Tag Archive | Mystery

MY REVIEW OF

“SURPRISED BY LOVE”

BY JULIE LESSMAN

(Book #3 in the Heart of San Francisco series)

FIVE STARS

5 STARS

surprise

Shy and unattractive as a child, Megan McClare has always been teased by her classmates. But when she returns home from her senior year in Paris, the wallflower has suddenly blossomed into a beauty. With ambitions to become a lawyer or doctor, Megan accepts an internship at the district attorney’s office only to discover that she will be working with Devin Caldwell, a boy who mercilessly mocked her at school–and with whom she was hopelessly enamored. She turns to her dear friend Bram Hughes for support and advice. But Bram’s vision is clouded by his sudden unwelcome attraction to a girl he had always thought of as a kid sister. He advises forgiveness, but can he forgive himself for pushing the woman he loves into the arms of another man?

Fan favorite Julie Lessman draws a romantic triangle that will have readers in a tizzy in this glittering Gilded Age tale of transforming love.

…….MY REVIEW…….

Megan McClare has metamorphosed into a stunning butterfly during her year with the Rousseau’s family in Paris.  None of her family or friends expected it – let alone her best friend Bram Hughes.  Bram is unpredictably attracted to Megan and plays like a turtle withdrawing into himself confused.   Stunned even more when Megan attempts to tell him her true feelings, which drives him further away.  Bram is the one man who could make a shy and awkward little girl feel beautiful despite the baby fat and glasses.   The confidante to Meg for years in regard to the bullying Meg received from classmate Devin Caldwell.  Being older – he has been the big brother to Meg –affectionately referring to her as “Bug.”

 

The story begins at a happy reunion of the McClare family, Caitlyn McClare, matriarch to this clan; cousin Cassie McClare McKenna and her new husband, Jamie; Alli McClare and her fiancé Nick; Uncle Logan McClare, once engaged to Caitlyn and still in love with each other – secretly; Blake McClare, still single; seven year old Maddie McClare; Bram Hughes; and of course their housekeeper Rosie O’Brien and Hadley, the butler who is nearly deaf and blind.  Not to forget Miss Behave – the family parrot.

 

Julie Lessman is true to her excellence in constructing a story, leaving one breathless as she ends almost every chapter with a question.   Ms. Lessman has a knack for creating page turners – consolidating several stories – each with a conclusion, some predictable – most all surprising!  However, be aware for explosions and mysteries to happen throughout.   You may think you can predict what might happen, but do not be too quick to assume anything where Julie Lessman’s writing is concerned.

 

Meg’s mother Caitlyn has arranged for Meg to be an intern for District Attorney Andrew Turner, who just happens to be Logan’s worst enemy, ex-best friend.   To complicate matters, Andrew is in love with Caitlyn and pursues a courtship with her.  And then – lo and behold – Devin Caldwell is also a summer intern for DA Turner and does not recognize Meg – until she prompts his mind.  Devin falls in love with Meg and they become close.  Meg cannot forget Bram and feels rejected.  Meg’s kindness helps turn Secretary Bonnie Roof from a weed into a flower so that George, the executive assistant DA would notice her.  One of Meg’s better qualities was her interest in bettering life for everyone.

 

All of the above led to heartache, romance, mystery, humor and exhilaration – even dirty politics melds into this story to thwart Caitlyn and Meg’s plans to wipe out the horrible plight of women and girls ensnared in the brothels of the Barbary Coast.   Hopefully you have read the first two books in this series.   You might better understand this tale – however “Surprised by Love” is easily a stand-alone story.  There is much more activity to entertain you including Jamie’s mother and sister’s story from a preceding book.  Believe me, you will never be bored!

 

Bram’s mature faith in God spoke to me time and again.  He mentored Logan into praying and believing.  You will not be able to hold your tears while he describes how he feels trapped into marrying Amelia Darlington to help his father’s business survive.  Bram’s guilty conscience over his involvement in hurting his father’s health and sight is well hidden – but just another reason why he cannot entertain the idea of being in love with Meg.  Julie Lessman’s own faith in God is so apparent in the prose and scripture that fill this novel with the beauty and splendor of God’s intervention with the characters.  Ms. Lessman has a proverbial pen that does not disappoint.

