. He also felt that God had deserted him.

Sarah and Nora formed a bond that fed them both. Sarah worked to make sure that Clayton naturally came across Nora on a daily basis. He fought being close to her but gradually he was drawn to her.

This is a story about grief. Some wise person once said, “He who grieves well lives well.” The people in this book needed to learn to grieve and while they did that their faith was restored. This is a touchng story about deep grief, misplaced blame, forgiveness, and love. Get comfortable and enjoy it!

Duchess By Night

Eloisa James
Historical Romance
Avon Books – 2008


This is a story about titled women, mostly widows, who are tired of their boring lives. They want to do things that are more daring.

Harriet, Duchess of Berrow, is one of these women. She arranges an invitation to an outrageous soiree. She disguises herself as a man and pulls if off quite successfully.

Of course, it's not all that trouble free. This is a tasty, entertaining story that will hold your interest and warm your heart.

Deep In The Heart

Jane Myers Perrine
Inspirational Romance
Steeple Hill Books – September, 2008

Kate Wallace had big ambitions that wouldn't fit in Silver Lake, Texas. Upon graduation from college she headed for fame and fortune in the big cities. She left behind heartbreak for others. When she went back home to care for her sister, who was having shoulder surgery, she had to face those she had betrayed.

Rob Chambers was one of those people. He and Kate had been engaged when she left town. He was heartbroken and promised to not trust again. He had married and his wife died of cancer just after their baby girl was born. Rob not only had trust issues, but he had not grieved sufficiently for his wife.

Psychologically, we know that unresolved trust and grief issues stand in the way of psychological health and having the ability to form close, healthy relationships.

Both Kate and Rob had lost faith in God. That, too, left painful holes in their lives.

This is a warm, well-written story that shows the path to health and happiness.

Cry Of The Wolf

Elaine Barbieri
Historical Romance
Leisure Books – 2008

Hearing the cries of a wolf and seeing the image and hearing the voice of the old Indian, Letty Wolf is guided. She's almost 40 years old. Her three daughters are somewhere in Texas and she would like to re-unite with them.

There are forces that don't want that to happen. Letty hires Pinkerton men to find the daughters and tell them that if they return to New York and visit their mother, before her 40th birthday, she will include them in her will. Her adversary hires others to kill the Pinkerton men and her daughters.

This is a real study in selfishness. This is the third in the series of wolf books. Elaine Barbieri writes with a skill that we've come to expect. This book is no letdown. While this is a romance it is also a mystery and answers what was unanswered in the first two books. This is a real page turner and well worth your time.

Courting Miss Adelaide

Janet Dean
Inspirational Historical Romance
Steeple Hill Books – September, 2008

Noblesville, Indiana, 1897

Adelaide Crum wants to adopt a child off the “Orphan Train” but the committee doesn't think a single woman qualifies.

That wasn't the only thing the town elders were narrow minded about. Women didn't have the vote and that caused contention.

Charles Graves, the newspaper editor, decided that he would stand behind her in her battles. At times, it looked like there would be all out war. Adelaide's faith saw her through with some suprising twists and turns.

This is a story about unfairness, narrow minds, and anti-female thinking. It calls for patience, forgiveness, and courage. It has a feel good ending and final satisfaction. A good read!

Bluegrass Hero

Allie Pleiter
Inspirational Romance
Steeple Hill Books – August, 2008

Middleburg was a small town in Kentucky horse Country. The merchants in the downtown area wanted to keep that area unique and old fashioned to appeal to tourists and others from the larger towns. Some of the men wanted everything up-to-date and progressive. Downtown revolved around the bath shop, the hardware store, and some clothing shops, primarily operated by women.

Emily, who ran the bath shop, was a widow who was trying to get the male population to smell better. She was pushing Edmundson's soap. It not only smelled good, but a Bible verse was included with each bar of soap. She saw where she could kill two birds with one stone.

Gil Sorrent ran Homestretch Farm, a one year correctional program for young adult offenders. Some of these young men thought Edmundson's soap really attracted women. The rush was on. However, Gil thought it was hogwash.

Emily and Gil got better acquainted and kind of liked each other when they weren't arguing. Gossip got started that Gil was an ex-con too but no one mentioned what got him into trouble.

The important theme in this book becomes forgiveness. Each person had their faith tested and found that it was far easier to talk about forgiveness than actually doing it. In addition to this, the book is well written and very enjoyable.

At His Command

Brenda Coulter
Inspirational Romance
Steeple Hill Books – September, 2008

Jake was a broken man when Noah died in the helicopter piloted by Jake. He blamed himself for Noah's death. Yet, it didn't look that way to anyone else.

Maddie, Noah's sister, was 13 years younger than Jake but had always loved him. He thought their age difference was too great and that she couldn't love him if she knew all about Noah's death.

A well-written warm story about the pains of war. Also, the difficulty of self forgiveness. This is a good read and well worth the time.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Time To Heal

By Linda Goodnight
Inspirational Romance
Steeple Hill Books – September, 2008

Kat thought that her miscarriage was God's punishment for getting pregnant out of wedlock. She felt that God hadn't forgiven her and she hadn't forgiven herself. In addition to that she had not grieved the loss of her baby. Until she dealt with those issues, she couldn't heal.

Seth Washington was the father of Kat's baby. He had gone on with is life. He had moved away, gotten married, had a daughter, was now divorced and had come back home to Wilson's Cove.