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Books in exchange for an honest review

INTRODUCING AUTHOR JULIE LESSMAN……..

10389436_10153010917093455_3619818035950028069_nHello … I’m Julie Lessman, an Inspirational Romance author with a passion for God and a passion for romance. Since the age of twelve, I’ve been in love with the idea of being “in love.” It happened the moment Scarlett seared Rhett with a look on the winding staircase of Twelve Oaks. Suddenly I was a goner, spellbound by the emotional ebb and flow of romantic relationships.

As an adult, I quickly learned that true romance is spiritual as well as physical and emotional. And one pass through the “Song of Solomon” in the Bible told me that God was the biggest romantic of them all, deeply passionate in His love for each of us. Through my love affair with Him, I have discovered that romance can transcend to another dimension where romantic passion and spiritual passion merge, creating a 3-D love story: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together. I hope you enjoy my stories … and may they bring you closer to the Father’s heart.

I am a lucky wife, mother, and grandmother who also happens to write inspirational family-saga romance!! My tagline is “Passion with a Purpose,” so if you want to know what that is, check out my website at julielessman.comand/or my Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/JulieLessmanAuthor

Hugs,
Julie

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year and Holt Medallion Awards of Merit for Best First Book and Long Inspirational, Julie is also the recipient of 14 Romance Writers of America awards and was voted by readers as “Borders Best of 2009 So Far: Your Favorite Fiction.”

Chosen as the #1 Romance Fiction Author of the Year in the Family Fiction magazine 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie was also awarded #1 Historical Fiction Author of the Year in that same poll and #3 Author of the Year, #4 Novel of the Year and #3 Series of the year. She resides in Missouri with her husband, daughter, son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter and is the author of “The Daughters of Boston” series—A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Book 1 in her “Winds of Change” series A Hope Undaunted ranked #5 on Booklist’s Top 10 Inspirational Fiction for 2010.

You can connect with Julie on her websiteblogFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest.

MY REVIEW OF 

SHENANDOAH DREAMS

(Third in the Winds of Change series)

by

LISA BELCASTRO

images (3)

Tisbury, Massachusetts, Martha’s Vineyard.

“It’s just a dream,” Melissa Smith whispers as she stares into the intense eyes of a man dressed in Colonial clothes, as though stepping out of an American Revolution movie set. A school chaperone with Holmes Hole Elementary, she’d boarded the old schooner Shenandoah for a weeklong educational sail. But they aren’t visiting Plimoth Plantation, the Boston Tea Party Museum, or the Concord Bridge reenactment. They’re sailing the waters around the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Yet, when she awakes in Cabin 8, the captain claims to be Isaiah Reed, who sailed the original Shenandoah in the eighteenth century.
He cannot possibly be real, Melissa thinks. And traveling back in time is impossible. But days pass, and she’s still in 1770. What if Isaiah, who is simply too handsome to be real, is real? What if the fire he ignites in her from barely a touch isn’t in her imagination? Can a dream last for weeks on end? If so, how will she find her way home…to the twenty-first century? And can she bear to leave the one man who has captured her heart, when everything in her longs to stay?

 

MY REVIEW

 

“WOW, I thought as admired the covers of all three books in this series – they are lovely.”  That was before I read the book description on the back cover and noticed it said Melissa traveled back in time.  This reviewer is not a fan of time travel novels, but I love history. 

 

Being a land-lubber all of my life, I was not familiar with boats of any kind.   My family did sail on the SS United States when we returned from Germany ending my husband’s military assignment in Germany in 1962 – but all the terminology about sailing was foreign to me – especially on a schooner as large as the Shenandoah.  Like Spike, Melissa’s cat – I was unsure about what to expect on Melissa’s trip on the Shenandoah, but instead of complaining, began reading anyway despite my views of time travel.

 

During the first few chapters I was getting acquainted with Melissa Smith, who was enjoying being single after divorcing her abusive husband.  She had no intention of becoming romantically involved again – if ever!  She was well liked by the Holmes Hole students she taught and excited about spending her fifth summer as chaperone on the annual Shenandoah trip for the graduating fifth graders from each of the five island elementary schools.  Being a camera buff, she took many pictures of each trip and used them for making note cards as well as scrapbooks for each class.

 

On her way to board the Shenandoah Melissa contentedly thought about this two-hundred year old wonder that had been reconstructed and remodeled before Melissa was born.  It had been purchased by Captain Roberts in 1958 and now was a sleek tall ship with a black hull and long masts.  This year Melissa was staying in Cabin Eight, the only cabin which was left in its original state.

 

The first night Melissa had a vivid dream about a person named Adam replying “Ye must be relieved the Townshend Act has been repealed.”  Followed by a reply, “Aye, Adam, we must all be grateful, though the cost was dear.  Five men, five families.  I fear the violence has only yet begun.”  She had the sensation of falling….falling into a black hole.  I think that is as far as I will take you because now it really becomes interesting.   I will tell you that Melissa endures these dreams for two nights and wakes up in 1770 aboard the original Shenandoah and the story becomes intensely attention-grabbing.

 

Okay, okay….now I am a fan of time travel!  Not wanting to give any spoilers, I won’t tell you about Melissa’s life in the 1770’s – you won’t be freaked out…but you will enjoy a history lesson well researched by Ms. Lisa Belcastro and cleverly turned into twists and turns that I totally believed.  Faith in God was as real in 1770 as it is today.  Melissa said her prayers often before 1770, but besieged God with frequent prayers after falling through the black hole.  I will confess her prayers became confusing then….she was not sure for what to pray!  The ending was unexpected.  Lisa Belcastro did an exceptional job with this third novel and now if you will excuse me – I must read the first book in this series, Shenandoah Nights.  I’ll be back in November to report on that novel.  In the meantime, keep reading and thank God for writers like Lisa Belcastro.

 

LISA BELCASTRO

LISA BELCASTRO

ABOUT THE AUTHOR………

Lisa Belcastro lives with her family on Martha s Vineyard. She was inspired to write Shenandoah Nights, the first in the Winds of Change trilogy, while chaperoning her first of two school summer trips with her daughter, Kayla. The weeklong adventure, sans electricity, Game Boys, iPods, and modern conveniences, kindled her imagination to dream of an altogether different voyage. Lisa pens the cuisine column for Vineyard Style magazine. She has worked as a staff and freelance reporter and photographer for The Chronicle of the Horse and as assistant editor at The Blue Ridge Leader.

She has written articles for USA Today, Dressage (London), USA WEEKEND Magazine, The Blue Ridge Leader, and Sidelines.

https://www.facebook.com/lisa.belcastro.5

MY REVIEW ON

WHERE COURAGE CALLS

BY

JANETTE OKE & LAUREL OKE LOGAN

Courage Cover

Her courage

and her heart

will be tested in ways

she never expected 

Beth Thatcher has spent her entire life in the safe, comfortable world of her family, her friends, and the social outings her father’s wealth provides. But Beth is about to leave it all behind to accept a teaching position in the rugged foothills of western Canada. Inspired by her aunt Elizabeth, who went west to teach school several years ago, and gently encouraged by her father, Beth resolves to put her trust in God and bravely face any challenge that comes her way.

But the conditions in Coal Valley are even worse than she’d feared. A recent mining accident has left the town grieving and at the mercy of the mining company. The children have had very little prior education, and many of the locals don’t even speak English. There isn’t even a proper schoolhouse. In addition, Beth’s heart is torn between two young men—both Mounties, one a lifelong friend and the other a kind, quiet man who comes to her aid more than once.

Despite the many challenges, Beth is determined to make a difference in the rustic frontier town. But when her sister visits from the East, reminding her of all the luxuries she’s had to give up, will Beth decide to return to her privileged life as soon as the school year is over?