Kat had recently returned to Wilson's Cove from Oklahoma City where she had been an ER doctor.

Seth had his daughter with him for the summer. She hoped that her parents would get back together even though her mother had re-married. She was also quite spoiled. Not unusual when parents are vying for a child's love.

This is a story about what happens when people don't process the emotional things that happen to them. This is especially true with grieving. Enjoy this warm story of hurt and love. I'd rate it a 4 out of 5.

A Dry Creek Courtship

Janet Tronstad
Inspirational Romance
Steeple Hill Books – September, 2008

Edith had always lived in Dry Creek. At 71 years old, she was a pillar of the community. She also taught the lst graders Sunday School class, and made the best biscuits and chokecherry jam in Dry Creek. And, they were always a stand-out at the annual Harvest Dinner.

She and Charley Nelson had been friends for fifty years. Both were widowed and enjoyed each others company.

This is a heartwarming story about senior citizens who still feel pains from the past and have hope for the future. My reviews are normally longer but this seemed to cover it and I would give it a rating of 4 1/2 out of 5.

His Little Cowgirl

Brenda Minton
Inspirational Romance
Steeple Hill Books - 2008

If the Lord chose to stop “the fling,” he would solve half the problems of this world. In the process he would also destroy the world of soap operas and do irreconcilable damage to contemporary romance novels (and their publishers). No fun, especially if you like romance novels as much as I do. Fortunately, God has yet to indulge in that kind of power, at least not in the last week or so, so he has allowed the time-honored youthful fling to remain at the heart of His Little Cowgirl. And that launches Brenda Minton's newest novel, besides, any book with little kitties on the cover is my kind of book.

Cody Jacobs was a bad-boy rodeo bull rider. Self-centered, hard drinking, and obviously on his way to fame and fortune, Cody had left a trail of broken hearts. One of these was the heart of the young Baily Cross. Also, unknowingly—but not surprisingly—he left her pregnant. Several times she tried to contact Jacobs but, typical of the old Cody, he never returned her calls.

Now, six years later as Minton's story opens, a changed Cody Jacobs pulls into town. No longer the hard drinker and seriously working on the self-centered, he is still the committed bull rider.

This year he is commercially sponsored and on his way to the national championship. He is also on his way to discover little Meg, the six-year old daughter he never knew he had.

While Jacobs is now serious about riding his demons to the ground, Baily Cross is equally committed to protecting both herself and young Meg from the handsome devil who forsook them both. But her little girl in the pink cowboy boots has caught his heart and awakened in Jacobs the challenge of being a good father.

Because His Little Cowgirl is an inspirational romance, you know it will have a satisfying ending; but the road Minton takes to get you there is twisty and exciting. She draws real people dealing with real issues, especially the young Meg. Minton weaves the Christian themes with a delicate hand, and crafts the kind of a tight plot that results in a best selling page turner. Fortunately for us Brenda Minton promises that her next few books will all be about cowboys. I've bought my new cowboy hat, and I'm ready to read. “Read 'em, cowboy.”

Tall, Dark, and Texan

Jodi Thomas, 293 pages
A Whispering Mountain Novel
Historical Romance
Jove Books - Nov 2008

Teagan McMurray has been the head of the family since his father followed his mother to the grave. He was 12. His father was from Ireland. His mother was Apache. That made him and his family outcasts. They were half-breeds, scum in the minds of everyone in the nearby town, scum with valuable land worth the taking.

In fighting to maintain their land and protect his siblings, Teagan learned to trust no one. The only bright spots in his life were his pride from successfully defending the family and his books. The only outsider in his life was Eli, a Chicago bookseller, from whom he bought his books and with whom he had come to enjoy a brisk correspondence. Eli was a good friend and a committed loner like him.

In Chicago, Jesse Barton and her children had nowhere to turn. Her husband, Eli, just died and good riddance. He had been a rowdy, selfish drunk who only tolerated Jesse because she ran the book store he hated, and he could occasionally make share his bed. True to form, Eli’s unscrupulous family had already taken the store and was threatening to do the same with the kids.

The only bright spots in Jesse’s life had been her children and the man who thought she was Eli, the man with whom she had maintained that brisk correspondence, the man she had come to imagine as a tall, dark Texan.

Jesse knew Teagan was honest, solid, and trustworthy, a man worth having, and through the masquerade of letters she had grown to love him. Jesse could turn to him, but Teagan didn’t know she existed and, worse yet, their relationship had been based on a lie. But that night, she robbed the till, took the kids, and set out for Texas and her only hope, that tall, dark Texan. And, thus, Jodi Thomas’s latest addition to the MMM series begins.

Jodi Thomas is remarkable among romance writers. The snotty literati consider most of them hacks, hardly worth a place in the literary constellations. But through her consummate skills, Thomas has risen far beyond the literary scrap heap in which most literary critics falsely consign romance writers. Her characters are intriguing, and they drive exciting stories. The resulting chemistry creates page turners that combine literate prose with a deeply rewarding story. Little wonder that West Texas A & M has claimed her as writer in residence.
When you see the Thomas name on the cover, you can be sure there’s a great read within. There’s only one problem. She doesn’t crank out books like most of the others. She’s a deliberate writer with generally a year’s wait between publications. Maybe that’s why she’s so good.