MY REVIEW

FIVE STARS 

While anticipating the honor of writing a review for Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan’s novel When Courage Calls, I pondered if my words could give proper merit to such creative teamwork from these two superb authors. As a long time reader of Janette Oke – often relating her skilled gift to Laura Ingalls Wilder, I perceive the same in Laurel Oke Logan. I am sincerely humbled to be reviewing this work of perfection

 

Beth Thatcher touched me deeply – she had the true heart of a missionary, with a spirit of kindness within a soul full of God’s Holy Word.  All those wonderful characteristics plus courage to venture into the unknown enabled her to face challenges with belief that she could be the impetus to change things through her deep faith in God.  Beth made a daring decision to accept a position as the school teacher in remote Coal Valley, an indigent mining area in Western Canada.  Beth finds herself in a bit of culture shock without the conveniences of home and wealth she had been privileged to know in Toronto. One of my favorite characters, Molly, the boarding house owner where Beth lived, was delightful and quite appropriately written into this beautiful story.  Oh, but then there is Frank…. and the children…..and the unlikely school room…and the Italian miners – there is no end to the unique quaintness versus durability of the people of Coal Valley.  When Beth played her violin and enthralled the community to envision the miracle of Christmas…. my heart felt the glory. When you read this story and find out why Beth’s violin played a part in a huge surprise, you will soon realize there are many surprises in store to keep the pages turning.

 

Edward Montclair and Beth were lifelong friends, however Beth considered him an annoyance and was not intending to gratify their mothers’ presumptuous plans that the two would one day marry.  Beth’s exhaustive train ride from Toronto to Coal Valley had some unpleasant and unpredicted surprises; in a bizarre way concerning Edward.  Beth envisioned no dreams of romance then or after arriving in Coal Valley.  However, this is a love story in my estimation about how God’s love can turn hopeless situations to promising.  It is no surprise that the authors created the characters of this story to breathe and come alive on the page.  Sensational writing includes the vindictive and evil side that plagues the community with mystery.  When the hint of romance comes into the story with Royal Canadian Mountie Jarrick (Jack) Thornton, my own heart palpitated a bit and wondered if Beth would have secret thoughts about this warm and charming Christian believer.

 

Before I forget myself and deluge too much – you can find out from the back cover an excellent synopsis of this solid story, as well as peruse many fine written reviews as to why you should acquire this book and read what’s between the covers for yourself.  Interestingly, I learned When Courage Calls is a special companion story to Hallmark Channel’s “When Calls the Heart” TV series.  You know you are getting the best when you see it on Hallmark.  Where have I heard something like that said before?  Unfortunately, I have not seen or read the prior episodes of this series on the Canadian West.  Through further information, I found this series of seven books was republished in 2005 with updated covers.  These novels will be added to my library as time permits.

 

It is my hope that the Ms. Janette Oke and Ms. Laurel Oke Logan will write another novel in this series continuing the story of Beth and answer all my questions about what happens next.  My curiosity is as real as my admiration for the authors.  Thank you ladies, for blessing your readers through Beth’s story.  I feel blessed having the pleasure of reading it.

 

Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

JANETTE OKE & LAUREL OKE LOGAN

JANETTE OKE & LAUREL OKE LOGAN

Janette Oke Celebrated for her significant contribution to the Christian book industry, Janette Oke is the recipient of numerous awards. Her novels have sold more than 30 million copies and are beloved by readers around the world. Janette lives with her husband, Edward, in Alberta, Canada. 

Laurel Oke Logan is the daughter of Edward and Janette Oke, is the author of “Janette Oke: A Heart for the Prairie,” as well as the novel “Dana’s Valley,” which she co-wrote with her mom. Laurel and her husband have six children and two sons-in-law and live near Indianapolis, Indiana.

JANETTE OKE:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Janette-Oke/1125821954198

http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/o/janette-oke/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4049.Janette_Oke

LAUREL OKE LOGAN:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Laurel-Oke-Logan/1394770507453866

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/437781.Laurel_Oke_Logan?from_search=true

http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/authors/laurel-oke-logan/1000

http://www.novelcrossing.com/author/1867/laurelokelogan